Thursday, September 18, 2003

Foreign policy hindsight

Does anyone else remember when Bush was "bold" and was going to change the face of the Middle East?

Michael Kelly, June 27, 2002:

In the wake of the extraordinary speech George Bush gave in the Rose Garden Monday afternoon, here are several modest predictions: --Yasser Arafat will be gone as the leader of the Palestinian Authority within a year--probably within six months. And he will be gone in the best possible manner: not made a heroic ``martyr" by an Israeli bomb or bullet, nor sent into yet another forced exile to wreak more destruction as a heroic leader-in-exile. No, this time the tired, old, failed, disgraced little tyrant without a country will leave as the loser he is; he will be forced into retirement by his own long-suffering people.

--The Palestinians will elect leaders who at least credibly promise a representative government of laws, who at least credibly promise to reject terror and murder and war as the means toward statehood, who at least credibly are committed to achieving a workable two-state, side-by-side peace with Israel. The peace process will begin anew, with some (fragile) hope.

--Israel and the United States will respond by supporting the development of something that has never existed in history, a functioning Palestinian state. While taking heroic measures to protect itself, Israel will support this development with major concessions. The Palestinian people will also support this process. So will the important Arab states. A nascent peace will take hold.

--In a matter of only a few years, Palestine will be one of two new Arab democratic states. The other neonatal Arab democracy will be Iraq. These unthinkable developments will revolutionize the power dynamic in the Middle East, powerfully adding to the effects of the liberation of Afghanistan to force Arab and Islamic regimes to increasingly allow democratic reforms. A majority of Arabs will come to see America as the essential ally in progress toward liberty in their own lands.

Within the boundaries of gambling and guessing, I believe all this might really come to pass. The reason I do is that George Bush believes it might.

Michael Ledeen, September 04, 2002:

By all indications, the discussion will be about using our irresistible military might against a single country in order to bring down its leader. We should instead be talking about using all our political, moral and military genius to support a vast democratic revolution to liberate all the peoples of the Middle East from tyranny. That is our real mission, the essence of the war in which we are engaged, and the proper subject of our national debate.

Saddam Hussein is a terrible evil, and President Bush is entirely right in vowing to end his reign of terror. But this is not just a war against Iraq, it is a war against terrorist organizations and against the regimes that foster, support, arm, train, indoctrinate and command the terrorist legions who are clamoring for our destruction. There are four such regimes: in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

George W. Bush, Sept 12, 2002:

Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow. And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the 11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.

If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.

Today in Gaza:

Israeli forces killed a Hamas militant during a firefight with gunmen in the Gaza Strip yesterday, hours after Palestinian President Yasser Arafat said he would fight to the death if Israel tried to expel or kill him.

Israeli helicopter gunships killed Jihad Abu Swerah, 34, a senior activist in the Izz-el-Deen al-Qassam armed wing of Hamas during an attempt to arrest him at his home in Gaza.

The raid was part of a series of Israeli measures to clamp down on militants behind the killing of 38 people in suicide bombings in Israel over the past month in a cycle of tit-for-tat violence that has derailed a US-backed peace plan.

Speaking in his partly demolished West Bank headquarters on Wednesday, Mr Arafat pointed to his machine-gun lying on the floor and said he would use it to defend himself.

Today in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, the Guardian has learned.

This new threat of proliferation in one of the most dangerous regions of the world comes on top of a crisis over Iran's alleged nuclear programme...

Until now, the assumption in Washington was that Saudi Arabia was content to remain under the US nuclear umbrella. But the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US has steadily worsened since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington: 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi.

It is not known whether Saudi Arabia has taken a decision on any of the three options. But the fact that it is prepared to contemplate the nuclear option is a worrying development.

Today in Washington:

The Bush administration named Syria and Libya yesterday as "rogue states" whose weapons of mass destruction must not just be controlled but must be eliminated by whatever means necessary.

Syria, it said, is of particular concern because it has been supporting terrorist groups and letting militants cross its border into Iraq to fight U.S. forces.

Thank god those neocons aren't concerned about little things like the real world or they might be disheartened by all this.


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