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No Pseudo-Peace in the Middle East
October 13, 2000

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

In the recent presidential debate, George W. Bush touched upon the subject of peace negotiations in the Middle East. The governor let it be known that, if elected, his approach would differ from that of the current administration in that he would not insist that negotiations be on his own timetable. Rather, they would take place on a timetable with which the people in the Middle East were comfortable.

This was a somewhat less than subtle reference to the apparent attempt by the Clinton administration to hastily reach some sort of agreement, any kind of agreement, that might net the president an unsullied legacy with which to call his own.

The very idea that the stability of the world could be wagered in some twisted game of geopolitical craps in order to satisfy personal aspirations is a horrifying supposition. That the person wagering might be an American leader is nearly unfathomable.

Yet, this is what is being discussed by political analysts as if gaming in foreign affairs for personal benefit were within the normal course of doing business.

It reminds us of the bizarre debate on moral capacity, initiated by many in the mainstream press during the last two presidential campaigns. Remember the contortions so-called authorities went through in order to explain how public character could and should be separated from private character; that is, of course if character were to be considered at all.

Now we see how diplomacy, perhaps more than any other endeavor, requires credibility, respect and yes, character. Despite having been told repeatedly of its unimportance, we currently have an object lesson in the dangers of falling for such convoluted reasoning.

What has conveniently been dubbed compartmentalization is the antithesis of character. This concept, which ripened on the vine of moral relativism, is now in a state of utter decay. For if one lives in a world where moral absolutes do not exist, shortcomings are not acknowledged. Likewise, a potential enemy,s insufficiencies are not judged but are instead excused, ignored or acquitted. With such a relativistic philosophy in place, it is impossible to engage in diplomatic efforts and at the same time expect to protect the interests of your nation.

Ronald Reagan, a leader looked upon by most as having stalwart character, saw the world with the proper shadings of decency. He viewed the Soviets for what they truly were - an evil empire, and he dealt with them accordingly.

Today some of our leaders essentially tell us to ignore the realities of the world. They describe our present era as "post Cold War", with implications that we should set aside any concerns about national security. Stories about the proliferation of weaponry within rogue nations, the kinds of which could potentially cripple our economy, energy supply and infrastructure, are buried in the back pages of daily newspapers

Instead of alerting the public to the dangers posed by communist China, Americans are, for the most part, kept in the dark. Many are unaware that missiles are pointed at our shores. Suppression of human rights in China is selectively compartmentalized from the trade issue. In addition, the American people are conditioned to believe that we are now strategic partners, so we no longer need to revisit that messy little issue of trade status.

Now photo-op foreign policy and legacy building have taken their toll in the Middle East. The crisis in Israel is directly related to the morally bankrupt policies of the current administration. In attempting to twist the arm of Israel so that her leaders would accept a land for peace strategy, we negotiated with an unreliable partner, Yasser Arafat, and ended up feeding Arab adversaries' appetites for violence. It now looks as if we are at a point where no new conclave can pull this region back to the bargaining table, not when they know its counterfeit nature.

Just as our domestic institutions have been infected with a corrupt and immoral strain, so it appears our foreign policy suffers from the same contagion. The lesson for all of us is that consistent and credible moral decency is crucial, not only for the survivability of our freedoms, but because America's leadership role demands it, as does the stability of the world.

Copyright © 1999 - 2000
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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