All Roads Lead To Rome
Vol: 74 Issue: 27 Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Nobody really expects much to emerge from the Middle East Peace Summit in Annapolis. Not the Israelis, not the Americans, and certainly not the Palestinians. At best, it’s a case of forcing somebody to do something, even if it is wrong, on the theory that any movement is better than standing still.
This flies in the face of the single most valuable piece of advice my father ever gave me, which was, ‘when you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything until you do.’ There is a similar saying down South — ‘don’t fix it til you know what’s broke.’
But Bush is just following the lead of his predecessors, from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton — all of whom tried to fix the Middle East without bothering to figure out what was broke first. At best, Annapolis is likely to set in motion what I call the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Jimmy Carter rammed through the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1977, which led to the signing of a peace deal in 1979. The unilateral nature peace deal inflamed the Islamic world.
(In an Egyptian government poll taken only last year, after three decades of ‘peace’ ninety-two percent of the Egyptian public still views Israel as an enemy nation.)
Egypt was suspended from the Arab League in 1979. It resulted in the assassination of Anwar Sadat by the Muslim Brotherhood. Among the conspirators was a young pediatrician named Ayman al Zawahiri — who went on to become Osama bin Laden’s number two man.
Egypt’s realignment created a power vacuum in the Arab world that a young Saddam Hussein was only too eager to fill. Until Egypt’s fall from grace, Iraq had been only a secondary regional power.
Because of the vague language concerning the implementation of Resolution 242, the Palestinian problem became the primary issue in the Arab-Israeli conflict immediately following the Camp David Accords.
Camp David was the springboard that launched the process that gave the world Beirut in the 1980’s, Saddam Hussein in the 1990’s, the Oslo War in 2000, and Osama bin Laden in 2001.
In 1977, Jimmy Carter was looking for a way to distract attention away from the recession and runaway inflation, the energy crisis, the erosion of the dollar and high unemployment at home.
The Camp David Accords became his presidential legacy, and despite his presiding over what was arguably one of the worst presidencies in US history, the first line in historical bio will be his accomplishments at Camp David.
Bill Clinton rammed through the second Camp David Accords in an effort to keep Monica Lewinsky’s name out of the first line of his historical bio. His administration botched the 1993 Oslo Agreement by allowing Arafat to set the precedent of signing agreements he had no intention of honoring while requiring Israel to live up to the obligations those same agreements imposed on them.
Arafat grew accustomed to style over substance, and when he was forced into Camp David II, he sparked the intifada Israel now calls the “Oslo War.”
All the various agreements and deals brokered by the Bush administration between Israel and the Palestinians fell victim to the same fate, because every agreement since the Carter administration as attempted to fix what isn’t broken by ignoring what obviously is.
Israel wants peaceful coexistence with her Arab neighbors. The Egyptian government wanted the huge US aid package Carter tied to Camp David. The Egyptian population wanted the absence of war.
There is a difference between ‘peaceful coexistence’ and ‘the absence of war’. What exists between the US and Canada is ‘peaceful coexistence’. It is hard to imagine those two nations ever going to war.
What exists between the US and Russia is the ‘absence of war’. It is hard to imagine how we will manage to avoid an eventual US-Russian war.
What was broken in Egypt in 1977 remains unfixed to this day, Camp David Accords I and II notwithstanding. The goal of Annapolis will only make it worse. Israel wants peace. The Arabs will accept nothing less than victory, which is not a Palestinian state beside Israel, but a Palestinian state instead of Israel.
(One of the sticking points that has already emerged is a Palestinian objection to labelling Israel as ‘a Jewish state’.)
Annapolis aims to hand the Palestinians complete victory over Israel in exchange for what they openly declare to be a one-sided peace.
And a one-sided peace is called surrender.
While Abbas and Olmert meet in Annapolis, the democratically-elected Hamas government issued a statement calling Abbas “a traitor” and pledged to reject any decisions or agreements produced from the summit.
You see, THAT is what is broken and hasn’t been fixed. Not Hamas. Not Hezbollah. Not terrorism. Peace isn’t something that exists between governments — it is something that exists between two peoples.
The US could declare war on Canada, or vice-versa, but it would take Americans shooting Canadians or Canadians shooting Americans to prosecute that war. That’s a whole different story.
President Bush is fond of noting that no democracy in world history ever started a war. That was because nobody ever tried to impose a democracy on a people to whom war was a religious duty.
The first chance the Palestinian people got to vote for a government that represented the will of the Palestinian people they elected Hamas. Instead of recognizing the problem, the administration tried to fix it by ignoring the results of an election it demanded.
If the majority of the Palestinian people identify with Hamas and its platform of three ‘Nos’ – no negotiation, no recognition, no peace — then the only thing that can come out of Annapolis is a new violation of the Law of Unintended consequences.
Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Prophet Daniel foresaw the current peace process and foretold it in detail. Sometimes, it is easy to lose sight of what an awesome feat of prognostication that really was.
Daniel was a captive of the Babylonian Empire. The northern Kingdom of Israel had already been destroyed, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed, and the Jews were either in exile abroad or under occupation back home.
From the mid 5th century BC until AD 1948, there would be no such thing as an independent state of Israel. From AD 70 to 1948, there was no such thing as a Jewish homeland.
But Daniel predicted there would be a Jewish homeland in the last days, that it would be surrounded by enemies, that the focal point of the dispute would be the Temple Mount, even describing the Oslo ‘land for peace’ formula, saying of the antichrist;
“thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.”. (Daniel 11:39)
As I said at the outset, not much is expected to emerge from the Annapolis summit beyond some sort of vague ‘agreement to agree’ on some future issue, declare success and go home to the status quo. The prophet Daniel would seem to concur.
According to Daniel, a seven year treaty based on the formula of dividing the land for gain will be confirmed, but not by an American president or in an American-led process.
The prophet Daniel says the agreement will be confirmed (not brokered) by a ‘prince’ of the people who destroyed the city and sanctuary [the Romans in AD 70].
“[A]nd the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, [Josephus, an eyewitness to the carnage, claimed the blood rose to the level of a horse’s bridle in the streets of Jerusalem] and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” (Daniel 9:26-27)
For the antichrist to interrupt the ‘sacrifices and oblations’ there must exist a Jewish Temple. Whatever comes out of Annapolis, it is unlikely to restore the Temple Mount to Jewish hands.
Annapolis may be on the road map to Daniel’s false peace, but it is just a waypoint — it isn’t the final destination. Daniel says the final destination is Rome — and we aren’t there yet.
But if Annapolis fails, as the saying goes, all roads lead to Rome.