Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Olmert & Rice

There's been a fair amount of discussion in the blogosphere regarding this story.  To summarize, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert publicly bragged that he forced Condolezza Rice to abstain on the UN ceasefire resolution that she helped draft. He did so by going over her head directly to President Bush and convincing him to order Rice to abstain rather than vote in favor, as she had planned to do.

When I read this I thought it revealed three possible things about Olmert: A) he's an idiot, or B) he has terrible diplomatic skills, or C) he's an idiot with terrible diplomatic skills.  I'm not sure what he hopes to achieve by putting out this information.  If his story is true, it's the kind of thing you keep secret and later write about in your memoirs. Even if he has a personal vendetta against Rice, she'll be gone soon anyway.  Why the need to attack her now? By making his claims, Olmert gives credence to U.S. critics who believe that Israel has too much influence over U.S. foreign policy, and accomplishes nothing other than causing embarrassment to Israel's greatest ally and supporter -- in a time of major crisis no less. Maybe there is domestic Israeli political angle here that I'm missing, but I'm not sure what's so important that it could justify tweaking the nose of the U.S. government.

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