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November 12, 2004
Don't Let Scowcroft Back In

Former Bush 41 advisor Brent Scowcroft published an opinion piece in today's Washington Post that should remind us all that American cluelessness in Middle East policymaking has a rich bipartisan history. Scowcroft's advice to George Bush in his second term explains why 43 famously bypassed his father's counsel in favor of prayer.

The first red flag for me popped up when Scowcroft writes that our new aim in securing peace in the Middle East requires us to "reach out" to Europe in generating a new policy:

But American resolve will not suffice without the willing engagement of other states, especially those of Europe and the region itself. Our appeal to the Europeans, with whom our differences over the Middle East have been significant, must be based on reaching out to them on the Palestinian peace process and Iran, and soliciting their help on Iraq.

Unfortunately, what Scowcroft wants us to do to reach out to our European partners is to significantly undermine our support for Israel. Europe has a long history of antagonism to Israel and has openly supported the prototype terrorist, Yasser Arafat, right up to his death. While Europe lionized Arafat and toasted the Palestinian cause, Palestinian terrorists slaughtered Israeli citizens on buses and pizzerias. Scowcroft wants us to pressure Israel into removing the defenses against such attack that they have slowly built as an entre to peace negotiations:

The United States should insist that Israel stop construction of its wall on the West Bank and mirror its withdrawal from Gaza with the evacuation of the West Bank. In return, the wall and Israeli troops would be replaced by an international force, principally European or perhaps NATO troops.

The staggering uselessness of these suggestions surprises even me. While I know that Scowcroft has always been a rabid enthusiast of whatever status quo can be found, I honestly thought he knew better than to go backwards to the status quo circa 1990. He proposes not only that Israel withdraw from the West Bank -- a reasonable position, but not forced on Israel as a precondition of a settlement -- but also that they dismantle the wall which has been the only effective defensive deterrent to terrorist attacks.

And what does Scowcroft propose to do to protect Israeli citizens from Hamas and Islamic Jihad? A contingent of European or NATO troops! Ask the Bosnians of Srebenica how well that worked out for them. The Europeans cannot be bothered to conduct their own security operations in Europe, and given their historical hostility to Israel, it's highly doubtful that European troops would ever act to defend Israel against any kind of attack. Once the bullets start flying or the bombs start exploding in Tel Aviv, you can bet the "peacekeepers" will head directly back to their barracks, just as they did in Kosovo.

After stripping Israel of its only effective non-lethal defense measure, Scowcroft gives away more Israeli concessions, a la Chamberlain and Daladier in Munich:

A unified Jerusalem would serve as capital to both peoples. While the "right of return" could be left as a principle, the reality is that most Palestinian refugees will remain outside Israel, just as most Jewish settlers will return to Israel.

I'd like to hear exactly how one city could possibly be the capital of two different countries without a partition. Scowcroft never explains it, nor has it ever happened before in human history. Even so-called "open cities" wind up under one sovereignty eventually. Danzig, for one example, did nothing but provoke ill will on behalf of both countries which claimed it. Scowcroft's concession on the right of return is flatly hypocritical. Again, Scowcroft fails to explain how it can be left as a principal without any intent of fulfilling it -- or, if he intends on honoring it, he gives no advice on how Israel can maintain its integrity as an independent state.

Why is Scowcroft so anxious to give the store away on Israel? He labors under the delusion that the region's volatility can be resolved by implementing a two-state solution:

Substantial, visible progress on the Palestinian issue would significantly improve the atmosphere in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, including Iran, the third side of this triangle of tension and violence.

No, it won't, because the Arabs don't object to the lack of a two-state settlement between Israel and the Palestinians; they object to Israel itself. The Palestinians have never been anything except a handy excuse for the various kleptocrats and mullahs in the region to stoke the fanaticism among their oppressed masses, mostly to divert attention from their own lack of freedom. Wherever Palestinians have traveled, they have been treated like second-class citizens, unable to immigrate as the Arab nations refuse to admit them as anything other than temporary refugees. Casting their anti-Western terrorism and antagonism as an altruistic response to a lack of resolution on the Palestinian question misses the point entirely, and Scowcroft's response -- sacrificing Israeli security -- plays directly into the hands of the people trying to kill us.

Not only does Scowcroft essentially cave on Israel, he then argues for the same retreat on Iran and encourages us to get the Iranian mullahcracy involved in the rebuilding of Iraq:

We should actively embrace the European position, urge the Russians to join us and jointly approach Iran. Such an approach would support Iranian efforts to develop nuclear power, including the offer of an ensured supply of nuclear reactor fuel (low enriched uranium) at concessionary prices -- or even gratis -- in exchange for a comprehensive, verifiable freeze of Iran's uranium enrichment program.

Iran not only has strong interests in the future of Iraq but a powerful influence through its religious connections to the Shiite majority there. We should engage Iran about the future of Iraq, comparing our separate perspectives and emphasizing our joint interests. In that regard, the multilateral discussions over Iraq scheduled later this month at Sharm el-Sheikh should become the start of a dialogue, with U.N. participation.

So we should assist a theocratic tyranny in its efforts to create its own nuclear industry -- when they have vast oil resources for generating energy already -- and give them a seat at the table in determining how to implement democracy in Iraq. Note to Scowcroft: the reason why we're pushing democracy in Iraq is to destabilize the Iranian mullahcracy, not to lend it credibility. The Iranians know this and intend on doing anything they can to stop it. And you expect them to join with us to give constructive support to Iraq?

If I set out to write a parody of cluelessness in foreign policy, I could hardly have done better than this idiocy by Brent Scowcroft.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 12, 2004 2:13 PM

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» The Euro/US Divide from
UPDATE: Captain Ed links to an op-ed by Brent Scowcroft, that provides proof that idiocy is not limited to the Europeans. . . [Read More]

Tracked on November 12, 2004 3:55 PM

» Capt Ed On Scowcroft from Chapomatic
One of the first posts I ever made on this blog was a report on a conference where Brent Scrowcroft was a speaker. General Scowcroft was a big part of Bush 41's foreign policy. He wrote a New York Times op-ed at the beginning of the runup to the Ira... [Read More]

Tracked on November 13, 2004 9:27 AM

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