On June 20, the AP reported that "Hamas is drawing close to a compromise on a document that would implicitly recognize Israel" for the first time.
That did not make the militant faction of Hamas happy. They did not want to see the moderation of Hamas, or progress towards renewed negotiations with Israel.
So five days later, militants abducted an Israeli soldier.
How did Israel react? By responding exactly how the militants wanted them to.
They could have announced that they were not going to allow a radical faction to disrupt the sensitive talks between Hamas and Fatah, which would have given Hamas' political leaders incentive to remain on a pragmatic path.
Instead, Israel put all the attention on the abduction, escalated the violence, and dismissed the moves by the Hamas leadership towards a recognition of Israel.
And now, following yesterday's abductions by Lebanon's Hezbollah, the situation in the Middle East is as awful as it has been in decades.
No one seems to have learned that militants always launch attacks whenever progress towards compromise is on the horizon, and when you respond in kind, you help the militants win.
This is sad and frustrating, but not surprising, as there is no one occupying the Oval Office remotely interested in exploiting openings for peace and stability.
Perhaps that's unfair. Dubya did have a plan for Middle East peace, which he articulated in Feb. 2003:
Old patterns of conflict in the Middle East can be broken, if all concerned will let go of bitterness, hatred, and violence, and get on with the serious work of economic development, and political reform, and reconciliation. America will seize every opportunity in pursuit of peace.
And the end of the present regime in Iraq would create such an opportunity.
Funny. Somehow a bloody occupation of Iraq didn't create an opportunity for peace in the Middle East. Who could have guessed?