The Internet is abuzz with theorizing about who won and lost the short Israel-Hamas duel in Gaza. Unfortunately, the standards by which victory and defeat is tallied are fairly impressionistic. How else to explain the fact that so many actors have both won and lost in different areas? The problem is that victory and defeat are difficult, if not impossible, to objectively determine above the level of tactics. Certainly this is not always the case. It can be said beyond a doubt that the Confederacy was defeated in the American Civil War, for example. Southern armies were broken and their civic masters ceased to exist as political entities. Yet this is not helpful to us because the vast majority of wars do not end with one side's total erasure. It is more useful to observe that wars can decide political issues, sometimes to neither actor's optimal preference. The Korean War decided that the Korean nation would remain divided for the forseeable future. This was not optimal for the United States, the South Koreans, or the North Koreans, all of whom wanted reunification on their own terms. But it was certainly acceptable enough to justify ceasing combat for all three. China of course placed a higher value on avoiding a pro-Western unified Korea than any other objective. Hence it would be better to focus on the political issue being decided through violence and the nature of Hamas and Israel's violent relationship.
Many Gaza analyses stubbornly refuse to disentangle the respective categories of policy (the political condition or behavior favored by the polity waging war), strategy (the bridge between policy and warfare), and tactics (the strategy's manifestation as military violence). The rationality of both Israel and Hamas is endlessly dissected, though whether or not an political decision is the expression of consistent and ordered preferece doesn't change the fact that at the end of the day violence was required to remove obstacles to the policy's realization. The oft-stated conclusion that Israel has no long-term strategy for Gaza may have some truth but is also somewhat misleading. Operation Pillar of Defense was governed by a fairly basic strategy to use violence to return to a political status quo that Israel has maintained through a variety of instruments of national power since Hamas emerged as the dominant actor in the Gaza strip. The Israeli contention, arrived at via a domestic political process, that such a political condition is desirable enough to fight over is the policy. The policy is a political understanding that is achieved through a structuring of violent action (the strategy).
The current state of affairs in Gaza is a kind of violent relationship that both sides dislike but nonetheless have found acceptable for varying periods of time. Given that the Hamas charter declares Israel's destruction as the group's paramount political goal, Israel is not happy with Hamas' goals, Iranian sponsorship, or ability to do harm. Yet the consequences of eliminating it would entail sole responsibility for dealing with Gaza, to say nothing of the military, diplomatic, and domestic political costs assumed in a ground campaign and occupation. Plus, as bad Hamas may be, it certainly beats dealing with a fractalization of Palestinian armed groups with less discipline, organization, or capacity for strategic decisionmaking. In his essay "The Amorites Iniquity," Israeli National Security Council official Gur Laish also points out that Israel has a political consensus that is willing to tolerate low-level violence from Gaza in return for the ability to focus on its own political and economic development. Of course, such violent peace requires a border security system and periodic standoff operations against targets inside Gaza. What Israel requires from Hamas is continue a pattern of behvior in which violent behavior against Israel--by Hamas or any other Gaza actor--is kept to a bare minimum. Having the capbility to execute a Cast Lead or another iteration of the current operation is essential, however, as the mutual interest of each actor to maintain the relationship is constantly in flux.
Hamas certainly also dislikes being hemmed up and policing and administering Gaza for Israel's benefit. It casts its own strategy in the language of resistance (muqawama, the subheading of this blog). It derives political benefit from being seen as resisting and also must deal with other Palestinian groups competing for the same political capital. But as Laish points out Hamas can resist within what Israel considers to be accepted levels of violence--even if israel's own violence creates political problems for Hamas' position in Gaza. For a while, the status quo was also acceptable to Hamas, if not preferable. Then, as Armin Rosen explains, the acquisition of long-range weapons created a new incentive to try to revise the parameters of the violent relationship to its own benefit. Certainly Hamas could also potentially believe (with some justification) that the regional environment was more favorable, and also was pressed by the proliferation of more hardline competing groups that did not benefit from the status quo. Whether or not either side intended the low-level violence to spill over into war is difficult to determine but perhaps irrelevant. War happened, and the resultng Operation Pillar of Defense can be understood as a Israeli attempt to return to the status quo. Thomas Rid has observed that Israelis perceive "deterrence" as the persistence of a pattern of favored behavior, a understanding more characteristic of police dealing with crime levels than political scientists. The strategy of Pillar of Defense was to use force to return to the previous condition.
So we can state that Israel's strategy appears to have functioned mostly as intended. Hamas' long-range rocket stocks have likely been disrupted and Hamas has yet again lost leaders. A ceasefire has restored prominent aspects of the status quo. The big question is whether the policy is tenable. As Shashank Joshi points out, smuggling will remain a long-term problem. The political conflict between Egypt's conflicting desires and ceasefire obligations concerning the Gaza blockade is certain to continue. The evolution of Hamas' Iranian-supplied weaponry also suggests aspects of the military balance may be moving in a troublesome direction. The Palestinian Authority, as predicted, was undermined and Hamas also will continue to have to deal with competing Gaza-based groups after the same political role it occupies. But it unclear precisely how regional actors will proceed, offering perils for both sides trying to feel their way around a transformed regional environment. Long-term dynamics aside, there are also very real near-term incentives for the status quo to continue, if punctuated by periodic bursts of violence.
How Israel and Hamas understand their strategic position and behave is subject to a range of conflicting incentives, the power of domestic politics, the confusion endemic to high risk environments, and organizational processes. But at the end of this process lies policy, and its realization in violence through strategy. Whether or not the policy or the strategy is valid is up for vigorous debate, but it is inaccurate to argue, as Israeli analyst Alon Pinkas does, that Gaza has turned Clausewitz on his head. War is not driving policy, although each actor's unique understanding of the set of political and military facts "on the ground" war reveals will certainly shape future policy. Rather, Pillar of Defense is an attempt to return to a political condition that enjoys domestic political favor in Israel. It is surely not the end of the struggle between Israel and Hamas, and there is no guarantee that the pattern of conflict will continue in the same manner. But both Israel and Hamas decisionmakers likely know this, and telling them that they need better plans to adapt does not guarantee they will adapt in the supposedly enlightened manner the op-ed writer desires. How they will adapt can further alter the course of a conflict that has raged since the early 20th century and is unlikely to end any time soon.
