The party’s over: Time to work
Now, the new administration must turn to the business of governing a maritime nation with world-wide vested interests and responsibilities. The reaction of every post-World-II president to his first “insider” intelligence briefing can be expressed as “shock and awe.” Rookie presidents are shocked by the enormity of the problems and responsibilities of the world’s only superpower.
Next, they find themselves in awe of what our military and intelligence communities have been doing to protect and defend America. The new president may even be in awe of what our forces have been during (especially, during the time of Bush 43) to extend democracy to a lot of folks around the world – whether they were capable of understanding and appreciating democracy or not.
What happens next will depend, in large measure, upon the new president’s conception of America’s role in the world. Does he believe that western civilization’s Judeo-Christian values are worthy of promotion or defending? Or, will he turn toward an isolationist “Fortress America” world view?
Secretary-of-State-to-be Hillary Clinton’s recent speech about the Palestinian-Israeli War in Gaza showed a steely resolve when she said that the U.S. will not negotiate with the Hamas-backed Palestinians unless Hamas recognizes the State of Israeli’s right to exist. Score one for Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians (the name comes, via Greek and Latin, from the word: Philistine), have few options. While the coastal-raiding Philistines had some historical claim to today’s coastal Gaza (an area about the same length and width as Manhattan Island), the territorial claims of today’s Palestinians are relatively thin compared to the Jews who have been settled in the Land of Canaan for over 3,000 years.
The Israelis, in exchange for agreement that the State of Israel has a right to exist, are quite willing to recognize the right of a State of Palestine to exist. The question is: Where to put a State of Palestine? The Palestinians are literally a people all dressed up with no place to go.
Gaza is too small and economically non-viable. One thought (not a very workable one) is to put Palestine in both Gaza and in the West Bank, separated by the State of Israeli. In 1947, we saw how poorly that worked when India was partitioned following World War II with West Pakistan on one side of the Indian subcontinent and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) on the other. Today, Pakistan is on the verge of collapse and the people of Bangladesh are virtually dependent on Wal-Mart. Check your clothing labels.
Because peace is not the objective of the Islamic jihadists, all this real-estate speculation is rather academic. As long as that is the case, the poor Palestinians will continue to be played for fools by their Arab and Persian brothers who are happy to fund weapons to be used against Israel. Indeed, none of the neighboring Arab nations (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon) want a strong and vibrant Palestine because such a state is not seen in their national interests. So, the Arab neighbors (and, the Persians in far-off Iran) supply just enough food and weapons to keep the Palestinians killing Jews with desultory rocket attacks, but not strong enough to defeat the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
In 2005, after occupying Gaza for 38 years, the Israeli government forced 8,500 of its own settlers out of Gaza, leaving the future of Gaza to the Palestinians. But, instead of buying peace, the response of Hamas has been over 3,000 rocket attacks on Israeli. If the new president can unscramble this mess without throwing Israel under the bus, he will have truly brought about real change.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today, studied at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Dr. Hamilton is a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
©2009. William Hamilton.