March 27, 2007

Neocons must be getting awfully nervous as Condoleeza Rice moves into the final stretch of her Middle East trip. They have managed to keep the Bushies from doing anything positive for peace in the area for six long years—what with Eliott Abrams in charge—but suddenly things look different. It seems even the Saudis think that enough is enough. Actually it’s very simple. Israel has to dismantle the illegal settlements on the West Bank and allow the Palestinians free access to their fields. In return, the Palestinians have to recognize Israel, stop terrorist attacks against Israelis and adhere to previous agreements.

Easier said than done. The crimes Israel has committed against the Palestinian people for the last 60 years cannot be wiped away like a stain. Nor can the Palestinian hate for those who have oppressed them for so long go away with the signing of a document. There will always be hotheads and deadenders among a people born under an occupation. The trouble is the Palestinian authorities cannot control the hot heads, whereas Israel can—and does—control the Nazi-like settlers who think shooting at a Palestinian boy throwing rocks is good sport.

So, why are the neocons worried? For the first time in six years their champion George W. Bush has obviously been told by Rice and others that the only way he can save his disastrous presidency is by acting—for the first time, mind you—as an honest broker between the two sides. Whereas once the neocons insisted that a germ of democracy was spreading through the Middle East, now they are silent. They believe in democracy as much as Paris Hilton believes in self-effacement. For every successive election in Middle East countries has shown that the people of the region want precisely the opposite to what Western politicians want them to want. Unless the election is gerrymandered, as in Afghanistan and Egypt, the people of the Middle East will always vote for those who have stood up to Israel as well as to the West.

The neocons have their own axe to grind—to make the Middle East safe for Greater Israel—but the West does not necessarily follow an Eretz Israel agenda. Or should not, in any case.  It is strange that people like Bush and Blair have not caught on all these years. The more we mix up in their business, the more the people of the Middle East will hate us. All the more so if that involvement in their lives requires the use of tanks, American-made cluster bombs and American soldiers. No sooner had we forced the Palestinians to vote then they voted in Hamas. And we stopped all humanitarian aid because they democratically elected people we didn’t approve of. Some democracy, as Winny would have said.

What we should do right now is funnel in selective assistance to ministries controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and also assure Hamas that if the cease-fire holds, its ministries will be next to receive it. Then we should tell Israel that the game is up. One could start that by firing Abrams and Cohen, and telling Cheney to take a long needed rest. The neocons have put the kibosh on peace efforts since they came to power six long years ago. The Likudists in Israel have been resisting peace since 1948. Bush could save his legacy by stepping on the right toes. But I won’t be holding my breath.

Tomorrow Taki writes an exclusive on Diana’s death and the great hoax perpetrated by Mohamed Fayed. Taki was the last person to speak to her before she got in the car in which she died.


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