THE BLOG
05/15/2008 06:05 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Swift Boating Comes to Jerusalem

George Bush was in Jerusalem today doing what he and his fellow Republican operatives do best -- fear-mongering for crass political gain at a time when the Mid East fires are skipping their fire lines from all that hot air Bush is blowing across its parched landscape.

Instead of lofty rhetoric, imaginative new ideas, and presidential inspiration to salvage the wreckage of 8 years of Bush's Middle East follies, the president decided to jump into the political swamp and play off the worst fears of Israelis and Jews everywhere about Barack Obama

Did George Bush offer a constructive, regional approach to prevent Lebanon's fragile democracy from descending into further Hezbollah-inspired chaos? NO!

Did George Bush offer new ideas to break the logjam that has now irrevocably bottled up his vaunted Middle East road map legacy that is dying a slow death? NO!

Did George Bush offer new ideas to prevent a new nuclear arms race from engulfing the Middle East and to coax Iran away from its nuclear ambitions? NO!

Instead, Bush's not-too-veiled accusation against Barack Obama (leveled no less from the dais of Israel's Knesset (Parliament) during Israel's 60th independence anniversary celebrations) that Obama's willingness to meet with heads of state who are inimical to America, somehow meant that Obama is willing to naively appease terrorists and radicals and sell Israel down the river, represents crass GOP Willy Horton-style swift-boating at its most evil. I don't ever recall hearing Obama offering to sit down with Hamas, or Hezbollah or other terror or radical groups, just doing the very same that Bush is doing with Iran and North Korea, and through our embassy, with the leadership in Syria.

Oh how much Dubya wanted to sound Churchillian by accusing "some" of Lord Chamberlain-like appeasement. Mr. President, even if you sport a bowler and a cigar, and flash that "v" sign...that dog won't hunt.

The irony of it all is that this is the very same George Bush that has authorized his administration to negotiate with the charter member of his Axis of Evil -- Iran. What chutzpah!! Mr. President, did it ever occur to you that you are not only negotiating with Iran, but you are doing from a position of utter weakness. Any self-respecting Democrat knows that effective negotiating with Iran will require the U.S. to do so from a position of re-earned and re-gained strength.

In eight years of Bush/Cheney/Condi Mid East tumult, the United States has endured a massive deterioration of standing and support throughout the Middle East, as the radicals and terrorists have grown stronger and bolder. I submit that Israel, because of George Bush's policies, is weaker, not stronger. That Israel's enemies have become a graver threat to Israel than when Bush first assumed office. I know that many of my pro-Israel friends challenge my position, but they have not fully grasped how much more dangerous the Middle East has become since Bush took office. It will take a new president to undo that damage. At a time when Israel faces grave threats on its borders, and a government in Iran that has threatened its very existence, what Israelis wanted to hear was the confident, reassuring voice of support from a president who would offer tangible policies to alleviate those security threats -- not empty rhetoric stoking those fears.

To American supporters of Israel, I urge you not to fall victim to this White House-inspired swift-boating against Democrats and their leadership. Sen. Obama has engendered some concern among many Americans and Israelis that he does not grasp "from the gut" the magnitude of the threats facing Israel. Hopefully, he and his campaign will do more to address these concerns. And I am confident that in time, he will earn that trust should he become our nominee. But any such hesitation of support that Obama has engendered should pale when compared to the damage Bush's policies have done to Israel's long term security.

The United States is in desperate need of a new, comprehensive Middle East strategy that will undo that staggering damage that Bush has wrought on the region and oh, how wonderful it would have been if Bush and his foreign policy team would have bequeathed a new U.S. Middle East strategy to Israel and to the region that could have included many of the following elements:

1. Strategies to galvanize Islam's moderates to challenge terrorist ideology.
2. A policy to contain the regional fallout arising from America's withdrawal from Iraq.
3. A 24/7 effort to galvanize Israelis and Palestinians into supporting creation of a Palestinian state that is not a threat to Israel.
4. A new muscular diplomacy that includes the incentives and disincentives to reduce Iran's threat to regional stability.
5. A new approach to neutralize the threat that Hezbollah poses to Israel's security and Lebanon's democracy.
6. A massive Marshal Plan -- largely funded by Arab petro-dollars, to bring economic relief to the Palestinian people so as to coax them into a two-state solution.
7. Credible security arrangements that can leverage more effective U.S. diplomatic activities.
8. Last, but not least, an energy conservation strategy that weans America off of the region's oil barons.

Because George Bush has so little to offer in the way of a new American Middle East strategy, he preyed on Israelis worst fears and by doing so introduced that dreaded GOP swift boating to Jerusalem. That's quite the birthday present from the president of the United States to a nation that has endured more fears than most nations have endured in 200 years.