The Middle East:
The Bush Administration's Mid-East policy has consisted of stop and go/contradictory measures that have contributed to regional instability. Unbelievably, even as recently as a couple of days ago, with Israeli troops occupying Ramallah and Sharon's avowed desire to uproot Arafat and the PLO from the region, Bush stated that Arafat/The PLO "can do more," and defended Sharon and the Israeli response to terrorism! Yet, only a couple of days earlier, the United States voted for a Security Council Resolution, passed 14-0, calling for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities!
The public Mid-East foreign policy disagreements between President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld, and their various undersecretaries/aids, have further contributed to the confusion. While General Zinni may be a good man, the Administration has sent him to the region at inopportune times. Ditto, for the Secretary of State. Finally, the Bush Administration's criticism of former President Clinton's past role in the peace process is mere finger pointing. The Administration's infighting and public ineptness, emboldens extremists on both sides of the conflict.
With Sharon on one end of the spectrum and Hamas/Islamic
Jihad on the other, Arafat is caught in a dangerous tug of war. Both Israeli
military actions and Islamic terrorists have seriously weakened his
position. The Israeli occupation has played into
the hands of Islamic extremists, who have attempted to sabotage the
peace process for over thirty years. The Islamic terrorist acts have
played into the hands of Sharon, whose
enmity towards the PLO leader stretches back twenty years or more.
Sharon's inept and brutal policies (which at times appear to be backed by the U.S.) are helping make Arafat a world-wide martyr, radicalizing the moderate Arab states, engendering sympathy for radical Arab states such as Iran and Iraq, emboldening Islamic terrorists, weakening the "global war on terrorism," and endangering U.S. relationships with its' allies. Arab oil export restrictions/embargos to the West are another related and possible consequence. Finally, Israel's known nuclear missile capability potentially injects layers of fear and concern among Arab states, the consequences of which are unpredictable and highly destabilizing for the region and the world.
Sharon's comparison of his
governments "anti-terrorist" policy to the U.S.
response to 911 is disingenuous. For example, the Untied States
did not occupy Afghanistan (prior to 911) or confine its citizens to
refugee camps. Nor was the United States engaged in a series of
violent and embittering tit for tat exchanges with
prior to 911. Further, the target of U.S. military actions has been
Al Qiada, not the Afghanistan people or its' legitimate leaders.
Again this begs the question, is Arafat's PLO a terrorist group or a
supporter of terrorists? Are they legitimate leaders of the
In conclusion, I believe none of the responsible parties to the conflict dispute the need to stop terrorism.
Israel, the PLO and other nations in the region, working together, must rekindle the peace
process and either root out terrorist groups or bring them into the
-Lowell Greenberg, 4/2002
"Policy Divide Thwarts Powell in Mideast Effort:
"State Department officials say Secretary of
State Colin L. Powell has been
repeatedly undercut by other senior policymakers in his effort
to break the Middle East deadlock, warning this has left U.S.
diplomacy paralyzed at an especially volatile moment.