Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host.
When the war broke out in the Middle East, I thought about the old story of the frog and the scorpion who were trying to cross a river there.
The scorpion couldn't swim and the frog was lost, so the scorpion proposed a deal: Give me a ride on your back and I'll show you the way.
The frog agreed and the trip went fine until they got to the middle of the river and the scorpion stung the frog. As they were sinking, the frog asked in his dying breath, "why would you do that?"
To which the scorpion replied, "because it is the Middle East."
It is worth noting that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip did not kidnap that Israeli soldier and provoke all this because the Israelis were invading Gaza. No, all this happened in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal, which was what the Palestinians wanted, but this is the Middle East. Why fundamentalists in Gaza and Lebanon chose to provoke this war makes no sense.
Israel had every right to respond and did. But this is the Middle East. So, the response may have made it worse by giving moderate Arabs in the region an excuse to distance themselves from Israel.
There was a time when America spent a lot of its diplomatic effort on the Middle East and sometimes, it had real impact. Jimmy Carter's Camp David accords, after all, removed Egypt as the main threat to Israel.
But in recent years, we have stepped back. Why? Hard to say. Except this is the Middle East.
By Bob Schieffer