Skip to comments.Peggy Noonan: Bush Makes the Right Move
Posted on 04/04/2002 8:06:56 PM PST by Pokey78
The president seeks peace without abandoning principle.
Well that was one big, broad, bold statement from our president on the Mideast yesterday. His Rose Garden speech seemed to come late in the drama, but it may turn out that George W. Bush spoke at the right moment--when the action had reached its peak, with the Church of the Nativity surrounded, the tanks rolling through Nablus and on to Hebron, the watching world exhausted, and the rush of adrenaline that had sustained both sides the past week wearing off, leaving some combatants shaky and wondering no doubt if there wasn't a way back from the brink.
Mr. Bush's speech said there was. And he demonstrated it by seeming to take a step back himself from his own previous statements. Although his people will soon be calling it not a step back but an elaboration or extension of his previous position.
His announcement that he would send Secretary of State Colin Powell to Israel next week appears to be risky--certainly all the foreign-affairs professionals are calling it a big gamble--but it isn't, really. Things are so bad in the Mideast that if Mr. Powell makes any progress at all, sending him will seem a brilliant move. If Mr. Powell fails, who wouldn't have failed? It's the Mideast. And what would failure look like, anyway? Just more of the same.
As for how Mr. Powell's presence will be perceived, the Arab world, which understands him to be one Bush cabinet member who is not reflexively pro-Israeli, will not complain; the Israelis understand him to be representing a president with a history of commitments to Israel; the Europeans see him as an American who has a detached view of the Mideast.
And Mr. Powell is a national and international hero. He has the power of the unhated man. His presence has force because his persona is dense with meaning: hero, leader, minority member who struggled to triumph in white institutions, a dove by nature who knows how to fight. He knows how to say tough things in a boring way, a great talent in diplomacy. He radiates warmth but is a reactor cool at the core. He can lower the temperature just by walking in. And the world press both admires and enjoys celebrating him.
So he's a good man to send at a time such as this. And just as Mr. Powell needs Mr. Bush in order to continue as secretary of state, Mr. Bush needs Mr. Powell for the signals his presence sends, and for the stature he lends. They need each other, know it, negotiate around it without acknowledging it, and work well together.
As for Mr. Bush's speech, it was impressive and, I suspect, clever. What was needed was a definitive statement of America's understanding of, and views on, what is happening in the Mideast, but a statement that didn't make things hotter or more passionate or encourage action that would not be helpful. Mr. Bush needed to give the world a sense of the context as he sees it. What was not needed was rhetorical flight, and he didn't take one. He needed words that weren't each of them little hand grenades but words that had a simple and definite meaning that became sentences that, strung together, built a suspension bridge of thought and well-meaning.
That's what he did. Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis hold the immediate guilt; a fanaticism which "induces" an 18-year-old Palestinian girl to strap a bomb on her back and blow herself up, killing a 17-year-old Israeli girl, is the evildoer. "Suicide bombers are not martyrs," Mr. Bush said, "they're murderers, and they undermine the cause" for which they stand.
He said, essentially, that both sides in the struggle have a case, a plea that can be made to the world's conscience. He made it clear he remains a supporter of Israel's right to defend itself and to assert its right to nationhood and freedom. "I speak as a committed friend to Israel." But Israeli settlement activity must stop, and Israel should "lay the foundations of future peace" by halting its incursions into Palestinian areas, and in fact withdrawing from them. He asked Israel to show "a respect" for those who feel humiliated by the actions of its soldiers.
This was a step back from Mr. Bush's previous statements that Israel had a right to defend herself, period.
At the same time Mr. Bush made no bows to Yasser Arafat, saying he had "betrayed the hopes of his people" by failing to strongly or steadily oppose terrorism. Mr. Bush warned that terrorism could "blow up" the best chance for a Palestinian homeland. He challenged the leaders of Arab countries to play a constructive role, and warned Syria and Iran that they must "stay out" of the conflict.
At the end of remarks some bravado: He expects better leadership in the Mideast, and "I expect results."
The most surprising aspect of Mr. Bush's remarks was that they were so specific. They were not bland and vague as one might have expected from a diplomatic statement by a president to a world that fears a widening war. His remarks were highly specific and informational, full of citations on United Nations resolutions and support of past peace plans that could become a blueprint for progress. Which means his remarks gave everyone--the Palestinians, the Israelis, the Europeans, the foreign-policy community, the media, the Arab street, the Israeli street--something to think about, chew over. As most people can't think, chew and shoot at the same time, his specificity may turn out to have been a contribution.
But in general, at times like this, an American president simply has to speak. He must come forward with a voice that reflects the thinking of a great nation that is trying to be fair. It is good he finally spoke, good that he was comprehensive, good that he launched a new mission. To use the word good three times in a piece about the Mideast after the past six months feels . . . pretty good.
I think I would rather have seen Gore in there, an avowed enemy, than a false, two-timing "friend" like this!
We shall keep a score of how many Jewish lives this costs. And I assure you right now, its beneficial effect is absolutely zero, zip, nada.
The suicide bombers will be back on the street within 24 hours.
All the nations will gather against Israel. Only the Messiah will be true. All the others are deceivers and betrayers.
I've been pretty disgusted with everyone from Europe to the Pope criticizing Israel for finally saying enough is enough and defending itself against this ragtag bunch of terrorist bastards and delusional human bombs being handed marching orders(10, 9, 8...) from Arafat. But when Bush told Israel to pack it in today...oh, well, not surprised. What else would you expect from a Bush?
Is this statement in reference to Peggy Noonan?
As the Gunga King (you remember Jar Jar Binks?) once said - "Me be thinking you going crazy - bubuh bubuh bubuh bubuh"
Bush is the president of the US, not Israel, and for once an American president is putting the interests of his own country over that of Israel. While his action probably won't help Israelis, it will help Americans; we need the cooperation of moderate Arab governements such as Jordan's, Egypt's, and the Gulf States in are war on Al Qaeda, and we won't get that cooperation unless we put Israel on a leash.
The messiah already came, and the New Israel is the Church of Christ. Those of the old Israel who rejected the messiah have fallen from grace. See the writings of St. Paul.
Of course the president is better informed than you and I. I suspect, by his seeming lack of action and tough rhetoric agaist Yassir Arafat, that he knows that the man behind the curtain pulling all the levers is actually Sadaam Hussein. Funny, isn't it, that the suicide bombings in Israel took off in earnest as soon as the United States publically announced that it had Iraq in its sites for the next anti-terrorist military campaign. And Saddaam invited the Western press to witness the ceremony when he upped the bonus for families of suicide bombers from $10,000 to $25,000. Sadaam is doing everything in his power to make sure that the masses associate any attacks on Iraq not with terrorism against the United States, but with the Palestinian issue. The current flare up on the West Bank is just a trap set to widen the theatre and weaken the Bush coalition. Bush has done an admirable job of not falling for it.
Amazing for a guy who recently moved into an office that was packed to the hilt with other people's baggage!
First, in a piece written a few weeks ago, she defends crack-smoking mushroom-eating Alan Sorkin for his liberal spew show on NBC, called the "Left Wing".
Now she supports and lauds Bush backing down from supporting Israel.
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