Apr 042002

In the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the White House has currently found itself between a rock and a hard place.

President Bush has waited to get involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict citing that it is an internal struggle that should be resolved without American help. Guess what; Bush waited too long. Now there are no easy options for the White House to take. The president, of all people, should know that nothing gets resolved in today’s world without some involvement from the United States.

But do we have to become the babysitter for the entire planet?

The conflict in Israel has escalated to a point that it threatens the stability of the Middle East and the rest of the world. Israeli soldiers are invading every possible town they can get their hands on and the Palestinians are blowing themselves up wherever they can find a group of Israelis together.

Egypt, one of our most stringent Arab allies, announced this week it will be closing all diplomatic ties to Israel unless Israel begins to favor Palestinian interests. Saudi Arabia, another American ally, is discontent that no one but the Palestinians seems to favor a peace plan they proposed. The whole Middle East region is like a dysfunctional family that just can’t seem to get along.

It is obvious things are deteriorating quickly. The United Nations has warned the Israelis to step down as the United States tells them to fight on. The countries that are trying to get involved are proposing just too many contradictions.

It’s definitely time to take some action, but how should the president act?

The president finally said in a speech Thursday morning, “enough is enough” and announced Secretary of State Colin Powell is headed to the region to try to talk some sense into Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

I don’t hold much hope for Powell’s visit. Diplomacy in the region has not been effective recently. Anthony Zinni, a special envoy we sent to the Middle East last month, wasn’t even able to talk to Arafat because of Israeli objections until today.

So we are going to probably be left with little option but to send troops. This is what the president should ask for, in a perfect world.

But wait, things aren’t even that simple. Colorado’s own Sen. Wayne Allard, a member of the Armed Services Committee, told the Denver Post that he does not support sending American troops to Israel. He also said most members of Congress likely feel the same. Without Congressional support, the president would have to put himself in a quagmire situation like we faced in Vietnam to get any troops to the area. That wouldn’t be good to his approval ratings, would it?

Bush is also actively leading a war against terrorism all across the world, and Israel claims its war is against terrorists. If we refuse them help, we look like hypocrites. However, if we actively support Israel, every Arab nation in the Middle East is going to declare a war on the United States as well as attack Israel.

Okay, throw that idea out too. What do we have left?

Maybe, just maybe, we could work together with the UN or the European Union to send a peacekeeping force to the area. We need to make sure we have the support of many different countries, including Arab ones, to get this idea moving. Unfortunately, this is something that is just about nearly impossible to organize.

There are just too many options and none of them lead to any easy answers.

Good luck, Mr. President. I’m glad I’m just a columnist who doesn’t have to make any decisions about our involvement in the Middle East.

Josh Hardin is a senior majoring in technical journalism.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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