Should Israel withdraw forces from West Bank
CNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews
CHRIS MATTHEWS, host: Welcome back to HARDBALL. Coming up later, Pat Caddell and Rich Lowry look at a new poll on the Middle East.
But first, tonight's HARDBALL DEBATE. Is President Bush making the right move in asking Israel to end its military offensive on the West Bank? Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon began heeding Bush's call today as Israeli forces withdrew from two West Bank cities, but the offensive continues in other towns.
Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria supports Bush's involvement, and Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum thinks Sharon should be allowed to continue his military operation. Let's give the affirmative its first shot. Fareed, why should Bush do what he did, tell Israel to withdraw?
Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA (Newsweek): Well, I think two reasons, Chris. I think first of all, we have a whole bunch of interests in the Middle East that go beyond this purely Israeli/Palestinian issue. We've got to build a coalition against Iraq, we need to try and get the-the Arab states to start reforming. All this is being put on hold by this violence.
Secondly, Israel engaging in entirely appropriate self-defense. I think Bush got it right. Seven, eight days, hit them hard, you cannot sustain these kind of suicide bombings. But now it is at a point where Israel is in deep danger of creating more problems than its solving. Radicalizing the Palestinian population, destroying real infrastructure and sowing the seeds of another wave of terrorist bombing. The-the lesson of Algeria, Vietnam, Ireland for the British, is you can win the-the-the bat-the battle but lose the war.
MATTHEWS: Let's got to Daniel Pipes for another view. Why do you believe that Sharon's right in continuing the-the-the invasion, I guess? Incursion's another word for it. Go ahead.
Mr. DANIEL PIPES (Middle East Forum): Well, I agree with the basic outlook of Fareed's two points, but I'd turn them a little bit differently at the end. Yes, we have other priorities, but our build-up towards a military campaign with Iraq is not going to be achieved by being nice to people, but it's going to be achieve by repeating what the president said over and over again, which is, 'You're either with us or against us.' And that's what we should be saying to the Saudis and other Middle Easterners.
On the second point, that the Israelis are OK only going so far but no further because they'll be creating enemies, I say the enmity towards Israel is not a result of Israeli strength. Enmity towards Israel, we can see over the last decade, got inflamed because of a perception of Israeli weakness.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about this question. Let's talk about the politics of the Middle East. Should Sharon obey an order from Bush or ignore it?
Mr. PIPES: Oh, I..,
Mr. PIPES: Well, what's the point of being a sovereign leader if you can't make critical decisions when your country, as General McCaffrey just pointed out to you, is in danger of not surviving? You've got to take the tough decisions. And you listen closely and pay great attention to your foremost ally, but in the end we have to understand that he's got to do what he's got to do. And we should thank him because he is fighting part of our war on terrorism and doing part of the dirty work just as the Northern Alliance did in Afghanistan, Israel's doing it in the Middle East. It's doing our dirty work.
MATTHEWS: Well, the United States doesn't have a problem with Palestine, or the Palestinian cause do we, Fareed?
Mr. ZAKARIA: No. I think that that...
MATTHEWS: I think there's a-there's a difference here. We do have a difference with the-with the Taliban government, with the al-Qaeda, but I don't know where intrinsically we have a difference of position with the-with the Palestinian demand for a-for a country of their own. Why would we oppose that?
Mr. ZAKARIA: Well, exac-of course, there are two issues here. One is the Palestinian use of utterly gruesome and repugnant terrorism, which should be condemned and should be fought. There is the other issue, however, which is the political status of the Palestinians on which-it's not just that we believe that they have legitimate demands and that they should be addressed, the Israeli government believes they have legitimate demands that should be addressed. Sharon has said that he will negotiate with them, that-that he could envisage a Palestinian state.
Well, that's a very different situation than we have with al-Qaeda. We're not saying we're going to negotiate with al-Qaeda. So there is a political problem that has to be solved. And my point is that if your military strategy isn't worried about that political end game, you can win the military strategy and lose the political end.
Mr. PIPES: To which I say, Chris, that one hears a lot these days that there's no military solution. To which I reply, there is indeed a military solution. In fact, if you look at history, including recent history, you find that problems are solved militarily. Take World War I and World War II. World War I, there was no military solution and Adolf Hitler was the result. World War II, there was a military solution to the German aggression, and we have modern, democratic Germany. Military solutions work. That's how you get closure. That's how you move on.
MATTHEWS: How does this bring us closure to a-closer, Daniel, to a two-state solution here? How does this bring us closer to a Palestine living at peace with Israel?
Mr. PIPES: The key is that the Palestinians, at this point, and for many years already, have made their central focus not the creation of a Palestinian state, specifically, but the destruction of the Israeli state. What I seek and where the answer lies is in convincing the Palestinians that the destruction of Israel is a futile, forlorn and hopeless effort, and they must do other things. Then, when they do accept that, they can go on and do what they can do with great talent and dignity, which is to build a state that has political participation, a vibrant economy, and a florescent culture. But they can't do that so long as they are focused on destroying Israel which is, unfortunately, the reality today.
MATTHEWS: Fareed, do you believe that the Israeli incursion we're watching now-and a general from Israel, the IDF, says he thinks it could last as much as eight weeks-will that encourage the Palestinians youth who are committing these suicides and participating in this terrorism, will that encourage them to accept Israel as a neighbor?
Mr. ZAKARIA: Well, I think the question answers itself, Chris. It is so obvious that this kind of massive military maneuver is only going to enrage another generation of Palestinians. I-I think, you know, you-people said the same thing about Mandella and the African National Congress, that they wanted to destroy South Africa and that's why you couldn't negotiate with them. They had to negotiate with them. They said the same thing about the IRA. You know, 'They want to destroy Britain. We're never going to negotiate with them.' You had to negotiate with them. Maybe this will prove the one case in history where this-this pattern doesn't repeat itself. But my real fear is that-that if we want to be true friends of Israel, and truly secure its future, then we explain to them that there is a political problem here that isn't amenable to a purely military solution.
Mr. PIPES: I...
Mr. ZAKARIA: I totally agree, Dan, that there is a very important military component. You have to strike, you have to strike hard. But you also have to start talking about the politics of this.
Mr. PIPES: If we had this discussion in 1992 and you had said, 'Israel has to deal with the PLO and Palestinians,' you would have been right. And they did do it. And as you well know, they did it for eight years. The result of that negotiating process...
Mr. ZAKARIA: Eight years of relative peace, I-I might add.
Mr. PIPES: No. Not-not at all. But anyway, the-the result of the...
Mr. ZAKARIA: Well, I think that that's a matter then.
Mr. PIPES: We'll disagree on that. But they had eight years, and look what they got. Their ultimate offer was almost two years ago in Camp David, in mid-2000, and the Israelis offered an extraordinary amount to the Palestinians and they got a no. And they got this violence for their thank-you.
Mr. ZAKARIA: OK. So-so-so the Palestinians made-the Palestinians, in my opinion, Arafat, made a-made a-a criminal error in not accept-in not at least negotiating on that issue. So, what should we do? Should we say, therefore, that once one negotiation fails, negotiations are over and we're just going to have war? I mean, Israel has three million Palestinians it has to decide what to do with.
Mr. ZAKARIA: It's not going to give them citizenship for entirely understandable reasons. What-it's-it's-it can't-it can't cut them off.
MATTHEWS: That's a good point to end on. Anne-annexation is not a-a reasonable alternative here.
Mr. ZAKARIA: But...
MATTHEWS: But anyway, thank you very much, Daniel Pipes, once again. Fareed Zakaria from Newsweek, thank you very much once-excellent debate.
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