Thursday, 15 April 2004
Less than a month after implicitly condoning Israel's assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, U.S. President George W. Bush has stated that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has the right to ignore United Nations Security Council resolutions concerning returning all the territory occupied during the Six Day War (UNSCR 242 and 338)--in return for recognition of Israel's right to exist and cessation of hostilities--and dismantling all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories (UNSCR 446, 455, 465, and 471). Sharon stated his intent to keep several large Israeli settlements in the West Bank, effectively annexing the territory into Israel. Bush also agreed with Sharon that Palestinian refugees should be denied the right to return to the land where they and their ancestors once lived, if they so desire. Sharon's plan is not only a violation of U.N. resolutions, it is a violation of Bush's own "Road Map for Peace," which calls for borders between Israeli and Palestinian states and refugee issues to be negotiated, not determined unilaterally.
Sharon's plan, which was immediately rejected by the Palestinians and the rest of the world community, guarantees continued violence in Israel and Palestine. Israeli officials were reportedly prepared to offer to dismantle more settlements in return for Bush's imprimatur, but Bush willingly accepted the plan that is the worst-case scenario for the Palestinians (Suzanne Goldenberg, "Bush Rips Up the Road Map," The Guardian 15 April 2004). The U.S. government has always tended to favor Israel over the Palestinians in their various conflicts, frequently vetoing Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel and blocking investigations into reported Israeli war crimes, but it has always maintained a pretense of evenhandedness--until now. (Some presidents, such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have come closer than others to dealing with both Israelis and Palestinians fairly.) Bush's blatant favoritism of Israel, coming at a time when U.S. forces are fighting and dying in predominantly Muslim Iraq, will undoubtedly be looked on by the Muslim world as yet more proof of the U.S.'s hatred for Arabs and Muslims. Why do they hate us? It's not because of our freedoms, as the president and his minions like to assert, but because of policies like this.
In his press conference Tuesday night, Bush stated, "I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom." Although I don't think that stressing his theological motivation behind attacking Iraq is wise, given many Muslims' belief that Bush is the leader of a 21st century Crusade, I agree that freedom is God's gift to the world. I also agree that the U.S. has an obligation to help spread freedom. However, I don't believe that Bush's actions since taking office have helped spread freedom. On the contrary, many of his policies have served to undermine the freedom of people around the world.
The evidence indicates that President Bush, for all his rhetoric, is no friend of either peace or freedom. What he doesn't seem to understand is that the two are intimately connected. People in a free society--that is, one whose government is freely elected by the people--are more apt to be at peace internally and make peace with their neighbors than societies whose leaders are thrust upon them by outside forces like the U.S. Talk is cheap. The president's actions have brought more chaos and instability to the world. By his actions regarding Israel, Iraq, and other countries, Bush has renounced peace.
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