In a fine bit of Internet research, Blogger Stefan Sharkansky found this delicious sequence of yearly statements by U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell about Yasir Arafat and the other Palestinian leaders:
- Nov. 19, 2001: "The Palestinian leadership must make a 100 percent effort to end violence and to end terror. There must be real results, not just words and declarations. Terrorists must be stopped before they act. The Palestinian leadership must arrest, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of terrorist acts.'
- April 17, 2002: "In my meetings with Chairman Arafat I made it clear that he and the Palestinian Authority could no longer equivocate. They must decide as the rest of the world has decided that terrorism must end. Chairman Arafat must take that message to his people. He must follow through with instructions to his security forces. He must act to arrest and prosecute terrorists, disrupt terrorist financing, dismantle terrorist infrastructure and stop incitement."
- August 21, 2003: "I call on Chairman Arafat to work with Prime Minister Abbas and to make available to Prime Minister Abbas those security elements that are under his control so that they can allow progress to be made on the roadmap; end terror, end this violence that just results in the further repetition of the cycle that we've seen so often. It has to end."
- January 29, 2004: "I once again implore the Palestinian leaders, and especially Prime Minister Abu Alaa, to do everything in his power, everything in their power, to ostracize these terrorists, to go after them, and to deal with this terrorist activity."
Also noteworthy is the evolution of Powell's language: from "must" and "made it clear" to "call on" and finally "implore." This weakening suggests that despite all the fine rhetoric to the contrary – about Arafat being irrelevant and replaced – he has a stronger hand than ever vis-à-vis U.S. diplomacy. Which suggests to me that there's something fundamentally wrong with that diplomacy. (And for my ideas of what should replace it, see my article of one year ago, "Does Israel Need a Plan?") (January 30, 2004)