Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Honorable James A. Baker III

James Baker came to campus to speak today on behalf of the Anwar Sadat Lecture for Peace. It was terrific. Even though I'm young, I'll never know why we didn't run this guy in place of Bob Dole back in 1996.

First I have to give Sadat's widow, Dr. Jehan Sadat, props for mentioning the "Collapse of the Soviet Empire". That was good. I bet the faculty didn't like to hear it.

Baker mentioned "Abu Mazen" twice instead of saying "Mahmoud Abbas". Bet that caught some attention. He notably called the Iraqi elections "successful" and mentioned the Orange and Cedar revolutions.

Baker said there were three main challenges we must deal with in the Middle East:
1) Fostering a stable Iraq at peace with her neighbors
2) Preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons
3) Promoting Arab-Israeli peace.

This is exactly what the right-side of the blogosphere's been saying.

Again, he gave an obvious five-point plan for promoting the Arab-Israeli peace, which unfortunately had a few flaws - which he noted in his five truisms.

Step 1 - Define the implementation of the road map
Step 2 - Assist Palestinian government reform
Step 3 - Lead an international effort investing in the Palestinian economy (i.e, divestment is stupid)
Step 4 - Provide a safety net in case of crises
Step 5 - Use US leadership to ensure adequate responses to non-compliance

Truism 1 - Israel will never be secure as long as they occupy territories
Truism 2 - There is no military solution
Truism 3 - Political Process and Dialogue are essential
Truism 4 - Some Arabs do not accept Israel's existence and should be dealt with.
Truism 5 - Only US can be mediator because we accept Israel.

He ended with the following points.
1) Sometimes we must act unilaterally to preserve our interests
2) We are the final guarantor left of international security
3) Free markets should be cherished and protected.
4) America is the most benevolent world power in history.

All in all, a terrific lecture. I hope they get someone good next year, too.

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