Sunday, January 6, 2008

To corral some 40 nations to attend the Annapolis summit Nov. 27 on midwifing a Palestinian state, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice relied on the “Coue method,” or the healing power of the imagination. After an almost seven-year hiatus, glasses were half-full and filling and dark clouds were studded with silver linings.

At the turn of the last century, Dr. Emile Coue, a French pharmacist who became a hypnotist, relied on the subconscious mind, which controls the body, and is more quickly impressed by mental pictures. And simply by changing the mental pictures, Dr. Coue figured the subconscious also changes — as well as the body that houses it. Clearly, that’s the only way a Palestinian state can be imagined — 240,000 Israelis in 145 West Bank settlements living happily in a new country governed by a coalition of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Settlements throughout the West Bank have been expanding steadily two or three houses at a time for the last four years. And while world attention was focused on Dr. Coue’s demo in Annapolis, the Knesset authorized 307 new Jewish dwellings in East Jerusalem.

One of America’s most important Jews, just back from Israel, and speaking privately and not for quotation, told this reporter: “I have talked with anyone who’s anyone in politics, the army and intelligence, traveled throughout the country and the territories, and a Palestinian state is a figment of the imagination. It will never happen. Those who matter in Israel are determined to prevent its creation.”

Before heading home from Annapolis, Mr. Olmert still appeared to be in thrall to Dr. Coue. He even used the forbidden analogy of “apartheid” for Israel if it failed to make possible a Palestinian state. This was the same word in the title of Jimmy Carter’s recent book — “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” — that triggered a torrent of invective from Jews and Christian evangelicals against the former president. No sooner home than Mr. Olmert escaped Dr. Coue’s spell and changed his pitch. Concessions were now up to the Palestinians, he said.

The big enchilada approach to the creation of a real Palestinian nation for 4 million Palestinians requires momentous compromises that neither side is willing to make — Dr. Coue notwithstanding. Palestinians would have to take the right of return to Israel for Palestinian refugees off the green baize table. And in exchange, Israel would have to dismantle most of its settlements in the West Bank, with the exception of those close to the pre-1967 war border. East Jerusalem would also have to become the capital of a Palestinian state — a nonstarter for an overwhelming majority of Israelis. And for a Palestinian capital to function in East Jerusalem, Israel would have to reopen direct links between Jerusalem and the West Bank, now blocked by Israeli settlements,

The Jewish VIP, still speaking privately, said what a growing number of American Jews are echoing — only a Bloomberg presidency could pull off a Palestinian settlement by getting Israelis to make the indispensable concessions. The VIP recently told his friend New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “you’re worth $20 billion and you could easily put aside $2 billion to win the White House.” Mr. Bloomberg replied, according to the VIP, “make that $40 billion because that’s what I’m now worth.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s many friends among the rich and powerful argue only a Jew could bring peace to the Middle East, much the way staunch anti-communist Richard Nixon in 1972 traveled to Beijing to normalize relations with Mao Tse-tung’s China while its bloody Cultural Revolution was still under way.

No one not suffering from terminal naivete would argue that a Palestinian state would roll up jihad, turn Iran’s mullahs into peaceniks and bring stability to the Middle East. Al Qaeda, Iran’s theocrats, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood would still be on the Mideast playing field. In fact, an independent Palestinian state would make it easier for these anti-Israel formations to maneuver.

And since the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) said, with “a high degree of certainty,” Tehran abandoned its nuclear weapons quest in 2003, Iran can now count on the support of China and Russia.

The NIE was also a decisive blow to neoconservative and Bush administration hawks who have long advocated a pre-emptive aerial bombardment against Iran. And U.S. inaction increases the danger of Israel attempting aerial attacks against some of the same Iranian targets. Israel quickly said the NIE report was fatally flawed as it was based on erroneous information and Iranian disinformation.

Nuclear war games between Iran and Israel are already being played out. A study by Anthony H. Cordesman, leading strategic scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says such a nuclear war would last about three weeks, kill some 16 million to 20 million Iranians (out of 70 million), and 200,000 to 800,000 Israelis (out of 5.4 million). Israel’s Arrow missile defense system, the report adds, would shoot down most incoming Iranian missiles while Israel’s missiles could hit most Iranian cities with pinpoint accuracy due to high-resolution satellite-targeting systems.

A Bloomberg presidency would most probably bring the best and the brightest back to government. But from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan would remain on the geopolitical menu — intractable crises, for Democrats and Republicans alike. Into the volatile mix, a resurgent Russia recently tested its first new MIRVed (multiple nuclear warheads) intercontinental missile since the end of the Cold War.

For its 2007 roll of the 400 richest Americans, Forbes lists Mr. Bloomberg 34th with $11.5 billion. He spent $74 million and $66 million for his last two campaigns to run the Big Apple, winning his last contest by 20 percent. March 18 is the date now given by Mr. Bloomberg’s fan club for when they hope his hat will land in the presidential ring.

Mr. Bloomberg’s talents may also be required for the subprime mortgage debacle that continues spreading through the credit markets and that “may make 1929 look like a ‘walk in the park,’ ” argues the London Telegraph’s long-time business and economics editor Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. As central banks continue to splash their cash over the global system, so far to little effect, he argues things are rapidly spiraling out of their control.

The global outlook for 2008 was tailor-made for an injection of Dr. Coue’s brand of auto-suggestive optimism. Without it, dark clouds are rapidly moving in on the 2008 horizon. And President Bush, as he jets this week from Israel to Arab capitals, will need all of Dr. Coue’s mental wizardry as he seeks to proclaim the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

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