When George W. Bush is good, he’s very good. But when he’s bad, he’s very bad.
He’s good on taxes, and bad on spending. He’s good on judges, and bad on campaign-finance reform. He’s a good wartime president, and a bad ally of Israel.
Yes, I said a bad ally of Israel.
The terrorist group Hamas announced the other day that it would not abide by the president’s roadmap for peace, and would not cease terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. And Hamas, joined by other terrorist groups, has made good on its threat by killing Israeli soldiers and civilians. In response, today Israeli helicopters targeted a senior Hamas leader and wounded him.
In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush is “concerned that this strike will undermine efforts by Palestinian authorities to bring an end to terrorist attacks, and it does not contribute to the security of Israel.”
Fleischer’s statement on behalf of the president is not only offensive, but is a flat-out rejection of the policy the Bush administration itself has established in dealing with terrorism.
First, Israel is a democracy and a sovereign state. That Israel relies heavily on U.S. economic and military aid does not alter these facts. Israel’s elected leaders, not the United States, decide what’s in her best national-security interest. Israel’s leaders are accountable to the Israeli people, just as President Bush is accountable to the American people. Israel’s leaders not only have the right to take steps to protect their citizens, but failing to do so is a gross abrogation of their responsibilities. The president’s public rebukes are not only arrogant, but they undermine Israel’s ability to stand up to its terrorist attackers.
Second, the president was rightly offended when France used its position on the U.N. Security Council to try to defeat the Bush Doctrine as applied to Iraq. Yet, the Bush administration has no qualms about imposing a contradictory policy on Israel — which requires Israel to accept, without retaliation, terrorist attacks on its people. In exchange, Israel is expected to entrust her survival on yet another “land-for-peace” initiative. This is not how America should treat its allies, especially those under siege.
Third, the president knows that Israel is a tiny country among a sea of enemies. Having been president during 9/11, he must understand the fear and anguish the Israeli people live with every day. In the aftermath of 9/11, he didn’t sue for peace. He didn’t seek negotiations with the Taliban regime. He rallied the nation around the principle of self-defense and ordered American forces into action. President Bush did precisely the opposite of what he urges for Israel.
Fourth, it’s no accident that the more land and security Israel surrenders, the more Israeli citizens are murdered. Terrorists see Israeli concessions, in the face of their attacks, as weakness and opportunity. And it’s no accident that this has occurred during the Clinton and Bush years, the only two administrations to endorse a Palestinian homeland. What better evidence can there be that enough Palestinians don’t seek statehood and coexistence, but Israel’s annihilation?
As long as Israel remains the exception to the Bush Doctrine, the doctrine cannot succeed. And if the Bush Doctrine fails, terrorism cannot be defeated.