Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 13:02 | SYDNEY
Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 13:02 | SYDNEY

Waiting for Godot and Middle East peace


Rodger Shanahan


23 June 2008 15:41

While any moves towards peace in the troubled Middle East are to be applauded, President Bashar Assad inserted a reality check into proceedings in an interview during his recent state visit to India. While all parties understand that the US is essential to any settlement, and there is support for peace talks, few if any actors appear willing to cede a peace legacy to the current US Administration.

The Bush Administration’s attention began to turn towards the subject of Palestinian-Israeli peace just over 12 months before its term expires with the conduct of the Annapolis summit in November 2007. Since that time, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been in Lebanon talking about the return of the Sheba farms to Lebanon, new Syrian-Israeli peace talks sponsored by Turkey have commenced, and a package designed to solve the Iran nuclear crisis has been proposed by the G5-1 group. 

Any one of these issues could take years to resolve, so the prospects of a breakthrough to provide a peace legacy for the Bush Administration would be slim even without any external issues encroaching. With the clock ticking on his time in office, however, there is a temptation to try to rush through issues which, as the Clinton Administration found, ultimately leads to disappointment. With too little time left to achieve substantive progress, and with some leaders unwilling to cede any success to the Administration, the current activity is somewhat like Samuel Becket’s play, in which Estragon and Vladimir divert themselves in various ways while waiting for Godot, who never arrives.