The outlines of the imminent diplomatic stunt by Bush and Blair are becoming apparent. Blair will meet Bush in about an hour and then there is a short news conference at 17.30 BST. The call for a ceasefire will be firmer than previous efforts, and will include the "news" that Condi is returning to Israel this weekend. However it seems that the background work for the stunt is not going well, as Condi's "surprise" early departure from Malaysia was postponed. The underlying problem is that wars tend to take on their own momentum, often surprising the instigators (weird anniversary today, by the way) -- which is exactly why most people wanted a ceasefire as soon as possible.
We'll update this post as events today warrant.
UPDATE: They're also seeking a UN resolution on Monday to implement a multinational force. Still not clear what the Israelis are expected to do in the meantime. The subtle change in terminology is that "sustainable ceasefire" has moved to "cessation of hostilities with a framework for a longer-term solution." But how does a conflict with "root causes" start "out of the blue"?
At one point in the press conference, Bush seemed to imply that reporters who ask difficult questions are doing the bidding of Islamists:
QUESTION [David Gregory, NBC]: But I asked about the loss of American influence, and are you worried about that?
BUSH: Well, we went to the G-8 and worked with our allies and got a remarkable statement on what took place. We're working to get a United Nations resolution on Iran. We're working to have a Palestinian state.
But the reason why you asked the question is because terrorists are trying to stop that progress. And we'll ultimately prevail, because their -- they have -- their ideology is so dark and so dismal that when people really think about it, it'll be rejected.
They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you.
And in response to the Man from The Sun:
QUESTION: Mr. President and Prime Minister Blair, can I ask you both tonight what your messages are for the governments of Iran and Syria, given that you say that this is the crisis of the 21st century?
BUSH: Want me to start?
Our message is: Give up your nuclear weapon and your nuclear weapon ambitions. That's my message to Syria -- I mean, to Iran.
[Washington Post transcript]; Josh Marshall has a link to the video of the answer to Gregory's question.