Chris, Krauthammer sees it
I don’t disagree with anything Krauthammer said.
My thoughts are still evolving on this one I guess, Stephen, but basically it boils down to this: the main problem that I saw with the speech was that it perpetuated the myths of evil Israeli occupation and innocent Palestinian people who want peace but have been betrayed by their leaders. The speech also implied a disgusting moral equivalency between the suffering of the Israelis and the suffering of the Palestinians.
That being said, there was lots of good stuff in the speech — if Bush meant it. If we’re really gonna stop supporting a Palestinian state if they don’t reform, if we’re really gonna stop aid if the keep Arafat, if we really mean that we’re not going to press for more pointless negotiations with the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority, then I’d even say that the good stuff in Bush’s speech far outweighs the bad.
I just don’t trust that Bush will stick to that. When the Palestinians reelect Arafat, or another leader “comromised by terror”, do you really gonna walk away? Are we really gonna say, publically and unequivocally, “You’re right, Israel, no point negotiating with that”? I just don’t see it, Stephen.
If I’m right, then the speech is comprised of the two very worst things you can have in a Presidential speech on the Middle East: 1) moral equivalency between terrorists and their victims; and 2) tough anti-terror rhetoric that we’re not going to live up to, thus damaging U.S. credibility and emboldening the terrorists.
By the way, you’ll note that Krauthammer doesn’t really take the position on whether he believes Bush will live up to the speech. Read the last three paragraphs of his column:
“The test, however, is implementation. Already, those who once gave us Oslo and who were pushing for immediate ‘provisional’ Palestinian statehood are now urging a more fixed timetable to statehood — presumably to give the Palestinians ‘hope.’ But what if the Palestinian Authority goes unreformed? What if the terrorism continues? What if the president’s conditions are flouted? You can be sure that the Arabs, the Europeans and the clever ones at State (and their semiofficial spokesmen at the New York Times) will be pushing to explain away or just ignore Palestinian noncompliance in order to stay on calendar and get us to the ultimate goal of ‘peace.’
“We cannot make that mistake again. There is a road to peace. If the Palestinians show a genuine willingness to reform and accept a settlement with Israel, there can be peace. But we cannot let the benchmarks be eroded and the conditions be ignored. If they are, then the promise of the president’s bold new policy will have been irrevocably lost.”
The Hammer’s column is an exhortation for us to do the right thing — but he’s obviously worried about the same forces as I am.