Condi comes clean on her Middle East views
By Cal Thomas
There’s been much speculation in recent days about Secretary of State Rice’s beliefs on the future of “peace” in Israel and the areas won in defensive wars. JWR contributing columnist columnist Cal Thomas interviewed Miss Rice on October 25. What follows is an exclusive excerpt of the interview that will appear next week in his syndicated column.
We think the Secretary of State comes off as utopian and rather naive. She needs to go.
QUESTION: You’re all over the conservative Jewish blogs for remarks you made recently on the Palestinian state, your commitment to it, living side by side with Israel, and that’s been the policy of the Administration since day one.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: I’d like to know what evidence you have — I read, and I know you do and a lot more than I do, the sermons, the editorials in the Middle East, the right of return idea, which a lot of people think is just basically overwhelming for a Jewish population with millions and millions of Arabs in the so-called Diaspora. What evidence do you have that teaching their schoolchildren at the ages of four and five to be martyrs, to show up in their little uniforms with plastic guns and their headbands, textbooks one grenade plus two grenades equals, you know, three grenades — what evidence do you have out there that if they had an independent state that they would lay down their arms and not complete the mission of killing the Jews and throwing them out?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, you can look at any opinion poll in the Palestinian territories and 70 percent of the people will say they’re perfectly ready to live side by side with Israel because they just want to live in peace. And when it comes right down to it, yeah, there are plenty of extremists in the Palestinian territories who are not going to be easily dealt with. They have to be dealt with — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories — they’re terrorists and they have to be dealt with as terrorists.
But the great majority of Palestinian people — this is — I’ve been with these people. The great majority of people, they just want a better life. This is an educated population. I mean, they have a kind of culture of education and a culture of civil society. I just don’t believe mothers want their children to grow up to be suicide bombers. I think the mothers want their children to grow up to go to university. And if you can create the right conditions, that’s what people are going to do.
QUESTION: Do you think this or do you know this?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think I know it.
QUESTION: You think you know it?
SECRETARY RICE: I think I know it.
QUESTION: Is it because — do you think you know it because you want to believe it or do you think you know it because of conversations with tens, scores, hundreds —
SECRETARY RICE: Well, lots of conversations with Palestinians. But also it’s — look, if human beings don’t want a better future, don’t want their children to grow up in peace and have opportunities, then none of this is going to work anyway. But I really believe that the people of the Middle East — not the extremists — want the same things that everyone else wants. I haven’t seen a society yet where it wasn’t true. Let me put it that way. I haven’t seen a society yet where ordinary people, given an opportunity, wouldn’t opt for a better life and for peace.
QUESTION: But then you have this incredible religious component which says, you know, your guarantee for heaven is if you blow somebody up.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, except for those leaders who don’t seem to be so anxious to lead the surge and go to paradise.
QUESTION: Oh, of course they don’t. No, they have plenty of recruits.
SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, they do have plenty of recruits. But the ideology, that kind of ideology of hatred and hopelessness does not have a chance against an ideology of hope and a better future. We just have to realize that because of the way that the politics of the Middle East has developed for the last 60 years, that ideology of hope and a better future has not been there.
I don’t believe that most people in the Middle East really want to blow themselves up and believe in this ideology any more than most Russians actually wanted to believe in international communism. There are always extremists who are going to do that. There are always ideologues who are going to believe and they are always going to recruit from a pool of disaffected people. So you both have to lessen the pool of disaffected people, give them alternatives, and people choose other paths. I just don’t see a society yet where that hasn’t been the case.
At some point in the interview, Thomas needed to ask the key question that we must pose to all such astonishingly egocentric observers: “What if you’re wrong? What if we’re dealing with that rare phenomenon (by your reckoning), a culture that’s in the grip of a genocidal death cult, one in which mothers urge their children to become suicide martyrs?” And when they refuse to consider this possibility, we need to point out gently that every bit of policy they develop based on their fantasies (ultimately products of the Politically Correct Paradigm), will not only fail but backfire. Gently but firmly.
Rice must resign? Why, because her replacement will understand better? No, Rice needs to wake up and smell the sulphuric hatreds emanating from the allegedly robust “civil society.” She needs to spend some time visiting Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI. And so do most other Americans, right, left, center, and been-down-so-long-it’s-beginning-to-look-like-up.