Sunday :: Mar 9, 2003

Bush Reneges on Promises to Produce Middle East Peace Plan


by Steve

This will be my only post today, as the subject matter weighed on my mind all day after reading the source story referenced below.

The Bush Administration startled and angered its allies over the weekend when it announced that, contrary to earlier assurances, it would not be putting forward a Middle East peace plan until after the war in Iraq is concluded. Bush has done this against a backdrop of disengagement from the region, a perceived one-sidedness towards Israel, unkept promises of new initiatives, and a war of convenience in Iraq not borne of an imminent security threat. Bush has now gone against his assurances to our European allies, the United Nations, the Palestinian people and the Arab world that he would put forward a peace plan after the Palestinian elections in January. The only certainties in America’s foreign policy under George W. Bush are that policies are promised and never delivered, nonproliferation is not a priority, real threats are ignored until thrust upon us, and Ariel Sharon is calling the shots at the White House.

The story in today’s New York Times by Steven R. Weisman reveals that Bush has decided against issuing a proposal until after the war in Iraq is resolved. This represents a broken promise to our allies and the Palestinians, both of whom were told that we would not re-engage in the process until after Yassir Arafat agreed to hold new elections and share power with a prime minister, both of which he has now done. The Palestinians were told if they stopped the violence and held elections to select new leadership, we would resume direct engagement towards a peace process and by inference, put some pressure on Israel to work towards a solution. Now, the Administration is saying that such a proposal is premature until the war is over, which is the same as confirming the obvious: Bush feels if he waits until Hussein is toppled and we are in control of Iraq, it will force Arafat and his supporters to give up more due to our allegedly increased leverage in the region. This is directly out of the Richard Perle/Paul Wolfowitz playbook for the region cooked up back in 1996-1997.

And it demonstrates that no matter what, Bush is not serious about a balanced peace proposal, and Sharon will never have to negotiate under this scenario. If the war goes well and we and Israel gain the leverage to make demands of the Palestinians, they and their Arab world supporters will feel betrayed and start new uprisings in the region, giving Sharon an excuse to never negotiate. If the war goes poorly, our enemies will be emboldened by the betrayal to declare all out war and Sharon will still not negotiate. The only way to begin defusing the powderkeg we have contributed to was to keep our word and re-engage in advance of any invasion so that our enemies and most importantly the Palestinian people and Arab world knew we were serious about a separate state. Instead, we have now undercut any credibility we had and called into question our motives with people who already are alarmed at our war drive in their back yards.

Bush created the obstacles he is blaming for holding back his engagement. Last spring and summer, while the violence was at its worst and our allies were beseeching us to get re-engaged, Iraq wasn’t formally on the radar screen yet as a high priority. Bush rolled out the war drive and is now using it as an excuse not to go ahead with a peace proposal, a stance whose disingenuousness is exceeded only by his lack of truthfulness. It is one more example of a lack of credibility by a man who is vaunted by his supportive media for his “moral clarity”. Another reason given is that with the recent Israeli elections and even more rightward tilt of the Sharon government, putting out a proposal now would be counterproductive to our efforts to keep Sharon from retaliating against Iraq should Hussein attack Israel during our invasion.

The truth is that our whole approach in foreign policy, where we ignore true imminent threats like terrorism and North Korea and instead focus on creating better leverage for Israel, puts our national interests and our people at risk, and even death. We disengaged from the Middle East after Clinton’s last-ditch attempt for peace at Camp David in the closing days of his administration, and Bush watched in happiness at the hard-right turn Israel took with Sharon’s election. In those eight long months of disengagement and Sharon’s ascendancy, Condoleezza Rice focused not on the peace process, nor the real threat of terrorism right under her nose, but instead on the cold-war obsolete threats of China, Russia, and building support for Star Wars. Such an approach and lack of US interference suited Sharon just fine. But it also confirmed to those planning catastrophes against the US that their cause was justified and those who support them saw no reason to rein in such attacks since they also saw nothing from the US to show we were an honest broker anymore. Our enemies had every reason to believe that we would turn a blind eye towards Sharon’s efforts to improve his situation.

During this time, we gave lip service to North Korea’s demands for our compliance with the 1994 Agreed Framework and face-to-face talks, even though our allies believed that Pyongyang was a ticking time bomb if we didn’t address their requests and comply with the provisions in a timelier manner.

As a result, we suffered terribly on 9/11, from preventable attacks stemming from visible clues, but whose aftermath Israel and the Bush Administration benefited from. It has been more in Sharon’s interests that Hussein be defeated immediately, rather than ours, yet Bush has committed 300,000 of our troops to a war that will do nothing to provide more security for our country, but will provide more leverage to Sharon.

Now we find that Bush has no real intention to work towards peace in the Middle East until Sharon has all the leverage, a scenario that cannot be fulfilled without extremists on both sides driving their peoples towards mutual catastrophe. And Bush has subjugated our foreign policy to Ariel Sharon in the process, which will only ensure our enemies have more and more reason to wage war against us with more and more willing combatants, as they see more and more proof that we are no longer an honest broker.

Our ongoing support for the state of Israel and its people, and our commitment to its survival must not be abused to a degree that their interests subvert our national interests or our role as the world’s policeman, a role that Bush has chosen for us but a role for which he has no head, heart, or honor to carry out. Nor should any craven political calculation by Karl Rove to pander to Jewish voters be elevated to a principle of our foreign policy wherein our allies and enemies cannot tell the difference between the schemes of Ariel Sharon or George W. Bush.

With this betrayal of the trust of our allies and the Palestinian people, we now know how to predict our foreign policies in the future under George W. Bush. We can predict with certainty our policies by checking them against three criteria:

Such policies must mirror the interests of Ariel Sharon;

Such policies must mirror the Israel-first, Pax Americana writings of Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz; and

Such policies must reflect a lack of attention to imminent threats and common sense but are done for domestic political purposes.

My comments here will be construed by some to be anti-Israel. But in truth, I am against those who believe in military solutions as if they exist in a vacuum, who pursue policies that favor one threatened people to the detriment and exclusion of another oppressed people. I am against those who lie to our allies with a straight face and with alleged moral clarity, and pursue adventurism for perceived self-righteousness, and craven domestic purposes.

And I am against those who give aid and comfort to our enemies with their actions, which is what George W. Bush is doing when he lies about his commitment to a Middle East peace process.

Update: Contributor Matt Davis correctly points out that I may be unfairly lumping Paul Wolfowitz in with Richard Perle, given that Wolfowitz supports Israeli moderation on the issue of settlements and is at least sensitive to the plight of the Palestinians. He provides two good links to back this up in the comments section.

Steve :: 11:52 PM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!