Friday, Warren Christopher wrote one of the most insulting op-eds in history. The good news is that Bill Kristol wrote a brilliant counterpoint article to rebut Christopher.

Christopher: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s just-concluded trip to Lebanon, Israel and Rome was an exercise in grace, bravery and, to my regret, wrongly focused diplomacy. Especially disappointing is the fact that she resisted all suggestions that the first order of business should be negotiation of an immediate cease-fire between the warring parties.

Kristol: First, “an immediate cease-fire must take priority, with negotiations on longer-term arrangements to follow.” In other words, the fact that one of the warring parties is a state that had withdrawn from occupied territory and was scrupulously complying with its obligations, and the other is a terror group that was arming itself to the teeth and killing and kidnapping citizens of a neighboring country, is irrelevant.

The term for Christopher’s approach is appeasement, which is based on moral equivalence. As Mr. Kristol notes, thinking that Hezbollah and Israel both have legitimate and equal gripes is insulting. Christopher’s approach amounts to telling Israel that they don’t have a right to defend themselves against terrorists who don’t think twice about killing innocent civilians. Christopher’s approach should be rejected by anyone with a sense of morality.

Christopher: Second, if a cease-fire is the goal, (ed. it shouldn’t be.) the United States has an indispensable role to play. A succession of Israeli leaders has turned to us, and only us, when they have concluded that retaliation for Hezbollah attacks has become counterproductive. (editor’s translation: Israeli leaders have started negotiating after the Clinton State Department has abandoned them.)

Kristol: The highlighting of U.S. indispensability is a (moderately clever) way of disguising the fact that Christopher wants the United States to yield in its view of the Middle East conflict to the Europeans and the United Nations. What does U.S. indispensability mean to Warren Christopher?
That only we can muscle the Israelis into an agreement, and that “the Europeans are unlikely to participate in a multinational enforcement action until the United States commits to putting its own troops on the ground.” In other words, what is indispensable is not a distinctively American view of the situation or the exercise of American leadership. It is helping the international community to impose an evenhanded settlement on Israel and Hezbollah.

Christopher’s approach is all about accepting the ‘European perspective’, which amounts to saying that Israel shouldn’t be killing terrorists because the terrorists are victims of Israel’s aggression. Kristol’s approach amounts to telling the terrorists that we accept Israel’s right to defend itself.

At the end of the day, Kristol’s is the only moral approach to the matter and to terrorism.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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