Monday, February 07, 2005

Zunes: A Critique of the Most Misleading Statements in the Foreign Policy Segments of President Bush’s 2005 State of the Union Address: "While Bush is the first president to so explicitly call for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, there are serious questions as to what kind of “state” he has in mind. He has refused to endorse the Geneva Initiative, the model peace agreement signed in December 2003 by leading Israeli and Palestinian moderates which calls for the withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces and colonists from lands seized in the 1967 (with minor and reciprocal border adjustments), a shared co-capital in Jerusalem, strict security guarantees for Israel, and no mass return of Palestinian refugees into Israel. Instead, President Bush has endorsed the Sharon Plan, which – while calling for the withdrawal of Israel’s illegal settlements from the occupied Gaza Strip – allows Israel to annex the vast majority of its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and surrounding Palestinian lands, leaving the Palestinians with only a series of small non-contiguous cantons surrounded by Israel. Israel would control the air space, water resources, and the movement of people and goods within the archipelago of Palestinian territory as well as between this Palestinian territory and neighboring Egypt and Jordan. In short, the “Palestinian state” that Bush envisions appears to bear a far closer resemblance to the infamous Bantustans of apartheid South Africa than a viable independent country."

"Despite the many problems and limitations of the January 30 Iraqi election, it was indeed a remarkable testament of the Iraqi people’s desire for self-determination and for accountable government. However, little credit should be given to President Bush. It should be remembered that Bush administration, during most of the first year of the U.S. occupation, strongly opposed holding direct elections. Initially, the United States supported the installation of Ahmed Chalabi or some other compliant exile as leader of Iraq. Then, U.S. officials tried to keep their viceroy Paul Bremer in power indefinitely. Next, the Bush administration pushed for a caucus system where appointees of American appointees would choose the new government. It was only after Ayatollah Sistani brought hundreds of thousands of Shiites out onto the streets in January 2004 demanding direct elections did President Bush give in, but – instead of going ahead with the poll in May as proposed – he postponed it until the following January after the security situation had deteriorated so badly that most of the large and important Sunni Arab minority was unable or unwilling to participate."

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