For Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, last week’s Middle East peace conference at Annapolis may have been the last chance to rescue a term characterized by failure. This statement may sound harsh, but if Secretary Rice’s success were measured by the number of deals she has brokered, then it would also be true. During her time in office, Secretary Rice has presided over a State Department that has seen diplomacy relegated to the back of America’s foreign policy arsenal. Morale among the diplomatic core is low, as evidenced by the recent refusal of many diplomats to serve in Iraq. Despite her best efforts, tensions with Iran continue to escalate, nuclear issues with India and North Korea remain unsolved, Pakistan seems poised on the precipice of political disintegration and peace in the Middle East is as seemingly unattainable as ever.
However, all this, and much more, would be forgiven if Secretary Rice manages to accomplish what many talented diplomats before her have not: broker peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
At the moment, the chance of that actually happening appears slim. Although Rice left the conference with a promise from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold ‘vigorous, ongoing and continuous’ negotiations in order to bring about a peace treaty by 2008, none of the promises are binding