You could not have a better example of moral equivalence than a column written by Steve Clemons in The Atlantic Magazine’s online version. Clemons reviews the always interesting history of President Harry Truman’s bold decision in 1948 to defy the State Department—and especially his hand-picked Sec. of State, Gen. George C. Marshall. Truman had said that Gen. Marshall was the greatest living American. He said that, perhaps to the irritation of his running mate, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, when the largely unknown Missouri senator was thrust onto the ticket in 1944. FDR may have had his own ideas as to who was the greatest living American.
Soon, however, FDR was dead and Harry’s presidential desk bore its famous sign: The Buck Stops Here. Steve Clemons ably rehearses all this history. He shows that the austere Gen. Marshall was so vehemently opposed to President Truman’s plan to recognize the infant State of Israel that he threatened to vote against his commander-in-chief in the upcoming 1948 election. Had Marshall resigned as Sec. of State at that critical moment, Truman’s already bleak re-election prospects might have been doomed. Nonetheless, Harry Truman decided to take that risk: He recognized Israel within minutes of the Jewish State’s Declaration of Independence.
Steve Clemons notes that Gov. Mitt Romney spoke at George C. Marshall’s alma mater this week, the Virginia Military Institute. The governor’s foreign policy address was generally well received. He offered a strong alternative to what he sees as President Obama’s policy of drift in the Mideast . Surely, with American embassies being attacked and occupied all over the region, with our Ambassador to Libya and three American colleagues brutally murdered, with anti-American riots erupting on the Arab street, the time has come for a serious course correction.
Clemons thinks a President Romney should do what President Truman did, and recognize a Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza . For starters, this is not at all what Harry Truman did. Second, we have to ask why recognizing another terrorist regime in the already terror-plagued region would serve Israel ’s security, American interests, or the cause of peace? Third, why would betraying our only ally in the region be comparable to Truman’s bold move?
Gov. Romney offered the same bromides about a Palestinian State that have been put forward by our State Department for twenty three years. The argument goes that once we see a democratic “Palestinian Authority” established that recognizes the State of Israel and accepts Israel’s right to exist, then the U.S. will facilitate the creation of another UN member state on the West Bank of the Jordan River and in Gaza .
The problems with this formulation should be obvious. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was for decades marked as a terrorist group by our same State Department. The effort to re-brand this outfit as a “peace partner” has cost U.S. taxpayers billions. Instead of moving toward democracy and acceptance of Israel , the PLO has moved further away. Now, the PLO is openly aligning itself with the terrorist Hamas group that won control of Gaza in what was claimed to be a free election. How free any election can be among factions that bring their guns into the streets and polling places is an open question. Hamas in Gaza is the local branch of the expansive Muslim Brotherhood. .
Putting conditions on Palestinian Statehood—achieving democracy, giving up terrorism, accepting Israel’s right to exist—will only put a poultice on a festering sore. The PLO cannot be reformed. Neither can Hamas. A Palestinian State would most likely be only another step in the elimination of the Jewish State. It would only serve to formalize Israel ’s encirclement and diplomatic isolation. And another Terroristan in the Mideast is not in Israel ’s interest or in America ’s. To recognize such a terror regime would only strengthen the hand of Al Qaeda. American aid for all such regimes should be suspended.