Thursday, February 1, 2007

Middle East Peace

In the last six years Middle East peace has been a low priority for this Administration. In fact even Bill Clinton did not pay serious attention to it until the last few weeks of his Presidency and he ran out of time. Had he started six months earlier, he may well have been successful.

The question now is what is President Bush going to do in his last two years of Presidency? The Iraq war is likely to be over before the end of 2008 and from where things stand today, historians will not paint a pretty picture of this adventure. President Bush can leave a legacy that will be remembered for years to come. He can do that by making a major push for Middle East peace.

The peace plan presented by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a reasonable one. Israelis scoffed at it initially but after the Lebanon debacle they are showing willingness to consider it. In the words of an Israeli Minister "it is a starting point". If this plan can be implemented, doors of all Muslim countries will open up to Israel for trade and diplomacy. Also the forever vilification of U.S. will come to an end.

The plan calls for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and two states of equal status side by side living in peace with no further claims on each other's territory. Those Palestinians who have claims to return to Israel can be be housed in the settlements Israel vacates in the West Bank.

This requires a bigger sacrifice from Israel as they took over these territories in the 1967 Six Day War started rather stupidly by President Nasser of Egypt and other Arab states with an intent to push Israel into the sea, but resulted in them losing this territory. What Israel would get in the bargain is a chance for peaceful co-existence with neighbouring states and an end to this non-ending war.

President Bush should seek the help of his father as this is way beyond Condi Rice and other Administration officials. Bush Sr. is well respected in the Middle East and has close personal relations with the Saudi King. A peace dialogue can be hosted in Saudi Arabia or Jordan and must also include Hamas which is a legitimately elected Palestinian Government. If the U.S. is not comfortable talking to Hamas let Saudis do that. History shows us that peace is never achieved by excluding extremists as moderates alone cannot not sell a plan to the majority. Remember Menachem Begun, he was declared a terrorist once and went on to become Prime Minister of Israel and made peace with Egypt & Jordan and U.S. had no qualms about talking to him!

Enough human blood has been shed over the last 60 years. Too much despair is in the air and the world owes this region peace so that States and people opt for human and economic development rather than latest methods of killing.

President Bush has the time, the opportunity and a chance to leave an ever lasting legacy. If he can accomplish this, Iraq war will not even show up on history's radar screen.

8 comments:

Thomas Brock said...

Ajaz,

Great post and even better topic.

You're right that President Bush has the opportunity to build long-lasting peace in the Middle East. You're also right that Secretary of State Rice isn't capable of the task.

I don't think that President Bush will look to his father for assistance, though. He wants to prove his chops against his George H. W.'s. He's to eager to be compared as "greater" than his father...A tendency which explains the American presence in Iraq...

Bush will refuse to talk to the important players in the game as well. His key foreign policy tactic has been to stiff-arm support from those likely supporters (Great Britain) and to ignore the others (Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc). This isolationist tactic has failed on nearly every front and has only served to frustrate those professionals at the State Department and at foreign policy think-tanks throughout the world. The policy hasn't shifted in the 5 years since "you're either with us or against us" and I can't imagine an event that would cause a shift now...

tsb

Ajaz Haque said...

Thomas
Thank you for your critique.
Indeed it would require a major shift on the part of the President to accomplish this. Unfortunately the
President does not have many credible friends or assistants at this time. Bush Sr. has that credibility and Bush Jr. should bite the bullet and create history. In the end he will get all the credit.

Thomas Brock said...

Ajaz,

In a perfect world, President Bush would see the light, but instead, he's convinced that he's the 21st Century's President Harry Truman. He believes that history will look back on him as a great leader that brought freedom to the Iraqi people.

tsb

Ajaz Haque said...

Thomas
You are absolutely right. I am saying there is still time for a course crrection. Many a leader have made miakes in the past but corrected themselves eventually. With two years to go, President Bush has enough time to accomplish Middle East peace, if he so chooses.

Thomas Brock said...

Ajaz,

We're on the same page. The opportunity exists for a major Middle Eastern policy shift.

That same opportunity has existed for 30 years, though, and has long gone mostly ignored by American leaders.

Ajaz Haque said...

Thomas
I agree with you entirely.

Maggie M. Thornton said...

Hello again,

Your first point re: "Middle East peace a low priority": I think the priority has and is at the highest level, but I'm not sure the Western mind is grasping the near impossibility of achieving peace. President Clinton certainly did not pay serious attention to the threat to America. After Somalia, he hid from the truth.

Second point: I agree, but making the "major push," in my opinion, is exactly what Newt was referring to in his 2nd Hard Path. Ajaz, I believe that if America uses whatever it takes in Iraq, it will free the people. This is going off in another direction. If you have time someday, try to read my post on "Living Freely: The Undeniable Truth of Liberation." I simply cannot imagine not living freely and I wrote this not as news but as my thoughts about it.

Third point: I agree but I don't think the "forever vilification of the U.S. will come to an end - and then there's the Golan Heights.

Israel's chance for "peaceful co-existence with neighboring states": The heated speech from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran must stop - it's not civil. They cannot say they want Israel to disappear and then be neighborly, no matter where the borders lie. I believe if Europe would protest these declarations, it would help greatly, but it's not on their agenda.

Again, thanks for stopping by my place. (I like your "posters" - very thoughtful and polite). I'm adding you to my blogroll.

Maggie M. Thornton

Ajaz Haque said...

Maggie
Thank you for very extensive and thoughtful comments.

By low priority, I meant six years have gone by for this Administration and a far more serious effort should have been made to accomplish a settlement.

The Iraqis suffered at the hands of Saddam for 20 years and nearly one hundred thousand perished and now they are suffering at the hands of this ill concieved war. The current Iraqi Government on which U.S. is pinning its hopes on is controlled by thugs and murderers. According to various estimates nearly half a million Iraqis have died since the war and that is no freedom. I am affraid Iraq may have been fractured permanently.

Support for Israel and lack of even handedness has led to vilification of U.S. A just Middle East peace sponsored by the U.S. will change that equation.

When people are killed on a daily basis in the Middle East, irrational speeches are inevitable. All the more reason that peace should come to Palestinians and Israelis without further delay.

This is a human tragedy that needs to be brought to an end.

Thank you for visiting.