Cal's Straight Talk -- Middle East Can of Worms
Something is definitely going on in the Middle East. Bush stressed quite hard in his speeches that Israelis should keep Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in power. Because inside Israel the Likud Party is gaining even more power and Binyamin Netanyahu is pushing to oust Olmert and assume power. There are growing calls in their parliament and among the public for Olmert to resign. Everyone knows if Olmert is out and Netanyahu and his Lukid party ascended, they would without doubt launch an attack on Iran, fully expecting the US to have to then back them up.
So some of what Bush says or tells the Israelis and Arabs is most likely a balancing game. Say something to make Olmert look good, say something in favor of Palestine, say something to Netanyahu to let him think you agree with him to stall him, say something else to the Arab countries. Telling is that Bush has not said he was going to discard the NIE on Iran but only that it isn't his "view." It is sort of like a "well I don't agree but..."
I am interested in watching Condi because she isn't going to do or say anything without Bush's blessing. Now, whether her tough talk to Israel of late is nothing but bull or if there is something behind it, we will have to wait to see. But her words have impact on the general populations in Israel and Palestine even if they are a wink and nod between those in the inside.
Most likely, the changes in Bush's rhetoric are influenced by members of the old gang who don't like Israel, plus the insider doings in Israel regarding the chances of Netanyahu replacing Olmert, which would up the chances of an Israeli attack, plus the Iraq situation, plus the obvious Saudi and gulf council coolness toward the US, plus a few other countries going along with Bush's sanctions on Iran -- Italy just signed a new oil deal with Iran -- plus Russia's announcement that an attack on Iran would be considered an attack on their interest...
Maybe it all boils down to just trying to keep the lid on the can of worms until Bush is out of office.