Give Annapolis a Chance?
The word from Jerusalem.
An NRO Q&A
In preparing for the Mideast conference in Annapolis, Maryland, this week, Jerusalem Post columnist and deputy managing editor Caroline Glick took some questions from National Review Online editor Kathryn Lopez Monday morning.
Glick, a senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy, is author of the upcoming book (March), The Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Is there anything good to come out of Annapolis?
Caroline Glick: It is hard to see any positive outcome from the Annapolis conference. Some have argued that the conference will make clear the distinction between states interested in peace and states uninterested in peace. But it is far from clear why this is the case. Indeed, one of the basic flaws inherent in the Annapolis conference, and indeed in Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent frenetic pursuit of Palestinian statehood is the complete absence of moral distinctions between states committed to the ideals of peace, freedom, and fighting terror and those committed to jihad, tyranny, and hatred.
To take just the most obvious example of Rice’s moral equivalence, she upholds Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister Salam Fayad as moderates who seek peaceful coexistence with Israel. Yet the fact is that neither Abbas nor Fayad have taken any steps that could be considered conducive to peace. They joined a unity government with Hamas in March and would have remained Hamas’s junior partner in that Saudi-brokered governing arrangement had Hamas not decided to oust Fatah forces from Gaza in June. Fayad has continued to pay the salaries of the Iranian-trained Hamas army in Gaza since the terror group’s takeover of the area just as he pays the salaries of Fatah terrorists in the West Bank.
In addition to his position as political leader of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas is also the head of the Fatah terror organization. Due to its reputation as a secular terror group, the U.S. State Department upholds Fatah as a credible partner in peace talks with Israel. But this strains credulity. Since the onset of the Palestinian jihad against Israel in September 2000, Fatah has carried out more terror attacks against Israeli targets than either Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Just last week Fatah terrorist murdered 29-year-old Ido Zoldan.
In spite of Fatah’s moderate reputation, the fact is that Fatah terror cells in the West Bank are bankrolled by Iran and its Hezbollah proxy. Its operatives are directed by Tehran no less than Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives are.
But in the interests of bringing about the declaration of a sovereign state of Palestine, Rice and her associates are advancing policies that smack of moral dementia. They insist that Israel make security concessions to Fatah, release Fatah terrorists from prison, and arm Fatah militias. They insist that Israel transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to Abbas’s bank accounts in the interest of promoting peace in spite of the fact that Abbas and Fayad transfer those funds to Hamas and Fatah terror operatives.
And just as the Bush administration is now treating Palestinian terrorists with deference while treating Israel abusively, so too, it is expending American political capital and prestige to woo oppressive, anti-American, pro-jihadist regimes like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Perversely, rather than thank the Americans for taking Israel to task as they have demanded, the Saudis forced the Bush administration to beg and genuflect to them before agreeing to participate in the conference. And that participation too was conditioned on US willingness to embrace the so-called Saudi plan for Middle East peace from 2002. The Saudi demand and the American willingness to accept it tells the entire tale of the moral and strategic failure of the Annapolis conference. The Saudi plan demands an Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, an Israeli acceptance of millions of hostile foreign Arabs as citizens within its truncated borders and an Israeli renunciation of sovereignty over all of Judaism’s sacred sites in Jerusalem. Once Israel implements all of these demands, the Saudi plan states that the Arab world will take steps towards having regular relations with it. That is, the Saudi plan which the U.S. included in the terms of reference for the conference is a plan for Israel’s destruction.
In light of all of this, it is hard to foresee anything good coming from Annapolis.
Lopez: Is there any sense in inviting Syria?
Glick: Apologists for the Annapolis conference claimed that the conference would mobilize the Arab world to the U.S.’s side and so build a coalition of Arab states opposed to Iran and its nuclear ambitions. It is hard to see how the invitation of Syria jibes with this assertion. To the contrary, by inviting Syria, the U.S. strengthens Iran and weakens any possibility that the Arab world would organize against the mullahs.
In 2006, Syria signed a formal military alliance with Iran. Iran is bankrolling the Syrian military and secret police. On September 6, the Israeli air force reportedly destroyed a North Korean-built nuclear installation in Syria. Iran was reportedly also involved in the project. The attack occurred two months after Syrian and Iranian forces were killed when the chemical warhead they were attempting to install on a North Korean-built ballistic missile accidentally exploded.
Presently, Iran and Syria are working with Hezbollah to destabilize Lebanon, overthrow the Siniora government and assert full control over the country. To this end they engaged in a systematic campaign of assassinating anti-Syrian parliamentarians over the past year. And to this end they are preventing the Lebanese parliament from electing a new president.
By inviting Syria to Annapolis, the U.S. essentially is sending the message that it sees nothing in Syria’s behavior to remove it from the club of responsible nations and legitimate governments. By inviting Syria to Annapolis this week, when Lebanon’s future hangs in the balance, the U.S. is rewarding Syria’s criminal behavior. Regardless of what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may say about Syrian participation at Annapolis it is hard to imagine that he is upset by it.
Will the U.S. invitation do anything to induce Syria to improve its behavior or accept Israel as its neighbor? Absolutely not.
Lopez: All things being what they are: If there’s a single good that can come of this conference, what would you urge the U.S. that it be?
Glick: The only good thing that can come from this conference is that President George W. Bush recognizes the harm that Rice is doing to the U.S.’s national-security interests by undermining the Bush doctrine. From the six-party talks with North Korea to her bizarre and dangerous decision to attempt to appease Iran by holding talks with the millenarian theocracy in Iraq; supporting the EU’s failed nuclear diplomacy and authorizing the U.N. Security Council to (mis)handle Iran’s nuclear-weapons program; to her seeming obsession with establishing a pro-Iranian, jihadist Palestinian state before the end of the Bush presidency; to her unpardonable neglect of Iraq, Rice
has taken a knife to everything Bush has staked his presidency on.
If the failure of Annapolis causes the president to distance himself from Rice and end her foreign-policy supremacy, then in retrospect, the conference may have been worth the effort.
Lopez: What’s the Bush legacy in the Mideast likely going to be?
Glick: If Bush reins in his appeasement-mongering secretary of State and returns to the guidelines for U.S. foreign policy that he set out in his first term, then his will be a revolutionary legacy of freedom in the Middle East. The promising situation in Iraq, if allowed to progress will indeed bring about the first Arab democracy. Were the president to liberate the Palestinians from the tyranny of their terror leaders and antagonists in the Arab world, he could set the conditions for true peace between them and Israel. If he were to reignite his call for freedom and empowerment of liberals in the Arab world and if he were to make good on his pledge to support Iranian democracy activists, he would leave the region and the world safer, freer and less threatening than he found them when he assumed office.
If, on the other hand, he continues to empower Rice to undermine all he has fought for his legacy will be one of cowardice, betrayal, and failure.
Originally published in National Review Online