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U.S. Strategy for The Middle East

JINSA Report #: 

April 1, 2002

The President has done a great job under difficult circumstances to ensure that we know that he knows there is no moral equivalence between terrorists and those they would terrorize. He called on Arafat to "stand up and condemn, in Arabic, these attacks." He insisted Arafat could do better. Maybe he can and maybe he can't, but Mr. Bush was right to insist that he try. He told the Arab states they have obligations here as well.

Now, if Mr. Bush could just articulate a strategy, we might be half way out of the morass. But at least thus far, he remains fixed on tactical steps with nary a strategy in sight. "The more progress we make toward achieving a cease-fire or meaningful security discussions, the more a killer organization will try to disrupt the process," he said. On what basis does he think we were even making progress? The "killer organization" he condemned is the same one we were talking to. And in the end, a cease-fire is only a tactic. So he added, "I've asked that General Zinni stay in the region… to continue to push for a process that will ultimately get us into Mitchell, and Mitchell is the best hope for peace." Mitchell is worse than only a tactic.

Mitchell is no improvement at all over the Declaration of Principles (9/93), the Gaza Jericho Accord (5/94), the Transfer of Powers Agreement (8/94), the Interim Agreement (9/95), the Sharm el-Sheikh Agreement (3/96), the Hebron Protocol (1/97), the Wye River Memorandum (10/98), or the Trilateral Statement (7/00). In fact, the 4/01 Sharm el-Sheikh Factfinding Committee Report (The Mitchell Plan) mainly asks the parties to redouble their efforts to fulfill those prior agreements - to stop the violence, take confidence-building steps and resume negotiations.

What will they discuss? Toward what end will they negotiate? Mitchell doesn't say.

Mitchell is alchemy, believing that if the parties sit together, some previously undiscovered solution will present itself and they will make gold out of base metal. But the parties sat together at Camp David. Ehud Barak put real gold on the table. Arafat walked away and started this war, killing innocents and innocence, ruining his people and meeting, we hope, his end as a political and military force.

So what is left for American strategy? It must remain a steadfast friend and ally to Israel - our steadfast friend and ally. It must befriend whatever Palestinians have not been deranged by eight years of the glorification of blood spilled and lives taken.

The Bush Administration must recognize that the core of the problem in the Middle East is NOT the Palestinians, NOT the disputed territory, but the continuing failure of the Arab states to accept the legitimacy of the State of Israel in the region. And because they reject Israel, they fund and support Palestinian radicalism. And so Israelis die. Only by working from that point will the US develop a strategy, rather than taking an endless series of steps doomed to fail.

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