By John O’Mahony
Tony Blair is again urging the Bush administration to make a new effort to settle the conflict in the Middle East. He has said publicly that resolving the Jewish-Palestinian conflict is an irreplaceable part of such a settlement.
Certainly, this is true. It would still be true even if things in Iraq had gone as Bush and Blair had expected them to. It hs remained true even as Bush and Blair have watched the once much-hyped four power-sponsored “Blueprint” for a Jewish Arab settlement die over the last four years.
Paradoxically, the bloody disaster for the US, Britain, and then allies in Iraq, may put the “Roadmap” or something like it back in the realm of effective politics.
The US and its allies are much weaker in the Middle East now, as a result of their escalating disaster in Iraq, than they have been for a very long time. The Bush regime is now it seems looking to Iran and Syria to use their influence with factions in Iraq to dampen down conflict there. The regimes they were so recently talking of toppling. They are no longer confident that they can dominate events by raw military power.
The fall of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defence is more than the ejection of an individual. It seems to be the fall of a policy. It signals a shift to the seach for a political solution as distinct from the military modus operandi associated with Rumsfeld.
That may put the search of an Arab-Jewish settlement back on the short-term agenda for America and Britain.