Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Just How Sly Was Cheney?

Writing about Dick Cheney's visit to the Middle East, Noah Pollak finds something particularly noteworthy about his press conference:
At the opening Olmert-Cheney press conference, Cheney said this:

America’s commitment to Israel’s security is enduring and unshakeable, as is our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself always against terrorism, rocket attacks and other threats from forces dedicated to Israel’s destruction. The United States will never pressure Israel to take steps that threaten its security. . . .

History has clearly shown that when encountered by Arab partners like Anwar Sadat and the late King Hussein of Jordan, who accepted Israel’s permanence and are willing and capable of delivering on their commitments, Israelis are prepared to make wrenching national sacrifices on behalf of peace. I have no doubt this is equally the case with Palestinians. [Emphasis mine.]

This seems to me a very sly variation of damning with faint praise — in this case, damning the Palestinians with as yet unjustified praise, to highlight the difference between their record and examples of actual Arab peacemaking.

If so, Cheney is being too sly by far. Just which Middle East leader wants to follow in the footsteps of Anwar Sadat and be assassinated? And even King Hussein: he was more of a survivor than a 'player' in the Middle East, having been edged out by Arafat as representative of the Palestinian Arabs--and later probably thankful for that.

Are either of these men role models that are going to be attractive to Abbas, even assuming he has what it takes (such as...intent, for starters) to make peace?

One thing is for sure. When Cheney said "I have no doubt this is equally the case with Palestinians," he was referring to accepting Israel, not making "wrenching national sacrifices on behalf of peace."--and therein lies the problem.

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