Thursday, July 27, 2006

The failure of diplomatic niceties

In a typically meandering column in the WSJ today, Peggy Noonan does raise a noteworthy point:

When Secretary Rice arrived in Lebanon the other day, Prime Minister Fuad Siniora greeted her with kisses on both cheeks. They seemed as if they had a personal relationship unstressed by the current war. They seemed like mature and friendly comrades greeting each other after an absence. This of course was all done for spin. I don't mean it was insincere. It may have been fully sincere on both parts. But it was also spin, both parties agreeing to produce a picture that told a story. The purpose was to show the world that these adults, operating in a good faith implicit in the affection shown, can handle a tense situation, are friends, and can effectively work together. The world isn't ending.

I know it is spin. You know it too. And yet it worked for me.

It didn't work for us. And here's the point: if the Lebanese Prime Minister really believes, as he would be justified in doing, that his country has been sold down the river by his "fellow" Arabs, the Europeans, the US, everybody -- why did he contribute to the diplomatic charade that these greetings and conferences represent?

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