Commentary Magazine


Bashing Bush in Pakistan

In a roundtable today with Pakistani editors, Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the Israeli-Palestinian issue with the now-familiar Obama administration litany: the problems are hard, they were inherited, they were ignored by the prior administration:

I think that, look, we all know that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one that is a very serious and difficult problem that we are working hard also to try to resolve. We inherited a lot of problems. If you remember, when my husband left office, we were very close to an agreement because he worked on it all the time. The next administration did not make it a priority and did not really do much until toward the end. And unfortunately, we are trying to make up for some lost time, in my opinion.

Hillary forgets that the Bush administration in 2001 inherited an even more difficult problem — the new Palestinian terror war that concluded the eight-year Clinton peace process. During the next eight years, the Bush administration nevertheless did the following:

Adopted a new policy officially endorsing a Palestinian state if the Palestinian Authority renounced terrorism and elected new leaders (2002);

Produced a three-phase roadmap to achieve a Palestinian state — and got the UN, EU, Russia, Israel and the PA all to endorse it (2003);

Entered into a deal with Israel to turn over all of Gaza to the PA to enable it to demonstrate its ability to “live side by side in peace and security” (2004);

Arranged a Palestinian election to choose a “moderate” successor to Yasser Arafat (2005);

Arranged another election to give the Palestinians a choice between their new PA and their premier terrorist group (2006);

“Accelerated” the Roadmap to move straight to final status negotiations in the Annapolis Process (2007); and

Dedicated the secretary of state (not just an envoy) to trip after trip, and meeting after meeting, for more than a year, to push a final settlement (2007-2008).

The results of the eight-year Bush administration’s peace process were the same as those of the Clinton one: another offer of a Palestinian state, another Palestinian rejection, and another war, as Israel was finally forced to act against the continuous rockets that came from Gaza.

Two peace processes, two formal offers of a state, and two wars. Even a cursory knowledge of the last sixteen years would suggest the problem is not the absence of attention, nor the absence of effort. But in the tenth month of the Obama administration’s own failures in the “peace process,” it is easier to bash Bush on foreign soil than to give a serious answer.