To corral some 40 nations to attend the Annapolis, Md., summit last 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 chemist 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, 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 settlements in the West Bank 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 past four years. And while world attention was focused on 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, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert still appeared to be enthralled by 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 Evangelicals against the former president. No sooner home than Olmert escaped 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 — 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 non-starter 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." Bloomberg replied, according to the VIP, "Make that $40 billion because that's what I'm now worth."
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'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-Qaida, Iran's theocrats, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood would still be on the Middle East 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 said, with "a high degree of certainty," that Tehran had 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 the neocon and Bush administration hawks who have long advocated a pre-emptive aerial bombardment against Iran. By the same token, U.S. inaction increases the danger of Israel attempting aerial attacks against some of the same Iranian targets. Israel quickly pointed out 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 conducted by Anthony H. Cordesman, leading strategic scholar at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, 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 still be on the geopolitical menu, intractable crises for Democrats and Republicans alike. Into the volatile mix a resurgent Russia tested last week 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 Bloomberg 34th with $11.5 billion. Bloomberg 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 Bloomberg's fan club for what they hope will be his hat landing in the presidential ring.
Bloomberg's talents may also be required for the subprime mortgage debacle that continues to spread through the credit markets and that "may make 1929 look like a 'walk in the park,'" argues the London Telegraph's longtime 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 Coue's brand of auto-suggestive optimism. Without it, there are dark clouds rapidly moving in on the 2008 horizon. And President Bush will need all of Coue's mental wizardry as he flies to the Middle East next month to proclaim the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008.
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