George Bush has a commitment problem. On his recent Middle East trip, he had to figure out how to demonstrate his loyalty to Israel and appear committed to peace and the Palestinians, all while rattling his saber at Iran for the sake of Israeli and American hawks. A good start to achieving one of those objectives, of course, was likening Barack Obama to the appeasers of Hitler and the Nazis in front of the Israeli Knesset.
According to the White House, Bush was in the region to “reaffirm efforts toward peace and prosperity and our close work with regional allies to combat terrorism and promote freedom.” For many who have watched as the administration has ratcheted up the aggressive rhetoric toward Iran, it is understood that the Bush administration is looking to “regional allies” for complicity on their plans for Iran.
Naturally, Bush was also there to celebrate Israel’s 60th anniversary and to note that “[e]leven minutes later [after independence], on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel’s independence.” He went on to say, “And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world.”
During this trip the president once again attempted to convince Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel’s closest ally and best friend in the world is also the perfect third party to deliver an honest peace agreement between the two.
However, the Bush administration stacking the deck in favor of Israel isn’t exactly news to the Palestinians.
When Vice President Dick Cheney made an unexpected visit to Baghdad in March, that wasn’t the biggest surprise of his 10-day Middle East trip. More astounding was Cheney, arguably the sharpest-taloned hawk in the Bush administration’s war-hungry aerie, having been deployed to ostensibly do the work of diplomacy with Israelis and Palestinians. Cheney’s involvement in the so-called peace process is something of a cruel joke, despite White House claims that “he can certainly complement the kind of message that both the President and the Secretary [of State] have been consistently delivering to Israeli and Palestinian leaders about the depth of our commitment to try and make progress toward a Palestinian state.”
The real intentions of Cheney’s trip made the Palestinians the butt of the punch line. Although the vice president claimed that realizing a Palestinian state would require “painful concessions on both sides,” it was pretty clear Palestinians would have to endure the most pain when he told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at their March 22 meeting that “our two countries have been more than just strong allies. We’ve been friends—special friends—and our peoples bound together by unique ties of history, culture, religion, and memory. Today, both our nations share the ideals of liberty, equality, human dignity, and representative government.”
(Continue reading: Truthdig)