Friday, November 21, 2003

Response to Stuart

Stuart Kaufman, a man blessed with great humor, keen insight, a great family and the political sensibilities that lie somewhere to the left of, say, Benito Mussolini, threw a bit of cold water on my unabashed accolades for Bush's speech in London the other day. I thought I should respond.

Stuey.... you're right, but...that wasn't my point. Bush's speech was truly remarkable (actually, it was the second on this topic). Disavowing 60 years of appeasement by every President since Roosevelt (including...and in particular, his father) was astonishing and needs to be talked about and understood and celebrated. He is charting an unprecedented course in not only foreign policy but in the purpose of our country. It has gotten, not surprisingly, little attention and that is not right. We need to talk about this again and again and again until the words are more than words.

With respect to Israel, while I disagree with Bush strongly on his opposition to the fence, I still believe that he is the best friend Israel has ever had and, actually, really understands what Israel is up against. True, there are State Dept. officials who are viciously hostile to Israel and who put pressure on Bush, which is troubling. However, my hunch is that Bush's position comes more from a tactical approach ... he feels he needs some concessions from Sharon to demonstrate his ability to broker a settlement. What is ironic and sad about this is that the fence is in actuality a victory for the Palestinians. If a two state solution is really what is desired (and I know that it is not desired by the Palestinian leadership or intelligentsia), then the fence is a de facto creation of that. The concept was created by the Israeli left and only recently embraced by the right. But its implication is clear...there is going to be a Palestinian state. The placement of that fence is only a matter of negotiation; the real concession has already been made. It is tragic that Bush did not embrace that logic and proceed on that basis. But that I disagree with him on this point does not mean that I don't trust him. There is absolutely no one else I would want there right now.

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