UN resolution concerning Middle East
CNBC: Hardball with Chris Matthews
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host: Welcome back to HARDBALL. This half hour terrorism analyst Steve Emerson and Christopher Whitcomb on how important finding Osama bin Laden is to the war on terrorism.
But first, the HARDBALL debate tonight. Is the US going too far trying to win goodwill from the Arabs? This week, the United States drafted a UN resolution in the Security Council envisioning a Palestinian state. That's the first time we've done that. On Wednesday, President Bush said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's incursion into Palestine-controlled areas wasn't helping us-US efforts at peace, and Secretary of State Colin Powell demanded that Sharon withdraw Israeli troops out of the Palestinian territories. All this in a week when Mideast envoy Anthony Zinni is back in the region trying to reach a cease-fire.
Are any of these moves helping America's image among Arabs? Daniel Pipes is with the Middle East Forum, and Raghida Dergham is the senior diplomatic correspondent for Al-Hayat, the Arabic newspaper.
Raghida, I've got to ask you the question, there's a lot of blowing of kisses by the United States this week in the UN by Secretary Powell, all kinds of efforts to try to show that we're even-handed. In fact, we're sticking it to the Israelis just a little bit in the last week. Does anybody in the Arab world hear us?
Ms. RAGHIDA DERGHAM (Al-Hayat Senior Diplomatic Correspondent): Of course. It's high time that the United States and the administration correct the wrongs that have been in its policy recently. And I think they're doing just the right thing and the fair thing. And it's not there yet. Of course, the vote in the Security Council was tremendous and historic and very important. And it simply said 'a Palestinian state and an Israeli state,' so it's not turning against Israel. It's really leading the efforts for a co-existence, a peaceful settlement, a consensus. Like we said last week, Chris, an international consensus is developing, has taken shape in the UN vote. And I think, unfortunately, Israel is still outside of it. Hopefully they will realize its importance. '67 borders is a very good settlement for the Israelis, not only for the Arab.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let's go to Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum.
Daniel, what's your view on this of this week of, you might call it appeasement, concession. What-how's it add up as you see it.
Mr. DANIEL PIPES (Middle East Forum): Chris, you forgot the key fact, which is Vice President Cheney is in the region. And the vice president isn't there to try and broker something between the Arabs and Israel. He's there to try and find support for an American military action against Iraq, and that, I think, is the decisive factor here.
MATTHEWS: So this is a head fake? We're pretending to be tough on Israel, but we're really trying to get the Arabs to cool down while we go after Iraq?
Mr. PIPES: Well, more than cool down. We're trying to find some support. We can go after Iraq on our own, but it's easier, more practical, cheaper, if we can find bases and support locally. So that's the real story here.
MATTHEWS: Well, it would be nice one of the countries bordering Iraq let us use them as a base-as a launching pad. It's either Turkey or Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Don't we need at least one of them this week?
Mr. PIPES: Yeah. It's actually Saudi Arabia or Turkey because Kuwait doesn't have the infrastructure.
MATTHEWS: OK. So, Saudi Arabia is obviously the largest one.
Mr. PIPES: But either-either...
MATTHEWS: So, in other words-in other words, you see this-this movement by the United States-both in terms of the Security Council action calling for a Palestinian state and basically making concessions to the Arab side, the call this week, a very dramatic call by Secretary Colin Powell to Sharon saying, 'Withdraw your forces from the occupied territories,' you believe that that adds up to nothing more than a tactical move to enhance the chances for success of the vice president in forging some kind of a local coalition against Saddam Hussein?
Mr. PIPES: Exactly.
Ms. DERGHAM: If-if that...
Mr. PIPES: The Bush administration has made it clear that it supports Israel in its war against the terrorists who are the same terrorists who are fighting us. So this is-this is momentary. It's not significant.
Ms. DERGHAM: Can I say something about that, Chris?
Ms. DERGHAM: You know, I should hope that it's not lip service. I do hope that's not so because that's not good for the image or for the credibility of the administration and the United States.
The point is, what is wrong for this administration to pursue the vision of peace, of coexistence? Why should we think that this is wrong? It's not de-departing from supporting Israel. The vote in the Security Council does not constitute a position against Israel. And what the administration is saying to-to Ariel Sharon is, 'Pull back. Stop defying the international consensus and stop, you know, doing your offensive.' Even The New York Times editorial said, 'Stop it. Enough is enough.' So I don't really see that this is in any way lip service so that Iraqi situation could go on. I hope not, anyway.
