Column: Inaugural, Bush Doctrine, and Sharansky
Podhoretz asks this question with these opening words:
"Will George W. Bush spend the next few years backing down from the ambitious strategy he outlined in the Bush Doctrine for fighting and winning World War IV?"
Following the inaugural address, Lawrence Kudlow, writing in his new blog, referred back to Podhoretz's piece in his discussion of Bush's message:
"After hearing President Bush's second inaugural speech (my wife Judy and I had good seats at the event), there can be no question that Norman Podhoretz is exactly right in his recent Commentary article: the President will be unyielding in his commitment to defeat totalitarian radical Islamism, and he will unwaveringly prosecute what Mr. Podhoretz calls World War IV."
When I first saw Podhoretz's piece I had just finished reading David Frum's "The Right Man" -- his inside look at President Bush and the administration from his perspective as speech writer. Podhoretz's article confirmed what I had just read from Frum, George Bush means what he says. Any expectation that has been nurtured by liberal media that Bush would turn back is simply misplaced. The inaugural speech was just another opportunity to make that perfectly clear -- which Bush did.
In his piece, Podhoretz wrote the following on what to expect with regard to Israel in the second term, focusing greatly on Tony Blair's visit to Washington following the elections, a trip that the media was quick to claim would mean a payback to Blair in the form of a renewed "peace process" -- pre-Bush style -- namely, nothing for land.
"In an effort to get Bush to reverse course again, Blair came in November bearing two proposals designed to resume the old pressures on Israel while relaxing the demands the President was making on the Palestinians. One of these proposals was that Bush dispatch a special envoy to the area, and the other was that he convene an international conference. Contrary to Blair's evident expectations, however, Bush rejected both proposals. He did so politely and gently, but reject them he did. The upshot was that, far from being "paid back" in the currency of pressure on Israel, Blair returned home empty-handed except for Bush's fervent praise of him for participating in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
Much as I hate to agree with anything the President of France says, Jacques Chirac was right for once when he sneered that Bush had given Blair nothing for his pains."
While Blair returned empty handed, Natan Sharansky, who has become an inspiration to Bush, and now Condoleeza Rice as well, was treated much differently on his visit to Washington. His book, "The Case for Democracy," has become a cornerstone of the Bush Doctrine and has raised Sharansky to the status of hero and visionary.
The closeness of Sharansky and Bush, with regard to Israel, can be seen in Bush's conditions for a Palestinian State -- reflecting the themes of Sharanky's book. As Podhoretz writes:
"Bush now made American support of a Palestinian state contingent upon the emergence of new leaders who would devote themselves to building "entirely new political and economic institutions based on democracy, market economics, and action against terrorism." In the meantime, Israel was justified in defending itself by military and other means, including through the security fence beginning to be built by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."
Although I oppose a "Palestinian" state anywhere west of the Jordan River, any conditions, especially those that seem unlikely to be met, are warmly welcomed. The prior "method of negotiations", one that still drives the "disengagement" plan, is humiliatingly removed from reality, security and faith. If only Natan Sharansky was more vocal and visible in his opposition to this holdover strategy of the pre-Bush era that is still being applied to Gaza and the Northern Shomron. His active opposition to "disengagement" could make all the difference -- stopping the unfair application of a dead and failed strategy for "peace" upon Jews who deserve much, much, better.
Sharansky, while in the news and having come out in the past squarely against the "disengagement" plan, has not of late made the case for scrapping it. Sharansky, according to the Jerusalem Post, will speak today:
"At a press conference timed to coincide with events marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Diaspora Affairs Minister Natan Sharansky will on Tuesday assert that the Palestinian Authority, even under new chairman Mahmoud Abbas, is engaged in the "promotion of genocide" against the Jewish people."
These are strong words of truth and are welcome of course. My immediate concern however is that there are Jews in Gaza and the Northern Shomron whom Sharon is planning to deport from their homes to the benefit these neo-Nazis and to the encouragement of their Jihad against the Jewish State.
There is a disconnect between these strong words of Sharansky and the current relative softness of his opposition to Sharon's evacuation plan. Should that disconnect be repaired, Sharansky will be more of a hero in Israel than America and America will have the opportunity to say that it has treated the Jews of Gaza and Northern Shomron justly and fairly. However, should Sharansky remain relatively quiet, that restraint will not go unnoticed as the folly and madness of Sharon's plan becomes painfully obvious to all. Let's hope Natan Sharansky steps up.