Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"The Israeli concept"

Al Khaleej, the UAE newspaper, devotes its lead editorial to to an explanatory concept that separates Bush and Condoleeza Rice on the one side from Baker and others who are trying to help him on the other. It is "the Israeli concept". For Israel, the editorialist says, the world is simple. The more countries that can be made to submit to, or better yet be occupied by, the Americans, the easier it will be for Israel to ignore the rights of the Palestinians. And so they push for solving the problems of Iraq, and Iran, and Syria, before dealing with the Palestinians, because each element of American pressure on, or occupation of an Arab nation makes the Israeli position vis-a-vis the Palestinians that much easier to easier to maintain. It doesn't matter to the Israelis if the Americans get bogged down in new quagmires and is weakened strategically for the future, just as long as it serves Israeli interests in evading its legal responsibilities vis-a-vis the Palestinians. American policy, known for its pragmatism, completely abandons pragmatism and reason itself, when it goes along with this.

Condoleeza Rice has specifically denied that a Palestinian solution would help in Iraq, telling reporters that "Iraq is facing a fight that is peculiar to itself". To say that, the editorialist says, you have to go out of your way to abjure any knowledge of pre-invasion Iraq, which for all the despotism of the prior regime, was not subject to chronic chaos, not susceptible to fragmentation, or civil war. His concluding point is that certainly as long as there is the occupation, then in Condoleeza's phrase there "isn't any magic solution". But the point is that if you end the occupation, then there are many solutions. And you certainly don't bring a solution closer by multiplying the number of wars and occupations even more, which is what he calls the "Israeli concept".

Interestingly, a writer in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz puts this in the form of a nice aphorism. She notes that in 2004, Robert Gates (with Z. Brzezinski from the Carter era) chaired a Council on Foreign Relations study that said Palestine is the core issue in dealing with the Iranian issue and should be solved first, taking the wind out of the Iranians' anti-Americanism. And she describes Gates' approach this way: "He is of the school that thinks if you can't solve a problem with force, then you aren't going to be able to solve it with additional force."

And she says of Gates: "Like Baker, he believes that ending the occupation and the Arab-Israeli conflict are vital to the United States' Middle East agenda".

But as the Al-Khaleej editorialist says, "the American political mind is closed, and only Israel holds the key".


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