April 24, 2003


Hawks Rip Into Mideast Plan: Neoconservatives and like-minded lawmakers blast State Department. (Edwin Chen, April 23, 2003, LA Times)
Emboldened by the U.S. military victory in Iraq, neoconservatives and their allies in Congress are mounting a preemptive campaign against the U.S. plan to implement a so-called road map for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [...]

During the run-up to the Iraq war, President Bush announced his intention of unveiling the Middle East road map once Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority's prime minister-designate, forms his Cabinet and its members take office.

Bush made that commitment, at least in part, as a concession to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his strongest ally on the war, who was concerned that Washington's failure to aggressively pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord was enraging the Arab world.

As outlined in media reports, the plan details a series of reciprocal steps that Israel and the Palestinians would take leading up to the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.

Neoconservatives take issue with the fact that it is a collaborative effort with the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Calling that arrangement a State Department "invention," Gingrich described it Tuesday as "a deliberate and systematic effort to undermine the president's policies procedurally by ensuring that they will consistently be watered down and distorted by the other three members."

Underlying such antagonism is the belief among many administration hawks, especially in the Pentagon, that Russia, France and Germany stymied U.S. efforts to obtain U.N. support for forcefully disarming Iraq.

"For us to invite them into a quartet is an absolute defeat before the process even begins," Gingrich said.

As a part of the new peace initiative, the Bush administration intends to press Israel to ease its crackdown in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

During an April 14 meeting at the White House, both Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security advisor, delivered that news to Dov Weisglass, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who had brought to the White House Sharon's many reservations about the plan.

In an effort to present a united front, Rice included other senior administration officials whom Israel considers more sympathetic, among them Elliott Abrams, a top National Security Council advisor on the Middle East; I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney; and Douglas J. Feith, who is undersecretary of Defense for policy.

But Rice reportedly told Weisglass that the administration would make no changes to the road map before it was unveiled.

Here we see the neocons, who don't actually seem to believe in much more than the exercise of American power, drifting off into a little Cloud-Cuckoo land of their own. They imagine themselves "tough" if they deny they reality that there is going to be a Palestinian state--a position that is made easier since none of them have to worry about dealing with daily suicide bombings (yet anyway). But if America is now to stand for the idea that the Palestinian people should have no citizenship rights anywhere--neither in a state of their own, nor within Israel--we will have betrayed our own values just so the likes of Newt Gingrich can thump their chests. And should the bombings start here, it will be hard to say they aren't, on some level, justified. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 24, 2003 11:16 AM
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