Thursday, January 12, 2006

Promise Her Anything

(Welcome to visitors via Haveil Havalim #53 from Elie's Expositions. Please take a moment to go to the top and take a look around.)

In a post yesterday (Trusting terrorists, mistrusting moderates), Soccer Dad notes how Netanyahu was betrayed by the Clinton administration. Netanyahu agreed to give up Hebron with the understanding--formalized in a statement by Warren Cristopher on January 15, 1997--that "further redeployment phases are issues for implementation by Israel rather than issues for negotiation with the Palestinians.'' Soccer Dad notes that Netanyahu was in for a rude awakening:
But as Netanyahu discovered a year later, a signed agreement made no difference. President Clinton's word made no difference. The NY Times mis-reported ("Israel Announces Stringet Terms For Withdrawal") what Israel demanded and compounded the felony by its dishonest correction. Since Arafat wasn't fulfilling any of his obligations specified in the "Note for the Record," Israel wasn't inclined to withdraw from any more terrirtory.

The Clinton administration, with its allies in the media started to portray Israel as making unreasonable demands upon the Palestinian Authority.
Cal Thomas ("Sharon's big gamble") reminds us that Clinton was not the first president to not keep his word with Israel:

In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower made commitments in order to get Israel to withdraw from the Sinai. In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson failed to implement those commitments and the Six-Day War followed.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon made promises to end the war of attrition between Israel and Egypt. Egypt violated the agreement, and the United States failed to live up to its commitments. The 1973 Yom Kippur War followed, which killed 2,800 Israelis.

In 1996 and again in 1998, President Bill Clinton promised to refrain from pressuring Israel into making further concessions until the Palestinian Authority altered its Charter that calls for the elimination of Israel. The Charter was not altered, but Israel was expected to honor its promises.

In 2000, Clinton committed $800 million in special assistance to induce Israel to withdraw from Southern Lebanon. Israel withdrew, and Hezbollah quickly filled the geographic and military vacuum, increasing terrorist attacks. The promised U.S. assistance never arrived.

But it's more than just not keeping a promise. It is also a question of applying pressure. Caroline Glick fleshes out just what Eisenhower promised and how he pressured Israel to accept it:

So it was in 1956, when Eisenhower forced David Ben-Gurion to beat a speedy retreat from the Sinai and Gaza at the end of the Suez campaign. The president justified the uncompromising demand by promising Israel that if the Egyptians were again to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, the US would send its navy to reopen the waterway by force. In 1967, when Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the straits, president Lyndon Johnson begged off, forcing Israel to stand alone.

After the Six Day War, which should have led to a complete political reshuffling of the region, the US again protected Israel’s neighbors.

And of course Eisenhower was not the first to strongarm Israel--he merely became the paradigm. Glick gives examples:

In 1973, the US administration was again on hand, wresting the Egyptians from the jowls of defeat. Henry Kissinger prevented Israel from destroying Egypt’s Third Army, allowed the Egyptians to escape with honor and thus enabled the creation of the current Egyptian myth – that Israel lost that war.

The Ford and Carter administrations strongly pressured Israel to sign away the Sinai in exchange for peaceful ties with Egypt, which after 23 years have yet to materialize, although Egypt, rearmed with American assistance, now poses a military threat unimaginable in the past.

In Lebanon in 1982, the Reagan administration stepped in to save a routed Arafat. The Americans paved the way for his escape with his troops from Beirut to Tunis, free to fight another day. In the meantime, the US forced Israel to withdraw from much of Lebanon and allowed the Syrian army to remain.

And in the Gulf war, the first Bush administration not only prevented Israel from achieving political advantage, it prohibited Israel even from defending itself against unprovoked Iraqi ballistic missile attacks. After isolating Israel from the coalition, the administration proceeded to force its democratic ally to the negotiating table to discuss the transfer territory to the Arabs. When the negotiations failed to bear fruit, the administration meddled in the 1992 elections to assist in the victory of the more forthcoming Labor Party.

