Thursday 22 May 2008


George Bush was presumably unaware that he was likening his Israeli hosts to the appeasers of the Nazis when he spoke in the Knesset last week.

While President Bush's address in the Israeli Knesset last week may not compare to his "Mission Accomplished" speech for bad judgment and timing, it may be just as revealing of the "Second Life" world that the President inhabits. It was idiotic to invoke Nazism on that occasion - and now, his Israeli hosts have made him look even more absurd.

Marking Israel's 60th anniversary, he said, “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Mr. Bush said. “We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

Bush may have intended to deride the foreign policy plans of Barack Obama, who has repeatedly stated that he would talk to America's enemies - including Syria and Iran. One can assume he was not aware that his Israeli ally whose sixtieth anniversary he was honoring, was busily preparing behind his back to defy his prescriptions and commence peace negotiations Syria.

Bush shows no sign of wavering from his "with us or against us" strategy despite the carnage it has wrought and its abject failure from a strategic and anti terror perspective.

One hopes that Israel might, in its own best long term interest, be serious in its claims that it is contemplating "painful" concessions to both the Syrians and the Palestinians in the name of peace. There are no easy choices for Israel - only certainty that the brutal orthodoxy of the past decade is bankrupt.

As the Bush era draws to a close, the policy symbiosis between his administration and Israeli hardliners looks likely to fade. The long term interests of Israelis and the Palestinians - not to mention the "war on terror" urgently require a new willingness to negotiate and a more sophisticated historical paradigm than the appeasement of the Nazis.

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