The Blog

Remember the Bush Doctrine

From the April 15, 2002 issue: Colin Powell's trip to the Middle East could be either helpful, or a disaster.

2:45 PM, Apr 5, 2002 • By ROBERT KAGAN and WILLIAM KRISTOL
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The president needs to ensure that Thursday's speech does not mark a significant turn away from the straight and admirable path of the Bush Doctrine. He's given Arafat--again--one more chance. This really has to be the last one. If the secretary of state goes to the region and conveys that message, to Arafat and to the Arab governments, his trip could be helpful. If he goes to reiterate the Bush Doctrine and make clear to the Arab world that there will be no exceptions and that it's time to choose between civilization and terror, then his trip could be more than helpful. If he goes to negotiate between Sharon and Arafat--between a democracy and a terrorist--then the trip could be a worse disaster even than Vice President Cheney's failed mission last month. Everything now depends on what the president and his administration say and do.

Meanwhile, President Bush needs to stay focused on Iraq. Many of those who want him to become deeply and personally involved in the Middle East peace process also want him to do nothing about Saddam Hussein. In the Arab world, in Europe, in Washington and New York, and in some corners of the administration itself, there is the hope that Bush will become so immersed in peace-processing that he'll have neither the time, the energy, nor the inclination to tackle the more fundamental problem in the Middle East. By turning Bush into a Middle East mediator, they think they can shunt him off the road that leads to real security and peace--the road that runs through Baghdad. We trust the president will see and avoid this trap.

--Robert Kagan and William Kristol