Tuesday, February 27, 2007

One reason Condi Rice has not achieved much

Is that Elliot Abrams is diligently working behind the scenes to undo what she does:
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Abrams' personal influence over Bush could not possibly match Rice's, but his bureaucratic skills and political connections - notably to the so-called "Israel lobby" of pro-Likud Jewish organizations and the Christian Right - give him considerable clout. According to various sources, Abrams has been working systematically to undermine any prospect for serious negotiations designed to give substance to Rice's hopes - and increasingly impatient demands by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia - of offering the Palestinians a "political horizon" for a final settlement.

"The Bush administration has done nothing to press Israel to deliver on its commitments, beyond Washington's empty rhetoric about a two-state 'political horizon'," Henry Siegman, the longtime director of the US/Middle East Project at the influential Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in the International Herald Tribune just last week.

"Every time there emerged the slightest hint that the United States may finally engage seriously in a political process, Elliott Abrams would meet secretly with Olmert's envoys in Europe or elsewhere to reassure them that there exists no such danger," Siegman complained.

After the resignation of Cheney's chief of staff, I Lewis Libby, and the departure from the Pentagon nearly two years ago of Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, Abrams became the US administration's most influential neo-conservative, particularly regarding Middle East policy, which he oversees as deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy.

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