Howard Dean on the Middle East Fighting-Wrong As Usual
Chris Muir in Day by Day yesterday skewered the inane remarks of Howard Dean, who in a speech to "Democracyfest" at San Diego State University, said:
“If you think what’s going on in the Middle East today would be going on if the Democrats were in control, it wouldn’t, because we would have worked day after day after day to make sure we didn’t get where we are today. We would have had the moral authority that Bill Clinton had when he brought together the Northern Irish and the IRA, when he brought together the Israelis and the Palestinians.”(Source: Little Green Footballs).
Not surprisingly, Dean has it almost 180 degrees wrong. In fact, a minority of the blame for the current fighting in both Gaza with Hamas and in Northern Israel and South Lebanon, with Hezbollah, should be hung around the neck of the Clinton Administration.
[I say a minority, because most of the blame for the current crisis must be borne by the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and other supporters of the disastrous 1993 Oslo Accords. The Oslo Accords began the Israeli policies of retreat and appeasement that convinced Hezbollah and the Palestinians that they could successfully confront a spiritually weak and demoralized Israel militarily.]
Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1996, after a wave of terrorist attacks had exposed the folly of Oslo and had driven Shimon Peres from office. Netanyahu strove mightily to reverse the Rabin-Peres policy of ignoring non-compliance by Yassir Arafat and the Palestinians with their obligations under the Oslo Accords. He conditioned further territorial concessions to the Palestinians on performance of their obligations to stop terrorism and disarm the terrorist militias.
For this attempt to salvage Oslo, he earned the enmity of the Clinton Administration. Bill Clinton dispatched his Mephistopheles, James Carville, to be the campaign manager of the Labor Party's Ehud Barak in the next Israeli elections. When Barak and Labor defeated Netanyahu and Likud in the 1999 elections, Clinton chortled at a Democratic fundraiser that he was as "excited as a young kid with a new toy." How is that for describing the leader of a sovereign state?
In a disastrous precedent for the Gaza disengagement, Barak, with Clinton's encouragement, precipitously withdrew the Israel Defense Forces from South Lebanon, abandoning the region to Hezbollah. Hezbollah promptly proudly proclaimed itself the first Arab force to defeat Israel militarily. Emboldened by their example, the Palestinians began the "Al Aksa Intifada," which ultimately led to the rise to power of Hamas and the present fighting in Gaza.
For those who might be seduced by Dean's claim that the Clinton Administration's "moral authority" might have prevented the current crisis, I need only evoke the following image: Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State of the most powerful nation on earth, in October 2000, running awkwardly in her heels through the cobblestone courtyard of the US Embassy in Paris, chasing after Yassir Arafat, the petty thug kingpin of a criminal gang, who had just stalked out out of negotiations to end the fighting he had initiated after the failure of the Camp David talks. How is that for moral authority?