Thursday, April 15, 2004

Bush pokes Arab World with Sharp Stick In the swiftest move for Middle East peace since a vacationing Arthur Balfour declared "I hate bloody hummus, I'd rather have a knish", President Bush decided to pour more political gasoline on the Middle East (and we know how valuable that is). In one fell swoop a pronouncement from the President of the United States pretty much overturned the bedrock of Israeli-Palestinian relations for the last 40 years, UN Resolution 242 which held as its principle that use of force would not be recognized with respect to land grabs. In other words, we have recognized for Israel what we would not recognize for Hussein. Principles it seems, only apply when the nation is your ally, as opposed to your enemy. Hegemonic indeed. This administration has become the NeoCon "fantasy league", even when their policy is shown to be a complete fuck-up one place, like whack-a-moles they keep popping up again and again. In carefully crafted language, Mr Bush came close to accepting Israel's right permanently to keep some of the largest settlement blocs in the West Bank. "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion," Mr Bush said. Most controversially, Mr Bush went to heart of that article of faith of the Palestinians, their right of return to Israel. "It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state and the settling of Palestinian refugees there rather than Israel. " The administration will argue it is only being realistic - articulating what most people expect to be in a final peace agreement. Indeed senior administration officials told a sceptical White House press corps they were not prejudging that final agreement. .... The difference is no US president has pre-empted the negotiations in this way before. What Mr Bush has done is to pull the rug from under any future Palestinian negotiators by denying their demands before they have even begun talking. What concessions could a Palestinian negotiator now hope to get in return for renouncing the right of return, for example, when he knows Washington is already committed to opposing that principle? In President Bush's black and white world, the Israelis are the good guys, the Palestinians, at least their leadership, are the villains. Everyone in Washington has long since lost patience with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. So if negotiations are not possible, why not support a unilateral solution? It puts an end to "swatting flies" as he said in another context. Certainly Wednesday's announcement will be popular for Mr Bush back home as well, not just in the Jewish lobby, but also the Christian fundamentalists who make up a crucial part of his base, amongst hard line Republicans, and of course, amongst the Democrats, who won 90% of the Jewish vote in the last elections. But the concessions made by Mr Bush to Israel here will be difficult if not impossible for any future American President to repudiate. That would be political suicide. I know that trying to maintain a balanced approach to the Middle East is hard, especially when it delays the second coming, but after invading one Muslim Country we have put the thumb down so overtly on the side for Israel giving the Butcher of Sabra pretty much everything he wants (outside of Arafat's head on a platter -- but wait for it...). That is not exactly the way in which you build stability in that region, but hey if you can get a few votes out of it... Republican officials in Washington said that while they are confident Bush made his decision for sincere policy reasons [Ed: RAPTURE, RAPTURE, RAPTURE], they believe the potential impact on the politics of 2004 could be substantial. "This will make it that much harder for John Kerry to win Florida," said a Republican aide on Capitol Hill who refused to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. Associates said Bush's strategists believe that even small inroads into the Jewish vote could mean the difference between winning and losing Florida, and several Republicans believe the announcement could further inhibit Kerry's fundraising in the Jewish community. As Billmon accurately puts it: As the Reuters story notes, the statement overturns in one stroke almost 40 years of official U.S. policy -- a policy Shrub's father actually showed a fair amount of political courage in defending. For decades, Israeli leaders (Likud and Labor alike) have worked to create those "new realities on the ground" -- as the statement, with the usual neocon arrogance, describes them -- through illegal land expropriations, relentless discrimination against Palestinian landowners, and lavish government subsidies for Jewish settlers. And for decades, the U.S. government has refused to accept Israel's bully boy tactics, despite the relentless, continuous efforts of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. ... So there you have it: George W. Bush, the accidental president, has now locked the United States into permanent, full-fledged support for the creation of an apartheid Israel -- complete with bantustans. The United States has managed to play into every stereotype the Arab World has of our country and provoke once again the underlying anger individuals have in that region against us...the Rising Hegemon. Independent pollster John Zogby, who has surveyed extensively in the Arab world, said: "This is pretty much the final nail in the coffin of the peace process as far as Arabs are concerned." He said his polling indicates the Palestinian cause is among the top three issues for 90 percent of Arabs in all Arab countries he has surveyed. "It's not even a political issue, it's a bloodstream issue," Zogby said. Lest it be wondered about, don't take this rant as a defense of the Palestinian Leadership. Forty years ago Arafat and his successors decided that the Gandhi, Martin Luther King route was for pansies and decided to emulate the Haganah and take the course of violence and even take it up a notch. From that end a never ending series of strike and counterstrike has pervaded there, which has expanded to a global scale. What the Palestinian leadership undoubtedly could have won for themselves by now following a peaceful course they completely botched and enhanced the legacy of terrorism and all its cursings today. But by giving this election year gift to Shamir, Bush has killed any pretense the United States has to being an "honest broker", and the whirlwind is going to be reaped It's a good thing we don't have any vital national interest in stability anywhere in the muslim world.
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by