Israel and Arab DemocracyIssue: Summer 2005
A common criticism of President George W. Bush is portraying him as a patsy of Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon. The Bush Administration, so the theory goes, has allowed Israel to dictate its whole range of Middle East policies, be it invading Iraq, threatening Iran or withdrawing from active Arab-Israeli peacemaking. In all these issues, Bush is accused of subordinating America's interests to Israel's. This is highly debatable. Bush has sanctioned Sharon's aggressive counter-terrorism methods against the Palestinians, but he was also the first president to extract an Israeli commitment to Palestinian statehood and settlement removal. The Iraq War improved Israel's strategic position by removing a fierce enemy, but it also put Israel under stronger pressure to leave the West Bank and Gaza. What is clear, however, is that Sharon and Bush disagree over the president's recipe for regional peace and stability, namely the rapid democratization of the Arab world.