Along the Tracks

Friday, February 14, 2003

Arafat easing out?

The London Independent also has this little news-tremor: Yassir Arafat has agreed to step down from the day-to-day operations of the Palestinian Authority, opening the path to his sidelining and the PA’s compliance with Bush’s statement of last summer, i.e., that Arafat would no longer be considered a partner in talks.

Now, Arafat may be attempting to put up a “figurehead” prime minister and maintain control - he is, after all, a survivor, if a bloody one. But this public acquiescence to U.S. and Israeli demands has to be seen as Arafat's admission of defeat, not least importantly by his own people. He is unlikely to be able to keep control of the levers of power if those in the PA see him as unalterably weakened. This may be the most important breakthrough - at least the early stages of a breakthrough - in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in at least a decade. If Arafat is indeed sidelined, it will be the biggest breakthrough since Camp David.

Carl Levin: Rogue senator

Today’s London Independent (link courtesy of Drudge) has a story about Michigan Sen. Carl Levin’s accusation of CIA “sabotage” of the U.N. inspectors in Iraq. What we have here is, once again, an effort to redefine the “success” of the inspectors as “finding a smoking gun.” What Resolution 1441 clearly states the goal is Iraqi disarmament - and the inspectors are merely the mechanism used to judge Iraqi compliance. Therefore, the inspections are a success. They have brought forward solid evidence that Iraq is not complying with its requirements, whether it be lack of cooperation, hiding banned substances, possessing banned munitions or maintaining banned weapons programs.

When anti-war Democrats attempt to redefine the inspectors’ mission, they are in fact guilty of “sabotage” - sabotage of American foreign policy. Levin apparently is willing to sacrifice a few Iraqi informants (and rest assured, they would be tortured and killed), all so the inspectors can find a chemical weapons bunker or Scud missile. Then, of course, Levin would claim the inspections were “working” - even though disarmament still would not be happening.

Senator, Saddam is the one who has “sabotaged” the inspections. Putting the responsibility on the administration is disgustingly partisan. I’ll wait to hear your apology, but I won’t hold my breath.

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