Q: What goes MEWMDFZ-clunk?
A: International attempts to create a non-nuclear Middle East, of course.
That wasn''t the tryptophan from leftover turkey talking. It wasn''t even a joke. The noise MEWMDFZ was an acronym falling off of the United Nations, and hitting the State Department on its descent.
On Friday, while most of us were recovering from Thursday night, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland announced that "as a co-sponsor of the proposed conference on a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction (MEWMDFZ), envisioned in the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document, the United States regrets to announce that the conference cannot be convened because of present conditions in the Middle East and the fact that states in the region have not reached agreement on acceptable conditions for a conference."
Translation? "That conference that we''ve been sort of planning for the past two years isn''t going to happen because none of the states that are supposed to agree on non-proliferation are willing to sit in the same room together."
The conference, you see, was supposed to be held in 2012. We''re running out of 2012. And the end, for US strategic policy in the Middle East, doesn''t look a heck of a lot better than the beginning.
With a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a lack of a legitimate representative for Syria, an Egyptian president who spend the back half of the week negotiating a spectacular domestic power-grab, and an Ahmadinejad who, well, is still behaving like himself, having everyone sit down for non-proliferation talks may have seemed a bit surreal. Even for the Obama administration, which still may have a twinge of conscience regarding a certain prize awarded for anticipated non-proliferation work.
Nuland added that " we would not support a conference in which any regional state would be subject to pressure or isolation."
Translation? "We aren''t going to convene a conference that is going to turn into an Israel-bashing fest."
Never fear, however. There are still optimists in the world. Those who believe that the only thing holding back MEWMDFZ is a timetable rather than a few missing vowels.
A day after the State Department''s announcement, the UN also issued a statement concerning MEWMDFZ - one that never once referred to the cancellation of plans for the 2012 conference.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon simply reaffirmed his support to convene a United Nations-sponsored Conference attended by all the States in the Middle East with the aim of establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
The UN even offered details regarding the conference - now scheduled for 2013 - which will be held in Finland.
Ban took the opportunity to "appeal" to Middle Eastern states to “seize this rare opportunity to initiate a process that entails direct engagement on security issues – a critical shortcoming at the moment – and follow-on steps leading to achieving the complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the region, nuclear, chemical and biological and their delivery systems.”