Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, right?
Seriously, I think tapping Blair for this is a great idea. I suspect he's motivated at least in part by repairing his own legacy post-Iraq, but could care less if he does a good job.
The fact is that, when the U.S. and its allies are actively engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the violence tends to ebb (as it did during the 1990s), so even if the talks go nowhere, perhaps they'll give the bloodshed a rest.
Bush Eyes Blair for Mideast Peace Role
By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2007; 3:54 PM
The Bush administration is laying the groundwork for an announcement of Tony Blair as special Middle East envoy for Palestinian governance and economic issues after he steps down as Britain's prime minister, following two months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, according to U.S. officials.
Blair would report to the so-called Quartet overseeing Middle East peace efforts--the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia--and work on issues limited to the internal workings of a future Palestinian state. Political negotiations involving Palestinians, Israelis and the Arab states would be left to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the officials said.
The idea, first proposed by Rice, was embraced by the Israeli government during talks between President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this week. The Palestinians have yet to be approached, but U.S. officials believe they would welcome a Blair appointment.
Blair's role would be an expanded version of the position held by former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn, who resigned in May 2006 out of frustration at the deadlock over aid to the Palestinians following the January election of Hamas, U.S. officials said.
Bush and Olmert on Tuesday discussed the need to "lay the groundwork" for a Palestinian state that would build up Palestinian institutions and economic capacity so that when a Palestinian state is eventually created it will already be able to function as a "well-governed state," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said today.
British officials said an appointment was at this stage speculation. "There is a lot of speculation about what the prime minister will do after June 27 and we're simply not commenting on any of it," a senior British diplomat said. But U.S. officials said the appointment could be made within the next few weeks. Bush is expected to give a speech later this month marking five years since his June 24, 2002, speech calling for a Palestinian state.
White House press secretary Tony Snow deflected questions about Blair. "We got a lot of stuff going on," he said, referring to the Middle East. "But at this particular point we're not in the business of designating envoys."
Asked if Bush had spoken with Blair about the idea, Snow said, "I don't think he has. I don't have any knowledge, and my guess is I'd know. But, no, I don't know anything."