November 12, 2004

Hyperbole Alert

To hear Laura Rozen say it--one would think that the neo-con ascendancy is running rampant (again!) through Washington. Bush, after all, has his mandate--and so we are marching to Iran soonest. Faster, please--as they say.

But wait. Blackwill's speedy resignation may have been for reasons apart from any overly realist stripes. Doug Feith looks set to leave. It's still even money on whether Powell or Rummy will go first. Bolton is not necessarily a shoe-in for Deputy Secretary of State. Danforth is a grounded, rational player and may be landing a bigger job. And so on.

And this:

President Bush is expected to call on Europe to assume a key role in helping the new Palestinian leadership build and support institutions and prepare for negotiations with Israel, American and European diplomats said Thursday.

Such a call would represent a notable increase in cooperation between Washington and its European allies over the Middle East. An issue of contention until now had been the Europeans' continued communications with Yasir Arafat, who died early Thursday. The United States, along with Israel, believed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be solved only without the involvement of Mr. Arafat.

The new role for Europe is likely to be discussed publicly on Friday after the president's meetings with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, the diplomats said.

Also on the agenda is a possible American endorsement of a conference that Mr. Blair wants to hold on the Middle East early next year in Britain, the diplomats said.

Why, how brutishly unilateral and cowboy-esque!

And, while the NYT downplays it, the WaPo even espies a possible special Middle East envoy! Special envoy aside (where not there yet...); it looks pretty clear that some major new initiatives are in the air on the Israeli-Palestinian front (hopefully with elections in Palestine in the next six odd months too--critical to establishing a legitimate heir to Arafat).

Talk is cheap, of course. Let's see where these initiatives lead--and, be assured, there will be a good amount of trench warfare in DC on the scope of such resucitations of the peace process. But, clearly, with Arafat's death and Blair's entreaties (not to mention Bush's very own representations to the Palestinians about post-Arafat potential statehood--which I trust him to actively pursue)--some significant activity is in the air.

Oh, and worth a mention, perhaps--elections in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq in the space of a year or two?

Not bad, no?

MORE: Laura Rozen: "Greg is operating using IAEA standards of proof when it comes to interpreting the signs in Washington about where things are headed."

Heh. And Laura's not? Her blog, of late, has been rife with links to every peep out of an AEI'er or Leeden or Pletka type. Sorry, but that's not the whole story, Laura. She's spinning too heard, imho. Exhibit A: Bush: "I think it is fair to say that I believe we've got a great chance to establish a Palestinian state, and I intend to use the next four years to spend the capital of the United States on such a state. I believe it is in the interests of the world that a truly free state develop." [emphasis added]

Remember, when Bush went before the press the day after his victory--he talked about how he viewed his electoral triumph as constitutive of "political capital", of sorts, to better achieve his goals (he's our first MBA President, after all). So it's very interesting to see him use this formulation with regard to forging an Arab-Israeli peace. Put differently, I think it really means something--and isn't just jaw-jaw for buddy Tony.

I mean, love him or hate him, Bush actually means what he says (as opposed to Clinton and, to a lesser extent, John Kerry). So when he says he sees a "great chance" that a Palestinian state will develop in the next four years--well folks, that means something. It doesn't mean, of course, that it's inexorably going to happen. But I think he's going to give it a very serious try, in his own way (no POTUS poring over maps, no midnight pizza sessions at Sheperdstown, no quasi-rambling bull sessions with Ehud and Yasser)--one that just might prove more effective than Clinton's.

Posted by Gregory at November 12, 2004 04:33 AM
Comments

Why is the standard of proof higher for reading the tea leaves in Washington about the neocon foreign policy mandate than for invading countries like Iraq, etc.? How much evidence does one need?

Greg is operating using IAEA standards of proof when interpreting the signs in Washington about where things are headed. :-/

Posted by: Laura at November 12, 2004 05:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I suspect someone is trying to make something inevitable. Let's hope he gets his way.

Posted by: praktike at November 12, 2004 06:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

BTW apparently Blackwill was deeply hated in India. I doubt this is the first time he abused someone, at least verbally.

Posted by: praktike at November 12, 2004 06:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You can be sure the war news from Iraq will sweeten up in the MSM, now that their preoccupation with electing John Kerry has passed.

Posted by: exguru at November 12, 2004 07:02 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Okay, now I get. The first part is sourced to American and European diplomats, and the real story is here:

"American officials say the Bush administration is highly unlikely to go that far, or even to press Israel at this point on freezing settlement expansion in the occupied lands and other matters. Instead, American willingness to engage Europe is likely to focus on encouraging moderate Palestinians to take leadership roles, helping them conduct elections, re-establishing security and working with the World Bank to finance the takeover of buildings in Gaza once Israel pulls out."

