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Bush?s Commitment Problem

Posted on May 20, 2008
Bush poster
AP photo / Kevin Frayer

Two women ride a Jerusalem bus featuring a poster of President Bush that was sponsored by a right-wing Israeli group.

By Allen McDuffee

George Bush has a commitment problem. On his recent Middle East trip, he had to figure out how to demonstrate his loyalty to Israel and appear committed to peace and the Palestinians, all while rattling his saber at Iran for the sake of Israeli and American hawks. A good start to achieving one of those objectives, of course, was likening Barack Obama to the appeasers of Hitler and the Nazis in front of the Israeli Knesset.

According to the White House, Bush was in the region to “reaffirm efforts toward peace and prosperity and our close work with regional allies to combat terrorism and promote freedom.” For many who have watched as the administration has ratcheted up the aggressive rhetoric toward Iran, it is understood that the Bush administration is looking to “regional allies” for complicity on their plans for Iran. 

Naturally, Bush was also there to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary and to note that “[e]leven minutes later [after independence], on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel’s independence.” He went on to say, “And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world.”

During this trip the president once again attempted to convince Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world is also the perfect third party to deliver an honest peace agreement between the two.

However, the Bush administration stacking the deck in favor of Israel isn’t exactly news to the Palestinians. 

When Vice President Dick Cheney made an unexpected visit to Baghdad in March, that wasn’t the biggest surprise of his 10-day Middle East trip. More astounding was Cheney, arguably the sharpest-taloned hawk in the Bush administration’s war-hungry aerie, having been deployed to ostensibly do the work of diplomacy with Israelis and Palestinians. Cheney’s involvement in the so-called peace process is something of a cruel joke, despite White House claims that “he can certainly complement the kind of message that both the President and the Secretary [of State] have been consistently delivering to Israeli and Palestinian leaders about the depth of our commitment to try and make progress toward a Palestinian state.”

The real intentions of Cheney’s trip made the Palestinians the butt of the punch line. Although the vice president claimed that realizing a Palestinian state would require “painful concessions on both sides,” it was pretty clear Palestinians would have to endure the most pain when he told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at their March 22 meeting that “our two countries have been more than just strong allies. We’ve been friends—special friends—and our peoples bound together by unique ties of history, culture, religion, and memory. Today, both our nations share the ideals of liberty, equality, human dignity, and representative government.” 

The most encouraging words Cheney could offer Palestinian President Abbas was that “[t]he United States will commit resources to help the Palestinians build the infrastructure necessary for a stable, secure and prosperous democracy, and a society led by a government that joins in the fight against terror and honors the aspirations of all its people.”

Before Cheney’s departure for the region, a March 15 White House press briefing with a senior administration official foreshadowed a continuation of the pitiful and dishonest U.S. role in the process thus far: “And I think for what it’s worth, the vice president, in particular in Israel, has a long-standing and close relationship with the prime minister, but also with other very senior-level officials in the Israeli government, particularly the defense minister.”

These close relationships are not unique to Cheney, which might in part explain why previous visits by Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yielded no positive results and indeed may have only encouraged more violence.

Recall when, on March 6, a Palestinian gunman opened fire at the renowned Mercaz Harab rabbinical seminary, killing eight and wounding several. Abbas’ office issued a written statement saying, “The Palestinian Authority condemns any attack on innocent civilians.” In a phone call, Bush told Olmert that “the United States stands firmly with Israel in the face of this terrible attack.” Rice, having met with Olmert and Abbas in an attempt to resume peace negotiations the day before, echoed Bush’s sentiment. “This barbarous act has no place among civilized peoples and shocks the conscience of all peace-loving nations,” Rice said. “There is no cause that could ever justify this action.”

Yet Bush and Rice have had nothing to say about the five-day, high-intensity Israeli ground and air military operation on Gaza that began on Feb. 27, leaving more than 110 Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers dead. And despite the withdrawal of troops on March 3, Olmert promised more attacks to come, telling the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee that “what happened was not a one-off event. ... Everything is possible ... airstrikes, ground strikes, and special operations are being discussed.”

The Israeli blockade on Gaza enforced in October 2007 made food and other goods unavailable to Gazans. Between Jan. 14 and Jan. 20—one of the worst weeks of the humanitarian crisis—the amount of food entering Gaza was only enough to meet 31 percent of the population’s basic food needs, according to the U.N. World Food Program.