Dan Byman and Natan Sachs have a great article in the new Foreign Affairs on the rise of settler terrorism in the West Bank. I suspect that some will argue Byman and Sachs are "brave" to tackle such a "controversial" issue, but reading the article last weekend, one of the things that struck me was how much the article makes sense in the context of Byman's other research. Byman has basically spent the past decade studying the threats posed by violent non-state actors to the state of Israel and then evaluating Israel's response to those threats. If Byman was to follow an honest definition of terrorism, it was only going to be a matter of time before he dealt with the violent Jewish extremists who have both terrorized the Palestinian population of the West Bank and posed a real challenge to the authority of the Israeli state. Regional specialists have been sounding the alarm about the changing character of the Israeli settler movement for quite some time, so again, it makes sense to see security studies specialists now paying attention to the issue.
Byman and Sachs have contributed a valuable service by sketching out the way in which the settler movement has changed, why it has resorted to violence (spoiler: it's working!), and why both the Israeli and U.S. governments should be more concerned than they are. A few ironies that struck me while reading the report:
1. This will be awkward for all parties involved, but Palestinians are the new Israelis:
The situation recalls the bitterness Israelis felt when dealing with former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat as Palestinian suicide bombings continued: either he could stop the violence and chose not to or he was unable to end it, in which case there was little reason to talk. As settler violence increases, the Palestinians will begin to say the same about Israel's leadership.
2. The recommendations Byman and Sachs put forward often echo the recommendations so often put forward regarding Islamist terrorism. Specifically...
...mainstream rabbis should denounce their radical brethren and demonstrate how their views contradict centuries of religious tradition. When extremist rabbis incite violence, they must face prosecution.
Now where have we heard something remarkably similar to that before!
I had never visited Israel or the Palestinian territories prior to 2006 but have been four times since. I am a very amateur student, then, of both Israeli society as well as the debates on Israel and the U.S. relationship with Israel that take place here in the United States. (I am better versed in the theological debates within my own faith tradition regarding the state of Israel, but theology is not a subject I wish to blog on anytime soon!) I have to tell you, though, that I have never once heard anyone from any of the Jewish organizations that support the U.S.-Israeli relationship condone settler violence or speak about it with anything other than condemnation. So I do not think the problem is with the often maligned American Israel Public Affairs Committee or the American Jewish Congress or any other similar group. I wonder, though, what many evangelical Christian groups like John Hagee's Christians United for Israel think about settler violence -- if they think about it at all. And I wonder also if those groups will be an obstacle to some of the recommendations Byman and Sachs make regarding cracking down on funding for extremist groups in the settlements. Because sadly, we American Christians have a history of turning a blind eye toward terrorism when we approve of the ends.
I am in Paris, working on my French, reading a lot, and using up all my vacation time before I take a leave of absence from CNAS at the end of the summer to spend a year working in the governmnent. You can expect my posting on the blog to be pretty light for the next month. For the past semester, though, we at CNAS have been really lucky to have had Hilary Polak as an external relations intern. Hilary's fluency in Hebrew and familiarity with Israeli politics and society really helped me, in particular, as I worked on our big Middle East report this past spring. Hilary starts at the Institute for the Study of War this month, but before she left, I asked her to help me make sense of the new service law that is causing such a ruckus in Israel.
More Israeli-Arabs, or Palestinian citizens of Israel, volunteered for civil service through the military than Haredi (also known as ultra-orthodox) Jews in 2011. Of the 2,400 Israeli-Arabs who volunteered, 90% were women, 40% Muslim, 36% Bedouin, 13% Christian and 11% Druze. For those citizens of Israel who are not obligated to serve in the military, the option of civil service in schools, hospitals, community centers, retirement homes and even ministries is available. The fact that more Palestinian citizens of Israel than ultra-orthodox Jews have opted to do national service is a symptom of a much larger, more grave and elusive challenge facing the State of Israel today. Benjamin Netanyahu, who formed and leads the new coalition government that holds a majority of 94 Knesset seats, has the chance to address this national issue and implement formative change, if he chooses to seize the opportunity.
You could say Israel is suffering from a serious “personality disorder.” The nation is undergoing an intense internal struggle to understand and define its current and future identity. The Jewish state that was built on the ideals of pluralism, democracy and liberalism, intended as a haven for all Jews and the majority of whose growth was initially shouldered by nationalist, non-religious kibbutzniks is realizing a greater threat than was ever anticipated is growing rapidly in their midst: the Haredim. What started in 1948 as a few hundred yeshiva students in the holy cities of Israel has evolved into the fastest-growing societal block in the country with an average of 7.6 children per woman, roughly triple the rate for the population as a whole, according to the Israeli government’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The Haredi population is exempt from military service due to their religious convictions, with 11% of 18-year-olds granted exemption in 2007 and a projected 23% in 2019, and they pose a severe strain the economy, challenge the progressive, egalitarian characteristics of the state and hold major sway in electoral politics.
