[Marxism] Did Olmert order Bush to veto Rice-backed cease-fire plan?

Bill Quimby wquimby at embarqmail.com
Tue Jan 13 14:59:27 MST 2009

FWIW that's what the Times is reporting also.


Verrrry interesting!

- Bill

Fred Feldman wrote:
> http://www.juancole.com/2009/01/israeli-pm-ehud-olmert-claims-to-be.html
> Tuesday, January 13, 2009
> Israeli PM Ehud Olmert Claims to be Able to Order Bush Around 
> So outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was speaking in Ashkelon on
> Monday, and he said the most amazing thing. The USG Open Source Center
> translated the relevant passage from his speech, in which he claimed he had
> the ability to control US foreign policy and summarily over-rule the
> Secretary of State:
> '"Olmert Says Israel Determined To Go On, Recalls Phone Talk on UNSC Vote
> With Bush
> Telephone report from Ashqelon by political correspondent Shmu'el Tal --
> liveA
> Voice of Israel Network B
> Monday, January 12, 2009 . . .
> Document Type: OSC Translated Text
> [Olmert:] "It transpired all of a sudden that a vote would be held in 10
> minutes' time. I tried to find President Bush, and I was told he was
> attending an event in Philadelphia."
> Cont'd
> 'I know that if somebody tried to find me on the phone right now, it would
> have to be something unusual and extraordinary for them to say: Leave it all
> and go to some room to talk to me. In this case, I said: I don't care, I
> have to talk to him right now. 
> He was taken off the podium and brought to a side room. I spoke with him; I
> told him: You can't vote for this proposal. 
> He said: Listen, I don't know, I didn't see, don't know what it says. 
> I told him: I know, and you can't vote for it! 
> He then instructed the secretary of state, and she did not vote for it. 
> It was a proposal she had put together, one she formulated, one she
> organized, one she maneuvered. It left her rather embarrassed, abstaining in
> the vote on a proposal she herself had put together. That was why the French
> and the Brits said she had pulled a fast one on them, she having been the
> one to spur them to submit the proposals." '
> Olmert's account cannot be accurate as to detail. Bush was not interrupted
> during his speech in Philadelphia, and the speech was given many hours
> before the UN vote. But that kind of discrepancy is easily resolved if we
> want to believe that Olmert is telling the truth. When he called the White
> House, he may have initially gotten a staffer who said something like, Bush
> is away at Philadelphia for a speech. Olmert could have misunderstood the
> staffer to say that Bush was still giving the speech.
> But that Condi Rice worked hard to get that UN resolution and that the other
> diplomats were shocked when she suddenly instructed Zalmay Khalilzad to vote
> against it is well known and was reported in the Arabic press at the time.
> Raghida Dergham wrote in the London-based pan-Arab daily, al-Hayat, on Jan.
> 10, 2009 (OSC trans.):
> ' French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner chaired the session, since his
> country is the UNSC's chairman this month, which was attended by US
> Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Foreign Secretary David
> Miliband . . . [etc.] 
> Rice surprised the meeting by abstaining from voting after the Americans had
> left a clear impression during the negotiations of their intention to vote
> in favour of the resolution. . . 
> British diplomacy played a consensual and leading role which contributed to
> breaking the cycle of delay and procrastination by French diplomacy.
> Reporting on the penultimate session of the ministers, sources said Kouchner
> tried to postpone the voting until today on the pretext that Presidents
> Husni Mubarak and Nicola Sarkozy approved this delay but the Egyptian
> foreign minister replied back immediately denying this was true about the
> Arab stand. The sources said the Saudi foreign minister demanded that
> Kouchner put his country's stand aside and respond to the demand to hold a
> session for voting. The British foreign secretary was on the point of
> presenting the consensual resolution regardless of the French and US stand.
> Russia intervened at the last moments and told the Arab side it was ready to
> participate with Britain in putting up the draft resolution officially for a
> vote. US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad arrived suddenly at the meeting to
> report his country's stand. . . ' 
> So Dergham's account, gleaned from UN sources in New York, shows that Rice
> had been more in favor of the cease-fire resolution than Bernard Kouchner of
> France, who used his position as chair to attempt to delay it coming up for
> a vote. You could imagine Olmert calling up Sarkozy and urging this delay.
> But Kouchner could not stand against the combined pressure of Britain,
> Russia and Saudi Arabia, and had to allow the vote to go forward. Then
> everyone was surprised by Rice's about-face. And it was reported at the time
> that she changed her mind after a phone call from Bush.
> So the substance of Olmert's allegations are consistent with Dergham's
> account, gleaned from interviews with eyewitnesses to the process among the
> Arab participants: "Rice surprised the meeting . . ."
> It is therefore reasonable to think that Olmert did talk to Bush last
> Thursday, and that he did have Rice over-ruled. One can only imagine that he
