Skip to comments.Bush Derides Clinton's Mideast Work
Posted on 04/05/2002 4:52:17 PM PST by gumbo
Bush Derides Clinton's Mideast Work
Fri Apr 5, 8:25 PM ET
By RON FOURNIER, AP White House Correspondent
CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) - President Bush says the Mideast summit sponsored by former President Clinton resulted in a "significant intefadeh," or uprising, repeating an accusation his press secretary got in trouble for uttering.
"It wasn't all that long ago where a summit was called and nothing happened, and as a result we had significant intefadeh in the area," Bush told Britain's ITV network in an interview taped for his weekend talks with British Prime Minister Tony Blair
The Middle East crisis and Bush's decision to send Secretary of State Colin Powell on a peacemaking mission will dominate their talks.
During his last months in office, Clinton was heavily engaged in pressing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to strike an accord, but his intensive diplomacy capped by the 2000 Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Camp David presidential retreat failed.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, defending Bush against criticism that he had not played an active peacemaking role in contrast to Clinton, noted to reporters in February that the 17-month Palestinian uprising broke out during Clinton's presidency.
"In an attempt to shoot the moon and get nothing, more violence resulted," Fleischer said.
Clinton's former national security adviser, Sandy Berger, lodged a complaint with Bush's national security chief, Condoleezza Rice . She asked Fleischer to retract his comment, though advisers said at the time that Fleischer reflected the president's privately held views.
"No United States president, including President Clinton, is to blame for violence in the Middle East," Fleischer said in retraction.
Aides said Friday that Bush was not blaming Clinton, either, but rather Arafat for missing opportunities to make peace with Israel both in 2000 and during Bush's presidency.
Without mentioning Clinton by name, Bush said in the British television interview that a U.S. president should not call a summit without a good prospect for success.
"The only time that's appropriate for a U.S. president to call a summit, when it looks like something can get done," he said.
"The problem is, the American president, when he calls a summit, better get it right," Bush said. "If a summit fails, if the president ... lays it out there and nothing happens, generally the ... follow-up is worse than the status quo."
Bush did not rule out sponsoring a Mideast summit down the line. "Someday you may say, `I remember when I talked to old Bush, and there he is, sitting there with a big summit.' But now is not the time for one. I've got a different strategy."
This isn't fair to Clinton. Arafat had the whole thing planned in advance anyway. What Clinton did wrong was to not condemn Arafat for his treachery.
I like this move. Kick him hard. Kick him good. No finesse. Go for the knock-out.
And that's a new Bushism.
One of the things which, in hindsight we can see, is that Clinton should have had some idea of whether a deal was possible with Arafat before holding a summit.
Don't underestimate the impact of such an insult on the Arabs.
Now, he'll probably die.
Some critics say Clinton's rushing the process (so as to get a legacy-enhancing PR coup before the end of his presidency) directly resulted in the disastrous chain of events.
Yes, but it wasn't really Clinton's fault. Arafat had the whole thing planned well in advance. He wanted the intifada, the peace deal was just a convenient place to launch it from. Clinton allowed himself to be used by Arafat, and he refused to criticize Arafat, but he didn't start the intifada (he just didn't do anything to stop it).
Funny, you should be defending clinton so eagerly. Whatsup wid' dat? Finding a way to disagree with GW that important to you?
President Bush sits in his pickup truck with British Prime
Minister Tony Blair after his arrival to the Bush ranch in
Crawford, Texas, Friday, April 5, 2002. Bush and Blair begin
two days of talk dominated by the rise of violence in the Middle
East. The war on terrorism, particularly Bush's plans for Iraq,
are also on the agenda as Bush hosts the America's closest ally
at his secluded Texas ranch. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Well, if Arafat had it all planned, then Clinton played into his hand. So I agree with Bush (and Fleischer before he apologized): Clinton deserves blame.
Only in Washington D.C. does speaking the truth cause such an uproar.
I really didn't get this as an insult to Clinton, anyway. My read on this was that he was responding to a dumba** reporter's attempt to smear Bush as being "not involved enough" by pointing out that when a President (the former one) was very involved, things didn't turn out any better. Which is true.
There is a lesson here. No matter what you do in terms of Arafat and the Palestinian problem, it will come up and bite you in the a**. You can't give people peace, you can't force peace upon them --- people have to be ready for peace. And, the Palestinians ain't ready.
I disagree, it was very much Clinton's fault. He engineered (via Carville's campaigning) Barak's election, because Netanyahu wouldn't have any part of him. He then proceeded to ram through a "peace agreement," which everyone knew full well Arafat was not going to honor. I'll never forget Albright's tackling Arafat as he walked out of the meeting, she and slick Willie were so pathetically desparate to get the peace agreement.
Clinton's self-serving political grandstanding set the stage for the "intafada," since the PLO interpreted Baraks's offer as weakness and proceeded to wage a nasty little war with childen as weapons, and brainwashed young adults as human bombs. After his failure to get what he wanted, Clinton spent the remainder of his term lobbying for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I agree, with the added comment that I believe that Bubba might actually have believed his own publicity enough that he thought the mere fact of his presence would charm the parties into a settlement.
I can't help but think of the rap on Bush during the campaign, that he had now foreign relations experience. Funny, but I can't think of any foreign heads of state rushing down to Arkansas before Bubba was elected the first time.
"It's just about intifada, everyone does it!" Let's move on.