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Monday, March 16, 2009

The appeasement lobby

A group of nine former US officials has urged President Obama to begin a dialogue with Hamas to see if it means what it says. The nine include economic recovery adviser Paul A. Volcker; former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft [pictured. CiJ] and Zbigniew Brzezinski, former House International Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat; former United Nations ambassador Thomas Pickering from the first Bush administration; former World Bank president James Wolfensohn; former US trade representative in the Ford administration Carla Hills; Theodore Sorensen, former special counsel to President John F. Kennedy; and former Republican senators Chuck Hagel and Nancy Kassebaum Baker. I guess James Baker wasn't available. I'm not surprised at any of the names for which I've provided links, nor am I surprised at Hagel. I don't know enough about the others' positions on Israel to determine whether I should be surprised. The group was orchestrated by Henry Siegman - no surprise there either.
The group is preparing to meet this weekend to decide when to release a report outlining a proposed US agenda for talks aimed at bringing all Palestinian factions into the Mid east peace process, according to Henry Siegman, the president of the US/Middle East Project, who brought the former officials together and said the White House promised the group an opportunity to make its case in person to Obama.

Talking to Hamas, which the State Department has designated a terrorist organization, would mark a dramatic reversal for the US government. Longstanding US policy has stipulated that before engaging in any talks, Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and agree to all previous agreements signed by Palestinian negotiators.

"I see no reason not to talk to Hamas," said Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush.

Siegman said the letter, which was handed to Obama by Volcker but has not been made public, said the administration should "at least explore the possibility" that Hamas, which took control of the Palestinian territory of Gaza after elections in 2006, might be willing to transition into a purely political party and join with its rival, Fatah, which holds the Palestinian presidency in the West Bank.

The White House did not respond immediately last night to requests for comment on the letter. Volcker was unavailable for comment.


Siegman and Scowcroft said the letter urged Obama to formulate a clear American position on how the peace talks should proceed and what the specific goals should be.

"The main gist is that you need to push hard on the Palestinian peace process," Scowcroft said in an interview. "Don't move it to end of your agenda and say you have too much to do. And the US needs to have a position, not just hold their coats while they sit down."
In other words, they want the US to impose a 'settlement.' But Waleed Sadi, a former Jordanian ambassador to the UN and to Turkey, argues that peace between Israel and the 'Palestinians' cannot be imposed, and that the road to Middle East peace runs through southwest Asia: Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
OBAMA'S FOCUS in the Middle East, for the time being at least, can therefore be classified as security-oriented rather than predicated on the advancement of peace processes between Israel and neighboring Arab countries, including of course the Palestinians. There is enough evidence to corroborate the growing conviction that the new president believes that an imposed settlement on the Arab-Israel fronts will not make sense, based on the rationale that an imposed peace is no peace at all.

Obama subscribes to the need for engagement with the parties to the Arab-Israel conflict on condition these engagements are waged without illusion, meaning without too high expectations. He seems to believe that conditions on the ground are not favorable to lasting peace deals between the parties and that this hostile environment to peace arises not only because Palestinian ranks are in disarray and the domestic Israeli scene is not much better, but also because of a lack of propitious conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan on the one hand and Iran on the other. In other words, peace in the Middle East must be preceded by peace and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the end of the Iranian threat.
And intelligence reports received by the White House agree with Sadi's assessment (Hat Tip: Little Green Footballs).

Mr Riedel, who served on the NSC under three previous presidents, believes that unless serious action is taken, Pakistan will become a “terrorist university”, posing a far greater threat to the security of the US and Europe than Afghanistan before the September 11 atrocities.

Recent “apocalyptic” intelligence on the situation in Pakistan has sent shockwaves through the upper echelons of the Obama administration and convinced Mr Riedel’s review team that radicals trained in Pakistan are the greatest threat to Western security.

One White House aide emerged from an intelligence briefing on Pakistan three days after Mr Obama’s inauguration to exclaim: “Holy s—t!”

At Pajamas Media, Michael Ledeen refers to the nine signatories to the letter to Obama as the Appeasers.
When President Reagan proclaimed that the Soviet Empire was destined to fail, brought the full array of American power to bear on the world Communist movement, and called upon the West to begin planning for the post-Soviet world, he was denounced as an unsophisticated and dangerous hawk. Didn’t he understand, his critics asked, that there was an enormous variety of “Communist” movements and parties, and that many of them were quite independent of the Kremlin? From Katherine Graham of the Washington Post to the usual editorialists on the left, Reagan was urged to take it easy on the likes of the Italian, Spanish and French Communist Parties, the so-called “Eurocommunists.” The very same Professor Brzezinski who today calls for talks with Hamas, then argued that “Eurocommunism” was a mortal threat to the Soviet Union, and said that the success of the Eurocommunists would wreck international Communism.

