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Alan Keyes is Making Sense
Alan Keyes
April 3, 2002


Tonight, the standoff at one of Christianity's holiest sites in the Middle East continues. About 300 armed Palestinians are still holed up at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Israeli tanks are now in every major West Bank city except Hebron and Jericho.

And the strong Israeli action has obviously brought strong reaction from others in the world. The Vatican today released a statement by the Holy Father, who condemns terrorist acts, but who also said he rejects unjust conditions and humiliations imposed on the Palestinian people. We heard as well from the head of the European Union, who criticizes the United States for not getting more involved and says that now we need to stand aside and let other nations — read the Europeans, who are planning to send a delegation to the region I think this week — let them step in and take over.

Well, I've got to tell you my reaction to the reaction of others who are criticizing Israel comes I guess from my own sense of the background of this conflict. I realize there are a lot of people who believe we need to talk about this like it's all taking place in some deep black hole of history where no light can get in from the past. But that's not true.

I, at least, can not help when I listen to all these folks talking about what should or should not be done, I can't help but remember the facts from which this present situation comes. When the head of the European Union stands forward and tries to pretend that they have so much weight and credibility in addressing this problem, I can't help but remember that many Europeans sat on their hands and did nothing while millions of Jews were slaughtered in the era that gave birth to the state of Israel. I can't help but remember that.

When folks talk about the role that the international community should play, as the ambassador did here on my program last night, I can't help but remember that back in 1967 when the Arab forces were amassing to launch a fateful death blow against Israel, Egyptian President Nasser kicked out the U.N. troops from the Sinai, demanded that they should go. And guess what? The international community didn't get its back up then and say, “No, you can't launch this war of aggression.” No, those so-called peacekeeping forces evaporated.

And the international community sat by with baited breath as they waited for those hundreds of thousands of Arab troops to deliver a deathblow that wasn't thwarted by international outrage. It was thwarted only by the unexpected and surprising brilliance of the Israeli military.

And as a result of that brilliant victory in the Six-Day War, Israel acquired territory, the Sinai, the West Bank, Gaza. And it wasn't a war of conquest. That's one of the things that is so often said these days where folks seem to either forget history or be lying through their teeth, giving the impression that somehow this is illegitimate, Israel just moved in and conquered these hapless people.

It's a lie. Those territories were acquired in the course of a desperate war for survival.

And the international community, by the way, so-called, doesn't react to every such control of territory as if it's somehow illegitimate. Consider, for instance, the situation between China and India right up to the present day. China moves in, takes a chunk of territory from India back in 1962, holds onto it right now as a result of that war. And who was out there bleating about how the Chinese are occupying this territory and so forth?

The very most you can get from them is that it's disputed. On many maps, it's not even marked that way.

And what is the assumption? Well, assumption always has been you get territory as a result of such a war, you don't give it up except in the context of a negotiated peace. And, unlike the Chinese, the Israelis have shown themselves willing time and time again to put that territory on the line in the hopes of achieving just such a negotiated settlement.

And not only that, they have done so. And the historic Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978 resulted in Israel's return of the Sinai to the Egyptians. An agreement made, an agreement kept.

We've also seen agreements between Israel and Jordan, between Israel quietly and Syria even, regulating the cease-fire arrangement on the Golan Heights. In areas where the other side is willing to keep its word, history shows that Israel has also kept its word and that agreements that were hammered out through great difficulty and often with a lot of courage, where there were reciprocal understandings, when the other side was willing to meet its obligations, Israel did the same.

Why are we forgetting this now? Why are we talking about this like all this takes place in some kind of a vacuum where is no experience to guide our understanding of the way in which we should be looking at it and reacting to events right now?

The difference, it seems to me, in the track record between Israel and Yasser Arafat, Israel and negotiations with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, is that in spite of agreement after agreement after agreement in which all kinds of declarations are made and statements are made, the Israelis have, in fact, made concessions, made agreements, signed on the dotted line, followed through on those agreements, as they did when they turned authority in the West Bank and Gaza over to Yasser Arafat as a result of such an agreement.

But in spite of agreement in 1993 in Oslo, in spite of Camp David efforts we have seen what kind of progress? Oh, yes, there's been lip service paid. There have been statements, “Yes, we'll accept existence of Israel,” coming from Yasser Arafat and others. And, meanwhile, the one thing — the one thing — that was required of their side has never been delivered. And that is to stop killing Israelis.

That's all. Just stop the killing. Stop the violence. Let the discussions take place in an environment where one isn't trying to manipulate the process through that kind of death-dealing destruction.

And now, of course, people reacting to the present situation like all that history never occurred, like Yasser Arafat never moved into those territories, never took over, like the effort at Wye River never took place where the Israelis actually laid on the line 90 percent of what he wanted. And he storms out because he doesn't get 100 percent, including full control of Jerusalem, and the right of return, the demand for which, by the way, belies the statement that these folks are willing to accept a Jewish state of Israel.

