Friday, January 11, 2008

Here's Another Take on Bush - From the Left

Pierre Heumann is the Middle East correspondent for the Swiss weekly Weltwoche and Der Spiegel published his "Bush's Mideast Pipe Dream". Extracts:

...Instead of bridging the divide between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he has made it wider. Neither has he accelerated the peace process. Instead, he has merely managed to make it more difficult. On the red carpet that was laid out for him in the Holy Land, he has managed to bury the Palestinian state before it was even born.

...But the Bush visit has shown once again with painful clarity how intractable the conflict really is. The antagonisms are too complex. Simply managing the conflict with any degree of efficiency must count by itself as a success.

...Abbas, always a weak leader, is now impotent. Even within his own Fatah party, the number of those loyal to him has shrunk and the population has little respect for him. Without the support of the Israeli military, it is likely that Hamas could also have overthrown Fatah and Abbas in the West Bank.

By pointing out Abbas' shortcomings in public, Bush has made him even weaker..

...And Bush's advice to his host Abbas -- that he should present the people of Gaza with a vision -- was practically grotesque. Then, he argued, they would make the "right" choice -- in other words, choose Abbas over chaos. But did Bush really think free elections in a radical Islamist dictatorship would be a realistic possibility?

...What most Palestinians already feared was confirmed during Bush's visit: That the US president is expecting greater concessions from them than from Israel, and that they shouldn't expect the American president to propose any even-handed solutions. Even the demand that the Israeli government clear settlements on the West Bank seemed almost sheepish, as though Bush was trying to avoid making waves.

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