In the midst of this crisis, Joe Stork, acting director of the Middle East program at Human Rights Watch, remarked that “Gazans can’t turn on the lights, get tap water, buy enough food, or earn a living without Israel’s consent.” He continued: “Israel’s rightful self-defense against unlawful rocket attacks does not justify a blockade that denies civilians the food, fuel and medicine needed to survive, a policy amounting to collective punishment.” The Bush administration, however, remained mute as the events unfolded and attempted to let it all blow over.

With Secretary of State Rice as its driving force, the Bush administration has claimed to have recommitted itself to Israeli-Palestinian peace in this final year in office. Bush, alongside Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, attended the November 2007 Annapolis conference aimed at producing a substantive document to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the conference did not meet its goal. China, several Middle Eastern states, Russia, members of the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations were among the roughly 40 other countries and organizations invited. Bush also visited the Middle East in January. But the effect and even the intent of this involvement are debatable.


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By mrmb, May 23, 2008 at 9:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


Thanks for the recommendation. I certainly agree with the premise of your discussion.

However I do have to say that informed citizens are the most important first step. Thats where all change starts and trust me the zionists know and understand that very well.
Thats why they control the media and the flow of information and shape the debate. They are scared when the truth comes out from any corner thats why the rush and try to crush that voice. What they dont understand is that time is against them and they will be totally exposed.

The fact that we are dicussing the zionists corrupting hold on our institutions and their suffocating and criminal conduct is a major achievement in due part as an unintended consequence of this criminal war of aggression that was initiated by the zionists hiding in the shadows and having fools like george bush, hillary clinton and mccain as their mouth pieces trying to prove who is a better zionist slave.

I strongly advocate that as citizens we have to shed light on these criminals and the tools of their trade and the consequences of their policies and inform our fellow citizens even more. Once we hold the flash light onto their dungeons where they like to hide and expose them then nature will take its course.

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By cyrena, May 23, 2008 at 12:47 am Link to this comment


What to do with them…

There is a book that gives us some solutions to consider here, on what to do with these people who remain in our midst, as we try to regain our democracy, and recover from what has become a complete hijacking of our political process.

I agree with you that many of us among all of these groups of US, (the pundits, the professors, the politicians, academia, etc) have been co-opted by the highjacking process. BUT, there are a few who have not, and so they continue to look for answers and solutions. Sometimes, it helps to look to other nations and locations that have undergone the same or similar miseries, to see how they may have handled it, and how successful they may have been (or not).

That’s why I would reccommend at least one book that I found easy to read, and very informative, and yes..even hopeful, in dealing with those who have brought about this destruction, because they will of course, NOT go away willingly.

So, I recommend (as one of many) “A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers” by Lawrence Weschler.

Many will of course take offense to my comparison of what has happened to us at the hands of the Zionists in our midst, or the corporatists, or the Administration.. to the military torture regimes of other dictatorships. Quite frankly, I find no ideological differences. The techniques may be slightly different, since we’ve not come quite to the point of disappearing and/or torturing millions of our OWN citizens. (though obviously, we have done so with some). But my point is that the apparatus is in place, and it’s deeply entrenched in many organizations, INCLUDING the Zionists and AIPAC. And, these have only grown in the past 8 years.

That said, if one can expand the imagination just a bit, the book is easily put to the challenges that we face now, in dealing with this apparatus that has so thoroughly infected out own process.

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By madamlazonga, May 22, 2008 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

AIPAC, contrary to their well-worn line that they are a friend to the US, has been leading Congress people, and presidential administrations, astray for years.  They are the hardline extremist voice for Israel, and unfortunately have been the loudest, or the only voice for too long.  I read recently in The Nation (May 5 issue) that a new more balanced lobby organization is being established called “J Street”.  They actually are proposing to support Congressional candidates who believe in a negotiated resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.  It’s a start toward more rational and fair approaches, yes?

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By hippy pam, May 22, 2008 at 5:45 am Link to this comment

Chi Megwech[thank you] NOW THERE ARE TWO OF US…

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By mrmb, May 21, 2008 at 10:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our leaders (more of a joke) at all levels (national, state, local) have no problem committing or more properly phrased, sell themselves and the rest of us to AIPAC and Zionists.

