Empty voyage

American foreign policy issues are debatable, not negotiable Five years ago Bush invented the “Coalition of the Willing” to wage war on Iraq; now he is creating the “Reunion of the Unwilling” to force peace on Palestine. A mockery for war capped this time by a mockery for peace. Will Bush ever learn? Is this American president destined to fail in peace as he failed in war? From here it looks as a sure bet.

Oh that Condi! She has got to be the biggest jokester on political ice skates, even with that dissimulative sourpuss frown on her face. The most articulate liar on the entire Bush team — five points ahead of Cheney, ten of most others and at least ninety ahead of her boss — Ms. Rice tells us that George W. Bush has now decided to enter the diplomatic Texas Holdem poker sweepstakes, and that on his first hand, he’s prepared to go “all in.” She is assuring us that this time around Bush is playing for keepsies, with real peace chips; so that there won’t be any question he’s going all out to achieve reconciliation for Palestine. And he wants every Arab leaguer to commit, fully cooperate in this Annapolis effort, promising that there will be an open-ended agenda.

Open-ended agenda, yeah sure; but meantime Hamas, and any other “unsavory” representation need not show up at Annapolis, for the midshipmen may tag them as “enemy combatants” and Shanghai them on a one-way trip to Guantanamo.

Excuse me for bursting into laughter on such a serious and grave note. But it appears that at the twilight of Bush’s administration his circus diplomacy continues to carry on. Who is going to believe that Bush, or any other American head of state for that matter, would sit at a negotiating table — either as participant or observer — in matters dealing with foreign affairs, particularly if involving Israel… and with an open-ended agenda?

After six years of missteps resulting in splintering to smithereens the nation’s standing in the international community, Bush now insists on capping his presidency with a place in Middle East history books; to be known, perhaps, as the reconciler-in-chief of Arabs and Jews. Dreamers will always be dreamers… and clowns will perform under the Big Tent!

Congress has given Bush plenty of rope to warmonger to his heart’s content, but no one has taken the time to explain to this president that there are foreign policy issues that not even a president can challenge, bypass or even bring up for negotiation only for the purpose of Show and Tell. And the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and how it needs to be resolved, is at the head of the foreign policy list, beautifully scrolled in India ink.

The unwritten, but ever present, preamble to America’s behavior with the rest of the world is clear and to the point: foreign policy issues are always debatable, but never negotiable. It translates in most any language to simply “we dictate… you comply.” So there; if you don’t like it, learn to deal with it!

It’s both unfair and unfortunate, but nonetheless a fact to evidence in this 21st century global political life: American foreign policy is scribed on granite! How can we tell when a nation reaches such a non-negotiable stage in foreign relations? For starts, it helps when that nation has made a quantum leap in annihilatory capability over everyone else’s macabre assets; and, also, when that nation prefers not to engage in diplomatic fact-finding missions enlisting all parties that have issues in dispute… preferring instead that its diplomatic channels be restricted to sending envoys with doctrinal catechisms and a list of “required” steps to diffuse conflict; and, should it be necessary, become bearers of ultimatums. Or, as with Annapolis, invite agreeable parties to a reunion that has as its ultimate goal to choreograph a makeshift political solution, even if it isn’t a solution at all.

But what else is new? Greater and lesser empires have done this very same thing throughout the ages, no? History keeps repeating itself, even as those warnings from George Santayana pop up from every conceivable nook and cranny to remind us of this incredible folly that allows such repetition; as if men, instead of being God’s creatures, were incarnated from the beast’s entrails.

In Judaism, the gates of the teshuva (return) are said to be always open, but it is up to the individual to align his will with that of God. †All requirements for reentry may be discussed, even contested, but none of them are ever to be changed. Requirements are a priori, or by definition if you prefer, simply not negotiable. And in like manner, neither are foreign policy issues in the United States; and our politicians, fully aware of “these requirements,” prefer instead to keep the critical part of these issues — sure to get them into trouble — out of their own political debates.

Give it a rest, Bush. You are not a man of peace, but of war. You have helped drown the reputations of Aznar (Spain), Blair (UK) and, this week, Howard (Australia); no need to add Arab heads of state to the list. Annapolis will turn out to be another failure-notch in Bush’s revolver, but what else would one expect from a clumsy Texas gunslinger who is fast on the draw and even quicker at the trigger? Annapolis will be but a photo-op for Bush, nothing more; a photo-op that later will serve as a sad reminder.

Anchors Aweigh, my sheiks, Anchors Aweigh,

Farewell to petro days, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.

Through our last night on shore, drink to the oil,

Until we meet once more:

Here’s giving you an empty voyage home.

US position on Israel-Palestine is as immutable as it has always been and only Israel and the American-Jewish nation have any chance of changing it. If our Arab brethren want the American public opinion to change à trying to reason their causes, humanity and culture into our hearts and minds à a simple appeal to fairness just won’t work; not even the spending of billions of petrodollars in public relations.

The American hearts and minds Arabs need to reach, and change, are those of a small, special group of Americans: the American-Jewish nation. Just forget about us gentiles! †The American melting pot, or rather the simmering cauldron of diversity stew that is America, has been so spiced through the ages with Jewish folklore and culture, that in a way we have all unwittingly attained a distinct Yiddish flavor, or as a friend expressed it to me long ago, “a coat of Jewishness.” A Jew could easily be the doctor who treats you; your teacher; your representative politician; your favorite musician, actor, artist, or even your best friend. Jews may be fewer than 3 percent of the US population, but their influence in our lives in most respects may run well beyond 30 or 40 percent, if such a thing could be objectively quantified. They’ve reached the pinnacle of success in most fields by their bootstraps, overcoming many obstacles, and that is a fact that Arabs must cope with and understand, if not accept.

American-Jews run the gamut of the political spectrum, and most are fair and open-minded; more so than other people, perhaps for good and obvious historical reasons. It has always come as a surprise to me that Arabs, foreign and not just Arab-Americans, have not engaged their peace efforts directly with the American Jewish community in a far, far greater way, lobbying for everyone’s peace: Israel’s, Palestine’s, and the entire Near East region à that by all merits and reasons should be a model paradise of Semite convivence and economic success.

It’s not Annapolis or the good offices of the US State Department that hold the key to reconciliation and peace in the Holy Land; it’s American Jewry that has the final word, for they authored, de facto, American foreign policy in the region. Only they can change the policy, moderate Israel’s stance and help create an enduring peace. The alternative can only come from the beast in all of us.

© 2007 Ben Tanosborn

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