No, I for one can't forget all these things. I know everybody is inviting us to look upon this as if there is no reason to recall the history, no reason to remember the facts. But I, for one, can't help but remember them.

And I, for one, also can't help but look at the reality of the situation that Israel faces, even as we do right now. In their statement, for instance, out of the Vatican they were talking about Israel's actions as if they consisted of reprisals and vengeance. I've even seen reporters talking about Israeli anger and so forth and so on. I don't think their policy comes from anger anymore than our policies right now in response to the terrible terrorist attacks on us come from a thirst for revenge. I haven't seen it.

No, but it does come from necessary ability to think through the implications of the death-dealing blows that have come against you. That's one of the problems with suicide bombings and suicide terrorism such as we ourselves have suffered from. And that problem is simple, and that problem is clear. The perpetrator just blew himself up, just imposed on himself the death penalty.

No feckless talk about going after the perpetrators is going to be enough in this case. No defensive action will actually forestall the death-dealing blow unless you go up against those who have incited and encouraged and equipped and financed those who are determined to kill you.

We understood in that the policy we have pursued. Why is it that so many folks are unwilling to see the same imperative in the policies that the Israelis are now pursuing?

It seems to me that to react to these events as if history never happened and as if reality doesn't have to be dealt with doesn't make a contribution to peace, because peace can't be built on a foundation of manipulation and deception and lies. No lasting peace is going to come as a result of that kind of false foundation. And those who think so are not only fooling themselves, they are deluding all those folks who are, in fact, suffering in the Middle East.

I know. Some people will conclude, “Oh, Alan, you're just pro-Israeli. You hate the Palestinians.” Nothing of the kind. I was among the first, long before this administration did it, to understand and declare the need to recognize and accept the legitimate demand for Palestinian self-government. I still deeply believe in it.

But the first prerequisite of self-government is that when governing one's own passions, one's own resentment and anger and violence, that's the first prerequisite of self-government. I learned that from Martin Luther King, because I don't think any progress would have been made in this country except he stood up and understood that even when one sees oneself as the victim of terrible oppression, you still have to take responsibility to make sure you don't make a contribution to the very cycle of violence that destroys and oppresses you.

That is the kind of leadership that the Palestinian people right now need. It's the kind of leadership they deserve. It's not the kind of leadership they're getting. Instead, they're getting leadership that pushes them into desperate acts of self-destruction.

I think that self-destruction symbolizes all that they have to offer. Stand up, throw yourself into the pit, give yourself to the void of despair. What will it accomplish except that you will be an immolation sacrificed on the altar of prideful leaders who apparently don't have the ability to think through the positive approach that can actually diffuse and undermine the cycle of violence and open the path to real peace and progress.

There have been leaders like that. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, others, they understood that you could not quell violence by yourself becoming an instrument of mindless violence, including the evil violence against the innocent.

I find it hard to believe that folks on our side, including president of the himself, are deluding themselves into thinking that we'll make progress if we can just get Yasser Arafat to tell us one more lie about how he'll renounce violence while he goes on encouraging it, declaring that he wants, like others, to be a martyr to the cause.

Well, I think that it would be wiser in his case if instead of trying to be a martyr to violence — you know what the word martyr means? It means witness. Well, I think that the Palestinian people don't need more witnesses to violence, more witnesses to the incitement and reprisal and revenge and further outrage. I think what they need are some witnesses to hope, some folks who will actually understand they should look at the record with Egypt, with Jordan, with others.

Israel has, in fact, been willing to keep a deal made if the other side lives up to its side of the bargain. That is an offer of hope. And the way to put people on the spot when they show that kind of a willingness is to back away from the cycle of violence even if you see it come against you, as certainly people who are my ancestors in this country did see it come against them. But those who led our way to progress against a system of oppression understood that if you the victim surrender to that violence, you feed it, you fuel it, until it burns up not only the ones that you may hate but you yourself.

I think the people in the Middle East deserve a better fate than that kind of self-immolation. But I don't think they're going to get it until they are able to understand that when leaders are pushing you over the desperate precipice of revenge and self-destruction you shouldn't reject life, you should reject that leadership.

I think we'll offer some hope and progress to folks in that part of the world when we ourselves have the courage to stand up, look them in the eye, and make it clear that we're not going to be throwing our weight into the scales until we see a willingness on all sides to take responsibility for an end to the cycle of violence just as I have outlined it.

And that means all sides, including the Palestinians, including the Arabs, including all of those who have pleaded victimization to excuse their surrender to evil. That's not going to serve the purposes of justice and peace. The past suggests, and we can't forget it, that that only fuels further destruction.

