Friday, January 11, 2008

Watch Your Language, W

President W’s speech in Ramallah, as reported in today’s TD, again shows why it is crucial that our next president not be someone who is a foreign policy virgin and does not like to read. Mr. Bush, who didn’t even know the Middle East existed until September 11, 2001, and whose only interaction with it since has been the invasion of Iraq, has now decided to rescue his legacy by brokering a resolution to the century-long war between Jews and Arabs in the territory west of the Jordan River valley. And, Mr. Bush has made it clear that he expects the whole nasty mess to be over before he leaves office on January 20 of next year.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush’s continued lack of foreign policy ability shows in his choice of words. As quoted in the TD, Mr. Bush said:

“There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. . .These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.”

Mr. Bush’s statement is chock-full of poorly chosen words. If Mr. Bush were not a neophyte, he would know that to the Arab world “an end to the occupation that began in 1967” means a return to the armistice boundaries that were in place from 1948 until May of 1967. Such boundaries, as demonstrated during the 19 years year before 1967 did not constitute “defensible borders” for Israel. Moreover, merely by using the word “occupation,” Mr. Bush is impliedly accepting the Arab world historical view that the 1967 war was an unprovoked war of conquest by the Israelis.

It is not at all clear how Mr. Bush would provide for his “viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent” Palestinian state. If Mr. Bush had looked at a map of the land west of the Jordan he would have realized that Gaza and the West Bank, the two areas that presumably will make up the Palestinian state, are separated by a significant portion of the State of Israel. When he calls for a “contiguous” Palestinian state, does Mr. Bush really mean that the two separate areas of the state must somehow be physically united?

Mr. Bush’s language, in fact his entire diplomatic initiative, reveals that after seven years as our CINC he still doesn’t understand. Mr. Bush seems to have fallen for the propaganda line that if only the “Palestinian Issue” can be resolved by the creation of a Palestinian state there will be eternal peace in the Middle East. If Israel and Palestine can only beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, then
1- Osama bin Laden will make a “mission accomplished” speech, will call off his war against western civilization, and al Qaeda will disband;
2- Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will abandon his country’s uranium enrichment activities, will invite the Pope for a reconciliation meeting and will celebrate Passover with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert in Jerusalem;
3- All the factions in Iraq will disarm and will hold a “we’re so glad you’re here” party for American troops; and
4- Hezbollah, Hamas, and all the other Islamic terrorists will throw down their weapons; truly the wolf will lie with the lamb.

If only W had done a little reading, he would have known that there could have been a Palestinian state way back in 1948. The United Nations partition resolution called for the creation of both a Jewish and an Arab state in British mandated Palestine. Rather than establishing that state, the Arab leadership decided instead to try to destroy the infant Jewish state—Israel—with disastrous results for the Arabs living in Palestine.

For the next 19 years there could have been a Palestinian state. Instead, Egypt annexed Gaza, Jordan annexed the West Bank, and the Arab world continued its war of extermination against Israel. Even after the 1967 war, when Israeli troops were deployed from the Suez Canal to the Golan Heights, Israel offered to return land in exchange for peace. The response of the Arab world was “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it . . .”

So, I’m not sure why Mr. Bush thinks that by being “a pain if I need to be a pain” he will bring about peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the brief 12 months (plus) that he has left as president. As the TD pointed out yesterday in its editorial Permanent War,

“Presidents, secretaries of state, and designated negotiators have tried to make Arab-Israeli peace their legacy. The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to encourage progress. Hopeful signs arise only to crash. The fundamentals have not changed—and may not change for additional centuries of scarlet violence.”

The TD concludes that Mr. Bush’s peace diplomacy will fail as have all previous presidential attempts to end the Arab-Israeli war.

I am not willing to be as pessimistic as is the TD. I hope that before I depart this world I will see at least a perpetual state of non-war between Israel and its neighbors. But I’m afraid it will take more than W and his twelve month deadline to bring it about. In fact, I’m afraid that his choice of words at Ramallah may have made it tougher to bring about that solution now.


Anonymous said...

Unkie Bert,

#1. President Bush is considered to be Israel's altime favorite American president. That is why there are some conspiracies that say we went to war with Iraq for Israel. I mean he has said many times that if Iran attacks Israel that the U.S. would defend Israel. If I was not mistaken, it was not President Bush who trusted Arafat it was Clinton. President Bush said Arafat had to go and told the Europeans to shun Arafat.

referring to Iran:

"I told the prime minister what I've stated publicly before: Israel is a close friend and ally of the United States. And in the event of any attack on Israel, the United States will come to Israel's aid," Bush said.

referring to Arafat:

"Leaders in Europe should withdraw all favor and support for any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays their cause,"

#2. I have a feeling that Olmert of Israel wanted President Bush to use those harsh words so that the knesset will back Prime Minister Olmert into giving Peace Gestures to the palestinians.

If you look at the history of U.S.-Israeli relations the most Anti-Israel presidents have been Democrats. Carter, Clinton whose wife hugged Arafat's wife Suha who said right before that Israel was responsible for high cancer rates among Palestinians.

Anonymous said...

Dear Unckie Bert,

President Bush is admired among Israelis he has the highest approval rating in Israel than any other country. It was President Bush not Clinton who refused to meet with Arafat and told the Europeans this "Leaders in Europe should withdraw all favor and support for any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays their cause". On Iran President Bush has stated on more than one occasion that the U.S.A. will defend Israel if Iran attackes Israel. "Israel is a solid ally of the United States. We will rise to Israel's defense, if need be. So this kind of menacing talk is disturbing. It's not only disturbing to the United States, it's disturbing for other countries in the world, as well," Bush said. Asked whether he meant the United States would rise to Israel's defense militarily, Bush said: "You bet, we'll defend Israel.". That is why so many say that bush is too supportive of Israel and the U.S. should be more even handed.

Bush is not like Carter, or Hillary Clinton who huuged Suha Arafat after she said that Israel raises cancer rates among palestinians. He is not like Howard Dean, Jim Moran and others who have demonized Israel.

President Bush continues to support Israel and if you remember he was the only one to support Ariel Sharon during the intifada. Although I was alarmed by Bush's response on Occupation I do believe that Prime Minister Olmert wanted Bush to speak tough because he needs to gain support of the Knesset to give more peace gestures to the palestinians.