Khadafi is responsible for the air massacre of American schoolkids over Lockerbie. Yet, Bush let Khadafi out of the sanctions box for giving up his nuclear program and making restitution to the families of the murder victims on Pan Am 103. After early careers in which each was accused of terrorism, Tito, Begin, Shamir and Mandela were honored guests at the White House.
Which brings me to the point. America is a world power with a broader interest in the Middle East than Israel's, and if we are to protect those interests and play the role history has assigned us, we cannot allow any nation to exercise veto power over whom we talk to. While most Americans wish to maintain our commitment to the security and survival of Israel, we must declare our political and diplomatic independence of Israel, as Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan all did.
Ike ordered Ben-Gurion out of Sinai. Nixon saved Israel in the Yom Kippur war with the 1973 airlift, then told Golda Meir Israel must let Egypt resupply its Third Army on the east bank. Reagan backed the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, then ordered Israel to stand down, and sold F-16s to Saudi Arabia.
It is preposterous that, at the behest of Israel, we do not talk to a Palestinian Authority led by Hamas, after an election in which Bush himself demanded Hamas be included. And while Syria and Iran have been distant and hostile, neither appears to want war with the United States, and neither has attacked us in at least 10 years.
If we can talk to Khadafi, who has the blood of Americans on his hands, why cannot we talk to Bashar al-Assad and Ahmadinejad? Neither of them has slaughtered hundreds of Americans in a terror attack.
Before he launched his democracy project, Bush was warned that free elections would advance the fortunes of Islamic militants. At his insistence, the elections were held. Results:
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won 60 percent of the seats it contested. Hezbollah swept south Lebanon. Hamas recorded a stunning victory on the West Bank and Gaza. These were the freest and fairest elections ever held in those nations. But Bush refused to engage the winners.
The painful truth is that, in the Middle East, democracy will produce, as it does in the West, two dominant parties. One will be a state party, and the other is going to be a party rooted in the Islamic faith.
Time to recognize reality -- and stop isolating America.
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