Sunday, July 23, 2006

Barnes on Letting Israel Be Israel

Excerpts from Fred Barnes' piece, "Letting Israel Be Israel":-

...Since Israel responded to twin incursions and kidnappings of Israeli soldiers by Hamas and Hezbollah, Bush has been hounded by critics for not being "engaged" in recent years in diplomacy and peace negotiations in the Middle East. Had he been, hostilities might have been averted. In other words, his critics insist, the outbreak of war is Bush's fault, partly anyway. This is nonsense.

In the Middle East, calls for American engagement have always been a euphemism for pressuring Israel to make concessions. And engagement has often been accompanied by unproductive shuttle diplomacy by the secretary of state from one Middle East capital to another, a practice made famous by Henry Kissinger in the 1970s.

Bush has rejected shuttle diplo macy. He made that clear in 2002. More important, the president concluded that Israel would never reach a settlement with a terrorist state or organization and thus diplomacy aimed at achieving such a settlement was a nonstarter...

...By the end of the week, most of the Europeans thought those conditions had been created. Bush didn't. He was
willing to send Condoleezza Rice, his secretary of state, for a day or so to the Middle East, but not to lean on Israel to halt its offensive. That moment may come, just not yet. The Bush administration is different, an aide says, in explaining why Bush is the only president to have given Israel a free hand for so long. The difference is Bush believes terrorists and their sponsors must be resisted, not invited to negotiate. And, on this, Bush is very consistent.

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