A Minor League Game in Algiers


The really impressive Arab League convened this week in Algiers, with an unprecedented array of pressing issues to address. Look what's going on: Lebanon is in an uproar; the Palestinians and Israelis may have some momentum going; an Iraqi-controlled Iraqi state is taking shape; pressure for democratization is spreading, etc.

What did the Arab League contribute to any of these issues? Nothing. Nor did anybody expect this august group to do anything. The Lebanese situation is just not the sort of issue that even gets on the League's main agenda. (It wasn't.) The Palestinian situation is the sort of thing on which the League chooses to repeat itself. (Jordan's king had offered a proposal that was rejected out of hand; he didn't show up.) "Democratization" is what you welcome in the keynote speech and then never bring up again.

Even so, it's not that the League's delegates didn't achieve something. Members are expected to create a pan-Arab parliament. What the region most needs, it seems, are more empty speeches and more procedural sclerosis. Best of all, the proposed body would reportedly be unelected.