This schism in Israeli society is an incredibly sensitive one, and it can be felt almost everywhere: from the apartment of a Russian Jewish family to an Arab village, from the urban metropolis of Tel Aviv to the agricultural kibbutzim. The atmosphere in Jerusalem is particularly difficult -- the air seems to be almost physically stifling. Popular culture, the news and the internet is swamped with material referencing the growing number of Haredim and the associated tensions. The lack of Haredi participation in the the military, an integral piece of Israeli society and a potential vehicle for upward social and economic mobility, places a huge burden on the backs of secular Israeli citizens. Secular Jews are forced to compensate for their absence in the military realm. In turn, Haredi Jews have their Torah studies financed by working Israelis. The ultra-orthodox who do volunteer typically belong to the Dati Leumi, or Religious Zionism, group, and most of them serve in combat units isolated from other sections of the IDF. There is a concern that these religious soldiers, operating in high-risk areas like Jenin, may choose to obey their religious obligations in place of official military orders.
In this tiny, dynamic country where domestic politics are almost inseparable from foreign and defense policy, how is Israel to address this problem? The new, centrist government coalition, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud and Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz of Kadima, may hold the key to a solution. While the new government might not be able to ease the stress that exists between subsets of Israeli society, they can decide to capitalize on the opportunity to instate new laws and reforms to alleviate some of these issues. However, in order to do this, they must maintain the unity government at all costs.
The February 2012 Supreme Court ruling that the Tal law (the law granting exemption from military service to ultra-orthodox Jews) is unconstitutional has provided a window for action. Netanyahu has a powerful coalition where he does not need to comply with the demands of the religious parties like Shas and United Torah Judaism. It is doubtful that a Haredi draft will be established tomorrow, but the government can take serious steps toward improving the situation by crafting a new resolution that would coerce Haredi Jews to serve in the military. As a result, the Haredim could play a positive role in the economy and pay their dues to society. There has been a great deal of rhetoric surrounding this topic-- the majority of MKs and Israeli citizens are in agreement that Haredim should be subject to military service, and Netanyahu, Mofaz and Barak have all made statements in support for more inclusive conscription laws-- but so far, no one has made any concrete advancements on the matter.
There has been some movement on the settlement issue in the last few weeks. In Netanyahu’s first major move concerning settlements since Kadima joined his coalition government, he instructed his ministers to vote against a draft bill that would have retroactively legalized illegally built settler homes in the West Bank. The settlements are a contentious subject for the Israeli government, the Obama administration and other international powers. While this move might seem insignificant in the scheme of things, it may be the slightest intimation of where Netanyahu and his coalition are heading. How Netanyahu and Mofaz will address the religious, right-wing settlers with their newfound political clout in the long-run remains to be seen.
Netanyahu, with his keen political skills and significant Knesset majority, has the chance to go down in history as an Israeli leader who implemented important legislation at a crucial time. The new coalition has the opportunity to tackle real, serious issues-- like the swelling Haredi population and the burden they place on the whole of Israeli society, migrant workers, the settlements and even the peace process, among other things-- with more ease than many prior governments. Time will tell if he will indeed take on some of the most factious and emotionally charged topics that exist in Israel today, and how he will do so. Mofaz and Kadima must also prove they are players in the game and are crucial actors in the government assuming a more secular and middle position; if they fail, the 2013 elections may be their undoing. Israel desperately needs to look inward and deal with the complex side effects of her “personality disorder.” By focusing on improving Israel’s domestic policies, the unity government can ensure that the nation will be better equipped to face even greater security threats looming nearby and elsewhere in the international community.
JERUSALEM — A West Bank mosque was burned and vandalized early on Tuesday, with graffiti warning in Hebrew of a “war” over the impending evacuation of the small, disputed Jewish settlement of Ulpana.
Police officials said it was the fourth attack on a mosque in the last 18 months and part of a recent uptick in so-called price tag episodes by radical settlers.
The Ulpana evacuation has been seen as a key test for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, and he immediately condemned the attack as “the work of intolerant, irresponsible lawbreakers,” adding, “We will act quickly in order to bring them to justice.”
Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli police, said that several suspects entered Jabaa, a Palestinian village of 4,200 about five miles from both Jerusalem and Ramallah, early on Tuesday, then broke a large window in the mosque and set a fire that burned several yards of a carpet and wall. Outside the building, the slogan “Ulpana war” was written on the right side of the window, and “price tag” on the left, suggesting the attack was in exchange for the coming evacuation.
Here's why this case matters more than all the other ugly incidents of settler violence and vandalism: if ever there was an open-and-shut case for dismantling a settlement, it would be for the five buildings in Ulpana. This is a no-brainer. The issue at hand is a straight up-and-down question regarding property rights and the rule of law, and both the Netanyahu government and the Supreme Court agree the homes must be dismantled or moved. Aside from a few minority voices in Netayahu's massive coalition, everyone is in agreement. And yet. And yet I was in Israel a few weeks ago and watched the Netanyahu government agonize over this decision, which, again, is as clear-cut a decision on a settlement as it will ever face. Why? In part because even a decision to dismantle or move an obviously illegal settlement -- on the orders of the Supreme Court -- can spark protests and violent retribution raids on Palestinians. And if this is the reaction this time around, imagine what the reaction will be when the Israeli government dismantles all of those hilltop settlements in the West Bank. That's why this violence depresses me.
I apologize for the light blogging. I returned from a few days at Ft. Leavenworth -- education, not incarceration -- this morning and am in the middle of the final edits on a big report Bruce Jentleson, Melissa Dalton, Dana Stuster and I have been writing for CNAS. I preview one of our recommendations in this column for World Politics Review:
If Americans do not appreciate the Israeli-Egyptian peace now, though, they certainly will when it is no longer there. And for the first time in 30 years, that is a real possibility.
The United States needs to get serious about heading off confrontation between the new Egyptian authorities and our friends in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Read the rest here.
I have missed several events here in Washington featuring Toby Dodge this week, but on the way back from Ft. Leavenworth, I read a review essay on Iraq by the great Sami Zubaida in the International Journal of Middle East Studies that features Dodge's book. I recommend the former, at least, for any Iraq nerds out there. (I have never, actually, read the latter but know I should. And I love the fact that academic journals get around to reviewing books nine years after they were published.)