MATTHEWS: Do you know in economics or in mathematics, both of you, when you try to reach a stable solution, you try to end the dynamic and-and you reach sort of end point, the trouble is, isn't it, for the United States, that every time we help the Arab side or encourage them, we keep the movement going against Israel to its ultimate elimination. And every time we take the Israeli side, we prevent any chance of their being any peace because the Israelis are so powerful they don't need to cut a deal. They keep moving.
Mr. PIPES: Look-look...
MATTHEWS: The problem is, we can't reach a stable solution whereby Israel exists, it has secure borders, and it's accepted by its enemies in the region. There is no stability. Can you imagine stability in the Middle East, Mr. Pipes?
Mr. PIPES: Yeah, I...
Mr. PIPES: I certainly can, Chris.
MATTHEWS: How so?
Mr. PIPES: Well...
MATTHEWS: Give me the definition of us achieving stability without-with-until it ends?
Mr. PIPES: Well, it's actually not that hard to imagine. Look, the basic elements of this conflict are simple. The Arabs want to destroy Israel. Israel wants to have its existence accepted. That's what this has been about for over 50 years. So, whereas supporting the Arabs against Israel would lead to the elimination of Israel, supporting Israel against the Arabs leads to a sense of futility in the hope-leads to a sense of futility about destroying Israel. That is, in fact, a peaceable solution.
MATTHEWS: But that ignores the fact...
Ms. DERGHAM: And that...
MATTHEWS: ...that the Arabs have the potential to reach a country with a much lar-larger perimeter to defend-that's us. They can strike at us anywhere in the world because of our support for Israel. You act like that's an irrelevant fact. Sure, if we're tough on behalf of Israel, it's better for Israel. But we expose ourselves to the antipathy of the Arab and Islamic world, obviously.
Mr. PIPES: Chris, our goal in the Arab/Israeli conflict...
MATTHEWS: Don't we?
Mr. PIPES: Chris, our goal in the Arab/Israeli conflict is for there not to be another round of war.
Mr. PIPES: The best thing we can do is signal to the Arabs that war against Israel is futile. It's not going to go anywhere and they might as well stop it and go and build a flourishing economy and a flourishing culture and a...
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that's succeeding?
Mr. PIPES: ...and an open political society.
Ms. DERGHAM: That...
MATTHEWS: Do you believe that strategy is succeeding?
Mr. PIPES: I-I think whenever we do it, it does succeed, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: OK. Raghida:
Ms. DERGHAM: Can I say something?
MATTHEWS: Sure. Go ahead.
Ms. DERGHAM: Yes. Can I say something on this? Listen, I really regret that Daniel Pipes would to-have to go on pushing that line of hatred and war. The fact of the matter is that there is a road map to peaceful coexistence. And I don't know why this is so hard to accept and there is such a need to resist. There is an Arab initiative. It's the Saudi crown prince who has come up with a recognition-not only recognition of Israel but also normalization with Israel if there is a full withdrawal from the occupied territories, and this will be endorsed in the Beirut summit. What's wrong in accepting peaceful settlement? I mean, why, Daniel, why is it that you have to bring in the hatred and the war and the fight and let's condescend?
Mr. PIPES: Raghida...
Ms. DERGHAM: What does it get this for the United States?
Mr. PIPES: I'm not bringing it in.
Ms. DERGHAM: Even in our interests...
Mr. PIPES: It exists.
Ms. DERGHAM: ...and the interests of the United States, why do you want to push that? It's against our interests in the region.
Mr. PIPES: But, Raghida, I want to end the war, and...
Ms. DERGHAM: Well, how-but we-but Daniel, since...
Mr. PIPES: I think the way wars end is when an one side gives up on trying to achieve it's goal of destroying...
Ms. DERGHAM: Because-because-that...
Mr. PIPES: ...destroying the other.
Ms. DERGHAM: You are so wrong.
Mr. PIPES: That-that leads to peace.
Ms. DERGHAM: You are so wrong. The very premise you are taking is so wrong and-and false, in fact, you're saying the Arabs are going to destroy Israel.
Mr. PIPES: I am.
Ms. DERGHAM: And the Arabs are saying they have an initiative right out there. They're saying, 'We will not only accept Israel, but we will normalize with Israel.'
Mr. PIPES: And you know how I understand that?
Ms. DERGHAM: 'And what Israel has to withdraw-only end its occupation, not end it's existence.'
MATTHEWS: If it's so hopeless, Daniel, why is Egypt at least honoring a cold peace with Israel?