It was not so. In the years that followed, despite their local grievances and despite distinct differences in tone, the Eurocommunists remained loyal Communists. And when the Soviet Empire fell, they fell along with it. So it will be with Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban. Just as the Eurocommunists could not survive without the constant aid, guidance, and funding from the Kremlin, so the various terrorist groups cannot long survive without Iran and the dark side of the Pakistani Government and the Saudi Royal Family.

Instead of bringing American power to bear on the terror masters in Tehran, Damascus, Islamabad and Riyadh, the appeasers warn that anything we do will only make things worse, just as the Cold War appeasers said that Reagan would make things worse with the Soviet Union. Martin Kramer noted that this case had been made quite emphatically by Ambassador Chas Freeman, the recently fallen nominee to head up the National Intelligence Council.

Freeman opposed adding Hamas and Hezbollah to the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, despite Hezbollah’s attacks on Americans in the 1980s (and, Martin should have added, the 1990s, as at Khobar Towers), and Hamas’ suicide bombings of innocent Israelis. “By openly stating and taking action to make them—to declare that we are their enemy, we invite them to extend their operations in the United States or against Americans abroad.”

In others words, appeasers like Freeman and the others advocate pre-emptive capitulation and appeasement in the hopes that the groups will only target innocents living in the Middle East. One could not ask for a better example of Churchill’s definition of an appeaser. This idea is both morally bankrupt and strategically dangerous because it fails to recognize the long-term, worldwide ambition of these groups.


The current appeasers have less excuse than the British Prime Minister, who thought he could forestall and perhaps even avoid a war with the Third Reich. If they were really realists, the appeasers ot today would recognize that we are already at war, and that, just as in the epic struggle against Nazism and Fascism, the only proper mission for the West is victory. Instead, they seek dishonor, and the effect of their dishonorable campaign is to encourage our enemies, weaken our will, condemn the victims of radical Islam to death, torture, and misery, and hasten the day when we will be forced to fight on a much larger scale, perhaps even in our own land.

Churchill put it best the day he became Prime Minister:
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs - Victory in spite of all terrors - Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.
Read the whole thing.

It's time to finally take Hamas' word for their goals and to stop trying to wish they were something different. Wishing that Hamas would change will not change them, just like wishing that the 'Palestinians' would live in peace with Israel will not make the 'Palestinians' live in peace with Israel.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has thus far shown that it has to try talking to each terrorist and each anti-Semite for itself before accepting (hopefully) that there is nothing to discuss. It's a dangerous game to play, but they insist on playing it (see Iran, Syria). I expect that the Obama administration will end up talking to Hamas. I hope and pray that they will not damage Israel in the process.


At 8:55 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel may have to go it all alone in the end. The time when Great Powers could dispose of small nations at their whim has vanished. Of course the US is free to talk to whomever it wants but it cannot impose national suicide upon Israel. All the formidable pressure America's "appeasement lobby" could bring to bear will end up achieving the opposite of its desired result. Israelis are not fools and they've seen a region unreconciled to the existence of ANY kind of Jewish State in its midst. And they will act accordingly.

At 12:15 AM, Blogger Naftali2 said...

Hi Norman,

Yeah, eventually it will be going it alone--but we've known this for thousands of years. The only question, do we have the know-how necessary for the task.

As far as the names on the list, they get everything wrong and nothing goes according to their 'expert' planning.

It's Comedy d'Foreign Policy.

At 12:30 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Naftali - the Jews managed to establish their own state after decades of hard work and sacrifice. And Israel succeeded in winning wars against its enemies in the past. I am convinced that Israel will find the solution to the Iranian nuclear conundrum. After all its a situation of ein breira - "no alternative."

And in such a situation the human mind is capable of rising to the challenge. I'm not saying there aren't risks to be faced but doing nothing is for Israel - literally unthinkable.

At 7:42 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

NormanF and Naftali,

The question isn't whether Israel has the ability to go it alone - it's whether we have the will to go it alone with God's help.

If you haven't seen it before, read the interview I posted with Professors Aumann and Ciechenover two years ago.

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Enemies of Israel are now openly declaring their long-held views.

Sensient Jewish Democrats (in particular) can take notice and maybe vote more intelligently in the future.


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