Thursday was our National Day of Prayer, marked by thousands of events and millions of faithful gathered to thank God for our innumerable blessings. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, almost 20,000 Christians checked their denominational differences at the gate, and braved high winds and rain to join in prayer together in a local stadium – the largest gathering in the history of the NDP.
Indeed, our nation needs prayer more than ever as we prosecute our war with Jihadistan abroad and at home. Jihadi terrorism this week began moving out of its detour into the Middle East. The standoff in Ramallah between Israeli Defense Forces and head Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat ended, some terrorist suspects holed up in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity surrendered, and the United Nations planned fact-finding mission to investigate the Jenin refugee camp “massacre” was cancelled. The Jenin “massacre” death toll stood at a count of 56 by Wednesday, a far cry from the purported figures of dead at 500 Palestinian refugee camp residents. The two-week incursion for the self-defensive purpose of preventing future terror attacks cost the lives of many Israeli soldiers.
We concur with James Phillips, Middle East Expert at the Heritage Foundation: “The global war on terrorism impinges on the Middle East in many ways.” Patience is the key – as demonstrated by an excellent week in regional diplomacy on the part of Team Bush. The President brokered an agreement allowing Arafat’s release from his encircled Ramallah compound and IDF withdrawal from the area in exchange for Arafat’s surrender of six terrorist suspects under his protection in the compound. As a part of the arrangement, U.S. and British authorities have taken custody of the suspects, who will be detained in Jericho.
Charges that the Administration’s Middle East policy is incongruous was echoed from the left and right, but it must be understood that this U.S. brokered deal gives both the Israelis and the Palestinians something they want, and gives the Bush Administration greater credibility (and hence greater latitude) with the both parties, as well as the E.U. and Israel’s Arab neighbors. President Bush voiced his aims: “Chairman Arafat is now free to move around and free to lead, and we expect him to do so. One of the things he must do is condemn and thwart terrorist activities. … His responsibility is just what I said – to renounce, to help detect and stop terrorist killings. And the message can’t be more clear, and we’re going to continue to hold people accountable for results.”
For his part, Arafat wasted no time demonstrating his hatred for Israel, clarifying for all to see that he ultimately will not rest until Israel is annihilated: “[The IDF incursion] is an ugly crime. … I call on the international community to take immediate measures in the face of this horrendous crime. Those terrorists, Nazis and racists – how can we tolerate them after committing this crime?” And we estimate that clarification is precisely what Mr. Bush anticipated – give terrorist Arafat enough rope to hang himself and he can’t resist!
Meddling in the Executive Branch’s foreign policy negotiations, the House voted 352-21 to express solidarity with Israel in its fight against terrorism, and the Senate voted 94-2 in a similar expression of support. While at first glance this appears positive, the question congressional busybodies – left and right – must ask themselves is why we need a resolution to voice our support for a confirmed ally? The Administration’s policy is just such a confirmation; but in thoughtful actions, not hasty and provocative words.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is fresh back from visiting our Central Asian allies, where he noted, “At home, uncertainty leads to confusion, and with it a lack of resolve. To our allies it represents unreliability, to our enemies, weakness. It invites miscalculation. And in this era when weapons of mass destruction are spreading so insidiously and so invidiously, miscalculation invites disaster. Just as military weakness provocatively tempts others into adventures they would otherwise avoid, uncertainty and unpredictability in foreign policy are provocative in the same way and for the same reason.” (Yes, we admire Secretary Rumsfeld for always being “fresh”!)
Secretary Rumsfeld repeated the war will be a long one, and even on the first war front – despite a “security situation in the country [that] is generally good and seems to be improving modestly” – “the situation in Afghanistan is far from over. It is a situation where we know there are al Qaeda and Taliban who in some instances have not left the country and in some instances if they’ve left the country, they haven’t left very far.” And up to 1,000 troops from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division are on the way to the Afghan-Pakistani border, joining coalition allies in search missions.
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