Letters to the Editor
The Emperorer's New Middle East Policy
Tony Karon's summary
of the "new improved" Bush Middle East policy
makes the baldfaced assumption that the "Emperor's Middle East Policy" could actually be implemented by this gang that can't shoot straight, even if these desert-blinded pilgrims could find a workable policy. Bush talks a good game, and is great at generating lovely images for his public. After failing with Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, Katrina, Social Security, Medicare Prescriptions, and now the Minneapolis Bridge, only the most faithful or dependent Republican partisans believe that anything this President touches will turn to dross.
Karon's summary of Israeli attitudes appears to ignore the pro-peace factions in the Israeli electorate -- as do most news media in the United States. He identifies all of Israel with Olmert's sadly compromised political position -- fending off political attacks on his right from religious parties and from Netanyahu's Lebanon-invigorated Likud. His vision of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan is equally jaded. The recently reported contacts between these regimes and Olmert is a promising development, if only because each side is willing to make contact instead of ostracizing one another. Such contacts have little to do with Bush initiatives, even if Bush would like to take credit. It is rather a desperation move by the Middle East powerhouses to reach a consensus from which they can move the Jets and Sharks of Gaza and the West Bank to sing, "There's A Place for Us" in harmony instead of "Tonight" in multipart counterpoint.
This is not to say that Olmert has made all the right moves; but he has been given far too little credit for his withdrawl from Gaza. Had the kidnappings and rockets of Hamas and Heabollah not made a West Bank withdrawl and consolidation an impossibility, there might well have been a de-facto Palestinian state. Instead, Jewish settlements, for which Israel had purposely preserved greenhouses and other assets for their new Palestinian owners, had their charity smashed and thrown in their faces. Once again, Palestinians have missed opportunities, just as they had with Barak's Taba offer.
I am no fan of Olmert, by the way. I just think it is wrong to judge his motives as duplicitous, as he attempts to lead a deeply divided Israeli public, in negotiation with an equally divided Arab public.
-- Ben Burrows, Elkins Park, PA
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