April 22, 2004


Sharon's changing Mideast his way (Richard Z. Chesnoff, April 22, 2004, New York Daily News)

Sharon's plan is brilliant in its simplicity - a sort of uncontestable, one-way divorce. Unwilling to wait any longer for the Palestinians to stop terror and negotiate peace seriously, Sharon plans single-handedly to disengage Israeli forces from Gaza, withdraw the 7,000 Jewish settlers who currently live there, turn control of the desert strip over to the Palestinians and begin to do the same in the West Bank by dismantling some Israeli settlements there as well. [...]

And then there is the most important of all declarations: America is backing the Israelis on their position that the so-called right of return is valid only for entry into a future Palestinian state and not to the Jewish state, thus thwarting the Arab attempt to destroy Israel by cramming millions of so-called Palestinian refugees down its throat.

The Palestinians have a long history of rejecting Israeli offers, only to see the dream of peace, prosperity and their own state recede farther over the horizon. This time, they should accept Sharon's plan not as an outrageous insult but as a great opportunity.

Above all, they should remember that next time, the chances are that they'll be offered even less.

The Accidental Radical (Jonathan Rauch, August 6, 2003, National Journal)
The Middle East. Beginning with a speech on June 24 of last year, Bush likewise upended five decades of Middle East policy. Since the 1940s, the United States had refrained from calling for a Palestinian state and had accepted Arab authoritarianism as a given. Bush not only reversed both policies but yoked the two reversals together by conditioning Palestinian independence on Palestinian democratization. "Throwing out the rule book," is how Daniel Pipes, a prominent Middle East scholar, described Bush's actions, in a recent New York Post article. "It could well be the most surprising and daring step of his presidency," wrote Pipesóa step, he added, that did not emerge from the usual process of consensus-building in Washington but that instead "reflects the president's personal vision."

Underlying all of Bush's foreign-policy departures is a little-noted shift that may be the most fundamental of the bunch. Unlike foreign-policy realists (including his father), Bush does not believe that states should be regarded as legitimate just because they are stable and can be dealt with. And unlike internationalists (including his predecessor), he does not believe that states should be regarded as legitimate just because they are internationally recognized. He believes that legitimacy comes only from popular sovereignty and civilized behavior.
President Reagan horrified realists and internationalists alike by declaring that the Soviet Union was not a legitimate state. He would deal with the Soviet regime but never accept it. He aimed at regime change. Realists argued that Reagan's naivete would destabilize the world order, and internationalists feared that it would threaten hard-won human-rights agreements, but Reagan insistedóperhaps not so naivelyóthat only freedom could produce stability and protect human rights.

Bush embraces Reagan's notion and extends it worldwide. He will deal with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or Kim Jong Il's North Korea, or Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority, or Charles Taylor's Liberia, if he must, but he will not accept such a regime as entitled to exist and, one way or another, he will try to change it. Against such regimes, the use of force may be impractical or unwise, but it is certainly not illegitimate. Indeed, for Bush, the real puzzle is why anyone would object, in principle, to the toppling of a regime such as Saddam Hussein's, or why anyone would regard the United Nations, which no one ever voted for, as morally relevant.

And so Bush, like Reagan but more so, does not accept the world as he finds it. He regards the existing world order as unacceptably dangerous. The existing world order, returning the compliment, regards him the same way.

To understand George W. Bush's foreign policy it is only necessary to grasy one thing: no regime that is not liberal is legitimate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 22, 2004 12:10 PM

Wow, they catch on fast, eh?

You should find your earliest post on this topic and link to it.

Posted by: kevin whited at April 22, 2004 1:40 PM

Wouldn't want to embarrass everyone who commented that the notion was ludicrous and craven--now they all say it was obvious and a clear victory for Sharon.

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2004 1:45 PM