The Wall Street Journal hopes my hope, that Bush is stringing the Arabs along to gain time to mobilize against Saddam:
This is some diplomatic dance, and if it has everyone confused we can only hope that's the point. The President's critics worry that all of this shows a man who can't decide among his strong foreign-policy advisers. But Mr. Bush has shown no little skill at co-optation, as he did for example in maneuvering the U.S. out of the ABM Treaty last year.
Everyone said that would never happen because the whole world opposed it. Yet somehow after September 11 and several Bush meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, that opposition melted away. Michigan Democrat Carl Levin still doesn't know what hit him.
It's possible Mr. Bush is playing a similar game now. Maybe he's keeping his eye on the main prize, which is deposing Saddam Hussein, but in the meantime feels he must play a balancing act in Palestine. So Mr. Powell is his good cop, tasked with mollifying the Arabs until the campaign against Iraq becomes inevitable. The President lets Mr. Sharon do enough to defend his country from suicide bombers but not so much that it inspires an anti-American Arab revolt. It's worth pointing out that this view of events is also the one many Arabs themselves seem to believe.