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Today's Washington Post reports on the state of US-European relations through the prism of Europe's primary foreign-policy priority, settlement of the Palestinian question. Glenn Kessler writes that Europeans have a threshold of "cooperation" that they expect Bush to meet before dealing with him that closely resembles Democrat ideas of "bipartisanship" -- and promises to be just as successful:
President Bush and his top aides have repeatedly said they want to improve relations with European allies in Bush's second term, beginning with a presidential visit in February. Bush has also said he believes the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has provided a new opportunity to pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Yet those twin goals will be continually tested and at times may conflict in the coming year, administration and European officials say.
Few issues separate the Bush administration from Europe as much as which course to pursue in the Middle East. European officials, in fact, have signaled they believe that Bush's willingness to bend to their view on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will be a true test of his sincerity about improving relations.
Europeans might ask John Kerry and Tom Daschle how well it worked out for them, expecting George Bush to bend to the Democrats' view as a "true test" of Bush's sincerity. Bush does not respond well to extortion, nor will he toss aside the push for democratic reform, for which he committed American blood and treasure in that region, just to assist Europe in their quest to make Israel the Czechoslovakia of the 21st century and Palestine the new Munich.
In fact, Kessler's report makes not one single mention of the most salient fact about the conflict, which is that Palestinian terror has made any accommodation by Israel impossible. Kessler writes at length about European exasperation with the US for not publicly pressuring Israel to make peace with Arafat and now Abbas, but doesn't even note that Israelis don't target women and children for death. Palestinians don't die for eating pizza or riding the bus.
The European position has remained firmly on the side of appeasement. In fact, Europe has been remarkably consistent in this approach, appeasing Saddam publicly and privately as well. The only party to which Europe holds any standard of decency is the only functioning, Western-style democracy in Southwest Asia. Why do the Europeans blanch at the idea that the Arabs of the West Bank and the Ba'athists of Iraq should be held just as accountable for their transgressions, more so for their deliberately murderous results? Is it cowardice, an inability to stand up to the petty tyrannies of the region? Or is it Europe's still-vibrant anti-Semitism? Or perhaps a collective guilt for the atrocities that made a Jewish homeland necessary for the survival of Jewish culture and people?
Whatever it is, don't expect George Bush to buy into it. He won't sacrifice the moral and strategic ground of Israel to buy a little kindness and approval from the moral midgets of Europe. Bush wants to press both sides for a resolution to the issue, but he can't make the Palestinians renounce their taste for blood and he won't make Israel stop defending itself from it. If Europe thinks that they can set the bar for cooperation, they will find soon enough that Bush doesn't play that game.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on December 27, 2004 10:39 AM
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