Old news but certainly not getting the attention it deserves from the Israeli media or government---the United States is going to host a "Middle East Peace Conference" and guess who's NOT coming to dinner?
BAKER WANTS ISRAEL EXCLUDED FROM REGIONAL CONFERENCE
The White House has been examining a proposal by James Baker to launch a Middle East peace effort without Israel.
The peace effort would begin with a U.S.-organized conference, dubbed Madrid-2, and contain such U.S. adversaries as Iran and Syria. Officials said Madrid-2 would be promoted as a forum to discuss Iraq's future, but actually focus on Arab demands for Israel to withdraw from territories captured in the 1967 war. They said Israel would not be invited to the conference.
Yes, Israel got so much out of Madrid-1: years of war, civilian deaths, the strengthening of Yassir Arafat, the spawning of multiple well-armed militias dedicated to Jewish deaths and Israel's eradication...yes, yes, let's do it again!
“As Baker sees this, the conference would provide a unique opportunity for the United States to strike a deal without Jewish pressure,” an official said. “This has become the most hottest proposal examined by the foreign policy people over the last month.”
Officials said Mr. Baker's proposal, reflected in the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, has been supported by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. The most controversial element in the proposal, they said, was Mr. Baker's recommendation for the United States to woo Iran and Syria.
“Here is Syria, which is clearly putting pressure on the Lebanese democracy, is a supporter of terror, is both provisioning and supporting Hezbollah and facilitating Iran in its efforts to support Hezbollah, is supporting the activities of Hamas," National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley told a briefing last week. "This is not a Syria that is on an agenda to bring peace and stability to the region."
By all means! Let's reward 40+ years of sponsoring terror, mass murder of Arabs as well as Jews, suppression of dissent, torture, censorship, denial of basic human rights, enmity to the United States during the Cold War, sponsorship of terror attacks against U.S. targets, arming and training any group hostile to U.S. interests, open warfare against the nascent democracies of Lebanon and Iraq, with total and complete surrender of U.S. ideals and democratic goals in an effort to make sure that the oil keeps flowing....in other words, let's lose the war for democracy and turn the Middle East over to those abhorent dictatorships that have run the place for centuries. So what if they wipe out Israel? "F**k the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway," was Baker's famous quote.
And just what will President Bush say to the families of the 3,000 dead who died to secure Iraq's freedom and democracy? "Sorry," somehow doesn't cut it.
Officials said the Baker proposal to exclude Israel from a Middle East peace conference garnered support in the wake of Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 25. They said Mr. Cheney spent most of his meetings listening to Saudi warnings that Israel, rather than Iran, is the leading cause of instability in the Middle East.
He expected to hear something else from the leading purveyor of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish Wahabiism? They've been saying this since 1948---why is the U.S. paying any attention to this old whine? Oh, yeah, oil! Duh!
“He [Cheney] didn't even get the opportunity to seriously discuss the purpose of his visit—that the Saudis help the Iraqi government and persuade the Sunnis to stop their attacks,” another official familiar with Mr. Cheney’s visit said. “Instead, the Saudis kept saying that they wanted a U.S. initiative to stop the Israelis’ attack in Gaza and Cheney just agreed.”
Under the Baker proposal, the Bush administration would arrange a Middle East conference that would discuss the future of Iraq and other Middle East issues. Officials said the conference would seek to win Arab support on Iraq in exchange for a U.S. pledge to renew efforts to press Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Golan Heights.
And unfortunately for Israel, we have Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dumb running the country and neither has the intestinal fortitude of a bunny rabbit, so I simply don't see them acting like Menachem Begin or Ariel Sharon and telling Washington that we're NOT Czechoslovakia.
“Baker sees his plan as containing something for everybody, except perhaps the Israelis,” the official said. “The Syrians would get back the Golan, the Iranians would get U.S. recognition and the Saudis would regain their influence, particularly with the Palestinians.”
Officials said Mr. Baker's influence within the administration and the Republican Party’s leadership stems from support by the president's father as well as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Throughout the current Bush administration, such senior officials as Mr. Hadley and Ms. Rice were said to have been consulting with Brent Scowcroft, the former president's national security advisor, regarded as close to Mr. Baker.
“Everybody has fallen in line,” the official said. “Bush is not in the daily loop. He is shocked by the elections and he's hoping for a miracle on Iraq.”
For his part, Mr. Bush has expressed unease in negotiating with Iran. At a Nov. 30 news conference in Amman, Jordan, the president cited Iran's interference in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.
“We respect their heritage, we respect their history, we respect their traditions,” Mr. Bush said. “I just have a problem with a government that is isolating its people, denying its people benefits that could be had from engagement with the world.”
Mr. Baker's recommendation to woo Iran and Syria has also received support from some in the conservative wing of the GOP. Over the last week, former and current Republican leaders in Congress—convinced of the need for a U.S. withdrawal before the 2008 presidential elections—have called for Iranian and Syrian participation in an effort to stabilize Iraq.
“I would look at an entirely new strategy,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. “We have clearly failed in the last three years to achieve the kind of outcome we want.”
In contrast, Defense Department officials have warned against granting a role to Iran and Syria at Israel's expense. They said such a strategy would also end up undermining Arab allies of the United States such as Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.
“The regional strategy is a euphemism for throwing Free Iraq to the wolves in its neighborhood: Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia,” said the Center for Security Policy, regarded as being close to the Pentagon. “If the Baker regional strategy is adopted, we will prove to all the world that it is better to be America's enemy than its friend. Jim Baker's hostility towards the Jews is a matter of record and has endeared him to Israel's foes in the region.”
But Defense Secretary-designate Robert Gates, a former colleague of Mr. Baker on the Iraq Study Group, has expressed support for U.S. negotiations with Iran and Syria. In response to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, which begins confirmation hearings this week, Mr. Gates compared the two U.S. adversaries to the Soviet Union.
“Even in the worst days of the Cold War, the U.S. maintained a dialogue with the Soviet Union and China, and I believe those channels of communication helped us manage many potentially difficult situations,” Mr. Gates said. “Our engagement with Syria need not be unilateral. It could, for instance, take the form of Syrian participation in a regional conference.”
Yes, but we didn't GIVE Taiwan to China or Turkey to the USSR! There's quite a difference between "keeping channels open" and pimping for Arab dictatorships.
Bush II had the guts to take down Saddam Hussein and Mullah Omar. I hope he's got the guts to stand up to Baker and Gates. Otherwise, Heaven help us in Israel.