KOFI AND CONDI GO TO DINNER
by W.R. Marshall
American Reporter Correspondent
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Great moments in diplomacy are few in recent times.
There's JFK's "Trollope Ploy" wherein he ignored a second tougher cable from Khrushchev and accepted the terms of a softer first communication to end the Cuban Missile Crisis. Then there are the Camp David Accords, delicately brokered by Jimmy Carter, who got Sadat and Begin to sit down and work out a peace in the Middle East.
But those will be remembered as pale reflections of diplomacy in the light of President George W. Bush's brilliant bit of Texas-style jawboning, where he laid out his plan for cessation of hostilities in the Middle East in a casual conversation with his friend and other political pariah, Tony Blair, when he suggested that Syria "tell Hezbollah to stop this s--t." This statement, destined to become an entire course at the Kennedy School of Government, will forever be known as the "Dinner Roll Gambit."
Aside from the international buzz this strategy created, it demanded immediate action, and shortly after the President's pronouncement, Kofi Annan and Condoleezza Rice met over dinner to work out the details.
What follows is their conversation, passed along to me by a confidential source - unknown even to Robert Novak. I've left out the details of the meal itself, which included appetizers, first course, dinner, desert, coffee and several bottles of wine because you're paying for it, and it would just make you mad. However, you will be pleased to note the Secretary of State only left a 10 percent tip.
C: Kofi, thank you for meeting us on such short notice.
K: Us? I only see you.
(Sloth requires me to us K for Kofi Annan and C for Condoleezza Rice.)
C: Well, there's me and my Prada shoes. Can you believe I get these for free just for being Secretary of State?
K: I should say I'm surprised, but... . However, I was a bit surprised by your call. Your administration hasn't been the biggest supporter of the United Nations.
C: Not true, we went to you with the Iraq thing. Remember Colin and the aluminum tubes?
K: Hard to forget.
C: Especially for Colin. And here we are again, looking to you for help.
K: The Middle East being torn apart does call for desperate measures.
C: Not really. The Middle East blowing up is really part of our road map, but you know voters, they're so impatient, always want things now. Look at Iraq, we've only been there a few years and already people want out.
K: You should have never gone in.
C: Water under the bridge... . By the way, did you know Armani designed this suit, and gave it to me just because I'm Secretary of State. I didn't get anything this good when I was National Security Advisor.
K: You were saying?
C: Sorry, I forgot.
K: Middle East in turmoil, invasion of Iraq, your road map... .
C: Yes, yes, of course. They have no use for the UN.
K: Excuse me, who is they? You mean the Administration.
C: No, no, the neo-cons.
K: Aren't they the same thing?
C: Depends on what day it is and how close we are to an election. They didn't want us talking to you at all, but we have Dick on a short leash, and Scooter's been indicted, and Paul has that fat private sector job, so, as I said, we're going in a slightly different direction on this one.
K: And what direction would that be?
C: We're not going to invade Singapore.
K: Perhaps you're thinking of Syria.
C: Syria? They have that Hezbollah in Syria, and they seem pretty angry. But Donnie thinks we can take Singapore easy because they're not expecting it. He figures we can go in there with a couple of hundred guys and get the job done a couple of days.
K: Well, the world will be relieved to know you've decided to restrain yourselves.
C: No need to get snippy, Kofi. We did call you.
K: True. So, how can I help?
C: We want you to talk to Syria and tell them to cut this s--t out.
K: Just like that.
C: Yes, this isn't complicated, it's diplomacy. You just tell them what we want, and they do it.
K: And you see this working?
C: More or less.
K: Then why don't you just tell them?
C: Kofi, Kofi, Kofi, if you haven't taken a look at the world in the last six years, we do things, we don't talk about doing things.
K: We the Administration or we the neo-cons?
C: Both. Look, Kofi, this is a good idea. All the President's ideas are good ideas. Have you ever heard him say he made a mistake, that he misspoke, or his Administration was on the wrong path? No, because look at the world - we've handled things pretty well.
K: You have?
C: Sure, North Korea and Iran are just about to come around, and we're making significant progress in Iraq.
K: Significant... . All right, because it's my job, let us say you agree to a diplomatic solution, but it takes more time than you think it might. I must tell you if the hostilities in the Middle East continue you're looking at another humanitarian disaster.
C: Right, right, in Africa. Oh, we don't worry about that. We're not worriers. We're bold thinkers. We don't worry about the details.
K: We, neo-cons?
C: No, we the Administration. You have to pay attention, Kofi. This is why we don't come to you folks when we have a problem. You just don't get it.
K: And you do?
C: Can I be honest for minute here, Kofi? I really do get it, but I'm not the boss, so I get what W gets. Get it? Have I shown you my bag? It's Prada too, and it matches my shoes - and I got it for free.