The President for the first time actively engaged the country in seeking political solutions in the deteriorating Middle East crisis. In a Statement made April 4th at the Rose Garden, the President went, placing the United States on record supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a Palestinian state and the need for Israel and Palestine to live in peace. At the same time, the President called for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian cities and end all military strikes. He also stated an end to all suicide bombings must take place. To the surprise of his most hawkish supporters, the President ordered Israel to stop its incursions into Palestinian controlled areas and to withdraw its forces.
In a shift of strategy, the President announced that he was now sending his top man, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, to the Middle East to seek political solutions even before the violence ends. The move is seen as a result of the frustration that has grown over the lack of US involvement in the Middle East situation.
Diplomacy and political actions have been in short supply, in the Bush administration, to the dismay of the general public. History often times has a way of repeating itself. Veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Police Actions well know of the fallacy of seeking military solutions to all problems. Unfortunately, the inexperienced crew that the President has surrounded himself with has often presented the President with very limited options in conducting world affairs. Most often, in the past, Presidents seek out and surround themselves with the best men/women that there is in the country, regardless of what party they are registered in. Often our elected leaders forget that once in Washington, they have to represent the vital interest of all the citizens of the United States and not only of those who are members of their political party.
President Bush made the following demands of the Middle Eastern nations:
- All Nations keep their promises made in a vote at the U.N. to oppose terror in all its forms.
-The Palestinian Authority, and all governments in the region, stop terrorist activities and disrupt terrorist financing.
- All Israel settlements in the occupied territories must stop.
- Israel must recognize the boundaries consistent with the U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338.
- Israel must show respect and concern for the dignity of the Palestinian people.
- An immediate cease-fire and immediate crack down on all terrorists will be implemented.
The President made it clear that he expected better leadership and he expected results. He has drawn a line in the sands of the Middle East that he expects no one to cross.
Many questions need to be resolved. But we give the President credit for speaking out and for the first time being Presidential.
(The full text of the President’s speech is available on the Internet and in your major daily newspapers.)