Apr 22 2004

Bush alienates moderate Arabs seeking the third way

Published by at 12:00 am under Articles,US-Middle East

President Bush’s recent endorsement of Ariel Sharon’s policies has mostly hurt one important group- moderate Arabs. The new US position received extremely angry reactions from Middle East leaders and activists as well as many European and other international leaders. Political leaders and commentators alike attacked the US president for his legitimization of the some of the illegal settlements and his call on Palestinians to give up their inalienable right to return to their homes and lands. These attacks concentrated on the fact that Washington has shifted its long held positions. While the attacks came from persons of all political colors, the most intense attacks came from the moderates who saw in them a scary signal as to what might happen in the future. The postponement of Jordan’s King Abdullah from a scheduled meeting on the 21st with President Bush reflect how this US move has hurt America’s closest Arab allies.

For years Palestinians and Arabs have been arguing among themselves as to what is the best strategy to reach independence. Moderates argued that the world community is the Palestinian’s best ally. They constantly referred to UN resolutions and repeated that they wanted any peace agreement to be based on “international legitimacy.” Radicals on the other hand rejected these arguments insisting that the world doesn’t understand or deal with the politics of weakness. They argued that the only language that brings results is that of force.

When President Bush stood next to Ariel Sharon at the White House lawn on April 14th he settled the argument. Despite his earlier talk of his vision of a Palestinian state, what he was saying clearly to Palestinians now was that their salvation and freedom will not happen due to international will. The US, now the world’s only superpower, was finally saying what many have said it believed all along. This new US honesty was a blow to those who had believed the pro peace US words and had turned a blind eye to its pro Israel deeds. The result was clear. The only sensible reading from those pro Sharon words was that Palestinians have two choices, either to capitulate to the US and Israeli dictates or try and gain freedom with their own powers and means.

President Bush put a total end to the naiveté of moderate Palestinians who believed in the values that America stood for. When he spoke about settlements what George Bush was saying in clear terms was that might is right. These facts on the ground that were built in violation of the Geneva Conventions and contrary to the world communities will have to be accepted as the new reality, he said with Sharon next to him. In 1990 when President Bush Senior rejected the facts on the ground created by Saddam Hussein in Kuwait no one expected that he would accept the reversal of 95% of this aggression. Later Bush Senior denied giving loan guarantees to Israel because of its illegal settlement policy in occupied Palestinian lands.

If President Bush dealt a blow to anyone in his recent words of support to Ariel Sharon it was the moderate Palestinian camp. The statements that he made unified Palestinian moderates and radicals more than any time before. And instead of moderates being able to convince the radicals of the need to worry about international law and public opinion, the radicals are the ones who are saying “we told you so.”

When the President of the United States advises refugees and oppressed people to accept the realities that happened with the power of the gun, he only legitimizes the rule of the jungle rather than the rule of law.

More than any time before, the question must be asked of the Bush administration whether might is right or right is might. If might is right then Palestinians have to bite the bullet and take whatever crumbs the “benevolent” Israeli occupiers and their US defenders throw to them. And if right is not might, why should Hamas and other groups carrying out terrorism worry. Clearly the new values of the American empire are not based on justice and fairness but simply on sheer power. If you are unable to reach your goals because they are right, why should you worry about the methods employed so long as your goals justify your means.

Today America is so powerful that few dare oppose it even when it violates international law and acts in contradiction of its own values. The question that America must ask is what will happen when the US is not so powerful?

Between capitalization to the dictates of the powerful or joining radicals, a third way must be found. This third way has been where most honorable Arab moderates have found themselves. The latest US actions have dealt a blow to those of us fighting for this third way.

No responses yet

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.