The United States has stumbled a bit in the Middle East because the Bush administration is thinking too small.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and, before him, Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to the region, hats in hand, begging foreign leaders for small favors. They didn't seek to secure peace, only to revive a slow and dreary process.

It doesn't quite make sense.

Everybody involved knows what the final map of the region will look like. We've talked about it on this broadcast. Give Palestinians all but a few small slivers of the West Bank. Move Israelis out of settlements and into locations along the border.

Give Arab sections of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians and Jewish sections to the Israelis. Give Muslim holy sites to the Palestinians; Jewish sites to the Israelis.

You can't get such a deal to a peace process, which moves in little bitty increments and gives each side a chance to walk away over trivial issues that may arise along the way. The only way to get a deal is to propose a deal and dare both sides to get moving.

It's easy to look foolish when you make offers people can refuse. The way to reassert prestige and shut up nattering ney-Bobs on the sidelines is to make an offer too big for either side to ignore.

After all, the good book says, "Blessed be the peacemakers," not the process-makers.