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December 13, 2002 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-12-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Washington Watch

Mideast
Containment

Bush appointment of Abrams seen
as a holding action.

Siegman said the real reason for
Abrams'
appointment was the adminis-
Washington Correspondent
tration's desire to preserve the current
Israeli-Palestinian status quo. "This
he appointment of Elliot
president is not prepared to take any
Abrams as director of
new initiatives during this period prior
Middle East affairs at the
White House was the worst to the war he is expected to launch in
Iraq, or immediately afterward," he said.
possible news for Yasser Arafat, Hosni
"What he wants is containment, to
Mubarak and the Saudi royal family.
ensure that there are no developments
It also isn't good news for Jewish
on the Israeli or Palestinian side that
groups that want the Bush administra-
tion to press harder for the resumption could damage the administration's
prospects on the Iraq front."
of political negotiations between Israel
Siegman, who just returned from
and the Palestinians.
the
region, said the appointment was
Jewish leaders expressed surprise at
also
intended to "reassure the Jewish
because
Abrams,
who
the appointment
and evangelical communities and
served as an assistant secretary of state
dampen Palestinian expectations."
during the Reagan administration and
Analysts point to
was convicted of perjury in the Iran-
another reason for the
Contra scandal, has little experience in
Abrams selection: he is
Mideast matters. But that's just the
regarded as a good
point, said Shoshana Bryen, director
manager who may be
of special projects for the Jewish
able to impose order in
Institute for National Security Affairs
a policy area rife with
(JINSA).
conflicting agendas.
"It's a revolutionary appointment,"
"Elliot will be able to
she said. "All these Middle East experts
affect
the agenda
couldn't do this job, so the president
because
he
is
a
good
government
picked a democracy expert. That tells
employee who knows how to get
you where this administration is
things done," said JINSA's Shoshana
going; the president wants to look at
Bryen.
the Middle East through the prism of
Judith Kipper, director of the
democracy."
Middle East program at the Center for
The big losers in the Abrams
- Strategic and International Studies,
appointment, she said: Saudi Arabia,
said that "he is very efficient, a good
Egypt and the Palestinian Authority,
manager." She said that the appoint-
all of which have little interest in
ment reflects the administration's
democracy.
"Iraq-first" focus, with Israeli-
But others point Out that during the
Palestinian peacemaking put on the
Reagan administration, Abrams was a
back burner. And it reflects "the
leading advocate of policies that sup-
increasingly common view in the
ported repressive Latin American gov-
administration that winning in Iraq
ernments that were allied with
will somehow make democracy and a
Washington in the battle against com-
peace process viable in the Middle
munism.
East," she said. "That is the strategic
"If the main purpose of this
view active in this administration, and
appointment was to press forward
he is an active advocate of that view."
with the president's goal of advancing
democracy, he is about the least likely
appointee," said Henry Siegman,
director of the Middle East program at Poles Cited
This week, the U.S. Holocaust
the Council on Foreign Relations.
Memorial Museum marked the 60th
"Because of his past, he has no credi-
bility on the issue of democratization." WASHINGTON WATCH on page 26 •

JAMES D. BESSER

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