Glad to be wrong: Part 2
Jack Strocchi has engaged in some justified gloating at my expense in relation to the Israel-Palestine peace talks where progress has been much better than I expected, though success is still far from being assured.
Sharon’s concession that the Israeli occupation is untenable, and apparent acceptance of a contiguous Palestinian state means that there is now no logical alternative to a deal similar to the Clinton plan of a few years ago. Although Sharon would undoubtedly like to keep substantial parts of the West Bank, the logic of the process will push it towards a limited exchange of territory. But Sharon is still hedging, and may be hoping to wait out the notoriously short US attention span. Still, Bush, prodded by Blair, has gone a lot further than I thought he would, and has dragged Sharon with him.
Having made this concession, I’ll point out that, as I predicted, the Bush Administration is making just as much of a mess of the occupation of Iraq as it did in the case of Afghanistan, and for the same basic reason. They have been prepared to spend billions of dollars and lots of attention on war, but almost nothing on peace.
In an odd sense, the postwar mess in Iraq has been good for the Israel-Palestine peace process. It’s clear now that if the peace process fails, the chances of a successful outcome in Iraq would be greatly reduced by resurgent anti-US feeling throughout the region. That along with the failure to find WMDs and the gradual realisation that Iraqi casualties were much higher than first claimed, would discredit the case for war, although this would probably take the form of gradually disillusionment (as with Gulf War I) rather than a sharp swing in public opinion. So Bush has a lot riding on this, and Blair even more so.