Today’s my day to be exasperated with conservatives. The New York Sun today takes on Martin Indyk’s plan, mentioned yesterday, to have an American-led trusteeship rule parts of the West Bank and Gaza:

The first [problem]… is that “Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan” would provide “training of the Palestinian security services.” This, according to Mr. Indyk, “would ensure that Western methods were effectively adapted to Arab culture.” There, in one chilling clause, is encapsulated the entire patronizing, condescending attitude of American peace processors. As if “Arab culture” somehow had a special need to be policed by security forces with the Egyptian or Saudi government’s disregard for human rights, democracy, freedom, and rule of law….

The other problem we see with the Indyk plan is perhaps even graver. It is that final-status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs would go forward even while the trusteeship… was in charge of rooting out terrorism and eliminating anti-Israel incitement from the Palestinian public schools and controlled press. Queried on which Palestinian Arabs would be doing the negotiating, Mr. Indyk mentioned the same PLO henchmen who have been doing the negotiating for Yasser Arafat for a decade. In other words, people with no true democratic mandate and no proven track record of fighting terrorism, delivering security to Israel, or providing freedom or honest, representative government to the Palestinian Arabs. There may be an argument for America and its allies invading the West Bank and Gaza to root out terrorism and help build a free democracy there. But asking Israel to simultaneously negotiate a deal to give a state to the same gang of terrorists who America and its allies are invading to kick out strikes us as befogged. [New York Sun, 4/23/03]

Now these are good points as far as they go. But nowhere does the article mention the fundamental issue: that this plan requires that America sacrifice its own interests for the sake of “peace” in the Middle East. It’s sophisticated pragmatism, but it’s still pragmatism–as usual conservatives know what our interests are, but are unwilling to defend our moral right to pursue them, as a matter of principle.

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