Posted by: praktike at November 12, 2004 07:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

praktike, as i said--the wapo story goes a bit further than the nytimes--particularly w/r/t prospects for special envoy (which is no panacea, btw) as well as degree of US pressure on settlement activity.

Posted by: greg at November 12, 2004 12:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

also worth noting, i think bush will see this as a two-stage process. 1) concerted and multilateral efforts (with so called quartet) to move stolidly towards reforming Palestinian institutions, getting elections held, getting (as much as possible) the security functions operating more cohesively. IF "a" goes well (a big if) we would then get to stage 2--maybe a special envoy, maybe more robust pressure on Israel to make post-Gaza concession on West Bank settlements, more generalized focus on getting deeper into the roadmap. however you view this, these would hardly be the actions of a messianic neo-con. btw, main neo con left in the administration (wolfowitz) has a very complex view of this dispute as compared to some prior ones. even if he gets NSC, wolfy will push along what i describe above, in my view.

Posted by: greg at November 12, 2004 12:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tony wants his London Conference that he can chair. I say let's let him have it.

Posted by: section9 at November 12, 2004 01:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Long before the recent resumption of Gulf War hostilities in Iraq, President Bush and PM Blair were cooperating on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, with Blair taking the lead role.

In June of 2002, Bush made a speech in the Rose Garden where he made it clear that he would not waste his time and political capital with Arafat, but he also made the following statements:

"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."

"Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace, resolving all claims and ending the conflict between them. This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognize borders."

Since that time, the President has continued to put pressure on Sharon's government. U.S. foreign aid to Israel has been reduced from $4.1 billion per year in the last year of the Clinton Administration, to just over $2.3 billion per year. Also, the Bush Administration suspended $290 million worth of loan guarantees in protest to settlement activity and construction of the of security fence.

The Bush Administration has also continued a policy of unilateral reduction of foreign aid to Egypt and Israel required by the Camp David Accord of 1976. I believe he rightfully sees the accord and the mandatory aid as a disincentive for a final peace agreement. After all, the Camp David Accord was fashioned in the "lack of open war equals peace" mentality of the Cold War, and this administration has moved us away from our anachronistic Cold War foreign policy into the more progressive Bush Doctrine.

Posted by: Carl Fenley at November 12, 2004 03:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Does anybody REALLY think

that the death of Arafat

will meake the Jihadoterrorists

more accomodating!?

WHY WOULD THIS BE?!

The Jihadoterrorists want now what they have always wanted: the destruction oif Israel, and they will continue to use genocidal terrorism as their main tool.

(That's what "suicide bombing" is - GENOCIDE; Israelis are targeted for mass murder just because of who the are. The attacks SHOULD be called GENOCIDE BOMBINGS!)

The "new Palestinian" leadership will have to destroy the Jihadoterrorists before they can establish a transparent democratic PNA - which is both a practical, moral and symbolic preconditon for statehood -- as Bush has so courageously said.

Destroying the Jihadoterrorists is far less likely to happen in the Occupied Territories than in Saudi Arabia - and the House of Saud is having a tough time of it.

Until Iran and Syria are dealt with - and they cease to be a source for Jihadoterrorism' filthy lucre and vile hate - there will be trouble in the Holy Land.

So, the first step is Syria: they must be fully sanctioned by the UNSCR for their presence in Lebanon, and their WMD programs. This should happen AT ONCE.

Immediately after that - and BEFORE the Spring - Iran must be sanctioned by the UNSCR.

If Syria and Iran fail to play-ball because of the sanctions, then the USA must take miltary actions against BOTH regimes: destroying Syria's miltary and Command & Control HQ's, and neutralizing the military and the nuke programs of Iran.

Anything less is wishful thinking.

Posted by: reliapundit at November 12, 2004 03:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"elections in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq in the space of a year or two"

Actually, it looks like they all may have elections in JANUARY. (I don't know what the Afghan timeline is at this point, but January was the original goal for the parliamentary elections. Iraq obviously is aiming for January. And it sounds like that's what the Palestinian timeline is as well.)

Posted by: Al at November 12, 2004 05:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm going to hope that now the election's over, Bush and his team will be more willing to make changes without worry as much about how it might play (vis a vis "admitting mistakes"). However, if the old team of Wolfowitz et al remains there, I don't see sensible policy emanating from these guys in the near future. While there may well be rational people in the Administration, they have to contend with the noise coming from the neocons, who do not seem particularly chastened.

I can hope, but I just suspect you might have a little too much rosy tint to your glasses there, Greg. Let's hope sensible minds prevail, as you seem to be predicting they will.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 12, 2004 05:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"reliapundit": up the meds dude.

