The way we sold out Israel is uncannily reminiscent of the way the Allies sold out Chechoslovakia to the Nazis.Seems I was a bit premature. But given enough time all I have to do is wait for ex-minister Baker and his clique of utterly unrealistic 'Real-politiker' to prove me right after all.
The ISG was a good idea. It was becomig clear that the current strategy in Iraq was not working very well (though by no means as bad as the MSM would have us believe). The the advice of the ISG directly involving the current situation in Iraq seem sound: Focus on training Iraqi security forces and let them do the actual policing. Shades of 'Vietnamization', I know. But they'll have to be able to do that independently sometime.
There are all sorts of deep and nuanced analyses to be made (and are being made). But there is one thing about the Baker report that stuck with me. And keeps bothering me. To save Iraq Baker c.s. have suggested to sacrifice Israel:
Officials said the Baker proposal to exclude Israel from a Middle East peace conference garnered support in the wake of Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 25. They said Mr. Cheney spent most of his meetings listening to Saudi warnings that Israel, rather than Iran, is the leading cause of instability in the Middle East.Far be it from me to question the wisdom of such an eminent statesman, but I would like to ask the question: Did mr. Baker sojourn in the Kuyper Belt before being called back into service? Did he not know of the goings on after the Gaza pull-out or the Hezbollah/Hamas kidnappings?
“He [Cheney] didn't even get the opportunity to seriously discuss the purpose of his visit—that the Saudis help the Iraqi government and persuade the Sunnis to stop their attacks,” another official familiar with Mr. Cheney’s visit said. “Instead, the Saudis kept saying that they wanted a U.S. initiative to stop the Israelis’ attack in Gaza and Cheney just agreed.”
Under the Baker proposal, the Bush administration would arrange a Middle East conference that would discuss the future of Iraq and other Middle East issues. Officials said the conference would seek to win Arab support on Iraq in exchange for a U.S. pledge to renew efforts to press Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Golan Heights.
And it seems I am in excellent company. Senator MacCain in a statement roundly condemned the puzzling link the Baker report makes between Iraq and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict:
All of us desire peace in the region and peace between Arabs and Israelis. But it is impossible to see how such a peace can be achieved so long as Hamas, a terrorist group that rejects a two-state solution and the very existence of Israel, stands at the helm of the Palestinian Authority. We must not push our Israeli ally to make concessions to groups that refuse to recognize its right to exist.Mayor Giuliani also is not convinced.
In addition, the linkage the ISG report makes between this issue and the violence in Iraq seems tenuous at best. While I desire peace for Israel in its own right, it is difficult to see how an Arab-Israeli peace process will diminish Sunni-Shia violence in Baghdad or al Qaeda activity in Anbar Province.
In a larger sense the Baker report is a resounding defeat for the West. A couple of weeks back Mark Steyn wrote these prescient words:
What does it mean when the world's hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet's military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists? You can call it "redeployment" or "exit strategy" or "peace with honor" but, by the time it's announced on al-Jazeera, you can pretty much bet that whatever official euphemism was agreed on back in Washington will have been lost in translation. Likewise, when it's announced on "Good Morning Pyongyang" and the Khartoum Network and, come to that, the BBC.And what do you know? Iraqi reli-thugs welcome report that advises withdrawal of US troops.
"No Muslim country should close their eyes over this occupation that is destroying the country. The occupation is not popular with us Iraqis and that is why you can see an increase in the numbers of Iraqis who have turned into fighters against the US occupation," said Abu Ahmed, who claimed to be a member of al-Qa'eda in Iraq and declined to give his full name.But lest you think that that is all, let me set you straight with the paragraph immediately the previously cited, from the same Reuters piece:
He warned that the departure of US troops is not enough and said members of the Iraqi government and parliament who are pro-US should quit their positions "to clean the government of US ideology".And the beat goes on and on and on... Grievance upon grievance, just to make sure one never runs out of excuses to behead, torture, maim and blow the neighborhood to smithereens.
And it is not just Iraq. We all know how much peace giving up Gaza has brought Israel. But still we have the infinite wisdom of the ISG to hand the West the illusion of 'peace with honor', wrapped around plain old defeat *and* the reward for naked thuggery by tying the Iraq sectarian grievances to the Palestinian grievances.
I know that GWB is hem-hawing. I have the tiniest sliver of hope he'll be in a position to cherry pick the usefull stuff from the Baker report and disregard the rest. But with a Democratic majority being served all it can eat by the ISG how much chance of that is there?
In the famous words of Churchill: An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. How many times I have read those words, written by Americans to chastise us Euros. Often deservedly so, but...
... despite all the promises and the good intentions it has come to this: The US is going the way of the EU. There will be talks with Syria and Iran as if these were functional, rational nation states. Arab aggression will be appeased by giving in to grievances. Israel will be fed to the crocodile. And to put insult to injury, it is the US, by way of James Baker and his ISG that will do the feeding.
And further down the road? I shudder to think...
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[UDATE001] And just to illustrate how "solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict" might help ease tension, today Hamas PM Haniyeh showed his willingness to compromize: "We will never recognize Israel".