US official: Bush gov’t appeasing Arabs


The Forward discusses this in greater detail in Top Bush Adviser Says Rice’s Push For Mideast Peace Is ‘Just Process’

The Bush administration is undertaking much of its current Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy to appease the Arabs and Europeans, a top White House official told a group of Jewish Republicans recently, according to those present.

Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams said much of the heightened State Department activity with the two parties was “process for the sake of process” and being done to “assuage the Arabs and the Europeans, who haven’t been happy with the United States [and are] happy to see that there’s at least an attempt or energy being put into the peace process,” according to one attendee at the closed-door meeting.

In response to a question raised at the event about whether “European and Arab pressure could put Israel in a corner,” the National Security Council issued a statement saying that “ultimately, the United States provides an emergency brake.”

Abrams also told the meeting that he would guard against the bureaucrats at the State Department taking over American Middle East policy, as well as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice falling into the “Clintonian mode” of needing to point to achievements to secure her legacy as her term concludes, according to someone at the discussion.

The source was referring to the increased pace of diplomatic arm-twisting in search of peace between Palestinians and Israelis on the part of president Bill Clinton in the waning days of his time in office.

Rice has traveled to the region several times this year and brokered meetings between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as part of efforts to create a “political horizon” of the contours of a Palestinian state. Most recently, the administration presented both parties with a set of benchmarks concerning freedom of movement and security undertakings as a basis of discussion.

Another visit by Rice to Israel and the Palestinian Authority had been in the works, but was postponed last week, a decision the State Department attributed to scheduling issues and the delicate Israeli political situation.

Some observers suggested Rice would have had little to show for her trip, as the sides have differed on the benchmark proposal. Hamas, which controls much of the PA, has rejected it outright, while some Israeli officials have also been critical of the document.

Abrams is said to have suggested, however, that these smaller-level moves, as well as the US plan to help train Palestinian security forces, are more achievable and helpful in the short-term.

Those at the Abrams briefing said they didn’t detect tensions between Abrams and Rice, but rather between the White House approach and that of the State Department bureaucracy. Rice is a newcomer to that establishment, as she served above Abrams as national security adviser during President George W. Bush’s first term.

The NSC stressed that there was no daylight between Rice and Abrams or between the State Department and the White House.

“Advancing toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians and toward the president’s vision of two states living side by side in peace and security is not only Secretary Rice’s goal, it is a key goal of the President’s,” the NSC statement said. “It is inaccurate to suggest that the White House and State Department are at odds on this issue, for the entire administration – including Mr. Abrams – is committed to pursuing it and the rest of the President’s agenda.”

May 11, 2007 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. Randy

    I have read many things that cause me to reach the same conclusions as you apparently have. From the information you provided and from what I read, it seems this required an ENORMOUS amount of character on the part of Richard Nixon to do what he did to assist Israel.

    The longer we engage in “process for the sake of process” the harder it is going to be to defeat this enemy. If we act now, we can defeat this enemy, however, the financial costs, as well as the loss of lives would be very high.

    “What war will the US play in the coming war?” This is unknown, however, it would be in our national interest to side with Israel. Should the US decide to support Israel, it will face even more adverse pressure from its “allies” than it did during the Yom Kippur war. On the other hand, we do have a President right now, in George W. Bush, who does not seem to care much about world opinion. If he wanted to do his part to ensure that the US defends Israel, he would have the courage to stand up to Israel’s enemies. The question is would he want to or is he to beholden to other factors? The jury is still out on him, as well as on other American politicians. I pray they will make the right decisions when the time comes. From what I have seen so far from President Bush and other American leaders, there is little cause to be optimistic.

    As the scriptures tell us both the Old and the Nes Testaments tell us, things work for the good of those who love God. I can and do find great comfort in that.

