As someone who wrote a book, “Struggle for the Holy Land,” on the Middle East encompassing the long histories of Arabs and Jews, I recognized from the outset the imperative need for international leadership to be exercised through constructive diplomacy.
When I recently sent the manuscript to a British publisher with the reputation of not only tackling tough and controversial international issues, but prided itself on being progressive, the editor sent me an e-mail declaring that it took him just 32 pages to decide that I had concluded that Arabs and Jews were equally at fault for the conflict while he believed that the root problem lay at the doorstep of the Israelis.
I promptly e-mailed him and took him over the route of my first 32 pages. I pointed out that I had not found “fault” with either group and that this was not the objective. My effort, which was to address the long history of each people extending back some 3,500 years, focusing on common points along with differences. The objective was to develop understanding and to point the way toward a diplomatic conflict resolution.
My response to the editor’s criticism, which pointed out areas that he had mentioned, and from which he had drawn an erroneous conclusion about my work, was greeted by silence. This was not surprising. Too many believe that all writers approaching the Middle East should ultimately praise one group and denounce the other.
With the current Gaza conflict and tragic ongoing loss of life; with the Bush team offering nothing in the way of constructive diplomatic effort, it is important to remember what happened during the period following 9/11 when neoconservatives sought to use those tragedies as a linchpin in attacking Iraq.
The "Project for the New American Century" and influential neoconservative forces such as William Kristol and Richard Perle had called for an attack of Iraq prior to Bush even taking office. The selection of Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense placed another stalwart advocate of invasion in a key position.
In the crucial hours leading up to the invasion, a United Nations inspection team led by Hans Blix of Sweden was on the scene in Iraq. The team had not found the “weapons of mass destruction” that George Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice asserted would generate a “giant mushroom cloud” in the way of a nuclear attack on America.
When Blix and other responsible European leaders requested more time to complete the UN report the response from the Bush-Cheney neocon administration was to move quickly, insulting the Europeans and opting for war, cutting short the ongoing diplomatic effort.
We know the ultimate result. Those weapons of mass destruction that would be unleashed against America never existed. It was necessary therefore to rush to war.
Since we know that Iran was also on the neocon radar screen, with plenty of talk about attacking and occupying other Middle Eastern countries en route to being “democratized” without their consent in the Bush-Cheney tradition, a question needs to be asked.
How grievous would the world scene be now had this neocon disaster team not been so wrong in the bold “mission accomplished” declaration in Iraq? Where would they have moved and how fast?
Given the circumstances, is it any wonder that Arabs from other countries entered Iraq to fight against what they were convinced was a plan to occupy not only that country but the entire Middle East?
The 15-member United Nations Security Council met Saturday night in an emergency meeting, hoping to achieve a cease fire and move from there to constructive diplomacy, the kind that can save lives on both sides. The vote was 14-1. The United States would not even allow a statement to be issued about the matter. In the past, U.S. presidents such as Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton have involved themselves in such a process in various ways under variant circumstances.
However, the Bush-Cheney team was never interested in diplomacy, as is painfully evident now as it was in the days following 9/11 when the plan to attack and occupy Iraq was quickly intensified.
Diplomacy is a word that is as distasteful as it is alien to Bush, Cheney and the neoconservative cause they serve. Occupation, on the other hand, has a delicious ring to their ears.