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Thursday, April 04, 2002
What the heck is he thinking?
After showing strength for a week, Bush reverses himself in the face of European whining, agreeing to send Colin Powell to Israel and asking Israel to withdraw from the so-called Occupied Territories. Bush did harshly criticize Arafat, saying "The situation in which he finds himself today is largely of his own making. He has missed his opportunities and thereby betrayed the hopes of his people," but then he rewarded Arafat by interfering with Israel's efforts to root out terrorists.

The most charitable interpretation of events is that Bush is publicly giving Arafat something -- Powell's visit -- so that Arafat can save face, and then in private Powell is going to deliver an ultimatum to Arafat. But Bush really doesn't have anything to offer Arafat, except the threat that he'll let Israel finish what it started. But Arafat has already seen that escalating the violence can create pressure on Israel. The problem with bluffing is: what if someone calls your bluff? The Arabs have already snubbed George Mitchell, George Tennet, Anthony Zinni, and Dick Cheney. What happens when they don't give Colin Powell the assurances that Bush wants? Or what happens if they do, and then a day later go back on their word? Does Bush finally admit his double standard, the one which insists that Israel act differently towards Arafat than Bush acted towards Bin Laden? Or does he join with the Europeans in selling out Israel?

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