Why America slept

By Joseph Farah

If you really want to understand why America never saw Sept. 11 coming, there’s a new book by America’s top terrorism expert that explains it best.

I’m talking about Yossef Bodansky’s “The High Cost of Peace.”

It’s truly a masterpiece. I read this 650-page tome in one day. If you are interested in how U.S. meddling has messed up the Middle East, this is the book for you. If you’re interested in knowing why the Arab and Muslim world hates the West, this book is for you. If you’re interested in illustrations of how appeasement leads to increased violence rather than peace, this book is for you.

Bodansky documents the way U.S. policy in the Middle East radically shifted during the Bush 41 administration and then moved to the absurd during the Clinton administration.

It was these misguided policies, Bodansky shows, that left the U.S. wide open for and unaware of the attacks of Sept. 11.

Time after time, the Clinton administration coerced Israel to restrain itself as it was pummeled by terrorist attacks. Israel was treated with one standard while an entirely different standard of behavior was expected of the Arab world. When the Israeli government could bend no more, the Clinton administration did everything in its power to change the government – to one as blind to realities and real-world pragmatism as it was.

In the last two years of the Clinton administration, irrational policies of appeasement led Israel to the brink of national disaster and regional war.

Worse yet, those policies demonstrated to the Muslim world that the U.S. could be pushed around. They suggested America was weak, that it would yield to pressure and unreasonable demands. By not responding to extreme acts of terrorism – like the attack on the U.S.S. Cole – the Clinton administration invited more punishment, on a bigger and grander scale.

“What the Clinton administration accomplished with its Middle East policy was to create in the Muslim eyes the image of a weak and subservient Israel, vulnerable to political pressure from the United States and military onslaught by its neighbors, while at the same time arousing frustration and wrath toward the United States because of its failure to ‘deliver’ Israel,” Bodansky concludes.

If anything, the facts Bodansky lays out to make his case make his conclusion seem understated to say the least.

To say thousands and thousands of people paid with their lives for these criminal policies is to state it a bit more clearly, concisely and honestly.

While the Clinton administration clearly was most guilty in placing all its bets on negotiated settlements that had no chance of success, it did not invent these policies nor did these policies end when Clinton left office. It was the Bush 41 administration that first treated Israel and the Middle East terrorists and totalitarian Arab nations as moral equivalents. These policies were only perfected in their outrageous application by Clinton. And they continued for nearly the first two years of the Bush 43 administration before wiser minds prevailed.

Bodansky’s book is not an easy read. It is not entertaining. It is not light. But it is history that needs to be understood. It’s the inside story of how decisions were made and why – decisions that are still very much affecting our lives today as we enter a new stage in a war that is a direct result of these insane policies.

Why was the Clinton administration so blind? Why did it make so many foreign policy mistakes? Why did it continue to make the same mistakes over and over?

Bodansky makes that very clear, too. There were two personality problems at the root of Clinton’s sellout of Israel:

  • many of his decisions were colored by a desire to cover up his own scandalous and shameful personal behavior in the White House;

  • the rest was the result of his lust for a place in history – a legacy he neither deserved nor earned;

This is not a book for everyone. But it is a book for anyone who truly wants to understand the myths shaping Mideast policy both in Israel and Washington over the last decade. I hope someone puts it in the hands of Clinton’s successor so we can stop repeating the mistakes of the recent past.


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