I think that our leadership in this country, and elsewhere in the world — all these people think we want to have compassion, we want to spare these people suffering. You're not going to spare them suffering by coddling that leadership which is seeking quite consciously to insight them to this self-destruction. Shut the door in their face. Make it clear that the world will have no trek with them any more. And then with that toughness, you will open the door to hope. You will force the people who are involved to lift up from their myths to leaders who will offer them something he better than those who are now offering only this pointless destruction of the innocent.

I think that that is the real key. And I think that we need to have as Americans, as others who are hoping and praying that this situation will somehow or another be opened to a path of peace, we need to have the guts to show that toughness because the phony compassion that coddles the violence is only going to do exactly what the suicide bombers do, destroy themselves and everything else along with it.

And I don't think that's good enough. I don't think that shows concern for the Palestinians, for the Israelis, for the region, for the world or anyone else. And if we don't show that kind of courage, if we give in to the feckless demands of the Europeans or anybody else that we should somehow surrender now a position of integrity which demands an end to this suicidal violence, then instead of offering hope we will have joined in with those forces of despair.

Well, that's how I see it. Up next, we are going to be talking about an initiative in the Congress aimed I think at empowering the president to demand just this kind of responsible leadership, a bill before the House that would let the president impose sanctions on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority. Some people on Capitol Hill think that it should be supported. We'll talk to one congressman who is sponsoring the legislation and to a Palestinian who strongly disagrees with it.

Plus, your thoughts on the Middle East. You can call me tonight at 1-866-KEYES-USA. We're going to be taking your phone call again. So, put the number down, call in, 1-866-KEYES-USA. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


KEYES: Coming up in our next half hour, Tony Blankley of the “Washington Times.” He actually wrote editorial today which was about the criticism that Mr. Bush has come in for saying that the criticizing critics, who include myself I suppose, who have said that the policy toward the Middle East is incoherent. Well, being one of those critic, I am going to take him on in the next half hour. So, you stay tuned.

A reminder too that the chat room is humming tonight. Greg in Ohio says: “The Palestinians have been kicked to the curb by every other Arab country. They are being used as pawns in a broader attack on Israel.” You can join in right now at

But first, there's a move in Congress to give the president the power to punish Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority if they continue these acts of violence in violation of their pledge word given in the context of the accords in 1993. One of the bills is sponsored by Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York. In it, the president would be allowed to deny visas to Palestinian officials, close the PLO office in the United States, designate the PLO as a terrorist organization, and prohibit U.S. aid to the West Bank and Gaza except for humanitarian assistance.

Congressman Ackerman joins us now. He is also a remember of the International Relations Committee and the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East.

Also with us, Ramsey Abdallah, a member of the Palestinian American Congress, a group that fights for the humanitarian rights of Palestinians. Gentlemen, welcome to MAKING SENSE.


REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Alan.

KEYES: Now, Congressman, I want to start first with you. You have put this bill forward before. I think it enjoys broad support in the Congress. Do you think in the present circumstances and environment that something like this would appropriately empower the president and increase his ability to deal with the situation?

ACKERMAN: I think so. It's very realistic. I think what it does is it requires the president to make an evaluation as to whether or not the Palestinian Authority is meeting all of its commitments starting with Oslo and going right down to the last thing that they signed. And if he makes a determination to not, then these sanctions become imposed unless the president feels that it's in the national security interest not to. But the president must make that determination. And we have support on both sides of the aisle.

KEYES: But what do you think would be the consequences of taking that kind of a step? I mean, you must realize that there are those, including in certain of his personalities the Secretary of State Colin Powell, who seem to think that Yasser Arafat is the indispensable man. You can't really do anything that would suggest that you're not going to deal with him and with the Palestinian Authority. Don't you think that in the face of that kind of criticism this sort of a bill might send the wrong message?

ACKERMAN: No, I think it sends the right message. As a matter of fact, I met with Yasser Arafat back in August. And he brought up the fact that I had sponsored this bill. And we have a pretty lively discussion about it.

Alan, as far as I'm concerned, the time has come to deny the lie that we must be even-handed. There is no such thing as even-handed approach to a terrorist and a victim. We have to call the shots the way they are and deal with it the way it is.

KEYES: Now, Ramsey Abdallah, this sort of a move in the U.S. Congress that would seek to impose a penalty on Yasser Arafat, on the Palestinian Authority, if the acts of violence continue, what do you think this would do to the situation in the Middle East?

ABDALLAH: Well, if you want to escalate the situation to a whole another level where you would have a regional conflict, I guess would you go ahead say, “Let us impose a sanction.” There has been a greater sanction imposed by America and the U.S. Congress already giving the green light to Sharon and to the Israeli defense forces to operate as they wish in Ramallah and into the occupied territories.

I absolutely agree 100 percent with Senator Ackerman in his saying that these allegations were not even-handed. You can't have an even-handed Congress. That is absolutely 100 percent correct due to the fact that we have seen time and time again that the Congress favors any bills and any issues that are posed before the Congress concerning Israeli interests.


ACKERMAN: Alan, Alan, I just have to say something. What Ramsey just said is absolutely outrageous. To claim that if the U.S. expresses their opinion and doesn't deal with who they want and doesn't deal with who they don't want to deal with that this is going to lead to more violence and rev up the action, that is an unconscionable thing to say. And that is the...

ABDALLAH: Is it really absurd, Senator...

ACKERMAN: ...entire attitude...


ACKERMAN: ... people who have a different opinion go ahead and start...

ABDALLAH: ... should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Is it really an allegation? Or has it really been proposed in passed as a resolution that the U.S. shall move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?


ABDALLAH: Excuse me, Alan Keyes, let me finish up one second, please.

KEYES: Ramsey, before you...


ABDALLAH: ... that these are occupied lands. They have been occupied lands. And they have been recognized by the U.S. and the international communities...

KEYES: ... hold on, hold on, hold on, before you move the subject to another area, I think we need to focus on this question of responsibility for violence. And one of the problems that I see in the response that you and others give is that you want to say, “Well the U.S. gave the green light to violence.” No. The suicide bombers gave the green light to violence. The people who continually come into the midst of innocent people and kill them, they have given the green light to a response aimed at stopping this kind of destruction.

ABDALLAH: Alan Keyes, how convenient it is for to you cut me off in the middle of my speech so that you may be heard. That is quite un-candid of a person who is even-dealing, as you put it...

KEYES: You gave no particular facts...

ABDALLAH: ... to try to go ahead and cut off a person that you have invited to pursue a point of view...

KEYES: ... if you are not going to respect the protocol of the program...

ABDALLAH: ... from the Palestinian aspect. If you cannot address and you cannot handle the address and respect the fact...


ABDALLAH: ... that I'm a Palestinian...

KEYES: ... see this is — cut him off. Cut him off. This is one of the problems. See, I want to take the floor for a minute because this is one of the problems.

I think that it's precisely this kind of attitude that is killing people in the Middle East. I have moderated many discussions in the course of this program. It does require that one person listen to other people and not constantly talk over them, as you were just doing.

That verbal violence reflects the very kind of dictatorial violence that apparently is the strategy of Palestinians to impose on this process by any means necessary. And it doesn't work. It doesn't work in the world. And it's not going to work on this program because I'll tell you straight and front, if G.W. Bush doesn't have the courage to stand up say we won't tolerate it, then I have the courage to say it on this program. I won't tolerate it...


KEYES: ... because I think that it's absolutely out of line. I'll give folks a chance to have their say. But you're going to engage in a conversation, or you won't engage. If you think that kind of verbal violence will win here, you're wrong, anymore that it would win if I had an opportunity to do something about it in the world at large.

Representative Ackerman, I'm sorry. I can't but see a problem right here reflected. How is one to encourage a constructive discussion when one side is continually trying, by violent and overbearing means, to shut down the other?

ACKERMAN: Alan Keyes, you're making sense. Let me tell you, you put your finger on the problem. There are those who think that just because they have a point of view, their point of view has to win. And they will go to any means, use any kind of instrumentality at their disposal, including filibustering on somebody's show, including sending young people in to blow themselves up to prove that they are right when they have a...

ABDALLAH: Mr. Alan Keyes and Senator, I would like to go ahead and point out that Mr. Alan Keyes has portrayed nothing but one-sidedness in this whole discussion. And the in his efforts to become an even-handed dealer, he has become a bigot, in fact.

ACKERMAN: Well, why don't you go and blow up his show?

ABDALLAH: I would like to tell that for you to make allegations that say that I am here...

ACKERMAN: Why don't you just blow up the show?

ABDALLAH: ... portraying this show in a violent nature. I am trying to be heard...

ACKERMAN: Why don't you just take over the whole thing?

ABDALLAH: ... whereas you are going and cutting me off. Senator Ackerman, I have the greatest and deepest respect for you. And I would like to go ahead and converse with you.

ACKERMAN: I would like to do that, too. But you're filibustering.

ABDALLAH: Sir, I am not filibustering. I am here to make a point. However, Mr. Keyes doesn't see a need for me to make that point.

KEYES: That's not true.

ABDALLAH: Therefore, he goes in and cuts in every chance that he gets.

KEYES: As a matter of fact...

ACKERMAN: He cuts me off, too. He's the moderator. It's his show.

KEYES: As a matter of fact, I let you make your point. I then turned to the — I turned to the congressman. I let you make your point. While he was speaking, you were speaking over him. And also, you then...

ABDALLAH: You cut me in the middle of my point, Mr. Alan Keyes.

KEYES: ... you then, you then, as I think is happening right now in the process, you want to dictate the terms...

ABDALLAH: Oh, absolutely not.


