Dear Mr President:
’Hello,’ he lied. One of the best book titles I know of.
We former US diplomats applaud our 52 British colleagues who recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair criticising his Middle East policy and calling on Britain to exert more influence over the United States.
Well, we like the influence Blair has had so far, and their troops have done a pretty good job in Iraq, so I’d say I like the influence that Britain has had on the U.S. But I think they want to change Britain’s policies as well.
As retired foreign service officers we care deeply about our nation’s foreign policy and US credibility in the world.
I believe that. I also believe that they are deeply invested in a process that it fundamentally broken, much as the retired buggywhip makers were distraught at the changes that internal combustion brought. I’ll skip over the little detail (made often by others) about their British colleagues being on the Arab dole, and I won’t dig into Googling all the names and seeing how deeply this group’s hands are shoved into Arab pockets.
We also are deeply concerned by your April 14 endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s unilateral plan to reject the rights of three million Palestinians, to deny the right of refugees to return to their homeland, and to retain five large illegal settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank.
So giving back Gaza is a bad thing? And the telling note about ‘the right of refugees to return…’ well, that’s pretty much a nonstarter and has always been. The right of return means the end of Israel; it’s that simple.
This plan defies UN Security Council resolutions calling for Israel’s return of occupied territories.
No!! And it also defies a billion referenda at world conferences on racism, in which nations that won’t – as an example – let me travel in certain cities, because I’m a nonbeliever – get to criticize the U.S. and Israel for our horrible history on race.
It ignores international laws declaring Israeli settlements illegal.
Another argument against the ICC and international law.
It flouts UN Resolution 194, passed in 1948, which affirms the right of refugees to return to their homes or receive compensation for the loss of their property and assistance in resettling in a host country should they choose to do so.
Didn’t they just say that?
And it undermines the Road Map for peace drawn up by the Quartet, including the US. Finally, it reverses longstanding American policy in the Middle East.
Which was working so well, by the way, all through 2001 and 2002.
Your meeting with Sharon followed a series of intensive negotiating sessions between Israelis and Americans, but which left out Palestinians.
Well, most of the Palestinians with any power were hiding from Israeli helicopters, which made them difficult to negotiate with. Reasonable Palestinians, who want to actually see peace, have mostly been cowed into silence by the homicidal thugs running the West Bank and Gaza these days.
In fact, you and Prime Minister Sharon consistently have excluded Palestinians from peace negotiations.
See note above.
Former Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo voiced the overwhelming reaction of people around the world when he said: “I believe President Bush declared the death of the peace process today”.
Well, if what we’ve had in the last three years is the fruits of the peace process these diplomats support, I’m all for cheering it’s demise. Long live the new peace process.
By closing the door to negotiations with Palestinians and the possibility of a Palestinian state, you have proved that the United States is not an even-handed peace partner.
Actually, here’s the hidden point: by withdrawing from Gaza and more of the West Bank, Israel is actually bringing the possibility of a Palestinian State closer. I wonder why these guys think this is a bad thing?
You have placed US diplomats, civilians and military doing their jobs overseas in an untenable and even dangerous position.
That’s what they are paid for.
Your unqualified support of Sharon’s extra-judicial assassinations, Israel’s Berlin Wall-like barrier, its harsh military measures in occupied territories, and now your endorsement of Sharon’s unilateral plan are costing our country its credibility, prestige and friends.
So on one hand, the wall –designed to limit suicide bombings, and the need to take steps against those who make them happen – is condemned. On the other, the actions taken because of the absence of the wall are condemned. So basically, the Israelis just sit around the pizzerias and schools and wait to get blown up?
It is not too late to reassert American principles of justice and fairness in our relations with all the peoples of the Middle East.
Actually, I think Bush did that, in concert with a certain level of American realism.
Support negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, with the United States serving as a truly honest broker.
I’ve discussed the value of such negotiations below.
A return to the time-honored American tradition of fairness will reverse the present tide of ill will in Europe and the Middle East – even in Iraq.
Yes, the time-honored tradition of fairness, which has worked so damn well. Why not keep doing the same thing over and over, as conditions for the Palestinian people deteriorate, as the Palestinian elites enrich themselves, and Israeli and Palestinian women and children die. It’s been good to them; they get to ride around in armored Suburbans, stay in ritzy hotels, drink good wine, and hardly ever get blown up. Hasn’t worked so well for the folks on the ground, though.
Because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the core of the problems in the Middle East, the entire region – and the world – will rejoice along with Israelis and Palestinians when the killing stops and peace is attained.
Well, I’d always thought that brutal, kleptocratic governments oppressing their people so that they could send as much of their oil wealth to Switzerland as possible was the core of the problems in the Middle East. But what do I know? I’m not an expert.
How offensive and stupid is this letter?
They didn’t even feel it necessary to make the sidebar, pro-forma condemnation of Palestinian terror.
I’m glad these clowns are retired. I wish I’d been in a position to offer them a far earlier exit from service; the world would be a better place if only that had happened.