Wednesday, February 22, 2006

How stupid are the people running this country? So stupid that they apparently thought this might actually work:

CAIRO, Feb. 21 -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday began a four-day visit to the Middle East, where she hoped to persuade Arab leaders to cut off financial aid to Hamas. But she ran into trouble on her very first stop.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister, told her that Egypt believed funds to the Palestinian government should continue for an indefinite period, to give Hamas "time to develop their own ideas." ...

Another of Ms. Rice's major goals for this trip ... is to lock down commitments from the Arab leaders to stand firm against Iran's nuclear program. But once again, Egypt disappointed her.

Standing next to Ms. Rice at a news conference, Mr. Gheit reiterated a view Egypt offered during talks at the United Nations nuclear agency early this month over reporting Iran to the Security Council. Mr. Gheit said Egypt supported applying the same standard to all Middle East nations, not just Iran. That was a well-understood reference to Israel's secret nuclear weapons program....

Maybe -- maybe -- Egypt could have been persuaded to make the policy changes Rice sought after quiet, secret diplomacy. The Bushies, however, actually believed that Egypt might do so after a very public meeting between Rice and the foreign minister. Why didn't Condi just go all the way and bring Gheit (or Hosni Mubarak) a souvenir windbreaker stitched with the words "BUSH'S POODLE," and hand it over in a photo op? That wouldn't have been much more awkward for the Mubarak government in the current climate.

Remember, Egypt just had parliamentary elections in which the Muslim Brotherhood made hage gains, despite the rigging of the vote in favor of Mubarak's party. Mubarak postponed local council elections just last week, fearing new gains by the Brotherhood. And the Bushies seriously thought he'd anger Islamists even further by playing ball with the U.S. on these issues? Idiots.

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