When words lose their meaning

President Bush’s July 2007 announcement of the regional peace conference that convened in Annapolis yesterday provided that attendance was to to be limited to representatives of nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties. Adhering to this limitation, however, would have resulted in a small party. The limitation was therefore abandoned in a big way. The Bush administration even made room for a state sponsor of terror (Syria) at the conference. Bret Stephens noted some of the ironies in “Condi’s road to Damascus.” Andrew McCarthy succinctly called it a “Farce.”
I noted here before the Annapolis guest list was announced that I spoke with State Department spokesman Sean McCormack last month and asked him whether Bush’s July criteria for attendance at the Annapolis conference would be honored. McCormack told me they would. It is at the least striking how quickly President Bush’s words of this past July, to borrow Ron Ziegler’s Nixon-era formulation, have been rendered “inoperative.” Indeed, the president’s words have become meaningless.
In “Visions of Annapolis,” we previewed President Bush’s Annapolis speech. Our preview noted that President Bush would call for “the establsihment of a Palestinian state, the end of ‘occupation,’ and a return of Israel to the 1967 borders, leaving an opening for land swaps.” I think that this preview in fact provides a fair reading of President Bush’s speech. President Bush’s speech abrogated the April 2004 assurances he provided to Ariel Sharon in connection with Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. Jeff Emanuel takes note. Again, the Bush adminsitration has rendered a solemn commitment “inoperative.”
It can’t be good for the United States when a president’s words lose their meaning. Among other things, the president ends up speaking gibberish like this:

The Palestinian people are blessed with many gifts and talents. They want the opportunity to use those gifts to better their own lives and build a better future for their children. They want the dignity that comes with sovereignty and independence. They want justice and equality under the rule of law. They want freedom from violence and fear.

And this:

Today, Palestinians and Israelis each understand that helping the other to realize their aspirations is key to realizing their own aspirations — and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state. Such a state will provide Palestinians with the chance to lead lives of freedom and purpose and dignity. Such a state will help provide the Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbors.

And much more, most of it utterly meaningless. Unfortuntately, I am sure that the mullahs calling the shots in Iran understand the meaning of President Bush’s meaningless words perfectly.

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