  2. “process for the sake of process”

    I have expressed this line of thought on a number of occasions. There is no diplomatic solution (as Ted’s header proclaims), therefore to avoid reaching a climatic point to the conflict it is drawn out in order to avoid the adverse effects of disruption of oil and nations politically being forced to take sides which would strain international relations.

    The process is a cheap substitute for peace, but it is not cheap. As it is prolong, Israelis have suffered the effects for years. Furthermore, the situation becomes more perilous as Israelis “neighbors” have used the time build up militarily and develop WMD. I am one who believes Syria possesses WMD and may very likely be harboring stock piles from Iraq which were moved by Saddam before the US invaded in 2003.

    In the mean time terrorist groups such as Hezbolah and Hamas ‘chip-away’ at Israeli moral which weakens and to some extent sedates the people by prolonged tensions.

    Europe will not support Israel, the USA may but does not wish to be in that position. On the other hand, Israel must be prepared to go at it alone since there is no guarantee the US will take sides in the event of all out war, in spite of promises.

    Jason Maoz offers a behind-the-scenes account of what happened in the White House during the first week of the Yom Kippur War in a 2005 article which appeared in Frontpage magazine:

    […]Haig recalls that Nixon, frustrated with the initial delays in implementing the airlift and aware that the Soviets had begun airlifting supplies to Egypt and Syria, summoned Kissinger and Schlesinger to the Oval Office on October 12 and “banished all excuses.” The president asked Kissinger for a precise accounting of Israel`s military needs, and Kissinger proceeded to read aloud from an itemized list.

    “Double it,” Nixon ordered. “Now get the hell out of here and get the job done.”

    Later, informed of yet another delay – this one because of disagreements in the Pentagon over the type of planes to be used for the airlift – an incensed Nixon shouted at Kissinger, “[Expletive] it, use every one we have. Tell them to send everything that can fly.”

    Nixon acted despite threats of reprisal by Arab oil producers – indeed, the day after Nixon asked Congress for an emergency appropriation of $2.2 billion for Israel, Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal announced an embargo of oil to the U.S. – not to mention Europe’s overwhelming opposition to aiding Israel.

    “European allies,” writes historian Melvin Small in The Presidency of Richard Nixon, “fearful of the Arab oil threat, would not permit the United States to use [America`s] own bases on the continent to refuel any cargo planes flying from the United States to Israel. At the same time, NATO allies Turkey and Greece permitted the Russians to overfly their countries on their way to the Middle East. Under pressure from the Arabs, Exxon even instructed [its subsidiary] Esso of Germany to stop delivering oil to American bases. Washington finally strong-armed NATO ally Portugal into permitting U.S. planes to refuel in the Azores on the way to the Middle East.” […]

    The reason for Nixion’s support of Israel has been debated and is often attributed to his strong aversion to the Soviet Union who were seeking to control the Middle East oil supplies.

    Whatever the case, the situation today is similar. As during the Yom Kippur War, it is likely Europe will want no part of any conflict in the Middle East even if Israel is at the point of perishing.

    Russia on the other hand is again building up the Arab countries and I am certain would again be the source of the Arab resupply chain if a war against Israel broke out. The are heavily involved in building modern defense systems in Syria and Iran and are providing them with missiles and the latest in military technology.

    What role will the US play in the coming war? For if Israel continues holding onto the “peace process”, make no mistake, there will be war.

  3. It’s possible that the folks in Washington are deliberately setting a trap for Israel, a trap whereby Israel will have no choice but to defend itself in the most extreme way. If that happens, the US administration will be in a position to denigrate Israel, despite knowing full well that Israel had been forced to do the Americans’ dirty work, and the Americans, will of course be able to walk away from the situation with apparently clean hands…

  4. This is a plan from the bowels of Hell, and it wreaks of smoke and brimstone. I am finding it more and more difficult to cut this administration any slack at all. And Condi may as well be Albright or Baker. Fools or devils? It’s hard for me to answer, and I definitely don’t like what I’m thinking.

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