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The Road Map to Hell in the Middle East By: Robert W. Tracinski
Capitalism Magazine | Tuesday, June 10, 2003

After using America's military to achieve a brilliant success in Iraq, President Bush is intent on using his new-found clout in the region to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. But the means he has chosen is renewed negotiations and a new diplomatic "road map." This effort is as misguided as every failed Middle East peace plan of the past--because there is no "road map" for achieving peace by negotiating with terrorists.

The new plan consists, as usual, of a sequence of substantive concessions by the victim of terrorism. Israel is to withdraw its military cordon around the staging areas of Palestinian terrorism, relinquish lands crucial to its defense, and recognize a provisional state run by the same old gang of killers. In return, the Palestinians are only required to "declare" an end to violence and take "visible efforts"--whatever that means--to restrain terrorists.

This is not a trade of concessions from which both sides benefit. It is a unilateral surrender to extortion.

In fact, Bush's "road map" is just a retread of previous peace plans. A decade ago, under the Oslo accords, the Palestinians pledged to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist. Then, too, land was to be "traded" for peace--but the Palestinian attacks only escalated. Yet the provisions of the "new" road map are essentially identical to those of the disastrous Oslo deal. Why does anyone expect a different outcome now?

Negotiating with terrorists is supposed to work, this time, because of a mere change in personnel. President Bush made his road map conditional on the appointment--by arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat--of a Palestinian leader "not compromised by terror." Thus, Arafat appointed a longtime deputy, Mahmoud Abbas, as the Palestinian Authority's new public face. But Abbas is far from "uncompromised." He is a long-time leader in Arafat's PLO, and his vaunted opposition to terrorism consists of such statements as: "We are not saying to stop the intifada"--the violent Palestinian uprising--but that "it should be directed."

The only thing that is supposed to make Abbas a "partner for peace" is that he isn't personally responsible for killing anyone. But if Al Capone's accountant were appointed as the new negotiator for the mob, would he be a leader "not compromised by crime"? Of course not--and for the same reason, Abbas is just another front man for the Palestinian terrorist establishment.

Predictably, Abbas's "crackdown" on terrorism is also a sham. Over the weekend he negotiated a "cease-fire" with Hamas, under which the terrorists will temporarily stop killing--but their arms and organizations will be left intact, to be unleashed on Israel later, after it has made itself more vulnerable.

There is a reason we keep getting the same failed peace plan, with the same results. Nothing else is possible, once we accept the vicious policy of negotiating with terrorists.

Legitimate diplomacy can only take place between those who are open to settling their differences through persuasion and who recognize each other's right to live. Yet for decades the Palestinians have consistently adopted brute force and mass murder as their primary means of pursuing their "diplomatic" goals. And their ultimate goal has never changed: they seek the destruction of Israel.

All attempts to negotiate an end the Arab-Israeli conflict have merely illustrated the destructive consequences of sacrificing justice to diplomacy. Justice demands that one judge rationally the character and conduct of those one deals with, rewarding the good and punishing the evil. To insist on diplomacy as an unqualified virtue--regardless of the nature and conduct of one's foe--does not save lives or resolve conflicts; it merely rewards and emboldens the aggressors. Why should they end terrorism, when it proves, time and time again, to be an effective means of extorting concessions?

This is why it would have been absurd for America to negotiate with al Qaeda, the Taliban, or Saddam Hussein. It is also why America should not pressure Israel, our loyal ally in a treacherous region, to negotiate with its terrorist enemies.

Peace requires, not the accommodation of the terrorists' demands, but the total and ruthless elimination of the terrorists and those who support them. We should be pressuring Israel, not to surrender to terrorism, but to continue the war on terrorism--to continue it throughout Gaza and the West Bank, and to take it to the planners and suppliers of terrorism in Lebanon and Syria.

This is the only road to peace: to abandon diplomacy and destroy the terrorists.

Mr. Tracinski is a fellow, writer, teacher and analyst with the Ayn Rand Institute and speaks regularly at conferences and on college campuses about the philosophy of the late novelist Ayn Rand.

Robert Tracinski is a senior editor at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, California.

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