The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Actions and Words

Most objective observers would agree that Hillary Clinton is the most pragmatic and “centrist” of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination. It’s interesting, therefore, in the month before Condi Rice’s attempt to jump start the mid-East peace process, to see what Clinton’s stated view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really is and whether it differs in any significant degree from Condi's. But before we get there—a comment.

When dealing in Middle Eastern politics, words are meaningless, but actions do matter. For example, that great Palestinian “moderate,” Mahmoud Abbas said just yesterday that “everyone wants peace” in the region. But what actions has Abbas initiated to achieve that goal? Has he reigned in terrorist groups within his own Fatah faction? Hardly. Has he confronted Hamas in any meaningful way? Negative. Has he moderated his Arabic speeches to lay the ground work for Palestinian concessions that will be vital to peace? Nope. Has he hinted in Western media that his people are even willing to make any concessions? Uh uh. Actions are what matter.

On the Israeli side, actions have occurred repeatedly, but they never seem to be quite enough. Have the Israelis unilaterally given back land to the Palestinans? As an example, Gaza comes to mind, and look how that turned out.

Some of Israel’s actions trouble the Left-leaning international media. For example. the Israelis built a physical boundary to keep terrorists out of their country and stop the Palestinians from murdering innocent civilians. That’s an action that shows they care about their own people and for the most part, the wall or fence works. In an odd way, the boundary actually protects the Palestinians from themselves by dampening their ability to conduct terrorist attacks that can only hamper any attempt at peace.

An equivalent Palestinian action would be an attempt to stop Hamas from lauching thousand of rocks that indiscriminately target Israeli civilian. Such an action would show that the Palestinians care (1) about their people and want to avoid Israeli reprisals and (2) about establishing a basis for peace. Like every other action that might lead to peace, the Palestinians has chosen to go in another direction. Lots of wortds, but no actions other than those that result in death.

Now back to Hillary. In a major foreign policy statement
in Foreign Affairs Clinton states [my comments in brackets]:
Getting out of Iraq will enable us to play a constructive role in a renewed Middle East peace process that would mean security and normal relations for Israel and the Palestinians. The fundamental elements of a final agreement have been clear since 2000: a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank [Israeli action] in return for a declaration that the conflict is over [Palestinian words], recognition of Israel's right to exist [Palestinian words], guarantees of Israeli security[Palestinian words], diplomatic recognition of Israel[Palestinian words], and normalization of its relations with Arab states [Palestinian words]. U.S. diplomacy is critical in helping to resolve this conflict. In addition to facilitating negotiations, we must engage in regional diplomacy to gain Arab support for a Palestinian leadership that is committed to peace and willing to engage in a dialogue with the Israelis. Whether or not the United States makes progress in helping to broker a final agreement, consistent U.S. involvement can lower the level of violence and restore our credibility in the region.

Of course, this is a single paragraph in a much longer statement, but it seems to continue the meme that demands only words on the part of one party and actions—some that threaten its very existence—on the part of another. It’s troublesome, and more significantly, it will not work.

Interestingly, Hillary's position differs little from Condi's—and that's the problem. It appears that when it comes to mid-East peace, no one's got a clue.