Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ariel Sharon's Visit to Crawford

To his credit, George W. Bush at least made an attempt to push back against Ariel Sharon's plan for unilateral separation (as an end in itself -- to preclude a negotiated solution with the Palestinians, rather than lead to it). I haven't been a big fan of the Washington Post 's editorial staff since they decided to support the invasion of Iraq and the "democratic transformation by force" agenda of the Bush administration, but in this case I think Jackson Diehl gets it right:
Abandoning a decade of efforts at negotiations -- not to mention Bush's own "road map" for a two-state solution -- Sharon aimed to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, then impose a border of Israel's choosing in the West Bank, fortified by walls and fences. Rather than seek accord with the Palestinians, whom he knew would never accept his terms, Sharon sought to anchor his initiative in a deal with Bush, whom he asked for an endorsement of Israel's eventual annexation of West Bank territory and its determination never to accept the return of Palestinian refugees. With diplomacy at an impasse and Yasser Arafat still master of his long-suffering people, Bush signed on.

Since then a lot has happened: Arafat died and was replaced by a democratically elected president committed to ending violence and negotiating a settlement. Bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians ceased for the first time in Bush's presidency. A reelected Bush solemnly recommitted himself to the road map and its two-state negotiated settlement, which he said he wants to achieve by the end of his second term. "The world must not rest," he declared in February, "until there is a just and lasting resolution to this conflict."

Yet, as Sharon today once again huddles with the president -- this time at his ranch in Crawford, Tex. -- the unilateral solution he has pursued so relentlessly for the past 12 months remains unchanged.
Sharon has already made clear he has no intention of listening:
Speaking to reporters Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel has built settlements to solidify control over areas of the West Bank it deems vital to its security. "It was not to antagonize the U.S., but to keep areas that seem strategic to Israel," Sharon said.
Of course, Israel is not doing this to antagonize the U.S. -- but the continuation of the conflict antagonizes the Arab/Islamic worlds against the U.S., which has huge implications for American national interests and American national security. And Sharon knows that he's not dealing with Bush pere, who actually put some financial teeth into his objections to the settlements. He also knows that the key senior White House pointman for the Middle East, Elliott Abrams, isn't going to advocate any pressure.

Meanwhile, while he shrugs off the idea of a revival of a genuine peace process with the Palestinians, which would contribute to our security, he's busily pressing us to do something primarily beneficial to Israel.

Note to the neocons -- you really need to make a trip out to Langley to make sure they include the Iranian ICBM program that our MEK / Ghorbanifar friends told us about (ok, we had Michael Ledeen tell them first, but...) -- they don't have good sources in Iran anyway, so badger them to shorten the "maybe, in 20 years" to "probably, in 5 years." Sorta like the Iraqi drones which could be launched from ships -- there's gotta be a direct tie-in to an attack against the U.S., with a credible means of delivery. Worked last time.


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