April 16, 2002 -- Every job has its downside: Multimillionaire CEOs spend a bazillion hours at the office, famous actresses are mobbed by obsessive fans everywhere they go, even international beer writer Michael Jackson (no, not the pop star), who travels around the world and drinks beer for a living, has to—OK, maybe not all jobs have a downside—but being U.S. Secretary of State certainly does.
Colin Powell is on the Secretary’s obligatory semi-annual “Futile Mid-East Peace Junket.” I think it’s actually in the Constitution somewhere: “The President shall have the power to make treaties…and send the Secretary of State on a Futile Middle-Eastern Peace Junket.” Powell can’t be having any fun at all.
Powell has about as much chance of stopping the conflict as Albright or Kissinger did—which is to say, not much. Conflict has been raging in the land of Canaan since before Jehovah made that infamous bargain with Abraham, and Colin Powell won’t stop it.
One of the reasons peace has been so elusive is that every time anybody takes a try at the peace process, they treat it like they’re setting up a dinner party. Clinton’s Camp David meetings were a great example, “OK, so…Is next Wednesday good for you? Oh, you can’t make it then. Well Arafat is busy until next Tuesday….Uh huh. OK then, tell the Israelis to bring as many concessions as they possibly can. What’s Arafat bringing? Well, he said he’d try to stop murdering children, but he wasn’t able to promise anything. Yeah, he’ll be too busy at a box social for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to make anything, although he did say that he knew a good take-out place if we wanted any Szechwan.” And so on.
Powell’s current trip, like past efforts, is pointless because you can’t broker peace with terrorists and murderers. Chamberlain tried it 70 years ago, and Hitler went on to kill millions. And make no mistake about it, after Arafat’s rejection of Barak’s concessions at Camp David, there can be no doubt that Arafat’s goal is no less than the elimination of the nation of Israel.
It’s impossible to effect peace by treating assassins and their cohorts as legitimate statesmen. When the World Trade Center was bombed, the U.S. didn’t stop to have a “sit-down” with Osama bin Laden and try to work on anger management issues. The U.S. set out to destroy him and his organization. Israel should, with the full diplomatic support of the United States, do the same thing. Their policy, and ours, should be simple: Never again.
No more bombs. No more terrorism. No more half-hearted, day-late condemnations. No more seventeen-year-old girls with explosives strapped to their chests. No more. Not even one.
The onus lies with the Palestinians, not the Israelis. If peace is going to happen, if Israel is going to withdraw, the bombings have to stop. Hopefully, Colin Powell’s meeting with Yasser Arafat was just as simple, but I doubt it. The religious mess is complicated, but peace isn’t. All peace involves is not killing people. And until U.S. policy recognizes that, our efforts will be as futile as they always have been.
Our position should be easy: One year without an attack, and then we’ll talk. One year of peace, and then we’ll talk about a Palestinian state. If Arafat can’t make that promise—either because he won’t or because he can’t—then we shouldn’t be dealing with him. If nothing will stop the Palestinians from launching suicide attacks, or if the Palestinians can’t stop their own people from making such attacks, then peace is truly impossible—and maybe the Palestinians don’t deserve a nation of their own.
One year without a sponsored terrorist attack. That’s the deal. Until then, the Israeli tanks stay in Palestine, because tanks and guns are the only way to deal with murderers and terrorists, and right now, tanks are the only way to broker peace in the land of Canaan.