I have written about the difference between capability and intent before, but in my World Politics Review column this week, I tackle the intelligence problems related to intent, which are normally much more difficult than those related to capability. Specifically, I tackle the (understandable) failure of U.S. intelligence agencies to determine whether or not Israel will attack Iran -- a failure that matches my own inability to do so.
My column was inspired by both a book I read and a conversation I had last week. On the way to and from my incredible, kick-ass hometown for a short trip, I read Bob Jervis's Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War. Jervis provided me with much of the framework through which I examined the problem. I then followed that book up with a lengthy lunch conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg, who has written extensively about what might be going through the heads of Israel's leaders regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program. I first fleshed out the thesis of my column over lunch and was grateful for the pointed questions he asked.
(Goldberg noted, though, that it is problematic to call Israel, as I do, "by far the largest recipient of U.S. aid since the end of World War II." I referenced and hyperlinked a report by the Congressional Research Service (.pdf) that itself noted Israel is "the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II." But Goldberg noted that South Korea or Germany have received a lot more overall aid when you count U.S. military posture, and he has a good point. My sense is that most U.S. Congressmen and Americans do not count this as aid. But maybe they should. Also, we have never actually gone to war for Israel -- no matter what some loons say -- but we have gone to war for South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others. That surely counts for something too, yes?)
What does Hizballah have in common with the United States aside from a love of paintball?
Hizballah, like the United States, would be caught up in a conflict between Iran and Israel. And like the United States, it has a lot of reasons for wanting to avoid a conflict right now.
That's the subject of my column in this week's World Politics Review, which you can read here.
Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to the Knesset:
Members of Knesset, I have spoken, and I must admit not always successfully, about strength and responsibility. I also want to talk about something that links the two: unity. Two weeks ago we brought home our soldier Gilad Shalit after being held captive by Hamas for over five years. Like everybody else, I was extremely moved when I saw Gilad step off the helicopter. For a few days the entire country was united, unified, excited about one soldier whom we had brought home.
Last week, in coordination with Egypt and with the help of the American government, we released Ilan Grapel, who made aliya alone, volunteered to the paratrooper unit and was injured during the Second Lebanon War. We will continue to work for the release of Uda Tarabin who has been imprisoned in Egypt for 11 years. And I want to tell you and the entire people of Israel, I never, not for a moment, forget Jonathan Pollard, who has been in jail in the United States for 26 years. We will continue to do everything we can to bring him to Israel and we will not cease to try to obtain information about the fate of our missing soldiers.
Really, Mr. Netanyahu? You're now elevating Jonathan Pollard to the same level as Gilad Shalit? (And what does that make us? Hamas?) Jonathan Pollard is a U.S. citizen and intelligence analyst who betrayed his country and sold secrets to South Africa and Israel -- and he attempted to do the same for Pakistan. He deserves to spend the rest of his life in a dark hole.
Considering the number of times the United States has bailed out Israel this year -- from Cairo to the United Nations -- one wonders what goes through the prime minister's head when he insults the United States like this.
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: I would like to talk to you about a subject that is at the heart of the United Nations - the pursuit of peace in an imperfect world.
War and conflict have been with us since the beginning of civilization. But in the first part of the 20th century, the advance of modern weaponry led to death on a staggering scale. It was this killing that compelled the founders of this body to build an institution that was focused not just on ending one war, but on averting others; a union of sovereign states that would seek to prevent conflict, while also addressing its causes.
No American did more to pursue this objective than President Franklin Roosevelt. He knew that a victory in war was not enough. As he said at one of the very first meetings on the founding of the United Nations, "We have got to make, not merely a peace, but a peace that will last."
The men and women who built this institution understood that peace is more than the absence of war. A lasting peace - for nations and individuals - depends upon a sense of justice and opportunity; of dignity and freedom. It depends upon struggle and sacrifice; on compromise, and a sense of common humanity.
One delegate to the San Francisco Conference that led to the creation of United Nations put it well - "Many people," she said, "have talked as if all we had to do to get peace was...to say loudly and frequently that we loved peace and hated war. Now we have learned that no matter how much we love peace and hate war, we cannot avoid having war brought upon us if there are convulsions in other parts of the world."
The fact is, peace is hard, but our people demand it. Over nearly seven decades, even as the United Nations helped avert a third World War, we still live in a world scarred by conflict and plagued by poverty. Even as we proclaim our love for peace and hatred of war, there are convulsions in our world that endanger us all.
If I am hearing the president correctly, we should all love peace and hate war. That's pretty uncontroversial, in a Matthew 5:9 kind of way.
I took office at a time of two wars for the United States. Moreover, the violent extremists who drew us into war in the first place - Osama bin Laden, and his al Qaeda organization - remained at large. Today, we have set a new direction.
At the end of this year, America's military operation in Iraq will be over. We will have a normal relationship with a sovereign nation that is a member of the community of nations. That equal partnership will be strengthened by our support for Iraq - for its government and Security Forces; for its people and their aspirations.
The Bush Administration deserves much credit for negotiating the Status of Forces Agreement in 2008. (Of course, I can hear you saying they were the ones who got us into the Iraq mess in the first place. Also true.)
As we end the war in Iraq, the United States and our coalition partners have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Between now and 2014, an increasingly capable Afghan government and Security Forces will step forward to take responsibility for the future of their country. As they do, we are drawing down our own forces, while building an enduring partnership with the Afghan people.
So let there be no doubt: the tide of war is receding.
Er, not exactly. More accurately, U.S. involvement in war is receding. The war in Afghanistan will likely not conform to the U.S. and allied timetable for withdrawal. The war, as evidenced by yesterday's grim events in Kabul, will likely merely transition into a post-NATO phase.
When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical to the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home.
Moreover, we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength. Ten years ago, there was an open wound of twisted steel and broken hearts in this city. Today, as a new tower rising at Ground Zero symbolizes New York's renewal, al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.
