Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Failed policies of members of the "Bush-Sharon Axis"

I suspect that as long as Bush and his right-wing cohorts are in power, the U.N. will be most reluctant to accept a major role in a nation where: a) we were dragged under false pretenses and b) we are NOT wanted.
It is clear to every objective observer that policies adopted by members of the "Bush-Sharon Axis" transformed what was a relatively small number of extremists at the time of 9/11 into a major upheaval throughout the Arab/Muslim world.
As you may have noticed, the King of Jordan refused to show up for his date with Bush while president Mubarak lashed out at the Administration.  Several nations are pulling out their troops from Iraq and, I suspect, there will be more to follow.
What Bush and his right-wing cohorts have achieved is to DEStabilize the world and given that it is indeed literally impossible to prevent attacks of determined individuals, the ONLY way to win the war against hatred is to address the root causes that lead to hatred.
Alas...Bushites charged into precisely the opposite direction and thousands of innocent individuals are paying a very high price for their incredible callousness and stupidity.
If the Deceptive Gang is reelected, there is no doubt that we will be dragged into a war of civilizations given that those who use religion as a political tool have convinced themselves that they are acting in the "name of the Lord" to allay their conscience.
Once these self-delusion take root, they continue charging stubbornly ahead while the kids of OTHERS do the dying:

Washington Post Staff Writers - Wednesday, April 21, 2004

U.S. Goals for Middle East Falter - Peace Plan, Arab Reforms Prove Elusive By Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler

A year ago, the Bush administration had a grand strategy for the Middle East, betting real progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and removal of Iraq's Saddam Hussein would allow the United States to launch a bold initiative for democratic reform across the region.

Today, Washington faces growing Arab backlash for endorsing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan for Gaza and the West Bank, symbolized by the abrupt cancellation by Jordan's King Abdullah of a meeting with President Bush today. The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is still searching for a formula to create a government to assume sovereignty on June 30, with other countries also reviewing their troop commitments. And prospects for the democracy initiative to get support from an Arab League summit are rapidly dimming, with fears that Arab resolutions may instead criticize Washington, U.S. officials say.

In all three areas, Washington is looking for direction, bailouts or leadership from others -- the United Nations, Iraqis, Israelis, Arabs and Europeans -- to generate movement that U.S. officials have been unable to achieve since the hopes were unleashed last spring.

"Our interests in the Middle East are more vital, more complex and larger than ever before, but our political capital has never been lower," said Walter Russell Mead, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow just back from the region.

Bitterness in the 22-nation Arab bloc has deepened particularly over the past month, Arab leaders warn, with Iraq deteriorating and Sharon's visit followed by Israel's "targeted killing" of Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

"After what has happened in Iraq, there is unprecedented hatred and the Americans know it," said President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a stalwart U.S. ally, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde published yesterday. "There exists today a hatred never equaled in the region."

"What's more -- they see Sharon act as he wants, without the Americans saying anything," Mubarak added.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell insisted yesterday that U.S. commitments on Iraq, a Palestinian state and democracy in the Middle East are unwavering -- and will eventually produce results.

"People will see over time that the United States is committed to the welfare, benefit and the hopes and dreams and aspirations of the Arab nations, and especially the hopes and dreams and aspirations of the Palestinian people," Powell told reporters in an appearance with Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher.

"I hope, as people understand that and see progress in all of these areas, the difficulties we're having with Arab opinion toward the United States will change," Powell added.

In a bid to shore up allied support on Iraq, Powell said yesterday that he had talked to the foreign ministers or leaders of almost every country in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq within the previous 24 hours. "I'm getting solid support for our efforts, commitments to remain and finish the job that they came to do," he told reporters after a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

At the same time, the Bush administration is relying on the United Nations to complete a new plan to create a provisional Iraqi government next month, after two of its own proposals were rejected by Iraqis. Washington hopes U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will return to Baghdad around May 1 to begin a final round of negotiations that will result in the appointment of a new president, prime minister and two vice presidents by mid-May, U.S. officials say.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage is today wrapping up a tour of Gulf states to win support for the U.N. plan and seek Arab help to win over Iraq's Sunni Muslims, the main political holdouts and security challenge.

On the Israeli-Palestinian front, U.S. officials appeared to be rolling back from Bush's agreement last week that Israel could keep some West Bank settlements and that Palestinian refugees from 1948 should not expect to return to Israel.

Powell told reporters yesterday that Bush's position on the Middle East peace process "is unchanged," and that he "is committed to the proposition that all final settlement issues have to be resolved between the two parties."

But the reality, foreign policy experts and diplomats say, is that the administration has largely subcontracted its Arab-Palestinian policy to Sharon to break the deadlock on the "road map" for peace launched at two major summits attended by Bush in June.

"A year ago, you had the Sharm el-Sheik and Aqaba summits and a new Palestinian prime minister, and frankly a lot of hope existed at the time," said Nabil Fahmi, Egypt's ambassador to the United States. "But in terms of the peace process, we've moved backwards."

On the Greater Middle East Democracy Initiative, the Bush administration still plans on rolling out an ambitious plan for political and economic liberalization at three summits with European and NATO allies in June -- and making the Arab world part of the dialogue, U.S. officials say. "We are anxious to work with the Arab nations on their ideas for reform within the region," Powell told reporters after his meeting with Muasher.

But the United States is counting on approval from European allies to get that initiative off the ground because suspicion of U.S. motives is so deep among Arabs. They recently postponed the annual Arab League summit in part because of a split over two resolutions -- one endorsing regional reform and the other renewing a peace overture to Israel.

The summit is tentatively rescheduled for late May, which U.S. officials admit may be too late -- and dangerous in light of recent events.

"The big question is what will come out of it. We are hoping they will focus on issues important to us in a positive way, but there are also a lot of negatives that could come out of it," said a State Department official involved in Middle East policy.

On all three key planks of U.S. policy, momentum that was sparked by bold U.S. initiatives is now running against the United States, said Geoffrey Kemp, a Reagan administration National Security Council staffer and now a Nixon Center fellow.

"Whether you're talking about the situation in Iraq or the unilateral agreement with Sharon or the wildly mishandled democracy initiative, it's very hard to pick up a head of steam once you lose credibility in your overall stated goals," he said.

To regroup, Kemp added, the administration will need to "go back to the drawing board" on the tactics of stabilizing Iraq, promoting the logic of democracy in the region and promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.<<


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