May 14, 2008

Bush and the Neocontractors

"Now, you’ve heard the nonsense which is out there which suggests that Israel or the Jewish community or the Israel lobby pushed this war on the administration. And I can tell you it is nonsense, because there was not one Israeli official and not one Israeli academic who suggested that this war was going to end well. They all warned against exactly the problems we have experienced since this war started…" Dan Kurtzer, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, commenting on Bush's "reengagement" with the Mideast peace process.

Suppose our bold, let-History-be-my-judge President bought a building site adjacent to a steep upslope, a mountain really, and was advised that he ought to do something about the drainage problem he'll encounter when the rainy season comes. One simple idea is to build a culvert which will catch the runoff and divert it to a downslope canal. Bush considers the problem, listens to the solutions proposed by his father, who once dealt with a similar issue, then rejects all such ideas in favor of his own master stroke. Working with a construction outfit called the Neocontractors, who believe in taking preemptive action against a drainage problem which lurks, Bush decides he will simply level the entire mountain. While it's true that neither solution was going to be cheap, the culvert would have cost about $1 billion while the mountain-removal solution will eventually cost $3 trillion, plus thousands of lives lost in the dangerous operation.

In essence this is what our visionary President has done in the Middle East. Try to recall, in the dim recesses of the past, the Road Map. This was something begun so long ago that Secretary of State Colin Powell, he of the phantom poison gas double-wides, worked on it. Waaaaaaaay back. Everyone from Osama bin Laden to William Kristol thinks that peace between Israel and Palestine is the key, the linchpin, to stability in the region. It was so obvious that even Bush saw it. For a little while. Then, like a cat diverted by another shiny, swinging object, Bush decided to invade Iraq instead.

Counseled by a group of complete fools like Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, within the Administration, and urged on by a coterie of journalist-cheerleaders like Judith Miller, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol and Tom Friedman, Bush decided to level the mountain. Using the U.S. military as his backhoe, Bush would invade every single Middle Eastern trouble-making country and force them to become pro-U.S., pro-Israel democracies. Bush was appalled that the rest of us could not see the simple beauty of his plan.

I have a theory about the Neocon journalist-cheerleaders like Kristol and Friedman, and it runs this way. It's a form of survivor guilt. It seems so much more sensible to embroil the Middle East in a war, or a bunch of wars, to ensure Israel's safety if you are promoting those wars from the safety of your Manhattan East Side brownstone, or your Maryland mansion, than it does if you are living in Tel Aviv. They're "concerned" about Israel but they sure as hell don't want to live there. They've got it made here. If you live in Israel, then you must contemplate another effect of an unprovoked invasion, as Ambassador Kurtzer, and many other Israeli commentators (such as Gershom Gorenberg & Haim Watzman in their valuable "South Jerusalem" blog) have pointed out. Neighboring Jordan, once relatively stable, is now overflowing with Iraqi refugees from Bush's stupid war. In effect Bush has created another Gaza Strip, this time to the east, and it was Bush's gross incompetence which led to the installation of Hamas as the Gaza leadership. Lebanon has descended once again into a hell of ethnic and religious factionalism, and Iran, which everyone considers Israel's ultimate arch-nemesis, now exercises hegemonic influence over the entire region, including the "democratically elected" government in Iraq. When Bush screws up, man - the guy simply has no peer.

For all these reasons and others, Kurtzer has become a supporter and adviser to Barack Obama, the one candidate who stops with the war shtick already and proposes that diplomacy become the dominant approach to the region. Let Gorenberg and Watzman take it on out:

"The one candidate who speaks in clear terms of taking a new approach to the Mideast is Obama. This is what scares the small coterie of American Jewish rightists who would eagerly fight to the last Israeli. If you care about Israel, you should hit 'delete' when you get their emails.

"Obama is the one candidate who had the sense to oppose the war in Iraq. He’s the one candidate whose statement on Israel expresses support for a two-state solution, which is the country’s path to peaceful future and is today the consensus position in Israel. He’s the one proposing a clear break from the disastrous Bush policies, and a turn to trying diplomacy."

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