Judging from the statements proffered recently by President George Bush, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Washington does not appear to have a balanced or coherent policy on the Middle East.
As White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer pointed out recently, “He (President Bush) is hearing a variety of opinions from many, many sources. And these sources depend on the people who the President meets”.
Analysing the question in concrete terms, we have Colin Powell’s statement on 10th June to the Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat: “He (President Bush) wants to ask President Arafat and all the other Palestinian leaders, to create institutions which support a state”.
The President himself, however, two days previously, during a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, had declared that “I am always saying that I am disappointed with his (Arafat’s) leadership. I think he is letting the Palestinian people down”, while Condoleeza Rice, five days later, vented her customary spleen in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News: “Frankly, the Palestinian Authority, which is corrupt…is not a basis for the development of a Palestinian State” (sic). During this interview, Condoleeza made declarations linking the Palestinian Authority with “terror”.
After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, President Bush stated on 10th June: “There are still no conditions. This is because nobody has confidence in the Palestinian government which is emerging”, yet on the same day, Colin Powell declared to Al-Hayat: “There will be a meeting, a conference, call it what you will, and it will take place this summer”.
If what President Bush says is not in line with his closest advisors, it would appear that at times, what he says is not even in line with himself. For example, in the same meeting with Hosni Mubarak, on 8th June, he declared: “We are not ready to present a specific calendar, except the fact that we must begin quickly, soon, to take advantage of the moment” (sic), and shortly afterwards, “This is the calendar that I have in mind. We need to begin immediately to construct the institutions necessary for the appearance of a Palestinian state”.
One moment Washington is with Arafat, the next it is against him. However, whatever Israel does, be it acts of patience and compromise, or acts of horror and state terrorism which are quite unacceptable in any civilised state of law, Washington is always ready to help…or to turn a blind eye.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru