Today’s WaPo has an intriguing article by Dana Milbank in which he writes that just nine days after Bush’s re-election he had a special meeting in the White House with Natan Sharansky… Or, as Milbank describes him, “an Israeli politician so hawkish that he has accused Ariel Sharon of being soft on the Palestinians.”
Sharansky has apparently recently co-authored a book called “The Case for Democracy”, which argues that nothing should be given to the Palestinians at all until they have established a full democracy. (Under conditions of foreign military occupation?? Exactly how are they supposed to do that, again?) His publisher got copies of the galleys to Prez Bush, who was so impressed that he (a) invited Sharansky over and (b) incorporated most of his ideas into the policy toward the Palestinians that he outlined at the joint press conference with Blair.
As Milbank writes,
- Sharansky made waves this spring when he rallied with Jewish settlers to oppose the Likud prime minister’s plan for a unilateral pullout from Gaza — a plan that Bush had endorsed. Sharansky, head of a Russian immigrant political party, said Sharon’s plan, though supported by a number of Likud hard-liners, would be “encouraging more terror.” A figure who has previously railed against the “illusions of Oslo” and described that famous accord as “one-sided concessions,” Sharansky resigned in 2000 from Ehud Barak’s government over the Labor prime minister’s plan to attend a peace summit in Washington.
“He’s been suffering in the political wilderness in Israel with these ideas for some time,” [his co-author Ron] Dermer said of [Sharansky]. But when it came to Bush, Dermer said, “I didn’t see a lot of daylight between them.”
This whole idea that a nation must be fully democratic before it can allowed its independence is quite bizarre, and quite a-historical. Did the US colonists have a full range of their own fully democratic institutions before they fought for and won their independence from the British Crown? Of course not! It took them 13 more years, as I recall, to work out the details of the US Constitution.
In the modern (i.e. post-WW2) era, no other nation has been obliged to “prove” its democratic credentials before being given independence… Of course, a working democracy is a very desirable thing. But to make it a precondition for national independence? That is the bizarre thing.
Anyway, I could write a bunch about this whole cart-before-horse idea, but I have to go… Just finally, though, I’d note that the tired old proposition that “democracies don’t launch wars against other nations” is palpable nonsense in the present era.