may have mental health issues. In his never-ending quest to generate
international support for his war on and occupation of Iraq, George W. Bush
met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on April 15th. He announced he
was reversing over 20 years of U.S. policy by accepting Israeli annexation
of parts of the West Bank. He also flatly stated his opposition to the
Palestinian right of return for those who fled or were forced out of Israel
in the 1940s.
But wait...The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. support for Israel has long been at the heart of much of the conflict between Arab countries and the U.S. In encouraging Sharon's version of unilateralist preemption, Bush thumbed his nose at the concerns raised by Arab states about U.S. policy regarding the Middle East. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune put it in it's April 16th editorial, "Other than the invasion of Iraq, there's hardly anything Bush could have done to muster even greater support for the worldwide jihad."
His Israeli policy just won't build support for the U.S. cause. So if peace and ending terrorism isn't his real motive for this new Israel policy, what is it?
Anyone who follows far-right Christian fundamentalists knows they really do believe in Armageddon - the final war that takes place in the Middle East during which the world is destroyed and Christians are removed to heaven. They obviously regard this destruction as a good thing.
And Bush's deep connection to the Christian fundamentalist right is well documented. In the spring of 2001 while the Bush administration was busy ignoring warnings of an imminent attack by terrorists in the U.S., ABC News ran a report on Bush's link to a right-wing religious organization called the Council for National Policy, whose leaders "are among the brightest lights of the hard right."
The report attributed to the CNP a "kingmaking role." With ties to the violently anti-abortion National Right to Life, to the now-defunct Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell, apocalypse-predictor Tim LaHaye, oil billionaire and John Birch Society supporter Nelson Baker Hunt, current and past leaders of the Christian Coalition, and many other far-right anti-democratic organizations, CNP's influence on Bush signals his deep loyalty to the cabal of right-wing Christians who indeed regard Armageddon as the glorious future of the born-again portion of humankind.
Later in 2001, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote, "For the first time since religious conservatives became a modern political movement, the president of the United States has become the movement's de facto leader."
Many observers of Osama Bin Laden's worldview regard him as favoring the confrontation between his forces and the U.S. in a final showdown. Given Bush's religious beliefs and his political ties to that fundamentalist brand of Christianity, it is clear that Bush mirrors Bin Laden's religious lunacy and wants to drive the world into that showdown as well Ė not necessarily to save the world, but to end it.
Howard Lafranchi and Ben Lynfield of the Christian Science Monitor (April 16, 2004) describe Bush's decision to fully support Sharon's policies as having "cemented the view widely held across Arab states that the US is no longer the 'honest broker' it once was in the Middle East."
Aside from the fact that the U.S. can hardly be said to have been an "honest broker" in Middle East affairs at all in its history as a world power, this new stance by the Bush administration is more troubling for other reasons.
Bush's new policy is part of his reelection bid to capture some U.S. Jewish voters from the Democrats. Sharon, who faces corruption charges, a lagging economy, and a trade union movement spoiling for a fight, also is seen to have received a boost by being endorsed by Bush.
Certainly an intensification of violence and instability will not, however, provide him or Bush with enough support to win, let alone the obvious fact that this policy won't bring any part of the Middle East closer to peace. As the Monitor report concludes, "what makes good politics does not make for good strategic policy."
Just two days later, Israel continued its assassination policy by killing Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi. Most Palestinians, Arab states, and numerous other countries have denounced this assassination and have denounced the Sharon government's action. Many leaders have either publicly or privately stated that they believe this particular killing is directly the result of the support Bush gave Sharon on the 15th. Bush's support was seen as a "green light."
Many Palestinians have regarded the entire term of the Bush administration to have been a green light for the Israeli government to pursue assassination policies, military invasions, house demolitions, evacuations, intensified segregation, racial and religious profiling, and other repressive policies that have targeted both Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories and Israeli Palestinians living in Israel.
Will Armageddon come in the next seven months? Letís hope not. Is Bush really hoping for such a scenario? I donít know for sure, but letís not give him another four years to find out.
Other Articles by Joel Wendland