The road to peace

The road to peace
: German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer proposes a plan for peace in the Middle East:

“The Middle East is at the epicenter of the greatest threat to our regional and global security at the dawn of this century: destructive jihadist terrorism with its totalitarian ideology. This brand of terrorism does not only pose a threat to the societies of the West, but also and above all to the Islamic and Arab world.” …

“In order to succeed, the European Union and the US should, in view of this major challenge to our common security, pool their capabilities, assets and projects to form a new transatlantic initiative for the Middle East.”

Fischer proposes expanded economic ties to the MidEast and possible a free-trade zone. He calls for bringing in Arab countries to “create a binding agreement calling for them to disarm and renounce violence.” Don’t we all wish. Fischer said:

“We cannot counter the threat of this new totalitarianism by military means alone. Our response needs to be as all-encompassing as the threat. And this response cannot be issued by the West alone. If we were to adopt a paternalistic attitude, we would only inflict the first defeat upon ourselves. Instead we must formulate a serious offer based on genuine cooperation, an offer to work together with the states and societies of the region.”

The question, of course, is just how much military force will be needed. And no one knows. We’ll only know if we’re wrong.

: At the same conference, Rumsfeld came out shooting in defense of offense:

But he repeatedly defended the get-them-before-they-get-us doctrine in an age when terrorists are threatening to acquire and use biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as “something that has to be weighed and considered by all of us” given the possible catastrophic consequences….

Conference participants this week said they sensed that tensions had eased….

In this climate, many officials here expected a tempered, if not conciliatory speech on Saturday from Mr. Rumsfeld, who is still regarded by many Germans and French, in particular, as a villain for his dismissive remarks about “old Europe.” Instead, Mr. Rumsfeld, feisty and unyielding, appeared eager to put a potential adversary on the defensive as he laid out the administration’s rationale for the war in the absence of any illegal Iraqi weapons.

“Think about what was going on in Iraq a year ago with people being tortured, rape rooms, mass graves, gross corruption, a country that has used chemical weapons against its own people,” he said in response to a question, his voice rising, his hands chopping the air for emphasis.

He then turned the question back on the audience. “There were prominent people from representative countries in this room that opined that they really didn’t think it made a hell of a lot of difference who won,” he said, nearly shouting. “Shocking. Absolutely shocking.”

Yes, them’s fightin’ words.

The good news here is that Fischer is advocating a doctrine of democratizing and modernizing the Middle East. The bad news is that we’re no closer than ever on how to accomplish that.

: Go to the comments on this post and read the lengthy quote from Rumseld.