Although the Clinton administration served in a decade unscathed by large-scale war, but marked by an increase in rogue states’ audacity and terrorist attacks on US targets, Clinton consistently urged Israel to accept Palestinian terrorism and insisted on turning a blind eye to blatant PA breaches of its commitments to Israel. The Clinton administration’s addiction to pressuring Israel to accept Arab aggression under the guise of peacemaking led to unprecedented meddling in Israel’s internal politics. The end result could be seen in the twin pictures of Clinton impertinently announcing his peace plan after his successor had already been elected, and Madeleine Albright chasing after Arafat outside the US Embassy in Paris in a vain attempt to get him to return to the negotiating table he had just overturned.

Of course there is also the familiar perpetual campaign promise of relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem:

The refusal of successive administrations to locate the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, is not simply an indignity, but another example of how the US has consistently prevented Israel from gaining any political advantage from its military victories against Arab aggression.

This is an issue discussed by Amir Taheri--how the US has prevented the consequences of the wars forced upon Israel to take their natural course. But Glick goes one step further, and imagines just what would happen if Israel were actually allowed to win:

And what would a much maligned and dreaded Israeli political victory over the current terrorist war look like? First and foremost, it would see Arafat’s physical disappearance from the scene and the dismantling of his Palestinian Authority as a political and military organization. Just as in Afghanistan today and hopefully in Iraq in the near future, the US has and will set up friendly, quasi-democratic governments, so Israel, or the US, would set up a new Palestinian government, committed to coexistence with Israel and the provision of political and economic freedom to the Palestinian people. Although sovereignty would not be promised, the chances of sovereignty being achieved, naturally and peacefully, would be greatly enhanced if the Palestinian people is allowed to develop democratic institutions and economic prosperity.

There is nothing wrong, immoral, imperialistic, or even anti-Palestinian about this plan. In fact, it would allow the Palestinians the opportunity to reconstitute their civil society after eight years of living under a corrupt dictatorship, which impoverished and subjugated them and told them to value murder more than life.

The only thing wrong with this plan is that it allows Israel to win this war politically.

This of course highlights one of the many double-standards between the way Afghanistan and Iraq are handled on the one hand and the Palestinian Arabs on the other. While the US is actively involved in helping the former two countries set up their own governments, when it comes to the Palestinian Arabs, the corrupt leadership is not only allowed to continue--the US has taken a decidedly hands-off attitude to how they run things: such as including terrorist organizations in the upcoming election.

Glick's closing line is:
One thing is certain though: For the US to be able to win its war on Islamic terrorism, Israel must be allowed to win its war on Palestinian terrorism, both militarily and politically.
Of course in the world of politics, nothing is certain. Israel is not going to be allowed to win it's war on Palestinian terrorism. Instead, it is being pushed into agreeing to live side-by-side with a terrorist state that has failed to keep even the most basic agreements it has made.

In an earlier post I wrote about how the US does not so much see Israel as a friend as it sees her as an interest:
The US fills Israel's needs because of what Israel can provide for her in the Middle East. Israel is not so much an ally of the US--it is an interest. The US, like many major powers, believes it has an interest--a right, a claim...an investment in what goes on in the Middle East. Since Israel is the most reliable way the US has to access and use its influence in the area, Israel--by extension--is an interest of the US. An investment. But not really an ally.

When you have an investment, you can buy more shares.
But you can also cash in.
Or you can just reduce your holdings, your exposure to risk.
As long as Israel is dependent on the US for so much, the situation is unlikely to change--at least not to Israel's benefit.

Footnote: One other point I wanted to emphasize was the most obvious one, namely that even with the best intentions, mere promises from the US are at best worth only the paper they are written on. Based on past history, for Israel to make irrevocable moves, such as withdrawls, merely on the basis of promises and guarantees which later president's may or may not honor is clearly a dangerous move.

Crossposted at Israpundit

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