By Anshel Pfeffer
September 23, 2008
Gordon Brown will probably manage to ward off the latest Labour rebellion, for now, and depart from his party's conference for the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Effectively a lame-duck prime minister, just waiting for the moment in which one of his cabinet ministers plucks up courage to wield the knife.
President Shimon Peres has also left for New York, after calling in Tzipi Livni last night, to entrust her with forming a new government. Ehud Olmert remains caretaker prime minister for at least a few more weeks, as Livni will not likely succeed in scraping a coalition together until the High Holy Days season is over. If she fails, then Israel goes for elections, with Olmert still standing uneasily at the helm.
Peres and Brown will meet another lame duck in New York, George Bush, who has been reduced to irrelevancy in the White House. Real power will return to Washington only in January with the inauguration of the new president.
There is nothing strange about this coincidence, democracies all have their twilight periods between administrations. But the juxtaposition of lame-duck leaders in the United States, Britain and Israel, means that the three governments most involved in confronting the Iranian threat are rudderless, capable of little more than inner political machinations, at the mercy of their survival instincts.
Little wonder that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also in New York for the General Assembly, sounds even more smug that his usual self-satisfied self. "The regime resembles an airplane that has lost its engine and is kind of going down. And no one can help it," he said in an interview in today's Los Angeles Times. Kind of hard to argue with that right now.