Having in mind its "special resonance given current events" in the Mid East, TPM Reader DK (who has been guest-posting on weekends) highlights a passage from Ron Suskind's The Price of Loyalty. The story details Bush's first meeting with his National Security Council, 10 days after taking the oath of office. He'd met Sharon briefly, Bush said, when they had flown over Israel in a helicopter on a visit in December 1998. "Just saw him that one time. We flew over the Palestinian camps," Bush said sourly. "Looked real bad down there. I don't see much we can do over there at this point. I think it's time to pull out of that situation." And that was it, according to [Paul] O'Neill and several other people in the room. The Arab-Israeli conflict was a mess, and the United States would disengage. The combatants would have to work it out on their own. [Colin] Powell said such a move might be hasty. He remarked on the violence on the West Bank and Gaza and on its roots. He stressed that a pullback by the United States would unleash Sharon and Israeli army. "The consequences of that could be dire," he said, "especially for the Palestinians." Bush shrugged. "Maybe that's the best way to get some things back in balance." Powell seemed startled. "Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things," Bush said. "And that was it" indeed. Apparently being President is just a little too much hard work to bother doing sometimes.
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