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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bush, the politician

Caroline Glick got to say her piece on President Bush's speech over the weekend, and she said that he's a 'small, unpopular leader' but a good 'politician.' Like me, Caroline was critical of what wasn't said in President Bush's speech last Monday:
Neither on Monday nor at any other time did Bush condition his support for the Palestinians on their taking concerted action against terrorism. Indeed, as he made clear in his speech, his policy is predicated on the basic assumption that the Palestinians must be bribed with money, American legitimacy and Israeli lands, and that Israel must be pressured to make more and more concessions to the Palestinians before one can expect them to change their terrorist policies, values and goals.

Far from revisiting this assumption after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's US-trained Fatah forces surrendered to Hamas in Gaza last month, administration officials responded to the rout by intensifying their belief in it.

Take for example Bush's demand that Abbas arrest terrorists. Bush made this demand while simultaneously upholding Abbas as a peace-seeking, terror abhorring leader. Yet Abbas's one consistent demand is for Israel to release terrorists from prison and grant amnesty to terror commanders it has yet to arrest.

Today the administration has made preventing a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria its immediate goal. Monday morning The Washington Post reported that since the Hamas takeover of Gaza, US intelligence agencies have concluded that the only thing preventing Hamas from taking over Judea and Samaria is the IDF. As one senior intelligence official put it, "Israeli military operations are the major factor restricting Hamas activity [in the areas]." Yet rather than urge Israel to maintain its counter-terror operations, Bush said that the Israelis should find "practical ways to reduce their footprint" in Judea and Samaria. He also pledged $80 million to Fatah militias whose officer corps are teeming with the same terrorists that Abbas is supposed to be arresting.

Bush told the Palestinians that this is a "moment of choice" for them. It is time for them to decide if they are for terror or peace. But then, he said the same thing five years ago. Since then, at every decision point, the Palestinians chose terror. They have built terror armies and amassed terror arsenals. The have strengthened their ties to Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and al-Qaida. They overwhelmingly elected Hamas to lead them. But in the interests of advancing its policy of appeasement, the Bush administration abjectly refuses to acknowledge that the Palestinians have already chosen.

Abbas is the man that Bush believes will cause the Palestinians to have a change of heart. Bush places his trust in Abbas - the man who has pocketed billions of dollars in assistance from the US, the EU and Israel but has never lifted a finger against terrorists or done anything to end the corruption endemic in his government. Bush upholds Abbas, who equipped his US-trained forces with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles which are completely useless for fighting terror cells but come in mighty handy for fighting Israel.

Israel's assigned role in this diplomatic farce is the patsy. Due to the exigencies of democratic politics, and in the absence of leadership on either side, over the past few years, US-Israel relations have taken on a sado-masochistic quality. To endear himself with the State Department and Europe, Bush has chosen to insist that Israel endanger itself. To survive in office, Olmert, like Ariel Sharon before him, has agreed to endanger Israel in order to secure the support of the Left in his governing coalition, the media, and the State Prosecutor's office.

The one conclusion that cries out from all of this is that in the waning days of the Bush administration, and perhaps of the Olmert government, the American and Israeli publics need to find ways to make it clear that they demand good leaders, not good politicians.


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