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Jewish World Review April 8, 2002 / 27 Nisan, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter | Isn't it amazing how easily policymakers can be deflected from the main mission? Back when we were trying to bring down the Soviet Empire, our diplomats and analysts were forever finding treaties to negotiate, agreements to be reached, embassies, and consulates to open, confidence-building measures to be launched, and peacekeeping units to be dispatched. As if these had anything to do with the price of eggs, if you see what I mean. And yet these epiphenomena ate up enormous chunks of time, when time was at a premium.

So it is with the Middle East. A few years ago when Oslo was in vogue I won quite a number of bets from people who believed that peace was at hand. I took the position that you couldn't have peace without a convincing defeat of one side or the other, and that in any case you couldn't even address the Israel-Palestine issue unless the terror states - Iran, Iraq and Syria - were on board. And they weren't on board.

So there wasn't going to be any peace treaty.

I rather suspect that it's going to be harder to find peace believers today, but it is maddening to see that no end of deep thinkers still talk about the Israel-Palestinian thing as if it were a thing in itself, something that can be "solved" out of the broader context of the terror war. In the interest of clarity, here's a brief review of the bidding:

1. Arafat doesn't matter. And you can parse that till you're blue in the face: It doesn't matter if Arafat lives or dies, doesn't matter if he stays or goes, doesn't matter if he has electricity or not, doesn't matter if his cell phone works or not, doesn't matter if his toilet flushes or not. The issue is not Arafat. The issue is the terror war.

2. It's not about a Palestinian State. It's about a terror war, whose goal is to destroy Israel and end American influence in the Middle East.

3. We are in this war, so the only alternatives are winning or losing. We can't opt out, we can't transcend it, and we shouldn't be evenhanded. The United States is a target of the terrorists, not a disinterested observer. We want to win. (You'd think this was obvious enough after September 11, but it isn't.) And did nobody take seriously the Hamas declaration that Americans are now legitimate targets everywhere in the Middle East?

4. Peace comes at the end of war, and is the word that describes the terms imposed by the winners on the losers. Once we've defeated the terror states, the PLO will become a minor player in the region and peace will be a lot easier.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.


04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen