Friday, July 25, 2003

DeLay Will Try To Delay The Roadmap

I don't doubt that the President wants to be the "leader," who solves the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It plays right into his conception that it's mainly through individual strong leadership that anything gets accomplished.

Imagine, too, his pleasure at snatching from Bill Clinton an important piece of his legacy, always the motivation the right attributed to the President's Camp David efforts to find a comprehensive solution to the tragic dilemma of Palestine.

Am I the only one who can imagine President Bush fantasizing about a Nobel Peace Prize, made all the more enjoyable for being a slap at both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton? I even think that in the abstract sense in which these things matter to our current President, he takes some pleasure in the notion of achieving a just settlement for both peoples.

There's also the Rovian concern that the roadmap achieved can be spun as the ultimate justification for the President's Iraqi war and occupation.

The real question is whether Mr. Bush can free himself from the attitudes on this issue of some of his closest advisers, the very ones who have given him his very own doctrine.

In its crudest form, this is an example of the American opposition he, and we, who also want to travel that roadmap, will have to deal with.

Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, never tires of reminding people that he is just a former pest exterminator from Sugar Land, Tex. But beginning this weekend, he will travel to the world's most complex and troubled region, meet with prime ministers, speak to a foreign parliament and, by his presence, remind the Bush administration to pay heed to its right flank as it seeks to make peace.

As he travels next week through Israel, Jordan and Iraq, he will take with him a message of grave doubt that the Middle East is ready for a Palestinian state, as called for in the current peace plan, known as the road map, backed by the administration and Europe.

"I'm sure there are some in the administration who are smarter than me, but I can't imagine in the very near future that a Palestinian state could ever happen," he said in an interview today, as he prepared to leave for a weeklong official tour.

"I can't imagine this president supporting a state of terrorists, a sovereign state of terrorists," he said. "You'd have to change almost an entire generation's culture."

Instead of the roadmap, DeLay wants a "Marshall Plan" for Palestinians, to allow them to develop their society into the kind of peaceful, thriving, market-based, non-security threat that Israeli will be happy to recognize. Where all this is to happen in terms of land mass is ignored. Of course.

He said he had been working hard to persuade the White House to support his plan, and intended to bring it up in separate meetings with Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers. He will also address the Israeli Parliament and meet with King Abdullah of Jordan

We'll have more on the roadmap and Abbas' Washington visit; for now, read the article and find out how much of a player DeLay has become on this issue.