“Factually Correct, Not
THE ANNAPOLIS CONFERENCE ON THE MIDDLE EAST: PART TWO
“PALESTINIAN SUPERMAN” SEIZES THE DAY IN ANNAPOLIS;
ANDY MARTIN PREDICTS: “SOMETHING IMPORTANT WILL HAPPEN BEFORE JANUARY, 2009”
BUSH MAY HAVE CHANGED, FINALLY, AND REALIZED THAT “PEACE” IS AMERICA’S TRUE CALLING
(CHICAGO)(November 27, 2007) My earlier column expressed skepticism about the Annapolis Peace Conference. And indeed it was a delightful photo op. But something happened at Annapolis that will have enduring consequences for all of the parties.
First, a little background. George Bush and I have had a very rocky relationship because of my ability to read him as no one else can. I predicted Bush would go to war against Iraq. In 1999. And in 2003, I was there in Baghdad, sounding the alarms when everyone was telling Bush things were going well. And so I can say “I know George Bush” in a way that few can document because of my record of understanding him and predicting his actions.
Bush, however, was only a supporting actor in Annapolis.
The true superstar was Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel, of course, is a powerful nation, with a well-armed military force and a cohesive government. Israeli power must be respected.
Mahmoud Abbas commands nothing. He has no military power. No government to speak of. Behind his back, Israelis used to ridicule him. Americans don’t know quite what to make of him.
I think I also understand Mr. Abbas.
While Abbas was still only an understudy to Yasser Arafat I visited his residence in the West Bank. Unlike other warlords, Abbas had a minimal security presence. His home was not an armed camp. He did not fear his people. He has no fear today. Abbas may be the most underrated leader in the world.
The one indispensable man at Annapolis was Abbas. The Israeli government would continue to function if P. M. Ehud Olmert disappeared. Likewise, for sure the U. S. Government will change hands in January, 2009, and we will still be a presence in the Middle East. But without Abbas, there could have been no Annapolis conference. America may have assembled the participants, but they came to a “conference” because Abbas was there to represent the Palestinians.
He has revived the Palestinian national movement and given it legitimacy. The picture of Abbas and Olmert embracing Bush will be an enduring image. These men were visibly at parity.
In 2000, I produced the Andy Martin Peace Plan (“AMPP”) based on my decades of experience in the Middle East. Slowly, but inexorably, the U. S. Government is moving in the direction I have proposed since 2000. In 2000 I stated that a peacekeeping contingent was essential, and suggested the U. S. lead such a force. The Bush administration has now accepted my proposal and has begun to study the issue.
Likewise, I stated that parity between Israelis and Palestinians was an essential ingredient and precondition to peace. The two parties are not yet at parity, but Abbas is leading Palestinians to a level of parity that will make peace possible. Olmert may have spoken again Tuesday of “painful” concessions. I think in his heart he knows that those painful concessions are closer to reality. Abbas has seized control of the peace process and is driving the parties to the point of no return, where peace will be unavoidable and inevitable.
Finally, and this is the crucial factor, Abbas has convinced Bush to invest Bush’s ego in the process. In 1999, I predicted Bush would go to war, and sadly I was right. In 2007, I predict that Bush will arrive at some sort of peace before he leaves office. Most likely he will increasingly adopt the AMPP as his blueprint. One can expect that both sides will leave the peace process snarling, but at some point peace becomes unavoidable and inevitable.
The 2001 Taba peace proposal, abandoned and ridiculed by Israelis, is now the starting point for the final countdown. Ultimately, even Hamas will not be an obstacle to peace.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon saved the State of Israel, for which he never received any appreciation. There is no “Nixon Square” in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, no visible memento of appreciation for Nixon. Nixon was a Republican. Israelis may have been looking ahead to 2009, when they expected a Democrat to occupy the White House. I think President Bush is going to preempt them. Another Republican.
Israeli bombs and missiles have proven helpless and harmless to wound Abbas. Each time the opposing leaders refer to each other as friends, another step is taken, another barrier is crossed. Bush will probably have to “Clintonize” the final status dealings, and beat both sides with a baseball bat, but Bush is capable of doing so where Clinton was not. And I believe Bush has now become invested in the peace process.
Some of my readers have accused me of being an optimist because I expect peace between Israel and Palestine. But I have not been a sap. Despite the withering criticism I receive from pro-Israel supporters, I have adhere to my view that Israel cannot endure as a nation in the Middle East under the current state of siege. Likewise, at some point Israelis will come to accept that Palestinians will never surrender their birthrights. Attention must be paid.
In the United States, new leaders in both political parties will realize that it is time to start seizing opportunities instead of squandering them, and get Israelis and Palestinians to agree.
At the end, Bill Clinton realized he had mishandled his opportunity. Demonizing Arabs led him nowhere. He tried to recover, but it was simply too late, and his time ran out. Bush has finally faced reality, long before Clinton did. Which is why Bush is going to succeed where Clinton failed.
As a student at the University of Illinois I entered the advanced program leading to a commission as a military officer. We had to enlist in the U. S. Air Force Reserves and were given the opportunity to visit air bases and use some of their facilities. I was always impressed by the fact that many bases, and especially SAC bases, had a sign at the entrance that said “Peace Is Our Profession.”
The U. S. had overwhelming military power, but that power was directed at maintaining peace, not making war. President Eisenhower was a master at controlling the balance and tension between latent power and peace.
Sadly, we gradually lost Eisenhower’s steady direction and control. Perhaps inebriated by our own rhetoric about being the “sole superpower,” we forgot that the ultimate role of power is to preserve peace, not to embrace war.
Americans are now, once again, rediscovering and coming to the realization that America is truly greatest when “peace is our profession.” Annapolis may have been a nothingburger meeting in so far as getting anything substantive done. But my feeling is that Mr. Bush is now a changed man. And that change is for the better. Bush has belatedly realized that to be a great leader, or any leader at all, peace must be his profession. Making war has led him nowhere.
Something important is going to happen before January, 2009. And that “something” might just be peace.
Chicago-based Internet journalist, broadcaster and media critic Andy Martin is the Executive Editor and publisher of ContrarianCommentary.com. © Copyright by Andy Martin 2007. Martin covers regional, national and world events with forty years of experience. He has almost forty years of experience in the Middle East, and is America’s most respected independent foreign policy and intelligence analyst. Andy is currently a candidate for U. S. Senator from Illinois. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. Columns also posted at ContrarianCommentary.blogspot.com; contrariancommentary.wordpress.com. Comments? E-mail: AndyMart20@aol.com. Media contact: (866) 706-2639. Web sites: ContrarianCommentary.com.