May 1, 2003
Foolishness and Foll
By now anyone can understand what is happening in the Middle East.
The spectacle of military dictatorships being exposed
to the light of day is bracing, but now Europe, the United Nations and some in our own government want to return to business as usual. The president is basking in the deserved glory of our nation's victory, while some in his administration want to publish a road map that would reward one of the worst terrorist gangs in the world with a state of their own.
Democrats and Republicans seem to agree with this policy. The only question is, why? Now that the nations of the Middle East have been seen for what they are, why make any concessions to them? Now that CNN and the other media have been shown to be liars and cheats, why bail them out?
Some point to the Iraqi oil fields, saying this was the one and only reason we toppled the Saddam dictatorship. But administration officials have insisted that they were fighting terrorism, the scourge of the last half-century. If this is so, why make more concessions to Yasser Arafat and his handpicked "prime minister?" Doesn't it mean anything to the "peace at any price" people that Arafat refuses to hold elections, that he has carried on a war against defenseless civilians for three years? Doesn't it mean anything that he broke each and every agreement he made with the gullible Israelis, including the basic one agreed to at Oslo that force would not be used to achieve political aims?
Secretary of State Colin Powell and others in the government aren't answering these questions; presumably they think that Syria, which finances terror groups in the Palestinian territories and on the Lebanese border and Iran -- which also finances terror against Israel -- will have a change of heart. They think that a "prime minister" chosen by the arch terrorist Arafat is something to cheer about. It's wonderful, they say.
Wonderful for whom? They certainly can't mean the Israelis, who have made unbelievable concessions for peace over the last 30 years, giving back land for a peace that always eluded them. Nor can they mean the Arab people of the Middle East who live under dictatorial tyrannies that are seldom mentioned by the human rights groups at the United Nations and elsewhere. Against everything in international law, our government is punishing our allies and rewarding those who were against us. They are reaching out to those who hate us, offering more concessions from Israel as their olive branch.
Offer more concessions to whom? And why? No one bothers to answer these sort of questions; neither do they justify or explain the resurgent anti-Semitism being spewed by these hateful Arab dictators. And the media seem to be in their pocket, too. They prefer to castigate the one democracy in the Middle East while turning a blind eye to the vicious dictators and rulers of modern day Araby. CBS and CNN adopted a policy of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" about the Saddam regime, while telling American audiences they were reporting "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." A media that speaks with almost universal agreement, and is so obviously caught in lies and deception should be investigated and exposed to the American people. But no one is doing that, nor are they planning to do that. Most people in government want to get back to business as usual, as do the members of the European Union and the United Nations.
The foolishness and folly of our Middle East policies suggests that interests that no longer understand their own best interests are still in control of governmental policy. These people, seeking only to "keep the oil flowing," have made pacts with the devil in the past, and want to do so again. But blinding oneself to the unpleasant realities of the Middle East has not been a good way to win friends for America or improve living conditions in the Levant. Nor is it a sensible way to make policy, even in the short term. The road to a peaceful Middle East does not lie with the dictators who have ruled there for the last century and more. A government and media that thinks so is deluded, at best. At worst, one has to question its logic and "interests."
Stanley William Rothstein is professor emeritus at Cal State Fullerton.