The Bush Doctrine born on Sept. 20, 2001, when President Bush bluntly warned
the sponsors of violent jihad: "You are either with us, or you are with the
terrorists" is dead. Its demise was announced by Condoleezza Rice last
The secretary of state was speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route
with the president to Kuwait from Israel. She was explaining why the
administration had abandoned the most fundamental condition of its support for
Palestinian statehood - namely, an end to Palestinian terror. Rice's
explanation, recounted here by The Washington Times, was as striking for its
candor as for its moral blindness:
"The 'road map' for peace, conceived in 2002 by Mr. Bush, had become a
hindrance to the peace process, because the first requirement was that the
Palestinians stop terrorist attacks. As a result, every time there was a
terrorist bombing, the peace process fell apart and went back to square one.
Neither side ever began discussing the 'core issues': the freezing of Israeli
settlements in the West Bank, the right of Palestinian refugees to return, the
outline of Israel's border, and the future of Jerusalem.
"'The reason that we haven't really been able to move forward on the peace
process for a number of years is that we were stuck in the sequentiality of the
road map. So you had to do the first phase of the road map before you moved on
to the third phase of the road map, which was the actual negotiations of final
status,' Rice said. . . . What the US-hosted November peace summit in Annapolis
did was 'break that tight sequentiality. . . You don't want people to get hung
up on settlement activity or the fact that the Palestinians haven't fully been
able to deal with the terrorist infrastructure. . .'"
Thus the president who once insisted that a "Palestinian state will never be
created by terror" now insists that a Palestinian state be created regardless
of terror. Once the Bush administration championed a "road map" whose first and
foremost requirement was that the Palestinians "declare an unequivocal end to
violence and terrorism" and shut down "all official . . . incitement against
Israel." Now the administration says that Palestinian terrorism and incitement
are nothing "to get hung up on."
Whatever happened to the moral clarity that informed the president's worldview
in the wake of 9/11? Whatever happened to the conviction that was at the core
of the Bush Doctrine: that terrorists must be anathematized and defeated, and
the fever-swamps that breed them drained and detoxified?
Bush's support for the creation of a Palestinian state was always misguided
rarely has a society shown itself *less* suited for sovereignty but at least
he made it clear that American support came at a stiff price: "The United
States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state," Bush said in
his landmark June 2002 speech on the Israeli-Arab conflict, "until its leaders
engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their
infrastructure." He reinforced that condition two years later, confirming in a
letter to Ariel Sharon that "the Palestinian leadership must act decisively
against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop
terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."
Now that policy has gone by the boards, replaced by one less focused on
achieving peace than on maintaining a "peace process." No doubt it *is*
difficult, as Rice says, to "move forward on the peace process" when the
Palestinian Authority glorifies suicide bombers and encourages a murderous
yearning to eliminate the Jewish state. If the Bush Doctrine "with us or
with the terrorists" were still in force, the peace process would have been
shelved once the Palestinians made clear that they had no intention of
rejecting violence or accepting Israel's existence. The administration would be
treating the Palestinians as pariahs, allowing them no assistance of any kind,
much less movement toward statehood, so long as their encouragement of
But it is the Bush Doctrine that has been shelved. In its hunger for Arab
support against Iran and perhaps in a quest for a historic "legacy" the
administration has dropped "with us or with the terrorists." It is hellbent
instead on bestowing statehood upon a regime that stands unequivocally with the
terrorists. "Frankly, it's time for the establishment of a Palestinian state,"
When George W. Bush succeeded Bill Clinton, he was determined not to replicate
his predecessor's blunders in the Middle East, a determination that intensified
after 9/11. Yet he too has succumbed to the messianism that leads US presidents
to imagine they can resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Clinton's legacy in this
arena was the second intifada, which drenched the region in blood. To what
fresh hell will Bush's diplomacy lead?