Let's get serious. The Annapolis conference will not accomplish its stated purpose (although it may have benefits that no one now wants to discuss publicly) but it is not Munich. Here are six reasons why:
1. Israel is the strongest military power in the Mideast. No one else comes close.
2. Israel, with the support of the United States, two months ago pulled off a stealth raid on some sort of facility of in Syria. (Would Neville Chamberlain have helped the Czechs bomb a German munitions plant in 1938?)
3. Yet Syria is still attending the conference. That must make for interesting conversation in the men's room.
4. Despite the public posturing (Arab leaders assume if they are photographed shaking Olmert's hand, they will wind up like Anwar Sadat), who do the Saudis and the Gulf States fear the most?
a) Israel's nuclear weapons
b) the US Navy
c) a nuclear armed Iran.
5. Israel and the faction of the PLO of which Abbas is, for the moment, the nominal leader, have agreed to agree. Ho hum. No one- not Condi Rice nor George Bush nor Olmert nor any of the Quartet, the Arabs, or Abbas- expect any results. The can has merely been kicked down the road. Given the alternatives, that is not a bad option.
Abbas is in the same situation that Arafat was. One can debate whether he can control the Palestinian groups who send splodeydopes to Tel Aviv discos, but chooses not to; or whether he really wants peace but can not control the "militants". It makes no difference. What stops Palestinian terror is good Israeli intelligence, police work, and the IDF. Abbas is irrelevant.
6. What's the point of Annapolis? Maybe it is just feel- good photo ops. Maybe it is a wish that talking can't do any harm and may do some good.
Maybe it is about more than Israel and the Palestinians. See #4 above.
I heard a couple of talk radio callers today suggest that Olmert be replaced with Netanyahu. I don't like Olmert either, but I get pissed when the French or Germans try to tell Americans who we should elect as President.
There is a story that President Reagan decided not to attend Andropov's funeral when he was told he would not be allowed to dance on the grave. Olmert has been in politics long enough that he probably does not care that the Arabs will not shake his hand. Yet if I were Olmert, or George Bush, I would like to shake Assad's hand, look him in the eyes, grin, and squeeze just a little harder.