For­eign pol­icy naivete

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The more one looks at the re­port pro­duced by Jim Baker, Lee Hamil­ton and the rest of the Iraq Study Group (ISG), the more in­co­her­ent it ap­pears. The child­like in­no­cence of the panel mem­bers is per­va­sive in the ISG rec­om­men­da­tions, which read like a “wish list” put to­gether by a high-school so­cial stud­ies class learn­ing about the Mid­dle East for the first time, with­out any re­gard for his­tory or geopo­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties.

For ex­am­ple, the Baker-Hamil­ton re­port rec­om­mends that “diplo­matic ef­forts” be taken to per­suade Iran “to take spe­cific steps to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion in Iraq.” Iran, it says, should “stem the flow of equip­ment, tech­nol­ogy and train­ing to any group re­sort­ing to vi­o­lence in Iraq”; make clear its sup­port for Iraq’s ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity; and “use its in­flu­ence” to “en­cour­age na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” in Iraq. And what if Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad (who rou­tinely calls for Is­rael’s de­struc­tion and ques­tions the Holo­caust) did the unimag­in­able and re­fused to co­op­er­ate with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in forg­ing a peace­ful, demo­cratic fu­ture for Iraq? No wor­ries, be­cause Ira­nian in­tran­si­gence “would demon­strate to Iraq and the rest of the world Iran’s re­jec­tion­ist at­ti­tude and approach, which could lead to its iso­la­tion.”

Trou­bled by Syr­ian sub­ver­sion of Iraq? To fix this, the ISG rec­om­mends that the United States and other coun­tries “should en­cour­age and per­suade Syria” to “work to­gether with the Iraqis on joint pa­trols on the border” to pre­vent in­sur­gents from in­fil­trat­ing into Iraq. In­ter­ested in fix­ing the mess in Le­banon, where Hezbol­lah, an Ira­nian and Syr­ian proxy, is try­ing to bring down the elected gov­ern­ment? Well, the Baker Bunch has so­lu­tions for th­ese prob­lems. Syria, it says, should im­ple­ment a “ver­i­fi­able” ces­sa­tion of its sub­ver­sion of its neigh­bor, and there should also be a “ver­i­fi­able” halt of Syr­ian as­sis­tance in fun­nelling arms to Hezbol­lah. (As the ISG re­port re­as­sur­ingly tells us on p. 56: “This step would do much to solve Is­rael’s prob­lem with Hezbol­lah.”) And Syria should co­op­er­ate with “all in­ves­ti­ga­tions into po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tions in Le­banon, es­pe­cially those of Rafik Hariri and Pierre Ge­mayel’’ (the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment was al­most cer­tainly be­hind th­ese and other mur­ders of Le­banese who re­fused to toe its line).

The Baker-Hamil­ton panel also plunged head­long into com­ing up with a res­o­lu­tion of the Arab-Is­raeli con­flict. The ISG rec­om­mends im­ple­ment­ing a “ver­i­fi­able” end to arms ship­ments through Syria for Pales­tinian re­jec­tion­ist groups such as Ha­mas and urges “A Syr­ian com­mit­ment to help ob­tain from Ha­mas an ac­knowl­edge­ment of Is­rael’s right to ex­ist.” But back in the real world, Ha­mas and Iran have been giv­ing their own re­sponses to the ISG re­port. On Dec. 9, Pales­tinian Prime Min­is­ter Is­mail Haniyeh, of­ten de­scribed in the press as a Ha­mas “mod­er­ate,” said in Tehran that his gov­ern­ment would de­fend the Pales­tinian peo­ple’s right to “re­sis­tance” (ter­ror­ism) and vowed that they would not abide by al­ready signed Pales­tinian agree­ments with Is­rael, which he called a “fake regime.” Mr. Haniyeh also vowed never to rec­og­nize the Jewish state. At an of­fi­cial meet­ing with Mr. Haniyeh held Dec. 9 in Tehran, Mr. Ah­madine­jad called on Pales­tini­ans to con­tinue fight­ing Is­rael; the Ira­nian leader sug­gested that Is­rael was in dan­ger be­cause the United States “is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing and be­com­ing weak.”

Buried on p. 58 of the ISG re­port is an­other po­ten­tial time bomb for Is­rael: The panel sug­gests that a fi­nal set­tle­ment be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans in­clude the “right of re­turn” — ter­mi­nol­ogy gen­er­ally used to de­scribe the Pales­tinian de­mand that mil­lions of refugees be per­mit­ted to re­turn to their an­ces­tral homes inside what is now Is­rael — a for­mula that would ef­fec­tively end its ex­is­tence as the world’s only Jewish state. Pres­i­dent Bush would do well to keep very, very far away from the delu­sional think­ing man­i­fested in this re­port.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.