Absolutely. You do not have to like this president very much, but al-Qaeda has gotten the stuffing knocked out of it since this president took office in 2009. In 2011 alone, al-Qaeda's senior leadership has been decimated. Can we all agree to give the administration a tremendous amount of credit for helping make this happen?
Yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The UN's Founding Charter calls upon us, "to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security." And Article 1 of this General Assembly's Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.' Those bedrock beliefs - in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women - must be our guide.
In that effort, we have reason to hope. This year has been a time of transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.
One year ago, when we met here in New York, the prospect of a successful referendum in South Sudan was in doubt. But the international community overcame old divisions to support the agreement that had been negotiated to give South Sudan self-determination. And last summer, as a new flag went up in Juba, former soldiers laid down their arms; men and women wept with joy; and children finally knew the promise of looking to a future that they will shape.
One year ago, the people of Cote D'Ivoire approached a landmark election. And when the incumbent lost, and refused to respect the results, the world refused to look the other way. UN peacekeepers were harassed, but did not leave their posts. The Security Council, led by the United States, Nigeria, and France, came together to support the will of the people. And Cote D'Ivoire is now governed by the man who was elected to lead.
One year ago, the hopes of the people of Tunisia were suppressed. But they chose the dignity of peaceful protest over the rule of an iron fist. A vendor lit a spark that took his own life, but ignited a movement. In the face of a crackdown, students spelled out the word freedom. The balance of fear shifted from the ruler to those that he ruled. Now the people of Tunisia are preparing for elections that will move them one step closer to the democracy they deserve.
One year ago, Egypt had known one President for nearly thirty years. But for 18 days, the eyes of the world were on Tahrir Square, where Egyptians from all walks of life - men and women; young and old; Muslim and Christian - demanded their universal rights. We saw in those protesters the moral force of non-violence that has lit the world from Delhi to Warsaw; from Selma to South Africa - and we knew that change had come to Egypt and to the Arab World.
One year ago, the people of Libya were ruled by the world's longest serving dictator. But faced with bullets and bombs and a dictator who threatened to hunt them down like rats, they showed relentless bravery. We will never forget the words of the Libyan who stood up in those early days of revolution and said, "Our words are free now. It's a feeling you can't explain."
Day after day, in the face of bullets and bombs, the Libyan people refused to give back that freedom. And when they were threatened by the kind of mass atrocity that often went unchallenged in the last century, the United Nations lived up to its charter. The Security Council authorized all necessary measures to prevent a massacre. The Arab League called for this effort, and Arab nations joined a NATO-led coalition that halted Qadhafi's forces in their tracks.
In the months that followed, the will of the coalition proved unbreakable, and the will of the Libyan people could not be denied. Forty-two years of tyranny was ended in six months. From Tripoli to Misratah to Benghazi - today, Libya is free. Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our Embassy in Tripoli. This is how the international community is supposed to work - nations standing together for the sake of peace and security; individuals claiming their rights. Now, all of us have a responsibility to support the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans.
I was never a fan of intervention in Libya and would not support intervention if I knew what I know now. But the Obama Administration should be quite pleased with itself given the way things turned out, and we should all give the administration some credit. The military campaign was incoherent, but the broader diplomatic campaign was impressive, and the end result was great.
So it has been a remarkable year. The Qadhafi regime is over. Gbagbo, Ben Ali, and Mubarak are no longer in power. Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him. Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Technology is putting power in the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, religions and ethnicities do not desire democracy. The promise written down on paper - "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" - is closer at hand.
But let us remember: peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations.
In Iran, we have seen a government that refuses to recognize the rights of its own people.
Is that all he's going to say about Iran?
And as we meet here today, men, women and children are being tortured, detained and murdered by the Syrian regime. Thousands have been killed, many during the holy time of Ramadan. Thousands more have poured across Syria's borders. The Syrian people have shown dignity and courage in their pursuit of justice - protesting peacefully, standing silently in the streets, dying for the same values that this institution is supposed to stand for. The question for us is clear: Will we stand with the Syrian people, or with their oppressors?
Already, the United States has imposed strong sanctions on Syria's leaders. We have supported a transfer of power that is responsive to the Syrian people. Many of our allies have joined us in this effort. But for the sake of Syria - and the peace and security of the world - we must speak with one voice. There is no excuse for inaction. Now is the time for the United Nations Security Council to sanction the Syrian regime, and to stand with the Syrian people.
Good, strong words here.
Throughout the region, we will have to respond to the calls for change. In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports their aspirations. We must work with Yemen's neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.
In Bahrain, steps have been taken toward reform and accountability, but more are required. America is a close friend of Bahrain, and we will continue to call on the government and the main opposition bloc - the Wifaq - to pursue a meaningful dialogue that brings peaceful change that is responsive to the people. And we believe the patriotism that binds Bahrainis together must be more powerful than the sectarian forces that would tear them apart.
The United States is really at odds, politically, with some of its closest allies in the Gulf -- both over the composition and behavior of their regimes as well as over the aspirations of the Palestinian people. I am left wondering what the effects of this alienation will have on the political dynamics in the sub-region, but that's a question better answered by someone like Greg Gause.
Each nation must chart its own course to fulfill the aspirations of its people, and America does not expect to agree with every party or person who expresses themselves politically. But we will always stand up for the universal rights that were embraced by this Assembly. Those rights depend upon elections that are free and fair; governance that is transparent and accountable; respect for the rights of women and minorities; and justice that is equal and fair. That is what our people deserve. Those are elements of a peace that lasts.
Nevermind that we have plenty of friends and allies -- including some in the aforementioned Gulf -- who do not respect the rights of women and minorities.
