Charles Krauthammer argues Bush’s policy shift on the Israel-Palestinian conflict has been a huge success:

If someone had told you at the time of the Passover massacres of 2002 (seven suicide bombings in seven days) that a year later terrorism deaths would be down more than 80%, Yasser Arafat would be edged aside, a new reformist Palestinian leadership would be approved, Palestinian finances would start to become transparent, and negotiations between the parties would become possible once again, you would have said this is utterly fanciful. But that is exactly what has happened. Why? Because of the radical new policy adopted by President Bush and enunciated last June 24. *** Bush pledged himself to a Palestinian state but told the Palestinians that they will get nothing until they give up this war, crack down on terrorism, democratize their institutions and, most important, strip Arafat of power.

This was key. Arafat is not just the man who refused to make peace with Israel — Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., has called Arafat’s rejection of Israel’s peace offer in 2000-01 not just “a tragedy” but “a crime”–he is the man who uses his power to make sure that no one else can make peace with Israel. By demanding new leadership, the Bush Administration was grounding future Middle East diplomacy in realism. Axiom A: Allowing Israel to fight the terrorism would reduce the terrorism. Axiom B: Shunning and thus diminishing Arafat would bring the first openings toward real peace. Both have proved true.

While Krauthammer is more optimistic than I am about Abu Mazen’s independence, he is worried that the “road map” introduced last week is “calendar-based” rather than “performance-based,” a key pitfall of the Oslo process.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.