July 19, 2007

Bush Rolls the Dice with Abu Mazen

July 19, 2007 - It is a very dangerous game played by every Commander-in-Chief who has walked the West Wing since Truman: rolling the dice for Middle East Peace. It seems each U.S. president wishes to be "that president" who was finally able to facilitate a lasting peace between the Israelis and her Arab neighbors. No U.S. president--from Truman to Bush--has come even remotely close to achieving such an objective. If past is prologue, no U.S. president ever will.

On paper, as well as record, the United States has become notorious, with few exceptions, for its support of Israel. We were, in fact, the first country to recognize the Jewish state only minutes after she came into "official" existence in May of 1948. However, our strategic interests in the Middle East--which, unfortunately, shape our foreign policy--have dictated that we are a nation predisposed to pursuing Israel's "best interests" only when they meet cohesively with our own. The result is an extremely capricious, U.S. foreign policy in the region, and one that often compromises the national security of the Jewish state.

Five years ago, President George W. Bush stood in the Rose Garden and affirmed his commitment to the establishment of a "Palestinian" state alongside Israel. He later would dedicate his second term to such an objective. In his speech, Bush stated the following:

"I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts."

"...The Palestinian people are gifted and capable, and I am confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation. A Palestinian state will never be created by terror -- it will be built through reform."

This president insisted that a democratically-elected, "Palestinian" government alongside Israel would open the door to peace in the Middle East--and Gaza held the key that would unlock it. Of no secret is Bush's public praise of Ariel Sharon's complete disengagement from all 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip in August, 2005. After meeting with the Israeli PM at his Crawford ranch in April of 2005, President Bush labeled Sharon's disengagement proposal as "a bold step and a courageous step", and lauded Sharon for "..showing strong, visionary leadership by difficult steps to improve the lives of people across the Middle East." While praising the Israel PM publicly for his land concessions, Bush admonished Sharon for his proposals for land expansion in Judea and Samaria, stating, "I've been very clear about Israel has an obligation under the road map. That's no expansion of settlements."

History shows us instances in which U.S. foreign policy directly conflicted with Israel's national security. Hindsight shows us the results.

Bush got his wish. Following the complete, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in August of 2005, the "Palestinians", indeed, held new elections--democratic elections. Democracy in the Middle East showed signs of expanding beyond the government of Israel. Perhaps, Bush was onto something.

Or, was he?

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