There's a story about late Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, who sighed with relief after being told the drought he was informed about was in Israel's Negev desert and not in America. And why was that? Because for Israel, a reality of crisis like the one currently faced by America, our main ally and diplomatic-security support in the world does not bode well for us, to put it mildly.
An Israeli tourist currently visiting the US may get confused and feel as though he never left Israel: He sees top officials blamed by the public for "screwing up" the war, along with a top brass that is embroiled in internal conflicts. For example, former CIA Director George Tenet accuses Secretary of State Rice of ignoring his warnings regarding an al-Qaeda terror attack when she served as President Bush's national security advisor.
President Bush himself was quoted as saying that the post was too much for Rice to handle. Meanwhile, everyone criticizes Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld for failing to predict developments in Iraq. And if that wasn't enough came revelations of corruption among top Republican officials, sex scandals, and matters involving improper ties between capital and government.
In the elections for Congress, President Bush's party – possibly the friendliest president we ever had – may lose its majority in one or both Houses – a fact that raises question marks regarding the Administration's ability to promote its diplomatic and security objectives. Indeed, in politics just like in soccer everything can happen at the last moment. Yet those in charge of Israeli policy certainly cannot ignore the possibility of far-reaching changes in the American political map. This, by the way, will also be the main challenge faced by Israel's new ambassador to Washington, who will assume the post at a particularly critical junction for both Israel and the US.
The election campaign led to radicalization of some of these issues in the American public discourse, while being accompanied by a fair bit of demagoguery. Yet even when looking objectively, it is a fact that there is no agreed upon solutions among Administration officials, as is the case within the Democratic Party, for the question of how to address the main problems currently faced by policy makers.
In discussions I attended in the US with leading political figures on both ends of the American spectrum, I discovered that neither side has particularly convincing ideas regarding what appears to be a major diplomatic failure on the North Korean front or the Iranian threat. This is even more so when it comes to the burning question of how to pull out of the Iraqi whirlpool. On this matter, everyone awaits the words of the "savior," our acquaintance James Baker, who was appointed by President Bush to resolve the "mess."
Baker is about to publish his conclusions following the November elections and it is possible, if we judge by rumors and whispers, that just as was the case in the past, this time too he will attempt to tie his solutions and proposals to the whole of the Middle East's problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, drought in America is bad news!
The writer served as Israel's ambassador in Washington