Politics & Policy

Bush Vs. Geneva

The president's fine words need some help.

After the September 11 attacks on the U.S., George W. Bush reviewed what he referred to in London last month as “decades of failed policy in the Middle East.” In the past, he said, we “have been willing to make a bargain to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability,” but “this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe.” Instead, it paved the way for a “global campaign by terrorist networks to intimidate and demoralize all who oppose them.” In response, our 43rd president rejected the old bargain, vowing instead to work for “the global spread of democracy,” to fight against terrorists everywhere “with open eyes,” and to defeat them.

To apply this new policy to the Palestinian problem, George W. Bush made two fundamental decisions. He decided to become the first American president ever to make a flat-out offer of statehood to the Palestinian people, and the first American president ever to draw a real red line against Palestinian terrorism. In his June 24, 2002 “Palestinian Democracy” speech, he spelled out the implications of these decisions. America, he said, will back the creation of a Palestinian state, a democratic Palestinian state, but only if the Palestinians first choose new leaders who will bring all terrorist activities to an end, and completely dismantle their terrorist infrastructure.

That’s the Bush plan and, despite great and growing pressure to implement the first decision by abandoning the second one, George W. Bush has consistently refused to do so. Recognizing the fact that negotiating with terrorists can only lead to more terrorism and the creation of an anti-democratic terrorist state that is hostile to America’s interests and oppressive to the Palestinian people, President Bush steadfastly refuses to meet with Yasser Arafat. He met with Palestinian prime minister Abu Abbas because Abbas promised to end terrorism; he has not met with his successor, Abu Ala, because Ala has made no such promise. And unless Ala or his successor makes that promise and acts on it, there will be no meetings with this president, and no Palestinian state. It’s a good plan, strong and principled in defense of American interests, just and generous in dealing with Palestinian interests, but it is being sharply undercut by competition from abroad.

Old Europe, led by France and joined by all the remaining Middle Eastern despots, rejects the Bush plan because it is still fiercely attached to the old bargain. Its leaders have invested enormous capital in it, and paid a very high price for it. The Euro-Arab axis that France and its allies created opposed our use of force in defense of freedom in Iraq, and it is aggressively promoting a fundamentally different plan for dealing with the Palestinians. In its latest incarnation, the Euro-Arab plan is called the Geneva Accord, and it got its lavishly funded, full-court press launch in Switzerland on Monday, with p.r. help from two obliging front-men: Jimmy I-never-met-a-dictator-I-didn’t-like Carter and Yossi Beilin, a megalomaniacal Israeli Stalinist who was overwhelmingly rejected by his countrymen in a fair election. The millions needed to mail a copy of the Geneva Accord to every household in Israel, and to fly reporters from all over the world to Switzerland to witness the signing ceremony, were supplied by members of the Euro-Arab axis. France and Belgium gave Beilin & co. $7 million; the Swiss and undisclosed others contributed millions more.

The Geneva Accord this axis promotes as an alternative to the American plan is not aimed at ending Palestinian terrorism against Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Israel, or against Americans and our Coalition partners in Iraq and other hotspots. Pro-forma declarations to the contrary notwithstanding, it has no meaningful provisions to that effect.

Why are the French, the Belgians, the Swiss, and so many of their old Europe allies working so hard to create what would, obviously, under these conditions, be a Palestinian terror state? They do it, first and foremost, to carry out the bargain they made with their Arab despot friends, to keep the oil flowing, the lucrative contracts in force, and the wrath of the Arab street directed at us, not them. Their Arab despot friends back a Palestinian terror state because they need to keep their own angry, oppressed, and impoverished masses in line and, since they are unwilling to offer them freedom, democracy, or economic opportunity, they promise them a great Arab victory instead, a victory over Israel and America.

But France and many of its old Europe allies are not just placating external enemies. Increasingly, they struggle with the same problem internally. Opening their doors to a massive influx of Arab immigrants was part of the bargain too, and the price has been especially steep in countries like France. America, with its open, free-market economy, is a land of opportunity for Arab immigrants. France, with its rigid, tightly regulated economy is not, and angry, unemployed, and unassimilated Arabs, living an apartheid life in the lawless, high-rise, concrete warrens that form threatening rings around French cities today are now 20 percent of the French population, and the most rapidly growing part. Fearing civil unrest, France needs to placate this explosive population and, since she is unwilling to take the economic steps necessary to create meaningful job opportunities for them, she offers them a proxy victory over Israel instead, poisoning their hate-polluted minds with a constant stream of anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda, and pretending to be shocked when French Arabs attack French Jews and burn down French synagogues.

That France and its Euro-Arab allies would respond to the Islamofascist threat by embracing appeasement and antisemitism is sad but not surprising. They responded to the Nazi threat in the 1930s in the same way. The fact that failed politicians like Jimmy Carter, Sandy Berger, and Yossi Beilin would join them, cheered on by the likes of Thomas Friedman, is no surprise either, but the fact that our deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz, is one of the cheerleaders for the Geneva Accord is. Regularly caricatured as a neoconservative superhawk–Slate once called him “Bush’s testosterone man at Defense”–Paul Wolfowitz is actually a superdove when it comes to Palestinian terrorism. In the buildup to the Geneva signing ceremony, Beilin’s cronies tried to disguise its anti-democratic nature by getting Leftist Israelis to sign a petition in support of it; Wolfowitz bought into the shame show. In a speech at Georgetown University on October 30, Wolfowitz said: “I had the privilege last week of meeting with the two organizers of that petition, Sari Nusseibah, a Palestinian, and Amit Ayalon, an Israeli. One of the keys to achieving peace is to somehow mobilize majorities on both sides so that the extremists who oppose it can be isolated.”

The “extremists who oppose it” include Ariel Sharon and his government, a government elected by an overwhelming majority of the Israeli people less than a year ago. On the Palestinian side, the two Fatah leaders who played a major role in drafting the Geneva Accord, Hatem Abdel Kader and Kadoura Fares, have decided to boycott the signing ceremony because their fellow Palestinians have mounted a campaign of terror and intimidation against them, based on the mistaken belief that the accord is actually aimed at creating peace. On the contrary, Kader told Khaled Abu Toameh of the Jerusalem Post: “Our aim was to create divisions inside Israel.” Fares put it this way: “Some irresponsible members of the Fatah Central Council don’t understand that one of the goals of the Geneva Accord is to create a rift in the Israeli street and a crack in the Sharon government.”

In loudly voicing his support for the Geneva Accord, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz is working against the Bush plan and undercutting one of its strongest supporters, his immediate superior, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Recently, another defense-department official, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, was harshly criticized for saying that Islamic extremists hate the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian.” Even though the general’s statement is true, and was made in a church, and not printed on the defense department’s website, some of his superiors felt that it contravened American policy because it might be misinterpreted as a claim that we are at war with all Muslims, not just Islamic extremists. Surely, it makes no sense to silence General Boykin while allowing Secretary Wolfowitz to actually challenge American policy and to print that challenge on the defense department’s own website.

Barbara Lerner is a frequent contributor to NRO.

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