State of the Union - Middle East

For good or ill, the president pushed all the “hot buttons” in his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening. He made it plain that his intelligence-surveillance plan (referenced by the Kennedy cabal as “domestic spying”) is in place and will remain in place, making it abundantly clear that it is totally within legal requirements and that the appropriate members of Congress in both parties have been thoroughly and consistently briefed since its inception and obviously have voiced no exception to it. This was an unsubtle warning to Senator Specter that his recent pronouncement concerning possible hearings before the Judiciary Committee on the matter will get the president’s “bring it on” treatment. He understands that the vast majority of Americans are with him since they know they have nothing to hide and therefore nothing to fear, even though they are in no danger of losing their privacy, in the first place.

Mr. Bush looked the Congress and the members of the SCOTUS in attendance squarely in the eye and made it plain that he has picked and, in the case of another possible vacancy(ies) on the Court, will pick justices who will not legislate from the bench. The recent SCOTUS ruling allowing property to be taken by eminent domain from one individual and given to another, or to another organization, though in no governmental interest whatever, might have been in everyone’s mind – it probably was in his. He also made it clear that to the extent he manages things there will be no tinkering with what officially constitutes a marriage.

There was nothing new with respect to the war on terror. He could speak of Iraqis voting in huge numbers in three elections last year in the midst of turmoil caused by the insurgents, and he could point, as he already has, to the fact that there is now an elected government in that benighted country. He mentioned the obvious, to wit, that the governments so installed will reflect the Iraqi touch, not necessarily that of this country. He reiterated the “exit strategy” that his opponents say does not exist, namely, that U.S. troops will gradually withdraw this year as Iraqi troops take over.

Bush addressed the thorny problem of the Palestinian Authority (whatever it actually is) in light of the recent election there that placed the terrorist Hamas Party in control of an absolutely bankrupt government unable even to collect the garbage. He wisely did not say that this government would have nothing to do with the PA, but he made it plain that the U.S. will not support the new government if it does not recognize Israel as a state and foreclose its terrorist attacks. This was said also for the benefit of the Iranian regime, which has made it plain that Iran will see to it that Israel is wiped out…off the face of the earth.

Bush will do well to consider what Pat Buchanan has suggested. The PA has a duly elected government elected fairly – at least as determined by Jimmy Carter, if that can be taken seriously, and it might as well be – and is entitled to a chance to govern. Buchanan has no love for Israel, as is well documented, and was certainly wrong on the Gulf War, which he railed against, but he’s right in this case. The PA was democratically elected, and that’s what Bush has repeated over and over should be the case throughout the region. If the PA makes it plain that it will not exist in peace with Israel or that it will not negotiate anything, such as West Bank matters, for instance, then no state should have anything to do with it, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

It’s worth remembering that the Israelis in 1948 approved the partition plan that the UN hoped would define the boundaries of Israel and Palestine. The Palestinians would have no part of it, thus setting the stage for all the carnage that has ensued and the loss of even more land, principally as a result of the 1967 war. In 1947, the Israelis received 55% of the disputed territory, but that included the huge Negev Desert, practically worthless for anything at the time. The Arab territories were 99% Arab (805,000 population), while the Jewish territory was only 60% Jewish and 40% Arab (835,000 population). Jerusalem, the sacred city, was encompassed entirely by what would have been Palestine, though its environs were designated international territory and included 205,000 people. The total population of both entities was 67% Arab and 33% Jewish, with nearly 1.9 million people. Today, there are about 5 million Arabs and about 6.2 million Israelis in the total territory, with more than a million Arabs living in Israel proper. The place is so crowded that the people will either exist peacefully or sustain a sort of constant war.

When considering this problem, it should be remembered that Israel is about the size of New Hampshire or about one-fifth the size of the relatively small state of Kentucky. In American terms, the danger to Israel is about the same as that of any county in Texas being at the mercy of all the counties surrounding it, as well as the states of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mexico, as they represent the nations openly hostile to Israel and on or within just miles of its borders – Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and all the other states on the Arabian Peninsula. Whether it was right or wrong in 1947 to partition the land, the die was cast in the community of nations, and that community will either uphold its decision granting Israel statehood then, or it will not. Sadly, absent the position of the USA, Israel would not have a chance.

It is to this problem that strict attention must be paid. If the Iranians are seen to be acquiring a nuclear weapon capability, the Israelis, with an ingenuity that has been remarkable in maintaining its existence against all odds, will destroy it, no matter what the global ramifications are. They include, of course, war, not necessarily because states do not have the right to have weapons of choice, but because some nations have already promised to use them in order to obliterate another nation. Iran has sworn publicly to eradicate Israel, thus forfeiting its right to be able to prepare to do so with impunity. Moreover, it seems to be ruled by a maniac…totally unpredictable.

It is certain that the Middle East nations recognize the powder keg in their midst, especially as it threatens their economies, built on oil. Also, Russia, Britain, and even France and Germany (the latter two practically useless, however) are seeing the threat. This means that Bush II may be able to put together a coalition, as was the case with Bush I concerning Kuwait, that will stop the Iranians. This is his number one problem.