To the editor:
Last week as Secretary Powell returned from the Mideast with tail between legs, a historic turning point went unnoticed: President Bush lost his larger war against terrorism. Our relatively small war to destroy al-Qaida can no doubt still succeed. But there is little chance now of imposing a military solution on other states supporting terrorism.
Trapped by hands-off policies and inflated anti-terrorism rhetoric, Bush couldn't credibly threaten sanctions against Israel. Consequently, Sharon could take perverse actions that:
Turned Palestinians from 60 percent in favor of the peace process, to 90 percent in favor of suicide bombers;
Raised Arafat to his highest popularity ever;
Ensured assassination of any Palestinian who negotiates with Sharon;
Provided bloody footage for Al Jazeera that will help recruit thousands of new Muslim terrorists; and
Prevented any Muslim state from serving as a U.S. platform for invasion of Iraq.
And all for naught. Eventually there will be brokered peace based on two equal states, with both capitals in Jerusalem, complete abandonment of the Israeli settlements, outside security guarantees, and no right of return to Israel proper. But not until Bush and Sharon are gone.