Wednesday, February 01, 2006

George W. Bush in Freefall
President Bush's failure to anticipate the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Territorries is just another step in cascading US national security blunders in the Middle East. Americans deserve to ask why the President continues to bungle with such regularity

Answer is that he has outsourced his formulation of US Middle Eastern policy to Israel . If that was not bad enough, it now appears that intelligence analysis and collection in this area are also not fully under his control To our new National Intelligence Czar--Where were you on this one Ambassador Negroponte? However, you still have to fail far more monumentially to win the George Tenet Slam Dunk Award.

Under the aegis of Israel, with the support of the Israeli lobby and leaders of the Christian right, the US went along with crippling Arafat, leader of the Fatah Party . At the end Arafat was a prisoner, powerless. After his suspicious death, his party became dependent on US funding and transfixed by promises of the return of Gaza and small pieces of the West Bank.

Return of these territories was in Israel's long term interests, and a majority of Israelis agreed--the Palestinians would not submit to the Israeli boot without more bloodshed, and continued military occupation was just not cost effective. Moreover, there were demographic problems in the future for Israel if it was to maintain a Jewish majority .

The Bush administration was central to the evacuation of Gaza. It provided funds to reimburse Israeli settlers for their homes , most of which were cannibalbized for parts and subsequently razed. At the same time the Fatah Party was encouraged to hold down attacks on Israel, and using US handouts, to cooperate in the peace process . Bush, certain that the Fatah Party would win the parliamentary elections, insisted they proceed as quickly as possible.

Both the Bush and Israeli goverments made a major miscalculation . Instead of the pliant Fatah Party taking credit for forcing the Israelis out the Gaza, Hamas militants loudly claimed the credit. As the recent election now demonstrated, the evacuation of Gaza favored Hamas.

Hamas had other factors that augered for its sucess in the election. Fatah was rotten with corruption and just too cozy with the US and Israel. This, right or wrong, was the perception, an outgrowth of direct negotiations for a peace plan. Hamas also had a solid record of administering social services to the Palestinians and was on the forefront of anti -Israel militancy, with its members willingly dying for their beliefs As usual, Bush based his intelligence on tendacious polls, faith -based assumptions and unvetted analyses of intelligence from Mossad. Bush still cannot believe a terrorist organization can win a democratic election. To make matters worse, Jimmy Carter, who was an official observer at the election, has pronounced the process honest and fair. GWB cannot even claim fraud.

The fact that the US provides 3-4 billion in aid to the Israelis and 150 million to the Palestinians says it all, cynically, in terms of an even-handed approach of US policy in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. This US bias- loaded policy is bipartisan. Senator Biden, Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stood in front of the television cameras with his hands flatly clasped together announcing that there was not a ray of light in the difference between US and Israeli policy.

Consider Israel's role in the 1967 attack on the American ship LIBERTY, the Pollard spy scandal and the recent conviction of the Pentagon's Mr. Franklin for passing secrets to Israeli lobbyists and agents in the Israeli Embassy. Two functionaries from the Israeli lobby are also currently under indictment for espionage. With allies like this who needs enemies ?. Do not forget that superneocon Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was declared Man of the Year by the Jerusalem Post for leading the US to war in Iraq.

This all out US support of Israel made sense duing the Cold War when the Soviet Union backed every radical Arab regime in the area in the name of national liberation. This tme is long past. US now has military bases all over the Persian Gulf to protect its oil interests. It is time to try to develop Arab good will. This is not done by blindly supporting Israeli polices, e.g., building walls on Arab territories and invading Islamic countries that threaten Israel. Last time I checked, there is no oil in Israel. Where is the US national interest here?

Hamas democratically elected in Palestine makes the Bush policy of imposing democracy a farce--democracies are not always friendly to the US. Check with Chavez,Fox, Morales, and the Shiite leadership in Iraq and Iran, . President Bush had told Americans, along with Jesus Chrst,that Anton Sharansky, an ex -Soviet dissident who later had a role in the Likud government, was his favorite philosopher..Shransky is a purveyor of the line that democracies will make America safe . Sharansky was such a screwball, even Sharon dismissed him from his cabinet. But GW Bush apparently still believes in him.

Whether a Hamas central government survives is an open question. It assumed control of an anarchy and now Fatah militants are furious over their loss Hamas has no experienced leadership, no money, serious poverty, widespread unemployment, a high birth rate and deep emnity for and from Israel. And the US and European Union policy is up in the air, because they have branded Hamas a terrorist organzation. The turmoil in the Palestinian Territories is now an open door for Iran or el Qeada to sneek closer to attack Israel . And the closer proximaty of either of these terrorist torpedoes would seriously complicate Israeli security

Israel was born in fire and has walked in fire for a half century. There is no indication the intensity of the flames will subside. Without the US support, the Jewish non -secular state would have been consumed long ago. There is no question as long as it is imbedded in the bosom of a superpower like the US , it wll continue to exist, albeit singed. Real question is whether the superpower can sustain its posture of power with the sick, misguided, opportunistic brand of leadership President GW Bush and the US Congress provide. Is it now on to Iran with the Bush policy of rolling disaster?. Robert E Bartos Colonel US Army Ret


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