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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 28, 2003

The Greatness of George W. Bush

I attended a lecture by David Frum, the author of “The Right Man” and a former speechwriter for George W. during his first part of his term in office. David is a terrific speechwriter, a terrific speaker and an inside man. It is the later quality that made the speech so interesting. What follows is my recollection of what David had to say.

George W. came into office on the heels of a very narrow victory in Florida. Had not the 50,000 Muslim voters there voted so massively in his favour, Al Gore would have become president. The reason for this support was that a Jew was on the Democratic ticket. The Lord moves in mysterious ways. Bush had very little affinity for Israel or the Jewish people. Whereas for the Jews, George W. was the epitome of what they were adverse to; a bible thumping evangelical, a beer drinking frat boy, and a part of the moneyed WASP establishment.

His position during the campaign was that Clinton had tried too hard to solve the Palestinian problem and that his administration was going to back off. The paradigm at the time was that concessions had to be wrung out of Israel to pacify the Arabs. This had been the mentality of American foreign policy for the last fifty years and it was entrenched in the State Department.

In the summer of 2001, in response to intense pressure to do something, Bush instructed Powell to prepare a speech in which the US would start to make demands on Israel for concessions. This speech was to be delivered on September 14th, 2001.

After the horrific events of 9/11, the State Department phoned Bush and asked if the speech was still on. Obviously not. Bush had bigger cattle to throw. And so began the arduous challenge to formulate a policy in response. Would it be business as usual or was a whole new approach needed. On September 27/01 in a speech delivered to Congress, Bush said these immortal words;
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.

And so began an enormous struggle within the administration. Bush had set America on a course that was in conflict with the way America had done business for the last fifty years. During this time the object of the exercise was to keep the oil flowing and to keep the Middle East stable. And now Bush was attempting to chart new waters. There were those that believed that the problem of terrorism should be solved without uprooting the Middle East. Others thought it was time for a paradigm shift, one that required revolution and change. What did this auger for the Palestinian/Israeli conflict? Should the US continue to broker a deal with pressure on Israel as it had always done or should it, instead, come down squarely on the side of Israel. Both the stakes and the inertia were enormous.

This theme was further refined in the 2002, State of the Union Speech, in which Bush first hinted at unilateral action and in which he identified the axis of evil.

Our nation will continue to be steadfast and patient and persistent in the pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And, second, we must prevent the terrorists and regimes that seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world.

But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.

Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade.

States like these [N. Korea, Iran and Iraq], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

There you have it. When you consider what has happened in the last year, you realize that Bush did not deviated from these two objectives one iota. He said what he meant and meant what he said.

Nevertheless, the State Department wanted to continue in their old ways and the evidence of the clash was apparent to all throughout the spring when terrorism in Israel reached epidemic proportions and Powell kept restraining Israel.

According to Frum, Bush is a man who can’t tell a lie well or put on a false front. When he speaks from the heart, he communicates in simple language and direct talk. The message comes across loud and clear. Bush hates Arafat and his duplicity and will not meet with him. When Arafat lied about his involvement with the Karine “A” ship, Bush had had it with him. From that time on Arafat’s days were numbered. Whenever Bush was asked by State to say something to the effect that Israel should restrain itself his heart wasn’t in it and he almost choked on the words.

The next watershed came in his “vision speech” of June 24, 2002.
I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practising democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence. And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbours, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.

I've said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel - including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organisations.

Leaders who want to be included in the peace process must show by their deeds an undivided support for peace. And as we move toward a peaceful solution, Arab states will be expected to build closer ties of diplomacy and commerce with Israel, leading to full normalisation of relations between Israel and the entire Arab world.

Talk about a road map. Bush laid it all out. Read it carefully, like the Torah. Every word counts. The path of appeasement, conciliation and stability had given way to the path of leadership, action and change. Israel has accepted these principals and is currently drafting their version of the road map in accordance therewith.

In addition to inviting the quartet to participate, Bush said,
As we make progress towards security, Israel forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000. And consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.
In Sharon’s Herzeliya speech he said that political consessions are "irreversible" and Israel "will not recontrol territories from which it withdrew". Also, the administration is making noises about stopping settlement activity. Both of these principals are derived from this last paragraph.

This speech was followed up in the fall with the pre-emption speech and the paradigm shift was complete. America had come to accept that Israel’s war on terror was part and parcel with its own war on terror. The way David put it, “Bush does what Rummy wants in the way Powell wants to do it”.

So the US is going to disarm Iraq but is allowing Powell to bring the UN along side. In the next four weeks, Bush and Blair will do their utmost to win more public support for the war and Powell will work to get another resolution of the UN. Once France is told in no uncertain terms that America is going to attack, France will vote for the resolution rather then to be odd man out. It is the American plan to bring Syria on board, or else, just as the vision speech sets out. Finally just as they are working over Iraq, they will be working over Arafat. Palestine, if it ever comes into existence, will be lobotomized. There is no way that America will allow another terrorist state to come into existence.

When you realize the change in world affairs that Bush has undertaken, in the face of enormous pressure from the EU, all the Arab states, Russia, China, the State Department, the media, academia and big business, you see in stark relief, the greatness of George W. Bush.

9/11 changed everything.

Ted Belman