ABDALLAH: ... if you were to leave this as a discussion between myself and the congressman, I guarantee you it would be a discussion that people would like.

KEYES: ... excuse me, I had a question addressing that point. And not only that, but the sad thing that I've encountered over the years as well is that when folks get into this kind of situation, they immediately start the ad hominem, name-calling and all this junk. Doesn't work with me. I'm sorry...

ABDALLAH: Sir, the reason that it doesn't work with you is because it's true...

KEYES: ... And it's not going to work on this program. I have a simple question that you don't...

ABDALLAH: ... I am not name-calling. I am trying, consistently telling you exactly...

KEYES: ... I have a simple question, Mr. Abdallah...


KEYES: ... that you don't wish to address.

ABDALLAH: And I will not stand for this for to you stand there and to diminish the efforts of the PLO and the situation at large...

KEYES: I have a simple question that you won't address...

ABDALLAH: ... You have self-proclaimed yourself as a Middle East (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KEYES: ... I have done nothing to the PLO.


ABDALLAH: ... do not have the expertise to contact or to even speak about the Middle East.

KEYES: I have done nothing to the Palestinian organization, Yasser Arafat, or anybody else.


ACKERMAN: This is exactly the problem.

KEYES: Just one minute, Congressman. What you fail to recognize, Mr. Abdallah, is that the violence being perpetrated in the Middle East against the innocent is what is doing the greatest harm possible to the Palestinian cause...

ABDALLAH: I agree with you.

KEYES: ... Stop that violence perpetrated against the innocents and...

ABDALLAH: Why don't we stop the violence on the Israeli defense forces side?


ABDALLAH: ... executions taking place in the streets for the past week. Why have I not seen that on the news? Why haven't I heard from your mouth? Instead, last night, in a heated debate between you and Mr. Clovis, you had mentioned that it's simply a war. They lost the land in 1967, and that's it. If you are to be the next generation of leaders, I seriously fear for the hope of peace in this country and in other countries around the world.

ACKERMAN: If I may say something. There is violence, and there is a reaction to violence. It's not the same thing. You don't have Israelis going in and blowing themselves up in people's schools and people's restaurants. You have Israelis going in and trying to root out the terrorists the way they're supposed to do that.

ABDALLAH: Root out the terrorists in people's homes, Senator?

ACKERMAN: Why don't you interrupt me also?

ABDALLAH: Go right ahead, sir. I will go ahead and comment because this is a...

ACKERMAN: No, I think I was talking. Don't be rude. Please.

ABDALLAH: Oh, please, I am not being rude. I am being well within my concerns here.

ACKERMAN: I think you need your own show because nobody is trying to talk on this show but you.

ABDALLAH: If you'd like to go ahead and continue, please (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

ACKERMAN: No, I want to make the point that I'm trying to make.

ABDALLAH: Go right ahead, sir.

ACKERMAN: And that is there is no cycle of violence. There is a reaction to violence. And a reaction to violence is strong. And it has to be strong because people have to know that if they are going to act in a violent way, they're going to pay the price.

The deal was land for peace. If you take away the peace, you're not going to have the land. The Israelis from the very beginning after the victor won the spoils, after they were attacked by most of the Arab world surrounding them, they won.

KEYES: Congressman...

ACKERMAN: They took this territory...

KEYES: ... and Mr. Abdallah...

ACKERMAN: ... and they did not annex it...

KEYES: ... Congressman, we have come up against...


KEYES: ... we have come up against the time limit. I really appreciate both of you coming on the program today and helping us both to understand a little bit but also to illustrate a good deal, I think, one of the reasons why so little progress is right now being made in the Middle East.

Well, next, many have criticized President Bush for not having a coherent Mid-East policy. Columnist Tony Blankley says that's not fair. Well, I've been one of the critics. I'm going to take him on.

And later, your thoughts on the Middle East. Call us at 1-866-KEYES-USA, 1-866-KEYES-USA. You're watching MSNBC, the best news on cable.


KEYES: Welcome back to MAKING SENSE. I'm Alan Keyes.

A reminder - I want to know your thoughts on the Middle East as well.

You can call us tonight at 1-866-KEYES-USA, 1-866-KEYES-USA. We'll take your phone calls in our next segment.

But first, Tony Blankley's column in today's “Washington Times” caught my eye.

He writes, “I am astounded at the arrogance of some of my fellow commentators who smugly chastise Mr. Bush for having an incoherent Middle East and terrorist policy. As we careen through the blackness into an unknowable future every hour, what in the world would a coherent policy look like this afternoon?”

Tony Blankley joins us now. Tony, welcome to MAKING SENSE.

TONY BLANKLEY, “WASHINGTON TIMES”: Thank you, Alan. Good to see you.

KEYES: Well the first thing I would want to - at the opening of this program, I made a little attempt just to outline some of the background thinking that affects my own judgment of things like the Middle East.