Thats what it takes to be an office holder in the US. And I dont buy into the notion that AIPAC is only representative of right wing likud war criminals.

AIPAC and other zionist organizations dictate our foreign policy in the middle east. They control our media. They shape the debate in our country. They blackmail our politicians, reporters, pundits, academia, journalists, anchors, editors, professors, military officers, and ......

This war of aggression has been an eye opener to the general public and has done a lot to expose the zionists and their immoral / illegal / illegitimate hold on our elite. This may have been the only positive outcome of this human disaster.

The question is what are we going to do with these people and how we are going to rid ourselves of this cancer thats destroying our country, getting us involved in immoral and illegal wars on behalf of a foreign power?

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By cyrena, May 21, 2008 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

I’m holding out for that possible change in this dynamic, and I have a sense of it already. (have for a while). And, for all of the reasons you’ve stated, I don’t see it being more obvious until after the Democrat take back our government in the fall.

So, thanks for the encouragment. At least I know there are others who might be noticing a ground swell even if they can’t hear the sound of the stampede just yet.

I keep reminding folks, (or trying to at least) that times are CHANGING, even if they don’t see the most obvious signs of it. BECAUSE…that’s just the way it is. CHANGE HAPPENS, whether we want it to or not.

Sometimes, it actually CAN be positive and progressive change. In fact, that is far more the NORM. The fascism is actually NOT the norm, but if we weren’t paying close enough attention to prevent it from happening, we sure are now.

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By JOHNDICKERSON, May 21, 2008 at 7:08 pm Link to this comment

FROM AN EARLIER POST- “I keep hearing that Israeli and American Jews don’t really support the right-wing agenda of the Israel lobby, including organizations such as AIPAC…..
But tell me, if the Israel lobby really doesn’t represent Jews, and it doesn’t represent Israel, why are politicians so afraid of it?”


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By madamlazonga, May 21, 2008 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They get their way because they can organize their minions to write letters accusing politicians of being antisemitic.  Politicians are afraid of being labeled.  AIPAC, as I said, is much stronger than their numbers would assume.  It’s fear, not unlike the McCarthy era.  In order not to be labeled and black-balled, in order to get elected, politicians swear loyalty to AIPAC and Israel.  Google info about the last AIPAC convention.  The majority of our congress showed up like zombies (as they do every year) to make speeches vowing never to vote against any financial or military support for Israel.  Obama had to go before something akin to an inquisition and convince them six different ways that he was a complete Israel fan.  What other foreign country could get away with this?  It is said repeatedly that we have a “special relationship” with Israel.  It’s special all right.  It borders on insanity.

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By desertdude, May 21, 2008 at 4:49 pm Link to this comment

I will second that motion, now if only the Congress would listen to the people.

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By troublesum, May 21, 2008 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

Even though he has a problem with it, most people would agree that he should be committed.

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By madamlazonga, May 21, 2008 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

AIPAC is the strongest lobbying group in the US, second only to AARP.  They do not represent all Jews.  They do represent the Zionist position.  Even some Israelis do not think that Israel should be a Zionist nation.  It is a right-wing position there just as fundamentalist Christian values are here.  AIPAC is powerful beyond all reasonable measures, i.e. size, policies, Jewish representation.  But they are organized like crazy.  They can whip up an anti-semitism charge against any politician or academic as soon as any of them even questions our ridiculous bias toward Israel.  This scares the bejesus out of any politician.  So they kowtow.  I am an Obama supporter.  But I see in him a strong reluctance to go up against the AIPAC lobby.  Any hint of softness toward the plight and unfairness of the Palestinians’ situation and you’re toast.  I do see a possible change in this dynamic.  AIPAC actually represents the old guard, and with younger people and broader minds emerging, AIPAC might lose its hold on American foreign policy.

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By purplewolf, May 21, 2008 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Louise, it’s not missing, it was never there to begin with.

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By hippy pam, May 21, 2008 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

I do not know about his commitment but he SURE NEEDS TO BE INCARCERATED FOR THE CRIMES HE HAS COMMITTED…

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By cyrena, May 21, 2008 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

Yes evilive,

Since you got to me before all of the others, I WILL marry you!!

