Thursday, October 05, 2006
Blogging Woodward (6)
Somebody should give Profs. Mearsheimer and Walt a copy of State of Denial as a Hannukah present. You think the Israel lobby runs US foreign policy? Listen to this, from p. 75:
Over the summer of 2001, Israeli-Palestinian ceasefires had been declared, then broken. In August, the Saudi Crown Prince watched on television as an Israeli soldier pushed and then stepped on an elderly Palestinian woman. According to the Saudi version of the story, he called Bandar to carry a message to the White House. Bandar went to see Bush on August 27.
"Mr. President," Bandar began, "this is the most difficult message I have had to convey to you that I have ever conveyed between the two governments since I started working here in Washington in 1982." ... Then came the action line: "Therefore the Crown Prince will not communicate in any form, type or shape with you, and Saudi Arabia will take all its political, economic, and security decisions based on how it sees its own interests in the region without taking into account American interests anymore ...."
Powell cornered Bandar later. "What the fuck are you doing?" he demanded. "You're putting the fear of God in everybody here. You scared the shit out of everybody." ...
[T]he Saudi threat worked. Two days later, August 29, Bush sent the Crown Prince a two-page letter: "Let me make one thing clear up front: nothing should ever break the relationship between us. There has been no change in the strategic equation.
"I firmly believe the Palestinian people have a right to self-determination and to live peacefully in their own state, their own homeland, just as the Israelis have the right to live peacefully and safely in their own state." It was a much bigger step than President Clinton had ever taken.
So let's recapitulate: The ruler of an American client state, whose throne was saved by American fighting power from a foreign danger barely a decade before, who relies wholly on American military power to preserve himself even now, sees something on television he does not like. He writes a letter to the president of the United States threatening to sever all political relations. And the response is, whammo, a complete surrender to his point of view in just 48 hours. Who needs a lobby?
This episode by the way confirms an observation I have struggled to convey to anybody who would listen over hte past 5 years. George Bush did not begin as a friend of Israel. It was 9/11 that changed him, and 9/11 changed him because it changed America. 9/11 exposed the double-dealing of the Saudis. 9/11 alerted Americans to the global dangers posed by terrorism of the kind also espoused and practised by Palestinian leaders. 9/11 intensified American fellow-feeling with Israeli victims of terror. 9/11 raised the question of whether it made sense to create a state under the rulership of a corrupt terrorist like Yasser Arafat. And 9/11 opened Americans' eyes to the aggressive and implacable character of extremist Islam.
Al Qaeda's declaration of war on America made it impossible for any US president to give assistance to the al Qaeda wannabes in the West Bank and Gaza. You'd think even a professor of international relations could figure that out.
10/05 02:32 PM