For Bush, Key Foreign Policy Goals Intersect
For Bush, Key Foreign Policy Goals Intersect (Glenn Kessler, WaPo)
President Bush and his top aides have repeatedly said they want to improve relations with European allies in Bush’s second term, beginning with a presidential visit in February. Bush has also said he believes the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has provided a new opportunity to pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Yet those twin goals will be continually tested and at times may conflict in the coming year, administration and European officials say.
Few issues separate the Bush administration from Europe as much as which course to pursue in the Middle East. European officials, in fact, have signaled they believe that Bush’s willingness to bend to their view on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will be a true test of his sincerity about improving relations. “The test of an enhanced Euro-Atlantic relationship will be the ability to relaunch the peace process between Israelis and the Palestinians,” French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said this month, shortly before he met with Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice at the residence of the French ambassador.
The different approaches to the Middle East conflict are substantive, although for diplomatic reasons both sides are eager to play them down in public. That issue has also moved to the forefront of the U.S.-European relationship because differences over two others — the war in Iraq and the Iranian nuclear program — have at least temporarily been put to the side. Europeans are more apt to focus on the plight of the Palestinians and criticize Israeli actions. The United States, a fierce defender of Israel, has demanded that Palestinian militant groups be dismantled before progress can be made on peace talks.
There can never be peace so long as Palestinians believe they will gain from the murder of innocents. European anti-Semitism notwithstanding, compromise on that front would ensure failure.