Moreover, the United States will continue to support those nations that transition to democracy - with greater trade and investment, so that freedom is followed by opportunity. We will pursue a deeper engagement with governments, but also civil society - students and entrepreneurs; political parties and the press. We have banned those who abuse human rights from travelling to our country, and sanctioned those who trample on human rights abroad. And we will always serve as a voice for those who have been silenced.
A lot of that stuff we say we are going to do is going to be awfully hard when we cut our International Affairs budget by half.
Now I know that for many in this hall, one issue stands as a test for these principles - and for American foreign policy: the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then - and I believe now - that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May. That basis is clear, and well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.
Again, one of the real underreported developments over the past few years has been the deepening cooperation between the Israeli Min. of Defense and the U.S. Dept. of Defense. The Gates Pentagon spent countless weeks working on ways to provide security assurances to the Israelis and had some degree of success with the security professionals in Israel. That did not stop the Netanyahu government from screwing everything up, of course. When Bob Gates left the Pentagon, he was reportedly livid with the Israelis -- Netanyahu especially -- and considered them to be ungrateful allies.
I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But the question isn't the goal we seek - the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN - if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians - not us - who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.
The reason we are where we are, though, is that the Palestinians and Israelis have both lost all faith in the peace process. After Oslo, the Israelis got ... the Second Intifada. And the Palestinians continue to watch the territory beyond the Green Line "settled" by Israeli extremists with a viable Palestinian state no where in sight. The Palestinian leadership feels this is the most extreme Israeli government with which they have ever interacted, and they have no faith whatsoever in the U.S. administration being able to shepherd along peace negotiations. And why should they? All they have seen, over the past few years, is this Netanyahu Administration put domestic Israeli political coalition-building over strategic concerns -- while insulting its only ally (that would be the United States) at every available turn.
Peace depends upon compromise among peoples who must live together long after our speeches are over, and our votes have been counted. That is the lesson of Northern Ireland, where ancient antagonists bridged their differences. That is the lesson of Sudan, where a negotiated settlement led to an independent state. And that is the path to a Palestinian state.
We seek a future where Palestinians live in a sovereign state of their own, with no limit to what they can achieve. There is no question that the Palestinians have seen that vision delayed for too long. And it is precisely because we believe so strongly in the aspirations of the Palestinian people that America has invested so much time and effort in the building of a Palestinian state, and the negotiations that can achieve one.
We have, actually, invested a lot in state-building in Palestine. We have also invested a lot in negotiations. We have something to show for the former and very little to show for the latter.
America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let's be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel's citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel's children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were.
These facts cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.
What percentage of the words in these previous two paragraphs will go unappreciated by the Netanyahu government? 90%? 95%? I'm going to be bold and say 100%.
That truth - that each side has legitimate aspirations - is what makes peace so hard. And the deadlock will only be broken when each side learns to stand in each other's shoes. That's what we should be encouraging. This body - founded, as it was, out of the ashes of war and genocide; dedicated, as it is, to the dignity of every person - must recognize the reality that is lived by both the Palestinians and the Israelis. The measure of our actions must always be whether they advance the right of Israeli and Palestinian children to live in peace and security, with dignity and opportunity. We will only succeed in that effort if we can encourage the parties to sit down together, to listen to each other, and to understand each other's hopes and fears. That is the project to which America is committed. And that is what the United Nations should be focused on in the weeks and months to come.
I am not sure the president has said anything here that would convince the Palestinian people or their leadership that they have viable options for asserting their right to self-determination beyond what they are doing right now. What, pray tell, is a Palestinian supposed to think of all this? What other viable path toward statehood are we offering? At the end of this speech, the Palestinian leadership -- no Thomas Jeffersons themselves, we should add (or even David Ben-Gurions) -- will still be left with their people in the West Bank living under military occupation and an Israeli government more interested in staying in power than helping to create a Palestinian state.
Now, even as we confront these challenges of conflict and revolution, we must also recognize once more that peace is not just the absence of war. True peace depends upon creating the opportunity that makes life worth living. And to do that, we must confront the common enemies of human beings: nuclear weapons and poverty; ignorance and disease. These forces corrode the possibility of lasting peace, and together we are called upon to confront them.
To lift the specter of mass destruction, we must come together to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Over the last two years, we have begun to walk down that path. Since our Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, nearly 50 nations have taken steps to secure nuclear materials from terrorists and smugglers. Next March, a Summit in Seoul will advance our efforts to lock down all of them. The New START Treaty between the United States and Russia will cut our deployed arsenals to the lowest level in a half century, and our nations are pursuing talks on how to achieve deeper reductions. America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons, and the production of fissile material needed to make them.
As we meet our obligations, we have strengthened the treaties and institutions that help stop the spread of these weapons. To do so, we must continue to hold accountable those nations that flout them. The Iranian government cannot demonstrate that its program is peaceful, has not met its obligations, and rejected offers that would provide it with peaceful nuclear power. North Korea has yet to take concrete steps toward abandoning its weapons, and continues belligerent actions against the South. There is a future of greater opportunity for the people of these nations if their governments meet their obligations. But if they continue down a path that is outside international law, they must be met with greater pressure and isolation. That is what our commitment to peace demands.
Gang, I am sorry, but I deal at the opposite end of the spectrum of war from nuclear weaponry. Someone else will have to provide your ace commentary here.
To bring prosperity to our people, we must promote the growth that creates opportunity. In this effort, let us not forget that we have made enormous progress over the last several decades. Closed societies gave way to open markets. Innovation and entrepreneurship has transformed the way we live and the things that we can do. Emerging economies from Asia to the Americas have lifted hundreds of millions from poverty. Yet three years ago, we confronted the worst financial crisis in eight decades. That crisis proved a fact that has become clearer with each passing year - our fate is interconnected; in a global economy, nations will rise, or fall, together.
Aaaand, we can't even balance our budget. Or agree to the cuts in mandatory spending (entitlements) that everyone, including the IMF, says we need. Or even a small tax increase to allow for just the tiniest bit of social justice so that, you know, we do not slash every program the helps the poor without asking anything of the rich. (Daniel 4:27, anyone? No one?) So that's us. Follow our leadership, world!
