TCS Daily

Arab Summit Folly

By Ken Adelman - March 28, 2002 12:00 AM

Be wary of coming news articles trumpeting the Arab League summit meeting in Beirut this week. Despite all the positive spin by talking heads - even on Fox News! - the Arab confab won't be positive, since its main topic is all wrong.

Of course, it won't seem wrong. After all, who would dare knock possibilities of peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Who wouldn't want to stop the violence? And who wouldn't praise Arab moves towards recognizing Israel's right to exist? All this seems good, if not great. So what's wrong with the picture taking shape? Primarily that it's on the wrong subject, for Americans. Sure, we want peace and security for Israel. But we really want peace and security for us, too.

What most threatens America is the spewing of hatred towards Western values, religions, and civilization promulgated and promoted by such key states as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Why? It is this hatred -- and the ideas behind it -- that inspires and incites terrorists.

Yet rather than being characterized as barely legitimate and thoroughly corrupt dictatorships bankrolling the spread of these pernicious sentiments, these Arab regimes will be deemed "friendly" or "moderate" governments this week. Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Hosni Mubarak will be portrayed on the tube as fighting for peace in the region. No Western public relations firm could have so adeptly turned these lemons into lemonade so tastefully.

The Arab League meeting fundamentally shifts the focus away from where it needs to be. The focus should be on how practically every Arab member has failed to provide an open, tolerant, successful regime - how nearly each one has failed politically, economically, and socially. Instead, they will focus on Arab anxieties about Israel.

Nearly every Arab state would like to destroy Israel. Not only is it "heathen" to the Islamic faithful, Israel serves as a constant reminder of their own failures. Being a democratic, open, economically prosperous state based on Western values right in their neighborhood highlights their problems. After centuries at the top of civilization, the Arab world has been on a precipitous 400-year decline.

Moreover, the Arab League session will fail to focus on another pressing need in the region, namely, the removal of Saddam Hussein and his oppression and threats. Americans realize that the combination of the most advanced weaponry - chemical, biological, nuclear - in the most barbaric hands is a most deadly combination. Again, deadly for us, since Saddam and his ilk regard America as the main enemy.

The American people appreciate Saddam's threat and wish the Bush Administration would eliminate that threat to us. According to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll released earlier this week, "Most Americans consider removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq to be a high priority, and they strongly support the use of United States air power to oust him."

Hence my message this week: Go with your gut instinct, rather than the pretty pictures and all the hoopla surrounding the Arab meeting this week. We need to stop the hatred spewing from key Arab states that are anything but "friendly" or "moderate" and remember that the most dastardly of their leaders, Saddam Hussein, must be removed. Only then can there be any real peace and security for Israel. And, most importantly, for us.

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