It’s hard to find a senator in either party more willing to challenge the Bush administration’s approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict than Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel. Here’s what he had to say Sunday on CNN:
Well, I think sustained U.S. diplomatic efforts has been missing in the Middle East, specifically focused on the Israeli/Palestinian issue. I have believed for a long time – I have been told this by leaders in the Middle East, by both Arab and Israeli leaders – that the core issue in the Middle East is the Israeli/Palestinian issue. And I don’t believe you will find stability, peace, opportunity, prosperity ever in the Middle East until there is an awareness and some confidence that we are moving toward the resolution that seemingly everyone agrees with, and that is a two-state solution, but a process must be put in place to do that. And that is going to take sustained engagement, Wolf, and there’s where the United States really, truly is indispensable. We can’t impose peace. We can’t make it rain. We can’t do it all, but without American leadership bringing a consensus of purpose together and a focus, because we are trusted generally by both sides, then we will fail. And this will widen into a much deeper and more dangerous situation if we don’t get control now, and that’s why this cease-fire is so critical that we not squander this opportunity now to build on this…. Well, I think Jack hits the high points there. It goes back to what I have said for a long time, Wolf. Until we come at this from a comprehensive framework of peace in the Middle East, understanding it is a regional issue. We should go back, for example, to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s 2002 Beirut declaration. Come at this from a wide lens angle of understanding. Yes, there is a terrorist component, but it’s bigger than that, it’s wider than that, it’s deeper than that. And to try to simplify it into, well, Iraq is the most key action going on in the world today for America’s interests because of terrorism, I don’t think that that’s quite accurate. Terrorism is part of this, of course, but it is so much bigger and wider, and we are going to have to enlist, not unlike what we did after World War II, the world community in a focused consensus effort to deal with these issues. There will be no winning any kind of a war on terrorism or any other challenge of the 21st century unless we do that.