Friday, May 9, 2003

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More on Bush's Middle East initiative

Following up on my previous post on this, here's a link to Bush's speech on the Middle East today -- and here's a link to the concrete policy proposals. Some highlights from the speech:

A time of historic opportunity has arrived. A dictator in Iraq has been removed from power. The terrorists of that region are now seeing their fate, the short, unhappy life of the fugitive. Reformers in the Middle East are gaining influence, and the momentum of freedom is growing. We have reached a moment of tremendous promise, and the United States will seize this moment for the sake of peace.

Hey, that's my line!!

The combined GDP of all Arab countries is smaller than that of Spain. Their peoples have less access to the Internet than the people of Sub-Sahara Africa. Across the globe, free markets and trade have helped defeat poverty, and taught men and women the habits of liberty. So I propose the establishment of a U.S. -Middle East free trade area within a decade, to bring the Middle East into an expanding circle of opportunity, to provide hope for the people who live in that region.

These are truly depressing statistics.

And, ultimately, both economic success and human dignity depend on the rule of law and honest administration of justice. So America will sponsor, with the government of Bahrain, a regional forum to discuss judicial reforms. And I'm pleased that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has agreed to lead this effort.

That should make these folks very happy.

If the Palestinian people take concrete steps to crack down on terror, continue on a path of peace, reform and democracy, they and all the world will see the flag of Palestine raised over a free and independent nation.

All sides of this conflict have duties. Israel must take tangible steps now to ease the suffering of Palestinians and to show respect for their dignity. And as progress is made toward peace, Israel must stop settlement activity in the occupied territories. Arab nations must fight terror in all forms, and recognize and state the obvious once and for all: Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors.

These statements strike me as intuitively obvious. I therefore predict European criticism that Bush was being too lenient on the Israelis.

Again, my only criticism was the failure to mention Turkey at all in the speech. Part of promoting freedom means accepting the inconveniences that come with it, and Turkey's behavior in March falls under that category. Pretending like they have no constructive role to play in this initiative is foolhardy.

posted by Dan on 05.09.03 at 08:05 PM


"Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors"

I would like to ask a few questions: Was not that state created after planning massive immigration from Europe in order to have a jewish majority in Palestine? was not that state created at the expense of those that lived there? does not that state close its gate to those that once lived there while it opens it to immigrants from ukraine, russia or whatever?
Is that fair? is that morally right?
these people that once lived there are the descendants of all the different nations that lived on that soil- kicking them out is not right. Don't you think so?

posted by: Hatem Ali on 05.09.03 at 08:05 PM [permalink]

It wasn't right, but it was a while ago. Bush's whole point was that both sides have to compromise. If we're going to question Israel's right to exist at this point in history we might as well give back the U.S. West Coast, or debate the legitimacy of France.

posted by: blern on 05.09.03 at 08:05 PM [permalink]

Blem's comment is the perfect example of flawed logic. You can't compare what happened in Palestine to the US or Fracne -Only God knows why she was brought into this-. The world should stop pretending to be ignorant and call a spade a spade. On the other hand it may approve of conquest by force as a legitimate and 'ethical' means to create a state on top of the destroyed homes and hopes of another people.

posted by: nader on 05.09.03 at 08:05 PM [permalink]

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