WHAT IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO: You don’t often find an entire election summarized in one or two sentences, and you’re even less likely to find it on a Sunday morning political talk show. But here it is, from Meet the Press:
Tim Russert: Do you see Bush being re-elected?
William F. Buckley: I don't think that Bush has done anything disqualifying him. He had a lousy intelligence system, manifestly, but nobody thinks that he acted capriciously. I think if we all had been told exactly what he was told, it's pretty logical that we would have proceeded to do what he did.
Ron Brownstein: Look, I think that the Senate Intelligence Committee report does frame what I believe is the central issue in this campaign. And I differ a little with Bill Buckley because I don't think that all Americans agree that any president would have made this decision based on this information. I think that goes to the crux of the choice that they face.
While the advisory finding by the International Court of Justice last week that Israel's barrier in the West Bank is illegal may be cheered by the terrorists who would kill Israeli civilians, it does not change the fact that none of the arguments against the security fence have any merit.
First, Israel is not building the fence on territory that under international law can be properly called "Palestinian land." The fence is being built in disputed territories that Israel won in a defensive war in 1967 from a Jordanian occupation that was never recognized by the international community. Israel and the Palestinians both claim ownership of this land. According to Security Council Resolution 242, this dispute is to be resolved by a negotiated peace that provides Israel with secure and recognized boundaries.
Second, the fence is not a permanent political border but a temporary security barrier. A fence can always be moved. Recently, Israel removed 12 miles of the fence to ease Palestinian daily life. And last month, Israel's Supreme Court ordered the government to reroute 20 more miles of the fence for that same purpose. In fact, the indefensible line on which many have argued the fence should run — that which existed between Israel and the Arab lands before the 1967 war — is the only line that would have nothing to do with security and everything to do with politics. A line that is genuinely based on security would include as many Jews as possible and as few Palestinians as possible within the fence.
That is precisely what Israel's security fence does. By running into less than 12 percent of the West Bank, the fence will include about 80 percent of Jews and only 1 percent of Palestinians who live within the disputed territories. The fence thus will block attempts by terrorists based in Palestinian cities to reach major Israeli population centers.
Third, despite what some have argued, fences have proven highly effective against terrorism. Of the hundreds of suicide bombings that have taken place in Israel, only one has originated from the Gaza area, where Hamas and Islamic Jihad are headquartered. Why? Because Gaza is surrounded by a security fence. Even though it is not complete, the West Bank security fence has already drastically reduced the number of suicide attacks.
The obstacle to peace is not the fence but Palestinian leaders who, unlike past leaders like Anwar Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan, have yet to abandon terrorism and the illegitimate goal of destroying Israel. Should Israel reach a compromise with a future Palestinian leadership committed to peace that requires adjustments to the fence, those changes will be made. And if that peace proves genuine and lasting, there will be no reason for a fence at all.
Instead of placing Palestinian terrorists and those who send them on trial, the United Nations-sponsored international court placed the Jewish state in the dock, on the charge that Israel is harming the Palestinians' quality of life. But saving lives is more important than preserving the quality of life. Quality of life is always amenable to improvement. Death is permanent. The Palestinians complain that their children are late to school because of the fence. But too many of our children never get to school — they are blown to pieces by terrorists who pass into Israel where there is still no fence.
In the last four years, Palestinian terrorists have attacked Israel's buses, cafes, discos and pizza shops, murdering 1,000 of our citizens. Despite this unprecedented savagery, the court's 60-page opinion mentions terrorism only twice, and only in citations of Israel's own position on the fence. Because the court's decision makes a mockery of Israel's right to defend itself, the government of Israel will ignore it. Israel will never sacrifice Jewish life on the debased altar of "international justice."
Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel's finance minister and a former prime minister.
By Jonathan Power | July 9, 2004
THERE IS A tendency these days -- and I share it -- that urges one on to hit George Bush while he is down. But before he goes, permit me a word in his favor -- or, more accurately, his regime. Briefly put, the world is more at peace than when he came to power. The big powers have never been so relaxed with each other since the late part of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, and the number of small wars -- ethnic disputes, tribal conflicts, and territorial disputes -- has been going down every year.
Through all the vicissitudes of Iraq, the Bush administration has managed to keep relations with Russia at their calmest and most fruitful since before the Russian Revolution. Despite the earlier tensions over abrogating the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Bush appears to have won the trust of President Vladimir Putin that he is not up to a game to overcome Russia's defenses against a surprise nuclear attack. Neither has US oilpolitik in the Caspian region proved as malevolent as was first surmised. Bush has leaned over backward -- too far -- to be understanding about Chechnya.
There are great gaps in Bush's Russian policies -- his casual pace on nuclear disarmament and a lack of funds for making safe Russia's old nukes and plutonium stockpiles, which could do more for nuclear proliferation than anything Bush has tried to do with Iraq, Iran, and North Korea -- but the lack of antagonism in the fundamental US-Russian relationship is remarkable.
With China, after a rocky start, one gets the same sense of cooperative peace. Without turning a hair, the Chinese voted for the recent UN resolution empowering US peacekeeping in Iraq. the Bush administration has prevailed upon Taiwan not to rock the boat, and it seems to accept that China has no great extraterritorial ambitions outside of Taiwan, Tibet, and the mineral riches of the South China Sea, all of which it has decided to manage and live with without overt conflict.