Isn't it true that we don't really careen through blackness into an unknowable future?

Experience has always given human beings a certain kind of opening, to think carefully about where things might go, and where they might lead.

Isn't it precisely that kind of thinking we have the right to expect from policy makers entrusted with the highest offices in our land?

BLANKLEY: Oh, of course. Over time, policies can get formed.

I'm talking about the last couple of weeks that has transformed what I think is the President's strategy for trying to protect us from nuclear and biological weapons from Iraq being transferred to al-Qaeda, and then placed here in America.

And I think that he had a strategy in place, and it is at least being disturbed and disrupted by the chaos between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

I'd point out to you, at the beginning of World War I, if you read the memoirs of the great men - Lloyd George, Churchill - they all said that at that point they felt they were being pulled by events.

Now, eventually they settled down and figured out a policy and fought a war successfully.

But at this opening moment, I think that it's very reasonable for the President to not have a new strategy, because we - he's having to face facts that even two or three weeks ago, they didn't expect to have on the scene.

KEYES: Well, see, but ...

BLANKLEY: So all - so I agree with ...

KEYES: ... now then, ...

BLANKLEY: ... your opening monologue. I agree with, I think, almost everything I heard.

But I think we should give the President and his team a little bit of slack to think through - he understands that Arafat ...

KEYES: Now, tell me ...

BLANKLEY: ... is a terrorist. Go ahead.

KEYES: Tony, I - the problem I have with all of that, ...


KEYES: ... meaning no particular offense - part of what you have to do when you're outlining a strategy and when you're preparing it, is think through what's going to happen on the chessboard.

Acting as if different events are not going to impinge on what you're doing, and so forth, that's careless strategic thinking.

I used to be on the policy planning staff at the State Department. We pay people good and substantial bucks to sit around thinking through the scenarios that may arise, so that other intelligent people can try to prepare against those contingencies.

BLANKLEY: Yes, but ...

KEYES: Hold it a second, now.

The idea that you're going to conduct a policy with respect to Iraq or any other part of the Middle East, and not think through how that is going to relate to the kind of events and tensions that naturally arise out of the Arab-Israeli confrontation - if they didn't do, that's not excusable. That's incompetence.

BLANKLEY: No, I disagree.

At the beginning of World War II, there was a long debate as to whether we were going to fight Europe and Europe first or in the Pacific first, and events kind of drive decision making.

Look. I - of course, the President and Rumsfeld and Powell and Cheney and the rest were aware there was an Israeli-Palestinian dispute. But I don't think they anticipated, nor should they have, in my judgment - or in any event, they didn't - was that this extraordinary explosion would occur with the suicide bombing forcing the Israelis into the action which I think is completely justified.

And now they have to calibrate, how do they put together whatever forces they need in the Middle East, given this new reality.

Now, it's been going on for only a week or two. To say that the President has failed because he hasn't, in a matter of a few days, completely reorganized the strategy on new facts, I just think is being excessively harsh ...

KEYES: But these facts, ...

BLANKLEY: ... on the President.

KEYES: ... I'm sorry, again. I would have to dispute that. These facts aren't new in anybody's book.

I was looking at a book today as I was preparing for this program that was written some 10 years ago on the theme of whether Yasser Arafat is a terrorist or a peacemaker.


KEYES: Anybody who has dealt with the Middle East for any length of time has understood that that's a long-standing question that has affected every stage of events.

And to say that the current intensification of the problem had no antecedent indications is also false.

BLANKLEY: Well, Alan, ...

KEYES: Ever since we had Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount and the explosions of violence and the escalating of this Palestinian terrorist ...

BLANKLEY: ... Alan, ...

KEYES: ... strategy, this question of how you are going to deal with Palestinian terrorism has been on the table.

BLANKLEY: Yeah, but ...

KEYES: And to - let me finish, one last thought - put it in the context of our own war against terrorism, the first thing you've got to understand, you've articulated a principle that has to do with what's a terrorist and how you react to it?

BLANKLEY: Yeah, ...

KEYES: How can you simply abandon that principle when it comes to the Middle East?

BLANKLEY: Well, I don't think he has abandoned the principle.

Look, Hegel said that quantity changes quality.

Two weeks ago, Egypt had full recognition with Israel. As of this afternoon, they don't. Israel - Egypt may have some role in the President's strategy.

He's got to calibrate what does this mean for him, now that Egypt is separating all but the most formal diplomatic relations.

I don't - obviously, the President can understand the genesis of all the problems that exist. But when they get changed in quantity the way they have in the last couple of weeks, and when the politics of the world starts shifting around him, he has to pause and contemplate how to play out the hand.

I'm just surprised at how quickly - for instance, there are a lot of commentators who say the President has to go back to the table with Arafat.

I think - and you think, I believe - that this is nonsense. You can't negotiate with a man who wants to kill them.

