|...intense head-scratching around the world...|
We are about to enter the twilight zone, that strange black hole in political time and space that appears no more than once every four years. It is known as the period of transition, and it starts a week from today, the time when the United States has not one president but two. One will be the president-elect, the other George Bush, in power for 12 more weeks in which he can do pretty much whatever he likes. Not only will he never again have to face voters, he won't even have to worry about damaging the prospects of his own party and its standard bearer (as if he has not damaged those enough already). From November 5 to January 20, he will exercise the freest, most unaccountable form of power the democratic world has to offer.
[After considering three interpretations of the attack on Syria, Freedland offers this final speculation. -jlt]
"Israel is entering an interregnum of its own, following Tzipi Livni's failure to form a coalition. It's hard to believe an interim, caretaker administration could forge a peace deal.
"That leaves other options. Bush could ape Reagan and decide to speak to Hamas. More likely would be a shift in policy that helps future peacemaking efforts: he might, for instance, declare that any changes to the 1967 borders must be equal, with Palestinians compensated inch for inch for any West Bank land conceded to Israel. Or he could look further afield in the region, contradicting himself and Sunday's raid, by reaching out to Syria. Or, as some hawks fear, he could step up the tentative dialogue with Iran. A symbolic gesture would be to open a US visa section in Tehran.
"Of course, Bush may be thinking of a parting gift more in keeping with the record of the last eight years. He and Cheney might decide, what the hell, we have one last chance to whack Iran - and let the new guy clear up the mess."
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In an article for Asia Times online, David Fink argues from economic and political reasons, including the idea that the President is "definitely most powerful" during lame-duck period, that "America will either attack Iran in the next two and a half months, or it never will."Recommend this Post