Dreams and nightmares

I’ve resisted Bill Kristol’s observation that Bush administration foreign policy has been Clintonized. Bill powerfully restates his argument in the editorial that leads the new issue of the Weekly Standard. In the penultimate paragraph Bill writes:

The difference between the Bush administration and its Democratic critics now amounts to six-party talks or two-party talks with North Korea–as if talking would stop Kim Jong Il. It turns on direct or indirect negotiations with Ahmadinejad–as if he were willing to negotiate away his nuclear program. With the exception of Bush’s commendable steadfastness in Iraq–combined, how ever, with debilitating stubbornness on troop levels and strategy–and his support for Israel, Bush’s foreign policy is now Clintonian in its combination of weakness and wishful thinking.

In the issue’s featured article, Reuel Marc Gerecht makes a compelling case that American forces must stamp out the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite militias that are rending the country. Gerecht outlines the consequences of our failure to do so and concludes:

If we no longer have the stomach for this fight–and it’s going to be ugly, with few sterling VIP Iraqis who will make us proud–then we should at least be honest with ourselves. Leaving Iraq will not make our world better. We will be a defeated nation. Our holy-warrior and our more mundane enemies will know it. And we can rest assured that they will make us pay. Over and over and over again.

Bill Kristol credits the president for his support of Israel, but the doctrinal decomposition that he decries can be observed on that score as well. In a remarkable speech before an American-Palestinian group, Secretary Rice likened the Palestinian struggle to the American struggle for independence and to the American civil rights movement. The speech has been largely overlooked. Not surprisingly, however, the Jerusalem Post noted the speech and Caroline Glick devoted a good column to it. Secretary Rice said:

I know that sometimes a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel must seem like a very distant dream. But I know too, as a student of international history, that there are so many things that once seemed impossible that, after they happened, simply seemed inevitable. I’ve read over the last summer the biographies of America’s Founding Fathers. By all rights, America, the United States of America, should never have come into being. We should never have survived our civil war. I should never have grown up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama to become the Secretary of State of the United States of America.

Secretary Rice describes herself as a student of history, though she herself seems to be dreaming here. She is dreaming, perhaps, of Yasser Arafat’s January 2002 remarks in which Arafat likened himself to George Washington. When she wakes up, I wonder if she’ll identify a few active Palestinian political figures who dream of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel rather than dream of a Palestinian state in its place. Dreamers of the latter dream seem to constitute a conspicuous majority of the followers of Hamas and Arafat’s Fatah Party. In any event, perhaps Secretary Rice can contemplate how the latter dream is also one of those that may seem impossible before it happens and inevitable afterward.


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