Posted by: jack at November 12, 2004 09:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Fair points, Greg. I hope you're right.

Posted by: praktike at November 12, 2004 11:59 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm with Mitsu. Greg is looking at the prospects for who will be shaping Bush's second term foreign policy with rose tinted glasses, or something else, than the signs in fact apparent in Washington: neocon haven AEI is being put firmly in charge of Bush's second term Middle East policy.

Posted by: Laura at November 13, 2004 03:52 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

What exactly is the problem with the neo-conservative foreign policy?

Posted by: Carl Fenley at November 13, 2004 05:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anyone who thinks the blogosphere is going to aid human communication should follow this giddy carousel of 'Washington Insiders' around for a day or two. It's not much better than reading the Freepers : jokes about medication supposedly being already prescribed for people you disagree with, and statements of blank incomprehension about why there should be any uncertainties in the world at all given that the great guru in the sky has already pronounced.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley at November 13, 2004 12:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am in a familiar postion: hoping Greg is right, fearing he is not.

I feel the same about Greg's insistence that Bush means what he says, as opposed to other politicians. The evidence is not convincing. We will see as far as the current context.

Posted by: Eric Martin at November 13, 2004 05:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Although Bush often (perhaps even always) does mean what he says his admnistration's actual boots-on-the-ground policy rarely has anything at all to do with what they say. It's the old Marx Brothers quote yet once again, "Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Posted by: John at November 13, 2004 08:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think Greg is right in the sense that when Bush says "I am going to push for X" then he usually gives it the old junior college try. When he's less certain about something, you get leaks about flying to Mars.

At the end of the day, though, the actual implementation of the Bush agenda tends to focus on ways to defund the Democratic party rather than on ways to solve problem. Karl Rove and Grover Norquist are surpisingly explicit about this.

With regard to foreign policy, seeing as they trotted out the road map a few days before invading Iraq just to placate Tony Blair and subsequently forgot about it, I think their credibility is worth doubting. Just ask Flynt Levrett. And then there's the Bush Doctrine: if you harbor a terrorist you're as guilty as the terrorist. Either you're with us or against us.

Did he mean that?

It's not clear. He meant it about Iraq and the Taliban, but that's about it. Pakistan has cracked down on some of its bad guys and cooperated over Afghanistan, but it merely had a few of its Kashmir-oriented terrorist groups change their names and that's about it. The Iran and Syria situation has been complicated. Ditto for Saudi Arabia. Libya got its sanctions removed. So in reality the Bush Doctrine only really applied to Iraq, which is fine with me because I think it's not the right way to approach matters. But in any case its implementation suggests that Bush doesn't always "mean what he says."

Posted by: praktike at November 13, 2004 09:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Bush Administration's plans for a soveriegn Palestinian state was announced almost a year before the invasion of Iraq.

The real obstacle to all these plans is the complete lack of any sort of order, laws, justice system, political system, or humanitarian social structure in the Palestinian Territories. I would be shocked if they can even manage reasonably legitimate elections within the next 90 days.

The Bush Doctrine is the "user-friendly" name given to the first National Security Strategy of the United States of America written after the September 11 attacks. It is a 30 page document that explains why the reactionary Cold War policies from the Reagan era, and only now embraced by Europe, create more problems than they solve. It also explains why the value of the US dollar is falling. It also explains what Bush means when he says "tax simplification".

The various characterization of the Bush Doctrine as "preemptive strikes" or "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" are clear evidence of someone that has never read the Bush Doctrine.

Pakistan has begun political reform, Saudi Arabia has already begun a reduction of extremism, Syria is under pressure of US sanctions, Libya has reformed its own policy of developing WMD, and Iran is left as a test to see if the EU and UN can walk their own talk.

Posted by: Carl Fenley at November 14, 2004 12:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, I've read the 2002 NSS. But I think what I said is a fair shorthand.

As for this: "Pakistan has begun political reform," I don't think it true at all, 26 Saudi prominent scholars just endorsed the Iraqi insurgency, unilateral sanctions are pointless (and in any case, Syria has been given a wink to stay in Lebanon), and I am not excited about using a country such as Iran as a "test case."

Posted by: praktike at November 14, 2004 03:21 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As for this: "Pakistan has begun political reform," I don't think it true at all...

Musharraf's removal of the elected President of Pakistan in 1999 was completely Constitutional. He became an unconstitutional tyrant when he appointed himself President while remaining in military service, making it a bloodless coup. Bush pressured Musharraf on several issues after the September 11 attacks including political reform. The upper house of Pakistan's parliament has just agreed to allow Musharraf to remain in both positions until 2007. Musharraf is also prosecuting the war against terrorists instead of lying in bed with them. Is it perfect? No. Is it progress? Unquestionably.