Today, we confront the challenges that have followed that crisis. Recovery is fragile. Markets are volatile. Too many people are out of work. Too many others are struggling to get by. We acted together to avert a Depression in 2009. We must take urgent and coordinated action once more. Here in the United States, I have announced a plan to put Americans back to work and jumpstart our economy, and committed to substantially reduce our deficit over time. We stand with our European allies as they reshape their institutions and address their own fiscal challenge. For other countries, leaders face a different challenge as they shift their economies towards more self-reliance, boosting domestic demand while slowing inflation. So we will work with emerging economies that have rebounded strongly, so that rising standards of living create new markets that promote global growth. That is what our commitment to prosperity demands.
To combat the poverty that punishes our children, we must act on the belief that freedom from want is a basic human right. The United States has made it a focus of our engagement abroad to help people to feed themselves. And today, as drought and conflict have brought famine to the Horn of Africa, our conscience calls on us to act. Together, we must continue to provide assistance, and support organizations that can reach those in need. And together, we must insist on unrestricted humanitarian access so that we can save the lives of thousands of men, women and children. Our common humanity is at stake. Let us show that the life of a child in Somalia is as precious as any other. That is what our commitment to our fellow human beings demands.
To stop disease that spreads across borders, we must strengthen our systems of public health. We will continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We will focus on the health of mothers and children. And we must come together to prevent, detect, and fight every kind of biological danger - whether it is a pandemic like H1N1, a terrorist threat, or a treatable disease. This week, America signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to affirm our commitment to meet this challenge.
Today, I urge all nations to join us in meeting the WHO's goal of making sure all nations have core capacities to address public health emergencies in place by 2012. That is what our commitment to the health of our people demands.
To preserve our planet, we must not put off the action that a changing climate demands. We must tap the power of science to save those resources that are scarce. Together, we must continue our work to build on the progress made in Copenhagen and Cancun, so that all of the major economies here today follow through on the commitments that were made. Together, we must work to transform the energy that powers are economies, and support others as they move down that path. That is what our commitment to the next generation demands.
And to make sure our societies reach their potential, we must allow our citizens to reach theirs. No country can afford the cancer of corruption. Together, we must harness the power of open societies and open economies. That is why we have partnered with countries from across the globe to launch a new partnership on Open Government that helps ensure accountability and empower their citizens. No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere. And no country can realize its potential if half its population cannot reach theirs. This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women's Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.
I know that there is no straight line to progress, no single path to success. We come from different cultures, and carry with us different histories. But let us never forget that even as we gather here as heads of different governments, we represent citizens who share the same basic aspirations - to live with dignity and freedom; to get an education and pursue opportunity; to love our families and our God. To live in the kind of peace that makes life worth living.
It is the nature of our imperfect world that we are forced to learn this lesson over and over again.
Obama the Calvinist?
Conflict and repression will endure so long as some people refuse to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Yet that is precisely why we have built institutions like this that bind our fates together - because those who came before us believed that peace is preferable to war; freedom is preferable to suppression; and prosperity is preferable to poverty. That is the message that comes not from capitals, but from citizens.
When the corner-stone of this very building was put in place, President Truman came here to New York and said, "The United Nations is essentially an expression of the moral nature of man's aspirations." As we live in a world that is changing at a breathtaking pace, that is a lesson that we must never forget.
Peace is hard, but we know that it is possible. Together, let us resolve to see that it is defined by our hopes and not our fears. Together, let us work to make, not merely a peace, but a peace that will last. Thank you.
No, Mr. President. Thank you. That speech you just gave was frustrating (for no one more than the Palestinians), but was no where near as incoherent as what I had to wade through yesterday.
I hate digging deep into issues related to Israel and the Palestinians, but since this is the hardest statement on foreign policy yet issued by the Perry campaign, here we go:
Thank you. Let me begin by thanking Dr. Solomon Frager and Aron Hirtz for helping us organize this press conference today.
I am joined today by a diverse group of Jewish leaders from here and abroad who share my concern that the United Nations could take action this week to legitimize the Palestinian gambit to establish statehood in violation of the spirit of the 1993 Oslo Accords.
This diverse group of Jewish leaders included at least two Israelis, Danny Danon and Pesach Lerner, who do not support the two-state solution championed most notably in the 1993 Oslo Accords. The former, who preceded Gov. Perry at the lecturn, apparently used his opportunity to praise the hilltop settlers in "Judea and Samaria" -- more commonly known as "the Occupied Palestinian Territories." Why is there no penalty for fraternizing with Israeli extremists?
We are indignant that certain Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership, and we are equally indignant that the Obama Administration’s Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith.
Who, exactly, has been appeased is left unspoken.
Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama Policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous.
It must be said, first, that Israel is our oldest and strongest democratic ally in the Middle East and has been for more than 60 years. The Obama Policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult.
I cannot find an instance in which any mainstream U.S. politician, let alone a member of this administration (in which Dennis Ross and Joe Biden are employed), has given equal standing to the grievances of the Israeli and Palestinian people -- much less orchestrators of terrorism. (Although both Menachem Begin and Yassir Arafat -- both terrorists by any shared definition of the word, both also recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize -- have been received at the White House.)
There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction. America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel.
By proposing ‘indirect talks” through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks.
Second, it was wrong for this Administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The bit about the 1967 borders has been the policy of every U.S. administration dating back to Sec. of State William Rogers. (I should also note the United States was a signatory to UNSCR 242 in 1967.) Here is a great history of U.S. involvement in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that someone on the Perry campaign should read.
When you consider this suggestion was made on the eve of the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit, we see in this American Administration a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is insulting and naïve.