Mr. PIPES: The...
MATTHEWS: A much warmer peace-a substantial warmer peace you have in Israel with Jordan. You have the chance of Syria moving a bit closer to stopping its support for terrorism. Why do you take the view that the United States has to play this tough role on behalf of Israel rather than go ahead with the tilt it was operating with this week...
Mr. PIPES: Chris...
MATTHEWS: ...to-in order for Israel to get friendly-have some friends in the region?
Mr. PIPES: Chris, there's a war underway. There's a war between Israel and the Palestinians. And either you're going to support the Palestinians in their wish to destroy Israel, or you're going to support Israel in their wish to be left alone and accepted. That's what it boils down to. All this nonsense about Abdullah plans and Tenet plans and Zinni plans is meaningless. It's going to go nowhere. You don't come in the middle of the war with some kind of clever scheme and say, 'Here, guys, stop fighting and agree to our terms.' That's not going to happen.
Let's get real about this. This isn't real, this talk of peace plans. There's a war underway, just as there was a war a few months ago with us against Afghanistan. If you come to me and said, 'Here, here's a peace plan between the Taliban and the United States,' I'd have said it's silly. There's a war. Let's-let's-let's-one side or other's going to win this war, and that's what this is about now.
MATTHEWS: Where was this war you talk about before September, 2000?
Where was this war that you say was inevitable?
Mr. PIPES: The-the-the war...
MATTHEWS: There's long periods of relative peace between Israel and its neighbors that go on, where you have occasional terrorism but the countries are not fighting with each other. Why do you say this is inevitable, this war between these countries?
Mr. PIPES: Chris, there has been a war ever since Israel came to exist in 1948. Israel has been fighting for its survival and its enemies have been fighting to destroy it. At times, you're absolutely right, there's a hot war and very intense, and other times it's-it's quite quiet. But the war...
MATTHEWS: Why don't we encourage the quiet?
Mr. PIPES: ...is there all the time.
Ms. DERGHAM: Chris...
MATTHEWS: Why don't we encourage the quiet?
Mr. PIPES: Well, I'm happy to have quiet, obviously, but that does-what we need is closure. What we need is for the war to end.
Ms. DERGHAM: What we need, Daniel...
Mr. PIPES: And the only way it's going to end is either to have Israel destroyed or Israel accepted. These...
Ms. DERGHAM: No, what...
Mr. PIPES: These-these in...
Ms. DERGHAM: It can end. Daniel...
Ms. DERGHAM: ...will you permit me?
MATTHEWS: You first.
Ms. DERGHAM: Well, it-it can definitely end, Daniel, with ending the occupation. And I just want to say, thank the Lord...
Mr. PIPES: That's silly, Raghida.
Ms. DERGHAM: No, no. It's not. But thank-thank...
Mr. PIPES: That's silly. There-there was no occupation...
Ms. DERGHAM: Can I say-can...
Mr. PIPES: ...before 1967.
Ms. DERGHAM: May I-may...
Mr. PIPES: And the-and the effort of the Arabs was to destroy Israel then.
MATTHEWS: If the occupation ended up...
Ms. DERGHAM: May..
MATTHEWS: Yeah. OK. Let Raghida get a turn.
Ms. DERGHAM: May I? Yes.
MATTHEWS: Your turn.
Ms. DERGHAM: I just want to say, Daniel, I thank the Lord that what we have in the White House and in the ranks of diplomacy here, we have people who do not think along the lines that you do. And thank God, also, in Israel we have certain number of people, a constituency who...
Mr. PIPES: Well, thank God they don't think...
Ms. DERGHAM: ...that will come-that we will...
Mr. PIPES: ...along the way you do, either, Raghida.
Ms. DERGHAM: ...that we will come to a-to a solution not to say, 'Let's just keep on killing.' Because really, keeping on killing is not a solution.
Mr. PIPES: I'm not in favor of killing.
Ms. DERGHAM: This equation, one will have destroy each other. The point is that in the peace plan...
Mr. PIPES: You're putting words in my mouth. I didn't say anything about being in favor of killing. Let me make that clear.
Ms. DERGHAM: ...the war-the war will end-the war will end if there is an end to occupation, Daniel. And that's the point. It's not like that, 'Let's choose'...
MATTHEWS: Well, this week the United States called for an end to the occupation. We're going to see next week what happens. Anyway, thank you for joining us tonight, Daniel Pipes...
Ms. DERGHAM: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ...and Raghida Dergham.
Ms. DERGHAM: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Two very different views.
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