Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Say What?

Diplomacy, it's been said, has a language all its own. Official statements and communiques must be carefully nuanced, to avoid upsetting anyone, or endangering on-going talks and negotiations.

Case in point: yesterday's State Department response to that deadly terrorist bombing in Israel. Here are the facts: the attack killed at least 9 Israelis, making it the bloodiest strike in almost two years. Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, claimed responsibility for the attack. And, not long after the bombing, the new, Hamas-dominated Palestinian government endorsed the attack as an act of "self defense."

Against that backdrop, how did our State Deparment react? While acknowledging Israel's right to defend itself, Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said the new Olmert government should "consider the effect on peace prospects" as it weighs a potential response.

As Fox News notes, the comments are almost identical to previous U.S. government statements that have followed terrorist attacks in Israel. But that doesn't make them any less nauseating--and incomprehensible. With terrorist organizations now running the show in Gaza and the West Bank, does anyone at Foggy Bottom have any realistic hopes for a negotiated settlement? Hamas--like Islamic Jihad--won't even acknowledge Israel's right to existence. That's hardly the foundation for serious diplomacy, or any type of lasting peace. Yet, our State Department continues to issue carefully balanced statements, appealing to all sides.

I'm guessing that our admonition to "consider the consequences" won't go very far in Tel Aviv. Nor should it. Olmert's predecessor (Ariel Sharon) won the previous intifada by using the carrot and the stick. But he only offered a carrot after relentlessly tracking eliminating terrorists (including one was that taken out in his wheel chair), and taking the steps necessary to ensure Israel's security. Israeli (and American) voters should hope thta Olmert follows the same policies.

As for our State Department, just once I'd like to hear this sort of statement in the wake of a terrorist attack against Israel, or another U.S. ally:

"The United States government abhors yesterday's violence and loss of life in Israel. Our toughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Regarding those who perpetuated this act, the U.S. stands with the government of Israel and supports all efforts to track these terrorists down and kill them. We will offer any assistance necessary to facilitate that process. The U.S. government remains committed to the elimination of terrorist groups around the world, and the liberation of those enslaved by terrorist oppression and violence."

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