So, ...

KEYES: Well, ...

BLANKLEY: ... as events flow, I think we have to give a little bit of slack, a little bit of time.

This doesn't mean they haven't thought it through. It means that you've got to recalibrate your plans in the face of new events.

KEYES: Well, ...

BLANKLEY: Lincoln said ...

KEYES: ... but, Tony, Tony, ...

BLANKLEY: ... as the facts are new, ...

KEYES: ... I'm sorry.

BLANKLEY: ... we have to think anew.

KEYES: Those of us who have been involved in the government are looking at a situation that I think a lot of us feel we understand.

Now, the to-ing and fro-ing of politics within an administration as one side fights for this, and another side fights for that, and the other one - this is not a question, well, we thought it through coherently. We're pursuing our strategy.

I think it's a question of the difficulties that arise when smart, capable people at the top levels of government disagree about what needs to be done.

And coherence has to be impressed upon policy from the top.


KEYES: You can't rely on the intelligence of your advisers, on the smart instincts of the people you've surrounded yourself with.

There is no substitute at that moment for your instinct, ...


KEYES: ... your own vision, your own determination, your own sense of rising from your experience, ...


KEYES: ... of what needs to be done, and what choices have to be made amongst the alternatives these smart people are offering to you.


KEYES: Right now - let me finish, sir - right now, it seems to me, we are seeing a lack of that kind of decisiveness with respect to Mideast policy.

BLANKLEY: Look. If you wait a few months and the situation's the same, I'll agree with you. We've only had a couple of weeks of changed facts.

Cheney had to change his own approach to the travel to the Middle East a few weeks ago, based on events changing.

He had his own agenda there, that the President had advised him to take. And in the middle of the trip he had to shift.

Now, Cheney was listening to his own judgment based on the facts he could see on the ground. He wasn't being un - being incompetent, because he adjusted to changed circumstances.

And I just think, after two weeks, for people to start leaping down the President's throat when any - anybody in his situation, whether it was a Churchill, ...

KEYES: Well, ...

BLANKLEY: ... or a Roosevelt, would be recalibrating.

But all I'm saying is, give the President a little bit of time ...

KEYES: What ...

BLANKLEY: ... to think it through.

KEYES: Tony, the great problem is, he has jumped into a position where two weeks can be an eternity, where a month, ...

BLANKLEY: Well, ...

KEYES: ... it can be all over with, when it comes to the policies and security and interests of the United States.

BLANKLEY: Well, ...

KEYES: These events move quickly. And one has to have a clear sense of principle, and a vision of how that principle ...

BLANKLEY: Yeah, I ...

KEYES: ... applies to events, in order to move quickly with them and to articulate policies in a way that do not confuse and, in fact contribute to, the kind of violence you're trying to stop.

I don't think we can lower the bar when it comes to our national security and foreign policy by making excuses for policies that are not adequate.

BLANKLEY: Look, I don't ...

KEYES: It doesn't serve the country's interests, even if we do have a partisan identification, which I certainly do.

BLANKLEY: ... I ...

KEYES: We owe it to America to demand more of that. I demanded it of Bill Clinton.

And I think we have to demand it of everybody who sits in the Oval Office.

This flying by the seat of your pants is not good enough.

BLANKLEY: He's not flying by the seat of his pants.

As I say, he - this has gone on for two weeks. And all he's trying to figure out is exactly how he's going to play the new hand.

And to say that he's flying by the seat of his pants, well he's not doing it any more than any other statesman - great statesmen in their time - have had to do to adjust to new realities.

And all the flack that he's getting, mostly from the other side of the equation, most of the commentators are the ones who are telling him he's got to keep talking with Arafat. And a few - you, George Will, there's a few others - have said, you've got to stick exactly to your game plan.

Well, game plans are wonderful, but they've got to be adjusted. I'm prepared to give the President ...

KEYES: I didn't say ...

BLANKLEY: ... time.

KEYES: ... I'm not speaking a game plan or anything else.

I think one has to stick to one's principles and think those principles through, long in advance, in order to apply them to shifting situations.

That, in my opinion, ...

BLANKLEY: Well, ...

KEYES: ... is what is entirely absent here.

But, Tony, thank you so much ...


KEYES: ... for the thoughts today. They were obviously very thought-provoking for me, and for a lot of your readers.

I appreciate your taking the time to join us on the program tonight.


KEYES: Thank you for coming. Appreciate it.

Next, your thoughts on the Mideast crisis. Call us at 1-866-KEYES-USA, 1-866-KEYES-USA.

And later, my outrage of the day. But first, think about this.

Two radio personalities - Johnny Dare, Murphy Wells - they said they were playing an April Fool's prank in Olathe, Kansas.

They informed their audience that their drinking water contained dihydrogen monoxide. They said that boiling the water will, “make the symptoms go away.”

