That’s a quote from a must-read article in today’s Wall Street Journal, co-authored by Basseim Eid (a Palestinian) and Natan Sharansky (an Israeli), on “Bush’s Mideast U-Turn.” Together, they are taking the Bush administration to task for betraying the vision presented by President Bush in 2002 for a true Israeli-Palestinian peace. They remind us that Bush proposed an end to U.S. support for corrupt, terror-compromised Palestinian leaders such as Yasser Arafat, and said the U.S. would instead back genuine democratic, market-economy, anti-terrorist reform of Palestinian society as the only viable path to peace, and prelude to a Palestinian state. Instead, U.S. policy has reverted to “quick and foolish solutions” — to waving aside genuine Palestinian reformers in order to prop Arafat’s heirs, such as Abu Mazen; to snap elections that brought Hamas to power in Gaza; to ignoring “the vital link between freedom and peace.”
I’d add that it is not only in the Israeli-Palestinian arena that the Bush administration has been defaulting to the failed policies of the past. In dealings with — to name just some of the worst — North Korea, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya — the administration has been increasingly ignoring that vital link between freedom and peace, in favor of old, failed notions that we can cut deals with tyrants and on the basis of parleys and paper promises expect to enjoy peace. Within the administration, the chief agency sounding this retreat — and leading us toward new wars — is Condoleezza Rice’s State Department, subject of a scorching memo now making the rounds about the State Department bureaucracy in Iraq. The point there is that the American military has been fighting so well for genuine progress, which we cannot afford to see squandered by the State Department.
It is also State Department diplomacy that has been rolling out a red carpet for the regime of Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, regardless of the nasty portents involved in his continuing rule of terror at home. More thoughts on that in my recent column for The Philadelphia Inquirer, on Libya’s leading democratic dissident, Fathi Eljahmi. Praised by Bush in 2004, Eljahmi has since been held at Gadhafi’s pleasure in solitary confinement in the prison system of Libya –a matter evidently of small concern to a State Department, which last fall raised no objection to Libya taking a seat on the UN Security Council. If all this above is State’s road to peace, it’s time to reverse gears, and head back to the future.