I understand, though, why the border issue chafes some Israelis. The Israelis -- especially this government -- view borders as the issue on which Israel must compromise, much as the right of return is the issue on which Palestinians must compromise. The Netanyahu administration does not want to talk about the former in isolation of the latter.
Third, by injecting the issue of 1967 borders in addition to a construction freeze in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements, the Obama Administration has put Israel in a position of weakness and taken away their flexibility to offer concessions as part of the negotiation process.
I actually think Perry is right that the Obama Administration was wrong to focus on settlements, though perhaps not for the reasons he thinks.
Indeed, bolstered by the Obama Administration’s policies and apologists at the U.N., the Palestinians are exploiting the instability in the Middle East hoping to achieve their objective without concessions or direct negotiations with Israel.
No, the Palestinians have simply lost faith in the ability of the United States to deliver Israeli concessions and believe they are dealing with the most extreme Israeli government in the history of the Jewish State. We have polling data, in fact, that support this.
The reason is simple: if they perceive they can get what they want from the U.N. without making any concessions why should they negotiate with Israel?
While the administration is right to finally agree to fight the Arab resolution at the U.N., it bears repeating that we wouldn’t be here today if they had stuck to some basic principles concerning Palestinian statehood:
First, Palestinian leaders must publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist, and to exist as a Jewish state;
Second, President Abbas must persuade all factions including Hamas to renounce acts of terrorism and release kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit, and;
President Abbas is going to have a tough time convincing Hamas to do much of anything, though this is a reasonable demand, of course, of Israelis to the Palestinian people.
Third, Palestinian statehood must be established only through direct negotiations between the Palestinian leadership and the nation of Israel.
By not insisting on these principles, the Obama Administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests.
I would say that the administration has some way to go if its goal is to appease the Arab Street. Has Rick Perry spoken with anyone on a street (hell, any street) in the Arabic-speaking world about U.S. policy?
They have sowed instability that threatens the prospects of peace.
Israel’s security is critical to America’s security.
This highly debatable. To say the least. There are a lot of good reasons to support our Israeli friends, but most national security analysts are not convinced by this particular argument.
We must not forget it was Israel that took out the nuclear capabilities of Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. In both instances, their actions made the free world safer.
Yes, they did. I'll agree with that.
Today, the greatest threat to the security of Israel and, by extension, a threat to America, is the Iranian government developing a nuclear arsenal. One thing is clear: we must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Economic sanctions must be tightened and increased and all options must remain on the table to stop a brutally repressive regime from acquiring a nuclear capability.
This is what is so puzzling about the Netanyahu government, because it certainly feels this way, too, but if this is the case, why has it continually picked fights with the one power on Earth that can help it out on Iran?
To date, we have fumbled our greatest opportunity for regime change. As average Iranian citizens were marching on Tehran in the Green Revolution in 2009, America was wasting precious time on a naïve policy of outreach to both the Iranian and Syrian governments.
Maybe. I'll let this pass, but I want to know what America should have done differently.
Who knows what the leadership of Iran would look like today if America had done everything in its power to provide diplomatic and moral support to encourage the growing movement of dissidents who sought freedom.
Again, what would have made a difference in Iran in 2009? What could the United States have done that would have tipped the scales in favor of the dissidents? Military power? What?
Our actions in recent years have destabilized the Middle East. We have been complacent in encouraging revolt against hostile governments in Iran and Syria and we have been slow to recognize the risks posed by the new regime in Egypt and the increasingly strained relationship between Israel and Turkey.
It is vitally important for America to preserve alliances with moderate Muslim regimes and Muslim leaders who seek to preserve peace and stability in the region. But today, neither adversaries nor allies alike, know where America stands.
Who, I want to know, are the moderate Muslims? Are they the traditional U.S. allies in the Gulf or the Turks? The Saudis or the Egyptians?
Our muddle of a foreign policy has created greater uncertainty in the midst of the “Arab Spring.” And our policy of isolating and undermining Israel has only encouraged our adversaries in their aggression.
This administration has done a lot wrong. But it has never undermined Israel. It has consistently had Israel's back on everything from closer military cooperation and security guarantees to votes among international organizations like the United Nations.
With the end-run on Palestinian statehood imminent before the U.N., America must act swiftly.
First, every nation within the U.N. must know America stands with Israel and the Oslo accord principle of direct negotiations without equivocation.
I think they are all already painfully clear on this.
Second, America must make it clear that a declaration of Palestinian Statehood in violation of the spirit of the Oslo accords could jeopardize our funding of U.N. operations.
Third, the Palestinians must know their gambit comes with consequences in particular that America will have to reconsider the $4 billion in assistance we have provided to the Palestinians over the last 17 years.
I think this would be a poor decision. Go ask any Israeli military commander in the West Bank for his opinion of U.S.-trained Palestinian police forces and you will understand one reason why.
Fourth, we should close the PLO office in Washington if the U.N. grants the standing of a Palestinian state.
And fifth, we must signal to the world, including nations like Turkey and Egypt whom we have considered allies in recent years, that we won’t tolerate aggression against Israel.
Agreed. Although I do not think either nation has been contemplating any military action against the Jewish state.
Israel is our friend and ally. I have traveled there several times, and met with its leaders. It is not a perfect nation, but its existence is critical to America’s security in the world.
Again, I am not sure I have ever bought this argument. I would want to hear more from some of Israel's staunchest defenders as to why this is the case, because I am open to hearing other perspectives here.
It is time to change our policy of appeasement toward the Palestinians to strengthen our ties to the nation of Israel, and in the process establish a robust American position in the Middle East characterized by a new firmness and a new resolve.
Well, our position will certainly be robust in one nation. Maybe not so robust in all the other countries.
If America does not head off the aggression of forces hostile to Israel we will only embolden them.
That would be a tragic mistake.
On that we can agree. I am not sure I bought much of anything in this argument, though.