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 Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Can Israel Escape the Iraqi War Connection?

  Read here article in Haaretz and here

1. Some officials in Israel were very troubled last week by recent remarks connecting Israel's security and the consequences of the war in Iraq - and rightly so. President Bush said last Monday,

"If you're a supporter of Israel, I would strongly urge you to help other countries become democracies. Israel's long-term survival depends upon the spread of democracy in the Middle East".
One Israeli - concerned by these remarks - reminded me Tuesday morning of a conversation between the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and former U.S. president Richard Nixon.

What kind of help do you need? Nixon asked Rabin, and the ambassador answered: We will never ask for American soldiers to die for us.

"We need to make sure," the official said, "that this perception of the relationships doesn't change."

Senator John Warner (R-Virginia), recently told an interviewer that an early American pullout from Iraq could "put Israel in a very tenuous and vulnerable position."

One of the Israelis I spoke to was very blatant addressing this issue; he said:
"This might be so, but if they do want to leave prematurely, we need to make sure that everybody here keeps his big mouth shut.

Not one word of criticism from Israel."
2. In his speech yesterday evening, fortunately, President Bush didn't mention Israel - but hinted that pulling out might cause trouble for Iraq's Middle East neighbors.

"Terrorist operatives conduct their campaign of murder with a set of declared and specific goals - to demoralize free nations... to drive us out of the Middle East... to spread an empire of fear across that region... and to wage a perpetual war against America and our friends...

We would cause tyrants in the Middle East to laugh at our failed resolve, and tighten their repressive grip."

3. And those who see America's involvement in the Iraqi election as all "good" for Israel should consider this statement by PA head of negotiations, Saeb Erekat, regarding Hamas participation in the Palestinian election:
"We did NOT hear any American officials demanding the exclusion of anyone who carries weapons from participating in the Iraqi elections... just as elections in Iraq are a democratic choice, so should they be in Palestine."

4. In yesterday's Washington Post, Henry Kissinger had an Op-Ed piece on "How to exit Iraq".

Now, consider this paragraph from the text and instead of applying it to the situation in Iraq try to think about it as an article about the Gaza disengagement. Whatever your politics might be, it makes an interesting intellectual exercise:

"Though often put into technical terms, the issue is not the mechanics of withdrawal.

Rather, the debate should be over consequences: whether, in the end, withdrawal will be perceived as a forced retreat or as an aspect of a prudent and carefully planned strategy designed to enhance international security.

.. .one must be clear about the consequences of failure.

If, when we go, we leave nothing behind but a failed state and chaos, the consequences will be disastrous for the region and for America's position in the world."

Or is it Israel's position?

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