Beware! Pax Americana Ahead!
By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post
March 5, 2003
In between statements last week putting Iraq on notice that they are about to get walloped, US President George W. Bush also chose to put Israel on notice, too.
In what were perhaps his most clear-cut, and frightening, remarks to date, the leader of the free world made clear last Wednesday that once Saddam is gone, his top priority will be to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Speaking at the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Bush insisted that, "Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace, and
set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state."
He went on to describe his objective as being "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. It is the commitment of our government -- and my personal commitment - to implement the road map and to reach that goal."
Now, whatever one may think of Mr. Bush, there is no questioning the fact that he is a man of his word. Unlike many politicians, when he says something, he usually means it.
And that is what makes this latest speech so downright terrifying. For Bush went beyond the usual diplomatic jargon, using the phrase "personal commitment" to indicate that he is absolutely serious about bringing about the creation of Palestine.
In so doing, he transformed the issue from the lowly realm of the political to the highly charged one of the personal. That spells trouble, big trouble, for Israel.
It means that George Bush has now positioned himself, and his presidency, on a clear trajectory. He aims to knock Saddam out of the box in the next few weeks, after which his goal will be to fulfill Yasser Arafat's lifelong dream of establishing an independent Palestine.
Of course, Bush did stress that the new Palestinian state should be "truly democratic", but given their track record of violence and corruption over the past decade, chances are that the Palestinian entity in the making would be little more than just another old-style dictatorship.
This cannot be allowed to happen. But unless Israel acts now, it most certainly will.
And here's why: the outcome of America's eminently justifiable invasion of Baghdad will be quick and decisive. Saddam will fall fast and he will fall hard, for the simple reason that no sane person in Iraq will be willing to fight to the death for a tyrant who has oppressed him and his family for the past three decades.
The victory in Iraq will likely usher in a period of unprecedented American dominance in world affairs, akin only to the Pax Romana inaugurated by Augustus Caesar, Rome's first emperor, in the year 27 BCE.
For nearly two centuries, Rome was the unrivalled global superpower, throwing around its weight at will, expanding its empire and enjoying a period of peace and prosperity.
America looks set to do the same, once Saddam and his evil regime are removed from power.
The Arabs will be livid with rage, the Europeans will again feel slighted, and Russia will no doubt be irritated. The easiest way for Bush to patch up America's relations with the world, and bring down the price of oil, will be to impose a peace settlement on Israel and the Palestinians, bringing about an end to the century-old Middle East conflict.
And that is precisely what he aims to do: Pax Americana, or keeping the empire quiet.
Sounds unrealistic to you? Just remember those two little words that Bush used last week: "personal commitment". That says it all.
It is therefore essential that Israel act now to rally its supporters across the United States and prevent such a scenario from unfolding.
Having been re-elected by an unprecedented margin, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has a clear mandate from the Israeli public, the overwhelming majority of whom do not subscribe to the Bush plan. A February 26 poll found that Israelis oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state by a whopping 61% to 31%.
Sharon is known to have close personal relations with Bush, and it is safe to assume that the President has already informed the Prime Minister about what he plans to do next. But even if he didn't, that too was made clear in Bush's speech last Wednesday.
"The new government of Israel," said the President, "will be expected to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state." That sounds more like marching orders than advice from a friendly ally.
Sharon should therefore start by reaching out to Israelis, warning them of the dangers that lie ahead. He must unite the public behind him, filling us in on as much as he can without compromising his relationship with the President.
He needs to explain to the country that once the military threat from Iraq is removed, it will pave the way for an unparalleled diplomatic assault on Israel, led by none other than the US State Department, which will seek to bring about the fulfillment of the failed Oslo accords through the establishment of Palestine.
Simultaneously, Sharon should reach out to American Jewry, as well as to the masses of American Christians who are among the Jewish state's most fervent supporters. Groups such as Esther Levens' National Unity Coalition for Israel, and Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein's Stand For Israel, have the ability to bring together millions of American Christians on Israel's behalf.
These people form the backbone of Bush's support in the Republican party, and they must be mobilized at once to work against the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
Sharon should therefore address American Christian supporters of Israel directly, tapping into their political savvy and Biblical commitment to help save the Jewish state from the fate that awaits it after the war in Iraq is complete.
Establishing a Palestinian state, it must be made clear, will endanger Israel and undermine American interests in the region. It will reward decades of Arab intransigence, as well as Palestinian terror, and weaken the only democracy in the Middle East.
Now is the time for Israel to undertake such a campaign, before the impending post-war diplomatic pressure becomes too heavy to resist. It may just be a matter of weeks or months before the Pax Americana arrives, seeking to force Israel to make dangerous concessions.
If Israel fails to act now, it may just wake up one morning to find an independent "Palestine" lying at its doorstep. And that is a risk that we simply cannot afford to take.
The writer served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office from 1996 to 1999.