Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, April 16, 2004  

Sharon and Bush

The situation in Israel is intractable. It's so bad that the parties can't even agree on what the situation is, much less a suitable remedy. Having read many analyses of South Asia--particularly since India and Pakistan went nuclear--I'm well aware that to truly bring understanding to the situation, one must be familiar with the history, culture, and politics of a region. (As a failed Ph.D. student in Indian religion, I learned enough to know that the US has rarely had the vaguest idea what the countries' mindset was.) All of that is by way of saying that I'm about as unqualified to discuss Israel as anyone you'll find. But while I can't begin to know what to do, sometimes even a blind fool like me can tell what not to do.

From an Arab News editorial:

It is now clear that this was yet another lie to stand alongside claims about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam’s involvement in Sep. 11. On Wednesday President Bush tore up the road map once and for all. He hailed Ariel Sharon’s plan to abandon the unmanageable, overcrowded and destitute Gaza Strip and annex key areas of the West Bank as “historic and courageous”. Bush may not be in an intellectual position to realize it, but this latest breach of a solemn promise will have serious implications for the US-led occupation of Iraq. Moderate Iraqi opinion, which once represented a large core of the population to which the Americans were appealing for support, will now despair. Whatever other horrors may lie ahead, it will become plain to them that the Americans can no longer be part of any solution because they cannot be trusted.

The position of the British is no less disturbing.... At a stroke, the British were robbing their partners in the European Union of a united front to counterbalance the unholy alliance between Washington and Israel. It ought to be clear to Blair that Bush’s Middle East policy is now informed solely by his need to get re-elected. He wants the votes of the Zionists and the fundamentalist Christian right. To get them he has been prepared to destroy the last vestiges of America’s position as an honest broker. Now, in his ultimate volte-face, he will seek to convince the electorate that he did the right thing in Iraq but did not count on the disorganization, selfishness and ingratitude of the Iraqi people.

When in November George W. Bush enters the history books as one of his country’s most inept single-term presidents, he will leave his successor a poisoned legacy in the form of his Middle East policy. Both politically and diplomatically, it will be well-nigh impossible to claw back this momentous concession to expansionist Israel.

When Bush went into Iraq, he did it unilaterally and without considering the long-term (and indeed, short-term) consequences of his actions. Here again he's chosen clarity in the present over consideration about the future. It will reap violent rewards. Those rewards, one imagines, have been calculated to fall after November, when Bush is either in his final term or out of office--in either case, beyond accountability.

posted by Jeff | 9:31 AM |
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