> had tried hard to dissuade Rice from participating in the drafting process
> at all, and had tried to have her veto the resolution, in accordance with
> standard US procedure of shielding Israel from the UNSC. She must have blown
> him off or been evasive, alarming him that there would be a UN ceasefire
> resolution before which Israel might have to bow. My own guess is that
> Olmert had Bush tell her to veto it altogether, but you have to wonder
> whether she and Khalilzad engaged in their own little final rebellion and so
> just voted "present," which allowed the resolution to pass. (Olmert has
> ignored it.)
> Olmert reports that Bush had no idea what the substance of the resolution
> was, and this anecdote is consistent with what we know about how this White
> House has functioned. Bush admitted to Bob Woodward that an important
> decision on sending some troops to Iraq had been made by National Security
> Adviser Stephen Hadley and that Bush had not sat in on the relevant
> meetings. So Rice was at the UN on her own, thinking she was a
> plenipotentiary of Bush, and Olmert was annoyed at this attitude and decided
> to put her in her place.
> Why did Olmert spill the beans on his backroom maneuvering against Rice? It
> is a very damaging thing that he said. As Daniel Levy, who had been a Labor
> Party adviser on peace negotiations, told The Los Angeles Times's Paul
> Richter:
> ' This is terrible for the United States . . . This confirms every
> assumption they have in the Arab world about the tail wagging the dog. . . .
> It's a story you're likely to hear quoted there for years to come." Levy
> also accused Olmert of "unparalleled arrogance.". . ."There are some things
> you don't say, even in Ashkelon, even in Hebrew . . . " 
> The likelihood is that Olmert was stung by severe criticism of his
> government for allowing the UNSC cease-fire resolution to be passed. His
> Kadima Party is in a neck and neck race with the even more hard line and far
> rightwing Likud Party, with elections to be held on February 10. Presumably
> Olmert was trying to deflect the Likudniks' charges that Kadima was inept or
> impotent, and to improve the standing of his would-be successor, Tzipi Livni
> (now the Foreign Minister).
> Olmert is having to step down as prime minister because of a corruption
> scandal that blew up in his face and made him look petty and greedy. As a
> mediocre politician with an over-sized ego, he doesn't have many
> opportunities left to try to rehabilitate his reputation. If he pushed W.
> around for Israel's sake while she warred with the Hamas terrorists (his way
> of thinking), then maybe that would take some of the edge off his unseemly
> money-grubbing and massive list of failures, which include the 2006 Lebanon
> War. 
> Finally we come to the really big mystery. If the substance of what Olmert
> said is correct, even if he got some details wrong, then why in the world
> did Bush listen to him? Bush is outgoing and faces no new elections. His
> party cannot benefit or suffer with the Israel lobbies from a decision he
> took in relative secrecy since it won't even face another election for 2
> years, by which time this Gaza war will be completely forgotten.
> Why in the world would Bush over-rule the US Secretary of State, for the
> sake of Olmert, in the midst of delicate negotiations with European and Arab
> allies? Here are the only possibilities I can think of:
> 1. Bush is as dumb as he looks and just agrees with the last person he spoke
> to.
> 2. Bush hates it when the roar of cannon dies down, and is a sadist who
> enjoys prolonging war far too much to ever actively back a ceasefire.
> 3. Olmert has something over Bush. I remember that Bush had taken on Sharon
> in September of 2001, calling for a Palestinian state and ordering Sharon to
> stop colonizing the West Bank. Sharon was so furious that he compared
> Israel's situation to that of Czechoslovakia in 1938, when the rest of
> Europe let Hitler grab part of it. But by spring of 2002 Bush was bending
> over backward to please the Likud. What changed? Something did. There is a
> mystery to be explained here. I only point out that along with the previous
> two explanations, this one would make sense of otherwise baffling behavior
> on Bush's part.
> Precisely because his overly frank speech raises these sorts of questions, I
> expect Olmert to deny the entire address, and then it will be expunged from
> the public record and never spoken of again.
> In any case, this slippage of the veil over the way US foreign policy is
> being dictated by a foreign country reinforces the need for a Peace PAC or
> 'For America' PAC to counter-act the American Israel Public Affairs
> Committee, which is obviously way too powerful for Israel's own good.
> J-Street and Brit Tzedik Ve Shalom and Tikkun and other liberal
> Jewish-American organizations are trying to do the right thing here. Whereas
> AIPAC gets plenty of help from the evangelicals, the rest of us are letting
> down the majority of the Jewish community that supports the peace process by
> not helping it lobby on this issue.
> That resolution Olmert tried to spike means that his government's continued
> war on Gaza (he ordered 60 airstrikes on Monday through early Tuesday) is
> even more illegal than the whole enterprise was to begin with.
> posted by Juan Cole @ 1/13/2009 12:32:00 AM
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