Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice does not understand Islam. At this point she apparently still must watch football games (we are always told that she is a fan of football -- it's designed to soften, to popularize, her image, one presumes), or practice the piano, or do those other things that the "multi-talented" "scholar of Russia" who "knows Russian" does. In fact, her Russian is halting, as her one disastrous attempt to conduct an interview in Russian proved to Russian television viewers. Her specialty was not "Russia" but the Russian military. That made her, just like Paul Wolfowitz, someone untrained in, and unaware of, the influence of history, of culture, of their own particular culture and history, on people who, strange to say, do not all want to become little Americans and wouldn't know how to do so if one presented them with the possibility.
She has been foolish on Iraq, suggesting that the Sunnis and Shi'a will just have to "get over it" because -- well, because that is the only way the Bush Administration's grand plans for Iraq could ever conceivably be successful. But Sunnis and Shi'a will not "get over it." And what's more, the Muslim Arabs will not "get over it" when it comes to their absolute refusal to consider Israel as a permanent presence. An Infidel nation-state in the middle of Dar al-Islam? Impossible. If there is a chance to destroy Israel militarily, it will be acted on. And the likelihood of the Muslim Arabs thinking that such a chance will arise again will be much greater if that so-called "Palestinian" state comes into being, with all the control over invasion routes and West Bank aquifers. Why not just cause a famine in Israel by polluting or destroying or diverting those aquifers?
Demands will soon be made, perhaps even within a year of any signing, for more more more. And the West, and America, having pressured Israel so much, having thrown it to the wolves but convinced itself, as Rice has, that it is not a throwing to the wolves, but making the very "best deal" that can be made, will pressure it yet more. In reality, the "best deal" for Israel is never again to be suckered into, pressured into, any conceivable "deal" with Muslims who are firmly fixed on the basic principle of Muslim treaty-making with Infidel states, the principle that such treaties are to be broken, and such breaking of them is not merely allowed but encouraged by the example of Muhammad in the first Muslim "peace treaty" -- that of 628 A.D., which he made with the Meccans at Al-Hudaibiyyah. That treaty stands for all time as the model of Muslim treaty-making with Infidels, including those who now live and attempt to stay alive in the Infidel nation-state of Israel.
Does Rice know this? Of course not. She has never read, and not a single person who advises her has read, the texts of Islam on such treaty-making. But why can't they simply get hold of the most standard and obvious works? Why can't they get a copy? Fouad Ajami, the Majid Khadduri Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, should be able to get his hands on a copy, and the Library of Congress is said to be well-stocked as well, of Majid Khadduri's War and Peace in the Law of Islam. In that book, if they look, they will find set out the Islamic doctrine as to treaty-making.
But she doesn't have time. And besides, it would raise so many disturbing questions. It would imply that all that effort, over so many years, by assorted dennis-rosses and richard-haasses and henry-kissingers and bill-clintons and william-rogers and tutti quanti, to use shuttle diplomacy, and negotiations, and handshakes on the goddam lawn, and smiles for the photographers, has been fruitless. And it has. All of it has ended, always, with some kind of further Israeli concession, and a further legitimizing, before the world's public, of the Arab Muslim Jihad. This has proceeded not least by legitimizing the very idea of a "Palestinian" people with its own history and own claims, when that people are merely local Muslim Arabs, identical in language, religion, and every other way to those on the other side of the Jordan, and to many other Arabs as well, for the "national" identity of Muslim Arabs is not important to them in the way national identity is to people in the Western world.
She's not able to learn beyond what she learned long ago. She seems intelligent by comparison with her boss. She's elegantly turned out. She's self-assured, because people defer to her, and those who don't defer to her are usually unwilling to demonstrate that they find her pretensions ridiculous. However, the nuclear-arms expert, David Kay, who had many dealings with her, described her as the "worst national security adviser" in the history of the country. And given that among the rivals for that crown are Brzezinski and Scowcroft, that is saying something.