Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bush understands Israel/Palestine?

David Brooks (via Sullivan guest blogger) suggests Bush grasps the Middle East after all:
It almost makes you think that Bush understands the situation better than the lot of them. His judgments now look correct. Bush deduced that Sharon could grasp the demographic reality and lead Israel toward a two-state solution; that Arafat would never make peace, but was a retardant to peace; that Israel has a right to fight terrorism; and that Sharon would never feel safe enough to take risks unless the U.S. supported him when he fought back. Bush concluded that peace would never come as long as Palestine was an undemocratic tyranny, and that the Palestinians needed to see their intifada would never bring triumph.
So I guess it is conceivable that Bush will make more progress on Israel/Palestine than Clinton ever did. If so then he deserves our support.

Reagan vs. Communists, a conflict that clearly has inspired Bush, suggests firm leadership has its rewards. The liberal "intellectual" in me questions whether simplistic rhetoric about "good" and "evil" is the answer to all the world's ills, but perhaps simple problems should sometimes be solved by simple solutions.

I still don't think a "war" is the right way to combat threats of terrorism though.

UPDATE: Juan Cole responds:
Brooks's column makes no sense to me. First of all, the resumption of some sort of negotiations was made possible only by Yasser Arafat's death, because Ariel Sharon hated Arafat, wanted to kill him, and refused to negotiate with him. Arafat was the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, however, and there was no one else to negotiate with. It seems to a lot of us that in the wasted past few years, Sharon has permanently spiked the possibility of there ever being a viable Palestinian state, and the Israeli colonization of the West Bank continues apace. Sharon's so-called withdrawal from Gaza will mean nothing without a strong Palestinian Authority in the region-- otherwise the military occupation will continue de facto.
That is more in line with what I would have thought. But then again if I had been more politically aware during the eighties I might have thought that Reagan's approach to Gorbie was flawed and dangerous. I guess I'm starting to suspect that there is an element of strong leadership that defies rationality, because it changes the context in which rational arguments exist.

UPDATE II: I somehow missed Matt's take on Brooks's column, which is spot-on as always.

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