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February 14, 2003 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-02-14

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new Knesset open advocates and sym-
pathizers of the settlement movement
now overwhelmingly outnumber those
who oppose their existence.
Making our peace with the Israeli
election results will also require
Americans to make a fundamental
shift in our expectations about how
even a theoretical step toward peace
will happen.
In his June 24 speech on the Middle
East, President Bush seemed to under-
stand that an American policy based
on pushing Israel to make concessions
that ignore Palestinian terrorism
would not bring peace.
The White House (as opposed to
the U.S. State Department) was actu-
ally way ahead of the media in treating
Sharon and his followers as the politi-
cal mainstream of Israel.
But Secretary of State Colin Powell,
who appears to have come to his sens-
es about the need for action against
Iraq, needs a similar change of heart
about the need for a quick route or
"road map" to a Palestinian state that
will be dominated by terrorists.
The State Department's cheering
section for the Oslo myth also needs
to be permanently disbanded. The exit
of men like Dennis Ross and Aaron.
Miller — veterans of the Clinton
administration as well as that of the
first Bush — from State is a start.
Others, such as Daniel Kurtzer,
America's dysfunctional ambassador to
Israel, must follow.
As he forms a new coalition (made
easier by Likud's now commanding


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from page 35

from page 35

women's rights may strike Saudi
princes as alien. On the other hand,
they have no difficulty grasping the
significance of a B-2 bomber or a
carrier battle group."
More broadly, Bacevich sees this
approach as a proper "modesty and
self-restraint" in U.S. foreign policy.
Both Bacevich and Ajami make
compelling arguments — and their
articles should be read in full — but
this analyst sides with Ajami.
Addressing Bacevich's four points:
• Japan had about as much "affini-
ty for democracy" in 1945 as the
Arabs do today, yet democracy took
hold there.
• There is no indication that an
open political system inexorably leads
to higher divorce rates and the other
social changes — again, look at Japan.

position in the Knesset), Sharon
deserves to be given the maneuvering
room he needs from American friends
of Israel to get the cabinet that will
best serve his pragmatic aims.
There needs to be no pressure from
these shores to include the forces of
the left — or the right.
Moreover, his choice needs no seal
of approval from either diplomats or
squeamish American Jews; his govern-
ment — whether a coalition with par-
ties to his right or those to .his left —
will have legitimacy conferred upon it
by a democratic election.
Finally, it may also be time for many
of us, who have underestimated Sharon
or dismissed him as a brutal if fleeting
political phenomena brought upon
Israel solely by Palestinian terror, to start
to reevaluate his plaCe in Israeli history.
Sharon will be judged more by how
Israel `fares by the time he leaves office
than by how he won two elections.
But his skill in solidifying Israel's
alliance with the Bush administration
and his revival of the Likud from its
low point of 1999 to a position of
ascendancy clearly mark him as one of
the country's greatest political leaders.
In the months ahead, Sharon will be
challenged anew with the threat of war
in the Persian Gulf and the continued
campaign of pressure on Israel from
If he continues successfully steering
his country toward a place where it
can defend its security without dis-
tancing itself from the United States,
there will be no reason for anyone —
including the American media — to
be surprised. ❑

• A famous American victory in
Iraq and the successful rehabilitation
of that country will bring liberals
out of the woodwork and generally
move the region toward democracy.
(Saudi leaders are already leaking
their plans to establish electing
assemblies, something totally
unprecedented in their kingdom.)
• The United States cannot pass
up a unique chance to remake the
world's most politically fevered
region. Sure, the effort might fail,
but not even to try would be a
missed opportunity.
Secretary of State Colin Powell last
week said that American success in
Iraq "could fundamentally reshape
[the Middle East] in a powerful,
positive way," suggesting that even
the Bush team's most cautious mem-
ber is rightly coming around to the
ambitious point of view. ❑

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