One of the frustrations of being conservative on foreign policy issues is the exposure to the allegations of the Left that the Right will not "take risks for peace," or "give peace a chance." In fact, as some conservative critics of the George W. Bush Administration have charged, the decision to invade Iraq amounted taking a huge risk to try to reshape Middle Eastern history and politics, in order to give peace a chance. Debate over the wisdom and prudence of that course of action has marked the conservative/neo-conservative divide on the Iraq war.
Fundamentally, however, both conservatives and neo-conservatives agree that a strong national defense and firmness in dealing with potential enemies are essential to the avoidance of war. Examples in history are rampant, but the left never seems to learn from those examples. The current calls to release and repatriate prisoners from the Guantanamo Prison, from a population that at this point consists almost entirely of dedicated jihadists, and to precipitously withdraw from Iraq, are just the most recent examples on the American scene.
For Israel, the history of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the withdrawal from Gaza is instructive. Prior to August 1993, despite an ongoing low intensity civil uprising among Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza, Yehuda and Shomron, Israel faced no significant armed threat from the Palestinians. After being expelled from Lebanon, Arafat and his PLO terrorist gang sat cooling their heels in Tunisia, increasingly irrelevant and ignored, even in the Arab world, especially after backing Iraq in its invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War.
Then the "Peace Camp" in Israel struck. Private Israeli citizens, without any official position, and in violation of Israeli law, negotiated a "treaty" with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Prime Minister Rabin inexplicably adopted that treaty. Even before the famous "handshake on the White Hose lawn" between Israeli Prime Minister Yitchak Rabin and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, Arafat in his Arabic language speeches, assured Palestinians that the agreement was just a ruse, a tactic in the long-term campaign to destroy Israel. The very plane that returned Arafat to Gaza smuggled in heavy weapons that violated the Oslo Accords. Yet any person, such as Benjamin Netanyahu, who called attention to these violations was labeled an "enemy of peace" by Rabin, Shimon Peres and the Israeli Left.
After repeated terrorist bombs in Israel resulted in Netanyahu beating Peres in elections following the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, Netanyahu tried to tie further territorial concessions to Palestinian compliance with the Oslo Accords. President Clinton reacted by chiding Netanyahu to follow the example of his "chaver" (comrade) Rabin, and take a risk for peace. When Netanyahu continued to insist on Palestinian compliance, President Clinton dispatched his Mephistopheles, James Carville, to run the campaign of Ehud Barak to unseat Netanyahu as Prime Minister. When Barak won election, Clinton famously said that he felt like a little boy with a brand new toy. How is that for respect for the leader of a fellow democracy?
Inspired by Clinton and his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Barak's policies of seeking peace at any cost in Lebanon and with the Palestinians were so disastrous in their results that they caused George Will to write:
Now just 17 months of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's diplomacy have demoralized Israel by delegitimizing all its previous principles, and destroying the absolute prerequisite for successful negotiations--the insistence that something is nonnegotiable. Even a Barak ultimatum is, inevitably, penultimate. Barak may be the most calamitous leader any democracy has had. He risks forfeiting his nation's existence.
Dismayed by the disasters that Barak had brought upon Israel, the Israeli public turned to its resolute old warrior, Ariel Sharon. And they were betrayed once again. Opponents of Sharon's plan for unilateral withdrawal from Gaza were condemned as "religious fanatics" and "enemies of peace." But their warnings proved well-founded. As I write this post, Israeli troops are preparing to re-enter Gaza in force, as reported here
, where they will face spirited opposition from well-armed Palestinian militias fighting from well-prepared defensive positions. Ominously, Israel National News reports
that Egypt has moved thousands of its troops to its border with Gaza, purportedly to block Arab refugees from Gaza fighting from fleeing into Egypt, but also raising the risk of an armed confrontation with Israeli forces, and a wider war. The Peace Camp has brought this all about, and many, many Palestinian Arabs, as well as Israelis, will die as a result.