(photo credit: AP)
The visit here in Washington by the Israeli reporters covering Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's second summit with President George W. Bush in the White House clearly demonstrates that the prophecies of doom and the panic were greatly exaggerated and unfounded.
After all, the word in Israel is that Israel will have to pay the price of the Democratic victory in Congress, and that former US secretary of state and Bush family confidant James Baker is striving to bring about a change in Iraq at Israel's expense in order to appease the "moderates" in the Arab world, exactly as he did at the Madrid conference in 1991. Apocalypse now, no less.
The situation in the Middle East is too serious and dramatic to be abandoned to false rumors.
This was put very well by Joe Lieberman, the "independent" Democrat who surprised everyone when he said on Meet the Press: "The terrorists cannot defeat us on the battlefield; let's make sure that they do not defeat us at home." Consequently, Lieberman calls for a responsible joint, bipartisan policy in wake of the election results.
My impression in Washington is that it is completely clear that both Democrats and Republicans want to get out of Iraq at the end of the process. But the impression from the White House, and also based on Olmert's press briefing following his meeting with Bush, is that the American president is a man of principle and will not run away from Iraq, but rather will attempt to stabilize the volcanic situation in a way that will guarantee the security of the moderate Arab states, and as a byproduct, that of Israel too.
THE US, according to responsible experts in Washington, cannot flee from Iraq, as a few liberal Democrats are vociferously demanding. It must maintain a number of bases, for example in Kuwait, on the Jordanian-Iraqi border, etc, which will in fact be saying to Iran and Ahmadinejad: You will not invade Iraq and you will not take control of Syria and Lebanon in order to realize your dream of a dangerous Shi'ite front stretching from Teheran to Beirut.
The practical indication of Bush's determination in view of the Shi'ite Iranian danger is his call to isolate Iran economically and internationally.
It is indeed fortunate for democratic society that, at the crisis points with all the various brands of international fascism, it has had serious leaders willing to take the steps needed to stand up against it - Winston Churchill against the Nazi fascism, Ariel Sharon against Palestinian terror and George W. Bush against the danger of Islamic fascism. What do these three leaders have in common? The characteristic they share is their single-mindedness of purpose.
That is how it is now with the daring, courageous President Bush, and how it was with Churchill and Sharon. Bush is fighting the holy war of democracy and is not afraid to continue - using other means, with new ideas. But he is locked on to the target.
Can he get the Democrats to cooperate? It is difficult to know at this point as the Democrats' victory cheers still reverberate.
Israel erred when it did not mobilize a joint, bipartisan policy in Lebanon - when Moshe Arens hurried to withdraw in 1983 and when Ehud Barak withdrew all at once in 2000. Instead of cooperating and working together with Sharon, they expended their energy on hating and inciting against him.
Bush just may succeed because in the United States irresponsible politicians pay the price, at a time when Bush - like Sharon in the past - is demonstrating responsibility.
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