The original vulgarity was bylined: …The Constipation of America’s Mid-East Peace Policy!
It is with some trepidation that I embark upon this discourse; for one, out of respect for elephants, but more so because within the American framework of democracy I have so greatly benefited. Thus, to liken the extension of America’s efforts to democratize the civil administrations of Moslem states–even with the caveat “considering cultural sensitivities”–to the intestinal hardships of our beloved pacaderm is in itself cause for internal consternation, reflection, and a longing for interior relief.
“STUNT OMNES UNUM”
The current administration’s mascot bears some responsibility for the chosen political metaphor; however, it must be duly noted, that this article could just as well be entitled: Asinus asinorum in saecula saeculorum! (Latin for: “The Jackass of Jackasses in the Centuries of Centuries”, or “The Greatest Jackass in Eternity”–this, and other Latin expressions in honor of Pax Americana will be duly sprinkled throughout this missive)–giving equal honors to both dominate American political parties for their extended efforts at peace in the Middle East, for: Stunt omnes unum . . . they are all one!
Indeed, by giving credit to where credit is due, we must keep in mind that the commonality of purpose to secure America’s interests in the Middle East and, ipso facto, the West’s energy spicket, via proping up its Islamic dictatorships, or hastening the democratization of the region, is the continuous policy of both Democratic and Republican State Departments–make no mistake about it.
The Democrats differ only in the design of a better mouse trap and have no right to cast their stones of dispersion from their glass palace at the failed policies of the GOP–policies now garbed in democratic hyperbole.
WELCOME TO THE THEOLOGICAL CALDRUM
Peace in the Middle East! Better yet: What is the current administration’s Mid-East Peace Policy? Road Map to Peace? Peace Process? It is prudent, though policy makers would dearly extract this fixation from the debate, the theological implications–Moslem, Jewish, and Christian–from this canundrum of canundrums, and why, specifically, “Jerusalem (has become) a cup of trembling (i.e., “reeling” or “drunkeness”) to all the surrounding peoples . . . a very heavy stone for all peoples . . . though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3)?
The Biblical metaphor of “reeling” and “drunkeness” is actually the physical reaction of a person who trembles after imbibing a poisonous potion. You drink of this venom, you immediately go into radical convulsions, with one destination in view: death!
Initially, so it appeared, our President’s so-called lack of a coherent Mid-East peace plan at the commencement of his administration both mystified and concerned–sooner or later he too would be compelled to deal with this Middle East “tar” baby. Could you blame him–grasping this “cup of trembling” portends incessant disappointment and, worse yet, staggering political liability with purient involvement leading to–as we now bemoane–intractable conflict.
Yet, the greatest “Consuming Nation” ever to countenance the planet–fueled by the mecurial petroleum molecule–would inevitably be sucked into this black hole whose exit strategies escape all nations.
EXTOLING OUR VIRTUES–PLAIN VANILLA
Nothing like pontificating–i.e., extolling our efforts at peace in the region. This was masterfully accomplished by the Council on Foreign Relations’ Aaron D. Miller at the CFR’s “Transition 2005: Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East Peace Process” forum in February. Dr. Miller–a former U.S. State Department official, having served six previous Secretaries of State by helping to formulate U.S. policy on the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli “peace process”–confirmed my original thesis regarding the bi-partisan nature of our endeavors at formulating peace in the Middle East; to wit:
“The three Americans that have made the most compelling contribution in the history of American diplomacy, and there are only three–two Republican secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, and one Democratic president, so it transcends party lines, Jimmy Carter–all combined those qualities, with an acute sense of knowing when to intercede. That is how to do effective American diplomacy. And if in fact we were to succeed again, that is an approach that we have to come back to. (Note: Apparently, Miller dismisses President Clinton’s endeavors.)
In any event, bi-partisan consensus was summed up by political think tank Seeds of Peace president Miller as follows:
(1)President Bush must make the Middle East Peace Process a 24/7 top priority–working with a diverse team of “competent” advisors.
(2)Policy must not neglect what’s happening on the “ground” (i.e., realities on the ground integrate with immediate policy).
(3)The U.S. must remain in control of its own policy (i.e., don’t let either side, Israeli or Palestinian/Arab, dictate).
(4)Beware of interim deals, but also beware of high-risk efforts to solve this problem quickly.
(5)Combine empathy and trust, with toughness, to both Israelis and Arabs.
Furthermore, avoidance of the black hole is useless–Miller concludes:
“If we want to supplement our war against terror, further the cause of democratization, there is no other issue that would do more to enhance our credibility than the pursuit of this one” (i.e., full engagement in the so-called “Middle East Peace Process” involving Arabs and Israelis).
Safe, reasonable, intelligent, thoughtful–yep, just plain vanilla. But the status quo of Dr. Miller’s world was about to be shaken with the departure of one Collin Powell, and the subsequent installation of National Security Advisor, now Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!”
“In this time of great decision, I have come to Cairo not to talk about the past, but to look to the future — a future that Egyptians can lead and define.
“Ladies and Gentlemen: In our world today, a growing number of men and women are securing their liberty . . .
“After all, America was founded by individuals who knew that all human beings — and the governments they create — are inherently imperfect. And the United States was born half free and half slave. And it was only in my lifetime that my government guaranteed the right to vote for all of its people.
