Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Wading In: Here comes the road map. I'm hesitant to wade into this awfully complex issue, since the Israel/Palestine "process" has been able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the past, but a couple of things need saying. Bush is not going to get much credit diplomatically. (The left will never acknowledge his success, especially this close to the 2004 race. Plus, the right is piling on now, in the person of Newt Gingrich and his tongue-lashing of State and specifically Powell.) But he's pulled off a minor miracle in changing the way the Palestinian Authority operates. Bush declared Arafat a non-partner and called for new leadership. The diplomocrats of the world, after recovering from their collective faint, scolded that Bush was acting without finesse, without regard to the ... ah ... complexities of the situation. Lo and behold, Bush initiates the biggest breakthrough in the region since Anwar Sadat broke with his mentor Nasser's policies and shook hands with a Jew (unless you count Oslo, which only seemed like a breakthrough until Yasser decided to take his bomb ... er ... ball and go home). Now, as I said above, I'm not all that confident that this breakthrough will be any more meaningful than Oslo. Arafat has every motivation to make sure that the new leadership isn't terribly successful, since this is the first step toward sidelining him for good, and Sharon isn't going to jump to pull out all the Jewish settlements right away. All this is true, but make no mistake: To the extent that this is a breakthrough, Bush's "cowboy diplomacy" made it possible.

More: Den Beste on some sticking points.

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