By Sig Demling
One of my favorite kids books is about a monkey named Curious George.
The good news is that H.L. Rey's creation is fictional. Which means that every time the simian does something foolish it's good for a laugh. Nobody gets hurt but the make-believe George.
The bad news is that we have a Curious George in real life and his name is John Kerry.
Curious John is not a monkey, it's just that he acts like one. With each attempt to bring Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table, Kerry has managed to even cause his friends to deride him.
Exhibit A is the New York Times which does everything it can to make the Obama administration appear to be operating on Oz instead of Earth.
But after examining the molten Middle East, even Times reporters are mocking Kerry as some latter-day dunce. Times reporters Mark Landler and Jodi Rudoren took a brief respite from hammering Israel to wonder why in heaven's name Kerry is attempting peace negotiations between the Israelis and Arabs.
"With so much of the Middle East still convulsing from the effects of the Arab Spring," write Landler-Rudoren, "Kerry's efforts raise questions about the Obama administration's priorities at a time of renewed regional unrest."
Doesn't that seem like the understatement of the half-century? More than 80,000 Arabs have been killed in Syria with no end to the slaughter in sight.
More than a million Egyptians have rebelled against President Mohammed Morsi whose year-old administration has gone with the Nile wind and a rapidly rising death toll.
Have Kerry and his puppeteer Barack Obama done anything meaningful to defuse the unrest and minimize the murders?
No. Their focus for some Curious George-type reason remains on Israel while experts cite the idiocy of American blueprints. One such political sage is Robert Blecher who cannot fathom White House policy. Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program of the International Crisis Group, Blecher views Kerry's shuttle diplomacy as both obsolete and useless.
"The moment for this kind of (Kerry shuttle) diplomacy has passed," Blecher asserts. "Kerry is working with actors who have acted in this movie before and the script is built around the same elements. But the region is a completely different place today."
It certainly is, as events in Cairo these days have amply demonstrated. Obama helped give Hosni Mubarak the boot and now the president is being whacked in the noggin by a political boomerang. It was the White House which hastily opened the trap[ door on Mubarak, setting the stage for the Morsi dictatorship which now is disappearing like a firefly in the forest.
Instead of focusing on the Syrian civil war or the Egyptian madhouse of mystery, Kerry is wasting his time commuting between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Times of Israel columnist David Horovitz subscribes to our theory that the Secretary of State would be better off just twiddling his thumbs.
"Pulling Abbas and Netanyahu back to the table," Horovitz insists, "will only presage another failure."
And if you're wondering why, just ask Gershon Mesika, head of the Samaria Regional Council. He'll tell you that Abbas is not equipped to make the mountainous climb toward negotiations.
"Kerry," says Mesika, "is trying to get the Palestinians to consent to something to which they have no intention of every agreeing. They will never relent in their demands for any part of Israel."
Horovitz views Kerry as "like some hapless golfer" in a futile effort to putt the little white ball in the hole. Mesika puts it another way.
"Kerry's expectation that the Palestinians would ever sign a peace deal in which they would give up even one inch of land is unrealistic," Meskia concludes, "and reflects a lack of understanding of the situation."
That was Curious George's problem. The monkey lacked an understanding of the situation.
Trouble is, George was a monkey.
Kerry is Secretary of State.