I have read so many editorials, before, during, and after Annapolis, granted I have not read them all, but the one that made the most sense to me is the one by Karim Makdisi, an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the American University of Beirut.
In his piece on Counterpunch, an American Internet based political newsletter, "Midnight in Beirut – Annapolis and the unholy alliance", Makdisi dissects the current situation in Lebanon and the driving forces behind it. He cautions the Lebanese that Annapolis might not provide the hoped for thaw between the U.S. and Syria that would ease the Lebanese crisis but that:
Annapolis will represent another signpost in the US drive to solidify the de facto unholy alliance that has bound Israel and the so-called "moderate" Arab states under US patronage. In this case, it is difficult to be optimistic about prospects for Lebanon or the region.
A statement that is bold, ominous, and courageous, but Mr. Makdisi does not give us the details; I know, the writing is on the wall but why not read it out loud?
After seven years of ignoring the plight of the Palestinians and often actively undermining the "Road Map" and other such peace agreements, the Bush administration decided to convene Annapolis at a time when the American, Israeli, and Palestinian leaderships were in their weakest political positions; hardly a recipe for success, unless, we look at things from a different angle.
The Palestinian leadership, considered illegitimate by a large portion of Palestinians, when looked at from this new angle, barely makes it into the picture as the disposable policy conduit of the heavy weights, the U.S. and Israel.
The only way we can understand and explain Annapolis is through the consistent behavior of both the U.S. and Israel over the last years; through their methods of operation - that would hardly change overnight - and not through their words or photo ops. We need to look for similarities in their policies and approaches and to consider where they would be implemented next and how Annapolis would facilitate that.
Fighting terrorism and outside threats is at the core of both American and Israeli domestic and foreign policies and their sustainability depends on such threats. Recently, even though such threats have not diminished, the populations all over the world have adjusted to their levels as in the case of Al-Qaeda, or outright rejected them as insignificant regional threats as in the case of the violence between Israelis and Palestinians, even worse for Israel, more and more the violence is perceived as disproportionately one sided and a direct result of the occupation of Palestinian lands and Israeli intransigence.
For the U.S. and Israel to preserve their policies and strategic objectives, the threat level has to evolve and increase beyond what it is today.
The grounds are being prepped for such an increase and Annapolis is but a "signpost" as Mr. Makdisi so correctly cautioned. The U.S. and Israel are actively engaged, through the use of military force, economic pressure, financial incentives, political arm-twisting, etc..., in creating and widening rifts between countries and within populations in the Middle East in order to transform an entire region stretching from Pakistan to Algeria.
By the day, the rifts are expanding in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine, and it is no secret that the U.S. is going to implement the so-called successes of the Anbar province of Iraq, paying a segment of the population for forcibly policing another, in the volatile Tribal Regions of Pakistan. We also know of clandestine operations in Iran to undermine the Iranian government through discontented minorities. Such clandestine operation could also be taking place elsewhere.
The large and enduring threat that the U.S. and Israel are looking for can be described as a contiguous swath of land where the so-called radical Muslims roam unchecked. The relationships between populations and countries that compose it is of no consequence as long as, to the average western observer, the region resembles an incomprehensible and menacing brew, a sort of an active volcano, impossible to control or predict, that could spew its terrorism lava at any moment and only the vigilant eye of the U.S. and its allies could protect the world.
"With us or against us" will be redefined and re-imposed. Even though the question is the same as after 9/11, the scope is different. After 9/11, it was imposed on countries, now, it will be imposed on individuals in the greater Middle East region; it will be the question that defines the fault line of a rift.
Annapolis is the forum where the new "with us or against us" was formally proposed and the Palestinian issue will be split in half along the fault line it creates. There will be moderate Palestinians who are "with us", and radicals "against us"; the Palestinian issue would be solved by simply having it vanish.
Annapolis is where Israel is given the cover to pursue two diametrically opposed policies. One that would reward a so-called moderate (compliant) West Bank with some form of peace while the other would punish Gaza with the harshest of treatments to make certain that Gaza is forced into the "against us" camp.
The so-called moderate Arab states would use the treatment of the West Bank as the fig leaf they so desperately need to relieve them from the burdensome Palestinian issue. They might even help rehabilitate Israel, normalize relationships, or even form an alliance if Israel is made to be perceived as the only regional power that could counter-balance a menacing nuclear Iran.