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Based on his soaring rhetoric on the defense of freedom and the threat of terror, George W. Bush no doubt recognizes what is at stake if Iran goes nuclear – a sure high-tech escalation of that country’s drive to impose Islamic rule over non-compliant infidels. Presumably, he also took the time to read the May letter from the Iranian president threatening the United States with war unless it followed “the true path,” i.e., conversion to Islam.
Yet President Bush clearly blinked when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that the U.S. would join the European Union, China and Russia at the diplomatic table in order to convince the Islamic Republic to abandon its apocalyptic goals. The mullahs would drop schemes of nuclear jihad, goes the hope, if enticed by “incentives,” a Mideast updating of Bill Clinton’s failed touchy-feely diplomacy in the face of North Korea’s nuclear quest.
If there was any doubt about how thoroughly sandbagged the president was by Foggy Bottom’s accommodationist tack, it was erased by the surprise he expressed in Vienna at Iran’s request for another two months to weigh the contents of Secretary Rice’s incentives. Why should Iran, wondered the president out loud, need so much extra time to reply to his “reasonable offer”? In other words, the fanaticism of these holy warriors could be negotiated or finessed away (assuaged by “reason”).
It is impossible not to contrast the president’s succumbing to Rice’s diplomacy of engagement with his standing up to the same conceptual framework advanced earlier in his administration during the stewardship of Colin Powell. As secretary of state, Powell saw the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of moral equivalency – Palestinian terrorism precipitating an Israeli response sometimes resulting in Arab civilian deaths.
In condemning this “cycle of violence,” Powell failed to distinguish between the former’s deliberate targeting of civilians and the inadvertent casualties stemming from the Israeli counterattack. Powell, in urging a “peace process” and “confidence building” gestures, imagined that Arafat would modify his signature terrorism in response to diplomatic pressure.
Bush, to his credit, sent the State Department’s aficionados of evenhanded diplomacy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict packing. He accused Arafat of betraying the interests of his people through his terrorism, and insisted that Israel was justified in refusing to make concessions as a result of such terrorism.
Given the president’s strength in rebuffing the State Department on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one can’t help but ask why he took Foggy Bottom’s advice and blinked on Iran. Former Bush foreign policy insider Richard Perle, in a recent Washington Post op-ed, pointed to the move of Ms. Rice from the White House, where she served during Bush’s first term as National Security Adviser, to the State Department, where, in Pearl’s words, “she is now in the midst of – and increasingly represents – a diplomatic establishment that is driven to accommodate its allies even when (or, it seems, especially when) such allies counsel the appeasement of our adversaries.”
Though highly admired, Powell came to State identified with the cautionary, globalist, stability-oriented statecraft of the president’s father. If George W. Bush had trouble understanding that Powell’s “realism” stemmed from the conference diplomacy approach of James Baker or Brent Scowcroft, the neocons around the president were there to cut Powell down to size.
Rice, by contrast, came on the scene as George W. Bush’s coach and tutor. Supposedly, her loyalties were to his muscular type of diplomacy, not to Foggy Bottom’s diplomatic “engagement” school of thought. But that was then, and we’ve now seen indications that Rice has been co-opted by State’s accommodationist mentality not only in her Iranian gambit, but in her response to North Korea’s threat to test a nuclear missile. The North Koreans, she lamented, don’t value the notion of “compromise.”
The president’s independence of mind on Palestinian terror is attributable to a number of factors, including his having personally seen, during a helicopter flight hosted by Ariel Sharon while Bush was still governor of Texas, the physically vulnerable nature of Israel.
Moreover, Arafat’s lying to the president about the nature of the North Korean arms shipment seized at sea by Israel did not exactly serve to increase Bush’s regard for the integrity of the Palestinian terror chief.
About the Author: Ron Rubin is professor of political science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. He is the author of several books including “The Unredeemed” and “Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World's Greatest Footrace.”
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The War projects to lower Israel’s 2014 GDP 0.5% but will have little influence on foreign investors
It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.”
The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.
The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.
How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?
In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities
Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.
But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.
If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.
Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.
One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.
For two thousand years, Jews exiled from their homeland and lacking political sovereignty were easy targets for elitist rulers on the right and the pseudo-egalitarian mob on the left. When Emancipation came and Jews exited the ghettos, Jewish self-made pitfalls were no less horrific, as many embraced the trendy “isms” of secular society only to spiritually assimilate and disappear from history. Yet despite the persecutions, on the one hand, and the enticements of some host countries’ cultures, on the other, the Jewish nation lives.
Though the ranks of single-issue pro-Israel Jewish voters (they comprise perhaps one-fourth of the Jewish electorate) have contracted as a result of mounting assimilation, those voters have nonetheless learned a lot over the past sixteen years.
Given his swaggered walk and ineloquent delivery, George W. Bush is an easy one to underestimate. But pundits and politicians do so at their own peril, cases in point being Al Gore and John Kerry, two gentlemen who like to think of themselves as high cultivated and erudite.
Having spent earlier sabbaticals here in Israel, I knew the subject of aliyah loomed as a background issue but hardly expected the untold ways it would recast itself.
At the restaurant farewell dinner, Professor Dov Zlotnick asked the dozen or so students of his forty-year-running Saturday afternoon Talmud shiur to continue their learning despite his approaching retirement to Jerusalem.
Thanks to Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon, some 500,000 Americans will run in marathons this year. In my book Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World’s Greatest Footrace (Syracuse University Press, 2004), I show how Lebow, a Holocaust survivor, changed the notion of this 26.2 mile race, which this year will be held on Sunday, Nov. 5, from a grueling, sweaty showcase for elite runners into a people’s competition.
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