...26 Saudi prominent scholars just endorsed the Iraqi insurgency...

Absolutely. The fact that the number is not much higher is proof there is some slow reform occuring. In a CNN report attempting to make the case for wide support for Osama Bin Laden in Saudi Arabia, they use data from an opinion poll performed by Nawaf Obaid. Not reported by CNN was Mr. Obaid's summary of the poll results, which was that "It was very clear that extremism is definitely on the downward slope". Unlike CNN, this conclusion was reported in the Associated Press' article reported by Donna Abu-Nasr.

I doubt the recent attacks against Musharraf in Pakistan and worker compounds in Saudi Arabia are a result of these governments doing nothing, but are more likely the result of an attempt at reform.

...unilateral sanctions are pointless (and in any case, Syria has been given a wink to stay in Lebanon)...

Is that why there is such a cacophony of voices from the International community demanding the US lift its unilateral sanctions from Cuba?

"...and I am not excited about using a country such as Iran as a "test case."

On this point we can agree. Unfortuntately, jsut as NATO insisted on taking over security in Afghanistan (and almost lost our victory there), Europe is demanding the lead role in negotiations with Iran. I'm sure their agreement will smack of North Korea 1994.

You seem to be suggesting that the US is not being aggressive enough in other parts of the world, thus out neo-conning the neo-cons.

Posted by: Carl Fenley at November 14, 2004 06:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

In re: Bush acting sensibly over the next four years... take a look at this:

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/nation/2900161

Porter Goss has been directed to "purge" the CIA of "disloyal" liberal Democrats and others who have clashed with the Bush Administration. Does this bode well for accuracy in intelligence gathering? I think not.

Posted by: Mitsu at November 15, 2004 06:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mitsu,

When you spend your time on the talk-show circuit bashing Bush and writing books for the Kerry campaign (and to line your pocket) instead of doing your job at CIA, you SHOULD be purged.

Posted by: Matthew Cromer at November 15, 2004 12:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Does this bode well for accuracy in intelligence gathering?"

You mean in relation to the accuracy in intelligence that led to the bombing of an aspirin factory in Sudan, Operation Desert Fox, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, while allowing Americans to be killed at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, embassies in North Africa, aboard the USS Cole in Yemen, and in the World Trade Center in New York.

Yeah, it will be a shame to see such an intelligence record tarnished by the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Carl Fenley at November 15, 2004 04:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

With Powell's resignation in the bag, AEI taking over Bush administration second term foreign policy even more than the first term, I am afraid Greg owes me a double latte.

Posted by: Laura at November 15, 2004 08:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good work, Laura. I'd say the number of people Greg predicted would stay that are in fact saying is, ahem, de minimis.

As for Carl, I don't think you'd find too many Pakistani's who would agree with you about the legalilty of Musharraf's coup. I don't happen to think he's a bad dude, and he's been helpful re: Afghanistan, but it's a baldfaced lie to say he's enacted political reforms. He is the antithesis of political reform--he's a friggin' unelected dictator! He kicked out the two reformist parties, and the parliamentary ratification you point to is a sham. Again, he's not a bad dude, and he's been willing to confront the radicals, but it is not accurate to call him a political reformer.

Posted by: praktike at November 15, 2004 10:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Palestinians will never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Unless of course it is an opportunity to kill someone, preferably an innocent bystander.
Do Palestinians deserve self-determination?
The evidence is lacking.

Posted by: Helen at November 15, 2004 10:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh, and Greg:

"The president is moving briskly to seize the moment. He is consolidating power at the White House, ***channeling ever more influence to Vice President Dick Cheney***, his closest confidant, and counselor Karl Rove, architect of his November 2 victory. Senior White House officials tell U.S. News that Bush plans to replace at least half his cabinet over the next few months. His aim is to remove officials who have become lightning rods for controversy or who seem to have lost their desire to serve in Washington. . . .

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/041122/usnews/22bush.htm

Posted by: praktike at November 15, 2004 11:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

well folks - it only took ONE DAY for the palis to attempt an assasination of Abbas.

REPEAT: anyone who thinks arafat's death is an opening is in neverneverland.

arafat's death will begin a civil war within the pali ranks.

Arafat's death will not make hamas and hezbollah or the pflp int moderates.

they wanted the destruction od isreal before; they still do.

get real.

we must take down syria and iran to take down hamas and hezbollah and the other state sponsors of gemociodal terror in the Holy Land.

ONLY AFTER that will "pali moderates" get a chance.


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