Bush has handled the Turks with adroitness. Surprised at their last-minute refusal to disallow passage of US troops to northern Iraq at the onset of the war, Bush kept his mouth shut and has now become Turkey's main cheerleader for its admittance to the European Union.
With Iran Bush has been right to keep the pressure on the Europeans to be more assertive in persuading it to be honest about its nuclear bomb program. Unlike Bill Clinton, he has taken Russia's commercial interests in Iran's nuclear power program much more into account. And it could well be he will have the success there that he has had in Libya, where Moammar Khadafy has been persuaded to cease bomb research. At last, too, Bush seems ready to compromise with North Korea, which has become a nuclear state.
By contrast, progress in the Middle East on all fronts has been incremental when not counterproductive. Very slowly, Washington has positioned itself as a critic of authoritarian regimes, even though it wants them on the US side. With Israel, Bush has turned back the clock and consequently taken a beating, especially from the Europeans, for being unblinkingly pro Ariel Sharon. But Europe, especially Britain and Germany, seem to forget that they created this problem, and they should look more to themselves and less to the United States to sort it out.
With most of the Indian subcontinent the future has never looked so promising since the British left in 1947. Although there seemed to be no reason go to war in Afghanistan, and the "war on terrorism" would be better left to police work than military action, there is still room for hope -- despite the shortcomings in aid promised to Afghanistan -- that the country now has some chance of escaping from the worst of warlordism and poverty. India and Pakistan look as if both sides are moving toward making peace over Kashmir. India is on the path to becoming a big economic power, even more than China, but it will not be hostile either to the United States or China. The United States, albeit belatedly, has decided unambiguously to be India's friend.
With the UN, despite early animosity, the United States has ended up supporting peacekeeping operations in a sustained way far more than Clinton ever did -- five operations in Africa in just the last year. And it has taken on the chin the recent vote in the Security Council not to acquiesce to the US desire for its troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to be absolved from possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
If Bush loses the election in November, he will be leaving the world -- Iraq and Israel/Palestine apart -- a better place than he found it. Whom to thank? Colin Powell or the left side of Bush's own brain? The historians will have to tell us, since the press has conspicuously failed to keep us informed.
Jonathan Power is a columnist based in London.
Ayres is a 1989 Dickinson High School graduate. He returned to Texas City on Tuesday after spending 74 days in the hospital and undergoing more than 20 surgeries.
“A month ago, I was still bed-ridden and in a wheelchair, but then I moved to a walker, and now I have walking crutches,” said Ayres.
While looking for insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq, Iraqi soldiers against the occupation attacked Ayres’ unit. A blast from a rocket-propelled grenade nearly blew his leg off, while his arms, legs and back were severely burned.
Two things kept Ayres going as he slipped in and out of consciousness.
“I just kept praying and asking God to please let me go back to see my wife and my daughter,” he said.
BAGHDAD Sa'ad Saddam, a 35-year-old clothing merchant in the Iraqi capital's notorious thieves' market, normally has nothing polite to say about his country's rulers.
So he was surprised on Monday to find himself being optimistic about Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's new government - not because Saddam cared about the symbolic passing of sovereignty from the U.S.-led coalition to Iraqi leaders, but because he was thrilled to see Iraqi police officers pistol-whipping suspected carjackers near his clothing stand.
"Allawi is a strong, powerful guy," said Saddam, who added that the police crackdown on two carjacking and kidnapping rings here indicated that Iraq's new leaders were starting to impose order in the streets.
Most Iraqis are withholding judgment on the new government, which officially and unexpectedly took the reins of power on Monday, two days before the scheduled transfer. People here say they want to see results, first and foremost in the field of security.
But, at least so far, many indicated that they like what they see.
Allawi has offered tough talk, dismissing a televised assassination threat by the Qaeda-linked terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as a "cowardly" attempt to intimidate all Iraqis.
Unlike occupation officials and members of the now defunct Iraqi Governing Council, Allawi has stepped outside the security bubble to visit the scenes of deadly suicide bombings and urge Iraqis not to surrender to fear.
And on Sunday, his interior minister led a platoon of police commandos into the thieves' market, where they arrested dozens of suspected criminals, pointedly kicking them around in front of Iraqi reporters so the message would get out.
"The police have to show some force so that people develop a healthy fear and respect for the law," said Captain Abdullah Muhammad, 48, the traffic policeman in charge of Tahrir Square, the central roundabout in Bab al-Sharji, Baghdad's historic eastern gate that borders the thieves' market. "That's how we can terminate the bad elements."
Tahrir Square, a busy traffic circle in central Baghdad whose name means Liberation Square, was the location of a major suicide bombing on June 14 that killed 13 people and spurred an outpouring of anti-American anger.
The Iraqi police seem eager to prove their mettle. Muhammad, the traffic police captain, proudly showed his ticket book, with carbon copies of several $14 fines issued to motorists who had parked illegally.
"If the police see a gang on the street, they should shoot at them," said Muhammad Yassin, 22, who sells video discs. "The Iraqis have to prove they're in charge."
Yassin said the police commandos had swooped into the neighborhood "like a little army," confiscating weapons and drugs and arresting crime suspects.
If Allawi's government continues to take strong-arm steps - as the prime minister has promised, even suggesting he will impose martial law in some areas - the merchants near the thieves' market said they would be patient in waiting for action on other pressing needs, like electricity, job and housing shortages.
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