Well, obviously, dihydrogen monoxide, you know, H2O?

Thirty residents called 911, 150 called the superintendent of water protection in the city.

Now, I have to tell you, I too believe, you know, you should be smart enough to know what that fancy chemical expression means, and so forth and so on. Maybe you should.

But I think you should also be responsible enough to understand, when you're sitting on a public platform in times like ours, that that's not an April Fool's joke, in a time when terrorists may be aiming blows at us through our water supply.

I frankly think these folks need to be taken to task in order to encourage greater responsibility in all of us who occupy these kinds of positions.

Their April Fool's joke got a lot of people justifiably upset in this time of crisis.

And frankly, I don't think it made sense at all, do you?


KEYES: Welcome back to MAKING SENSE. I'm Alan Keyes.

Now, I want to find out what's on your mind. Let's get to the phones.

Sanaa (ph) in Georgia, welcome to making sense.


KEYES: Welcome to the show. What's on your mind?

SANA: I just wanted to tell you. If the Europeans do not get involved right now, we will witness another holocaust committed by the war criminal, Ariel Sharon, who committed the massacre of thousands of Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon, who are born Palestinians, and he is Russian.

What is he doing in the Palestinian land?

KEYES: Sana, Sana, meaning no offense, if some massive massacre were going to occur, sadly, the Israelis have the power to do that, and are exercising right now the kind of restraint that I think proves that they are not going to abuse that power, even as they haven't against the holy places and other things in an area that is now subject to this kind of violence and conflict.

Let's go to Robert in New York. Robert, welcome to MAKING SENSE.

ROBERT, NEW YORK: Well, Alan, you said exactly what I was going to say.

If Sharon was as terrible a terrorist as the Palestinians, and unfortunately, some reporters say, there'd be a lot more dead Palestinians, instead of the self-control that he's exercising.

And one of those dead Palestinians would probably be Yasser Arafat, who is the biggest terrorist in the region at this time.

KEYES: Well, I think the point about Yasser Arafat is clearly correct.

The Israelis must be restraining themselves with respect to his person, or he wouldn't be there.

Let's go to Maged in Florida. Maged, welcome to MAKING SENSE.

MAGED, FLORIDA: Oh, hi, Alan.


MAGED: Wanted to see if you know that in 1948 when Palestinians were living peacefully in their own land, they were massacred. And since that point have been massacred on and on — 1956, 1967 war ...

KEYES: Now, listen, Maged, wait, wait, wait. What are you referring to in 1948?

There was a U.N. action that established the State of Israel. There was an armed reaction against that by the Arabs, and a war ensued — the first Arab-Israeli war — which then resulted in the refugees and others that you talk about.

That doesn't sound to me like Arab Palestinians who were willing to accept everything peacefully. That's why a war took place, if you will recall. I know we don't like to remember this history, but that's it.

Let's go to Don in South Carolina. Don?

DON, SOUTH CAROLINA: Yeah, how are you doing, Alan?

KEYES: Pretty well.

DON: What I wanted to say, it's not about land. It's spiritual.

And the Palestinian (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is not going to stop until they totally try to defeat the land of Israel. And I say try, because, of all the wars that they had, the Israelis won because of divine intervention.

KEYES: Well, sir. I think that you are right at one level. In my considered opinion, there is a spiritual stake here. But I think it's a spiritual stake of all decent people who long for peace, and who long for a time when people in that region will be able to live together in peace, in light of all that they could do for one another.

If they can get in touch with that spirit, then they'll find some hope.

Thanks for your feedback today.

Next, my outrage of the day.

And if want to make even more sense, sign up for our free daily newsletter, at our Web site,

Each day in your mailbox, you'll get my show topics, my weekly column, links to my favorite articles of the day.

I'll be right back with my outrage of the day. How far is creeping totalitarianism going to go in America? You stay with us.


KEYES: Now it's time for my outrage of the day.

The city of Kissimmee, Florida decided that if you want to work for them — the city, that is — you have to be a non-smoker.

Now, I'm not talking about people not smoking at work. I'm talking about just be a non-smoker. If you smoke at home, if you smoke anywhere, they're going to come after you.

The thing I wonder when I hear things like this, how are they are going to enforce this? They going to have the smoking police in the bedroom of all their employees?

Maybe somebody will be hired to stand at the door and smell to see if there's smoke on the breath of anybody coming to work that day.

Before you're done, you will have evaded privacy, destroyed personal dignity - all in order to achieve what?

And what'll they enforce next? Stop people from eating fatty foods, endangering their lives with bad sexual habits?

I don't know what it is, but it seems to me that this is the mentality, justified on a health basis, that's not very healthy for our personal privacy and liberty.

And I hope they're not much imitated elsewhere in the country.

That's my sense of it. Thanks for being with me.

The news with Brian Williams is up next. I'll see you tomorrow.

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