It’s time for the U.S. to disengage from the Middle East.

I know this goes against all conventional wisdom. I know this sounds strange because all the professional pontificators say just the opposite. I know neither the Israelis nor the Arabs want the U.S. to walk away.

But that is simply the best hope for a resolution to the dispute over a so-called “Palestinian state.”

Let me explain why.

U.S. Special Middle East Envoy Anthony Zinni spoke to faculty members and cadets at Virginia Military Institute recently. Zinni is the “trouble-shooter” dispatched to the region every time terrorist violence reaches a crescendo and every time Israel responds to that terror with a retaliatory strike.

What did Zinni tell the audience at VMI, where he is a visiting faculty member?

He told the group the U.S. needs to establish a permanent presence in the Middle East – “a commitment in policy and people that’s going to be a little stiff for us.”

What does this mean in English?

It means setting up a U.S. bureaucracy in the Mideast designed to meddle in the affairs of Israel and relations with its neighbors. The “permanence” of this bureaucracy indicates the U.S. accepts that terrorist violence and violations of peace treaties will continue in the Middle East forever. The job of this new special bureaucracy is to “monitor” such violations.

Zinni says there is little disagreement that a Palestinian state must exist and that efforts to set up a permanent peace between Yasser Arafat’s future police state and Israel have to move forward simultaneously through political means, economic methods, security practices and long-term monitoring. The U.S. would have primary responsibility for this process, as Zinni sees it.

Let’s take this pipedream apart.

First of all, we have to understand that Zinni is not speaking for himself. He speaks for Secretary of State Colin Powell. He is Powell’s go-to guy. He works for the State Department. So, this is not just Zinni’s dream. It’s obviously Powell’s.

Next, Zinni explains that part of this long-term peace process involves confiscating weapons and arresting those who perpetuate violence. Can I ask, since Zinni stipulates this U.S. presence does not include “peacekeeping forces,” just who is going to be confiscating weapons?

He further states that Israel must give up its military positions when they are no longer needed for security. What he means by military positions and how he defines when they are no longer needed is a little vague.

It’s amazing to me that any informed person, with a basic knowledge of the issues, can honestly believe that a foreign, civilian bureaucracy – even one backed by the world’s one remaining superpower – could possibly make a difference in the Mideast peace equation. It doesn’t make sense. It’s simply an invitation for deeper involvement in the region.

The truth is the U.S. has no keys to peace in the Mideast. No amount of arm-twisting, lobbying, negotiations, monitoring or strong words will get Arafat to put aside his hatred of the Jews and his commitment to their destruction.

Placing more Americans in the Middle East only provides the terrorists with more targets.

This is not a conflict between two sides with legitimate grievances, as Zinni and the State Department like to pretend. This is not a conflict where we can expect good-faith dialogue from both sides. This is not a conflict where goodwill alone – nor even self-interest – can help set aside evil intentions.

Zinni just doesn’t get it. Powell just doesn’t get it. Evidently, George W. Bush just doesn’t get it.

Before they drag the U.S. deeper into the Mideast quagmire, Americans need to make their voices heard on this issue. Fortunately. most Americans do get it. They understand this conflict is between a sovereign, self-governing, responsible society and a cult of terrorist violence.

There can be no mediation. There can be no successful negotiations. There can be no resolution short of a military victory by one side or the other.

A permanent U.S. office in the Middle East means one thing – permanent chaos between Israelis and Arabs.


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