“Nevertheless, the principles enshrined in our Constitution enable citizens of conviction to move America closer every day to the ideal of democracy. Here in the Middle East, that same long hopeful process of democratic change is now beginning to unfold. Millions of people are demanding freedom for themselves and democracy for their countries” (Excerpts from Sec. of State Rice’s speech at the American University in Cairo, Egypt on June 20, 2005).
Naturally, Dr. Rice’s (later references) to democratic aspirations for the region–addressing her audience as “ladies and gentlemen” to highlight Islamic suppression of women in general–blew the Kaffiyeh off her Arab audience.
Notwithstanding all the cultural sensitivities to the contrary . . . it is nigh impossible and absurdly ridiculous to fathom how Judeo-Christian Americana ideals and cultural backgrounds relate to Middle Eastern realities on the ground (as we speak). Never mind–the President must opine:
“America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom, make their own way” (Rice, in her same speech, quoting from President Bush’s second inaugural address, while prefacing his words with: “We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.”).
Thus, in one-fell swoop, we witness cultural wiggle room at its height as Arab states commence their march toward freedom and Islamic-style democracy!
EGYPT MUST LEAD, AS SHE LED OF OLD
“The people of Egypt should be at the forefront of this great journey, just as you have led this region through the great journeys of the past” (Again, excerpt from the Rice speech.).
At this point, one must ponder: What Egyptian journey of the past do we contemplate? How about the slave-driven, pyramid-building, totalitarian civilizations of the Pharaohs?
Of course we Americans intuitively know what the President and Dr. Rice mean (at least we once did) . . . but driving this democratic square peg into the black, moon-shaped hole of Islamic civilization may ultimately necessitate Alexander the Great’s resolution of untying the Gordian Knot he encountered at the ancient city of Gordium (100 miles west of Ankara, Turkey).
An oracle of Zeus alleged that if anyone could untie this knot, that person would be the conqueror of all Asia. Of course everyone knows, Alexander (champion of the Ancient West) cheated on the oracle by cutting the knot with his sword instead of untying it–notwithstanding, the avaricious behavior of the god Zeus still gave Alexander Asia!
Even so, the conclusion of the matter (i.e., incorporating nigh 1,500 years of Islamic civilization into Western thinking and democratic idealism first proclaimed by the Greeks) may ultimately necessitate a rather crude Greco-Roman application; simply put: CUT TO THE CHASE!
And, why might this be the case? Consider the utter futility of the West approaching the “Islamic Knot” of Asia–let’s just consider the “lead” of Egypt toward democratic liberalization:
Nina Shea’s piece on Egyptian democratic ideals tells it bluntly–the Muslim Brotherhood would be swept to power if open elections were held in Egypt:
“Mubarak’s policies have created a situation in which pro-Western democrats like Ramy Lakah are silenced or driven abroad, leaving the Muslim Brotherhood as the only organized opposition within Egypt. If an open election were held this year, few doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood would win. An Islamist group, the Brotherhood has won hearts and minds through charitable work and exploited religion to thrive despite ruthless repression against it. It purportedly renounced violence in the 1970s, but its motto continues to be: ‘Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.'”
And, what of Islamic Brotherhood?
“A social and political movement which started in Egypt in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna for the purpose of establishing a pan-Islamic state, transcending all current political and geographic divisions. Like those before him, al-Banna also regarded the West as posing a fundamental threat to the future of Islam. He felt that even worse than military campaigns were the attempts to import Western culture and political ideals. The root of Muslim problems was that the Shari’a (Islamic law) had not been implemented – once this was accomplished, everything would be better.” (Taken from: Islamic Extremism)
This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that assassinated Anwar Sadat–in spite of Sadat’s attempts to assure them of his Islamic fidelity. Is it any wonder that the Brotherhood continues to call for “a more open and democratic political system in Egypt.”
“Today, we can say that nuclear technology is our right!”
How comforting too, to know that a “Greater Persia”–which encompasses Southern Iraq’s Shiite majority–also awaits the full development of the democratic Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Some, like Michael Rubin in Forward Magazine, conjecture that the Bush Administration has no coherent policy on Iran regarding the spread of “democracy.” Dear Michael–let me disabuse you of such folly! The West, led by the Bush Administration, knows precisely how to “democratize” and, ipso facto, diffuse the Islamic Bomb! If, on the other hand, you consider this contrary to “democratic ideals” – live with it.
There is this Western fascination, perpetrated by certain strata of its intelligentsia and fomented by both the progressive and entrenched liberal media, that the vast majority of clear-thinking Moslem leadership, when push comes to shove, is tolerant and merciful; yes, caring souls who long to live in peace with all mankind, especially with folks in the West.
Frankly, let’s quit pussy-footing around with discovering a Salman Rushdie here, a Dr. Khalid Duran there, or even a Tashbih Sayyed, President of the Council for Democracy and Tolerance–these rare exceptions dwell in the ethereal world of the West’s civilization. What’s happening on Dr. Miller’s ground bespeaks the antithesis of the so-called moderate Moslem.
One gets this image of President Bush standing amidst a sea of moderate Moslem clerics gathered–all the while this minuscule segment of Islam is utterly overshadowed by the vast majority of mainstream believers in Allah to whom “moderate Moslem” is regarded in the Qur’an as an Infidel and should be treated as any Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.