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By cyrena, May 21, 2008 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

I get your confusion, and I don’t understand either.

I mean, the Jewish people that I know, (most of them at least) do NOT support any beligerency toward Arab and Muslim countries, including Iran.

But, they’re academics, so I guess that’s what makes the difference. Then again, there are other academics, (Dershowitz comes to mind) who DO.

I don’t know.

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By Magginkat, May 21, 2008 at 5:16 am Link to this comment

Perhaps “Commitment” is the answer to the Bush/Cheney regime.  Committed to prison for the rest of their corrupt lives that is.

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By Albert J. Van Thournout, May 21, 2008 at 5:08 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you very much, Allen, for a discerning review of recent developments in the Middle East. The dearth of information reflecting even the most modest at effort at balance in this country in reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is appalling. The standard media are totally complicit in the death and destruction wreaked on Palestinians daily. I see the only hope for forcing the United States into a true broker of peace in this conflict is a change in public opinion, and that cannot come forth without the media assuming its moral responsibility. For myself, I agree with you completely in your conclusion that Isreel does not want an end to violence. I have observed this for years and pointing it out has been a major aspect of my presentation to my students in History of the Twentieth Century course. This goes back a long way.
Good Luck to you and keep up the hard and good work you are doing.

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By cyrena, May 20, 2008 at 11:11 pm Link to this comment

Yep..the whole damn bunch of ‘em.

•  “He went on to say, “And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world.”

Speak for yourself bozo bush…not for America.

This (cheney talking now) made me vomit…

•  “….when he told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at their March 22 meeting that “our two countries have been more than just strong allies. We’ve been friends—special friends—and our peoples bound together by unique ties of history, culture, religion, and memory. Today, both our nations share the ideals of liberty, equality, human dignity, and representative government.”

Where’s the justice? Why doesn’t HE have a malignant brain tumor, instead of Ted Kennedy? Liberty, equality, human dignity, and representative government my ass. Israel has NEVER had it, and since the Cheney reign, we don’t come anywhere close.

“…The most encouraging words Cheney could offer Palestinian President Abbas was that “[t]he United States will commit resources to help the Palestinians build the infrastructure necessary for a stable, secure and prosperous democracy, and a society led by a government that joins in the fight against terror and honors the aspirations of all its people.”

Resources to build an infrastructure WHERE you asshole? WHERE exactly, are the Palestinians supposed to build an infrastructure that Israel won’t either demolish (before it can even be built) or simply TAKE OVER as they have the entire West Bank as they rule over Gaza like a prison?

And then there’s THIS heifer:

•  ““This barbarous act has no place among civilized peoples and shocks the conscience of all peace-loving nations,” Rice said. “There is no cause that could ever justify this action.”

Well gee Condi, No cause to justify THIS action? How about the ‘cause’ to ‘justify’ YOUR actions in pushing for the destruction of an entire section of the world? What CAUSE justifies the destruction of Iraq and the misery of her people? What ‘cause’ justifies the imprisonment and collective punishment of the people of Gaza, and Israel’s decades old attempts to kill them all. What ‘cause’ justifies GENOCIDE Condi? Matter of fact Condi, What CAUSE even justifies YOUR existence, or that of your boss?

We’ll see you ALL at the Hague Condi, Cheney, and your loved ones of Israel, because it is YOU who ‘shock the consciences’ of civilized peoples everywhere on the globe.

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By Ivan Hentschel, May 20, 2008 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you, Louise. I wondered the same thing. That explains alot.

Bush and Co. have made no progress in the mid-east in eight years. The rhetoric is hollow, the claims without basis and the resultant mess is much as it has been for decades, only with more pyrotechnics and more sophisticated political meanderings.

We pay this man and his minions too much heed. This is a fine article but tells us nothing we don’t already know. The policies and gestures put forth by this administration have been completely without merit.

We simply need to take a deep breath, face the fact that nearly a decade has been lost in any efforts to find any sort of lasting peace in this complicated, centuries old dispute, and move on.

My only hope is that this administration will not do anything else monumentally stupid (i.e., bomb Iran) in the ensuing months before they leave office. I wish for them all just to GO AWAY and never come back.

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By Louise, May 20, 2008 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

I find it interesting [and telling] that the TOP of his head is missing! wink

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