Thursday, June 02, 2005

Drifting, Falling

Drifting, falling
Watching all your dreams roll by
They roll by
Somewhere out there
She sees you and she sighs
My, my, my, my, my

- Drifting, Falling
by The Ocean Blue, 1989

Lately, I've been finding myself starting to doubt George Bush.

I see that nothing is happening in Lebanon. The elections only garnered a 22% turnout. Given the huge size of the pro-Democracy demonstrations of just a couple months ago, and the huge amount of bravery it took on the part of the Lebanese people for such a show of force to be effected, we can be assured this would not have been the case, had the people of Lebanon believed they had a legitimate choice on the ballot.

I see that nothing is happening with respect to Syria, considering an anti-Syrian journalist was just killed in Beirut. The murder of an anti-Syrian politician is what began the movement towards Democracy in the first place. Such things would not be happening, if Hizbollah and the remnant Syrian intelligence forces feared Bush as they seemed to just a short time ago.

I see that nothing is happening in Iran. An election is looming, and the parties and the people are making their plans, but the US is strangely mute. And what about the bombs? I haven't heard Bush make any statements on Iranian nukes lately. What's going on?

And finally, I see that we are actually going backwards in Israel. From Melanie Phillips:

‘In the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Bush described Abbas as a "man of courage," explaining that he takes "great faith in not only [Abbas'] personal character, but the fact that he campaigned on a platform of peace — he said, 'Vote for me, I am for peace.' And the Palestinians voted overwhelmingly to support him."’

Can this be the same Bush who refuses to talk to terrorists, the same Bush who insists on holding people accountable for their actions, the same Bush who gave his name to the doctrine that there can be no deals or even negotiations unless houses are put in order and terrorist infrastructures dismantled and moves towards the rule of law, democracy and a free society are in evidence? ‘Campaigning for peace’ is patently a cop-out since every tyrant and two-bit dictator says he is ‘for peace’. The acid test is the dismantling of the factories of terror and hatred and the construction of the institutions of a free society. That is the rationale for regime change in the region; that is why the painful construction of a free society in Iraq is absolutely central; that is why the entire edifice of the defence of the west rests upon the relentless pressure on rogue states to become answerable to their people.

The roots of terrorism will not be destroyed unless tyrannies turn into free societies. This is the very pivot of Bush’s foreign policy. And yet he appears to be making an exception for the Palestinians, whose conspicuous absence of democracy and equally conspicuous refusal to halt terror production is being indulged or brushed aside. It is not enough for unnamed administration sources to murmur that the President said hard things about Abbas’s failure behind the scenes. It’s the show that’s put on at the front of house that’s doing the damage.

And that damage was even greater than the display of egregious fawning in the White House Rose Garden. For as Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute has pointed out, not only did Bush fail to correct Abbas when he made demonstrably false claims about the provisions of road map, but Bush himself also said some extremely alarming things. Most worrying was his declaration to Abbas:

‘Changes to the 1949 Armistice lines must be mutually agreed’

which directly contradicted his commitment to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in April 2004:

‘It is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final-status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.’

This was a staggering reversal and a huge advance for the Palestinians. While Bush’s commitment to Sharon was vague and conditional, his statement to Mazen introduced an explosive new policy aim. As Satloff writes:

‘For years, Palestinians have wanted the United States publicly to accept the 1967 lines as the reference point for negotiations. In the arcane lexicon of Middle East diplomacy, by positing the1949 lines as the reference point, Bush granted the Palestinians more than they had asked for and effectively made the Palestinians a successor to the signatories of the armistice.

So, now instead of negotiating based upon how things were in 1967, Bush has readjusted the parameters of negotiation based upon how things stood in 1949.

Oh, for God's sake. How could he just inadvertantly do that? Michael Ledeen says Bush is "Drifting." Thanks to Gates of Vienna, for making me aware of this article from Michael Ledeen:

The Washington Post gets full marks for exposing the alarming lack of seriousness with which President Bush is now dealing with what is euphemistically called "The Global War Against Terrorism." Numerous key positions — including the State Department’s top slot, vacated at the end of last year by Cofer Black, and the head of the new counterterrorism center — are vacant, and the National Security Council is working hard to define our current strategy, led by the impressive Frances Townsend.

After nearly four years?

Indeed, if you talk to military officers engaged in the GWOT, more often than not you will hear a lament, because that war has yet to be defined. Despite all of the president’s tough talk, despite the often extraordinary performance of our soldiers and some notable accomplishments by intelligence officers, the "enemy" remains vague, and we are mainly playing a sucker’s game of responding to attacks and helping those who help us on the ground, as in post-Fallujah Iraq. Our other main claim to fame in fighting terrorism, Afghanistan, is currently suffering from cynical neglect by us and our allies, and from considerable corruption, some of it our own.

In short, as the president’s critics are rightly reminding him, more time has passed since 9/11 than transpired between Pearl Harbor and the surrender of the Japanese empire, and our most lethal enemies are still in power and still killing our people and our friends. It is good that the desire for freedom is now manifest among the oppressed peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia, and it is very good that dramatic strides toward self-government have been taken by the Georgians, Kyrgistanis, Ukrainians, Iraqis, and Lebanese. But it is not good enough. Indeed, it is shameful that we have yet to seriously challenge the legitimacy of the terror masters in Tehran and Damascus, who represent the keystone of the terrorist edifice.

Our enemies know this, because, to their delight and perhaps their surprise as well, they are still in power throughout the Middle East. Until and unless they are removed, the terror war will continue, our friends in the region will be killed, tortured, and incarcerated, and the president’s vision of regional democratic revolution will go down the memory hole. He is at yet another great turning point, and, as after the fall of Afghanistan and again after the defenestration of Saddam’s Baghdad, he is drifting, perhaps hoping that he has risked enough, that history is firmly on his side ...

President Bush has indeed unleashed the specter of revolution upon the hidebound and tyrannical rulers of the Middle East, but they have not accepted it as their destiny. Indeed, in several of the main battlegrounds — Iran and Syria, for example — advocates of freedom are being rounded up and delivered to jailers, torturers, and executioners.

So far as I can tell, no one in this administration has denounced the new wave of oppression, as one would have expected them to have done. Why the silence? Does the president believe that democracy will spread even if outspoken democrats are crushed?

To speak so clearly for the spread of freedom, and then remain mute when those who rise in support of freedom are bludgeoned, is to repeat the terrible mistake of his father in 1991, who infamously inspired an uprising against Saddam and then abandoned the Shiites and Kurds to mass graves and torture.

If the United States wants to avoid the repeated use of force to effect regime change, then it is going to have to be steadfast in the application of the weapon of momentum. George Bush can not afford to squander the credit he has earned for morality, nor that which he has earned for ferocity.

If he does not keep up the pressure, the opportunity will have been wasted, and any further change - such as the dismantling of Iranian nuclear weapons systems, or of the Palestinian terrorocracy - will come at the price of much American blood.