On a May 24th Press Conference at the White House Rose Garden, President Bush referred to the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report. When pressed if he was talking about a post-surge Plan B, Bush answered: “Actually, I would call that a plan recommended by Baker-Hamilton, so that would be a Plan B-H.”
While George the Second may be a slow reader – the report came out last December – it is encouraging that he is taking some of its well distilled knowledge more seriously. The report stated in plain black and white that “staying the course” in Iraq was not working and that sustained increases in U.S. troop levels “would not solve the fundamental causes of violence in Iraq.”
The “B-H Plan” is an interesting read, with many important, well thought out recommendations, among them:
Recommendation 22: The President should state that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. (Recently contradicted by the White House’s Tony Snow and Robert Gates when comparing Iraq to a “Korea model.”)
Recommendation 13: There must be renewed and sustained commitment by the U.S. to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts: Lebanon and Syria, and President Bush’s June 2002 commitment to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. (An effort basically ignored, if not undermined by U.S.-Israeli rhetoric.)
Establishing peace talks between Israel and Palestine has been ignored since Clinton left office. The B-H Report states, “The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict. The United States does its ally Israel no favors in avoiding direct involvement to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
And so it is impossible to ignore, Israel is the key. Forty years after the June 1967 Six Day War in which Israel captured Arab land, the dispute continues with no end in sight.
Amnesty International has published a report, “Enduring Occupation: Palestinians under seige in the West Bank,” addressing this central problem in greater detail.
Diplomacy in the Middle East is apparently too difficult for the current White House administration. The tone of the current Presidential debates is for setting the bar higher on a new and improved U.S. foreign policy… at least that’s the talk. Shrub’s policies of ignorance and postponement will come to an end. If it were only sooner – innocent people are suffering.