Jim Hoagland reports on the growing estrangement between the Bush administration and our most important Middle East allies. Here’s the synopsis. Bush had planned a White House gala for April 17, honoring King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Prince Bandar has just announced that the King won’t be attending because the date ‘isn’t convenient’. Meanwhile, Jordan’s King Abdullah has announced that he will not be making a previously scheduled state visit in September.

Hoagland attempts to explain the reasoning of the two King Abdullahs, but he isn’t really sure. It basically comes down to not wanting to associate with a loser. Or, as one friend of Condi Rice puts it, a corpse.

Rice had hoped the [Arab] summit [in Riyadh this weekend] would provide a boost in her current proximity talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials, but she appears to have struck a dry well. “She is conducting crisis management, not grand diplomacy,” a European official who talked to her recently said disappointedly.

Adds an admirer who tracks Rice’s intentions and assessments in the Middle East: “Condi is doing everything she can. But she is dancing with a corpse that just keeps flopping over in another direction every time she tries to move it.”

Hoagland also hits on another theme that I have been stressing for quite a while. And that theme is that no country has ever launched a war of aggression, lost that war, and then let the architects of the disaster stick around to manage the aftermath. It isn’t done, and for good reason.

But the Saudis, too, know how to read election returns. They see Bush swimming against a tide of scandal and stench that engulfs his most trusted aides. In the traditional Saudi worldview, this is a moment to hedge, not to indulge in the kind of leadership needed to break the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock or the deadly morass of Iraq.

What more do we need to read the writing on the wall? Impeaching Bush and Cheney can be done for reasons great or small. I don’t really care what the actual reasoning is. But when our closest allies in the Middle East show our President this level of disrespect it should be obvious that he can accomplish nothing positive for our country even if he were to start pursuing sane goals. His credibility is shot.

The logic is this is very strong. As long as we were pursuing a war in Iraq, Bush’s cheerleading had some utility. But now that Congress has declared the war lost, we have no further need for Bush or Cheney. Their gambit failed and failed catastrophically. Our entire Middle East policy has to be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up.

It is actually an irresponsible thing to do to end this war and allow Bush and Cheney to manage the withdrawal. It is a deeply irresponsible thing to do. Any sane Congress would realize this and jettison Bush/Cheney in favor of some Baker/Hamilton-esque caretaker government.

Impeachment and withdrawal are two pieces of the same policy. One without the other makes no sense. They must be pursued in concert.

More frog-marching please.

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