The first is by Saul Singer. The second is by Caroline Glick. Singer focuses on the courageous words of Tom DeLay in a Jerusalem Post op-ed — “Israel’s fight is our fight” — and laments the fact that President Bush has not made (and in his present role of “peacemaker” cannot make) this sort of statement. Glick takes as her starting point a recent story about a camp for Israeli-Arabs that indoctrinates young children in the virtues of terrorism. Her reflections lead her to the conclusion “that neither Israel nor the US has the wherewithal to transform Palestinian society” because that society is the product of a general madness that infects much of the Arab world.
What struck me about the two columns was the common note they sound on the war in Iraq. Both argue that the war has been something of a disappointment. Not because no WMD have been found, or because Iraq hasn’t been transformed overnight, but because the U.S. seems bogged down and unable to parlay its victory in Iraq into meaningful success elsewhere. As Singer expresses it, “at a time when the US might be expected to be building on the momentum of its Iraqi victory, the playing field has shifted to where the US is unsure and on the defensive [the Iraqi street and the road map to peace]. . . .To the extent that the US is bogged down with the road map and in Iraq, the tyrants in Teheran and Damascus can breathe a sigh of relief. . . .No matter how many tyrannies fall, the first course of action of those remaining will be to see whether America can be stopped in its tracks. Regimes fighting for survival are highly motivated. Momentum that is not used will dissipate or worse. . . .”
Glick sees it pretty much the same way: “Today, 16 out of the US army’s 33 combat brigades are deployed in Iraq. . . . Given the size limitations on the US military, regimes like Syria and Iran are now resting more or less assured that the US will not mount operations on the level of Operation Iraqi Freedom to overthrow them. Because of this, the political consequences of the operation have been smaller than was hoped.”
President Bush is not to blame for the size of our military; nor is he responsible for the failure of our alleged friends to provide support that would have enhanced our military’s ability to project its power. It was Bush’s decision, however, to make the road map to peace our next big initiative after the overthorw of Saddam Hussein. So instead of following up our success in Iraq with new initiatives against terrorism and the regimes that support it. we are trying to induce Israel to make concessions, such as the release of terrorist prisoners, to Palestinians who run summer terrorism theme camps.
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