MR. PRESIDENT, GO TO JERU.S.ALEM
by Joe Shea
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief
Everything important requires a journey. Great men make those journeys; thus, Sadat journeyed to Begin; thus, Eisenhower journeyed to Korea; thus, at a critical moment in world history, when a deadly impasse has paralyzed the peace process upon which much of the world's well-being is precariously hung, you, Mr. President, must go to Jerusalem and help Israel find a way to peace with a new state of Palestine.
History extends this invitation to very few. You, more than any leader alive today, have experienced both the terrible isolation and immense responsibility of your high office; you strode across the baseball field at Yankee Stadium alone before 80,000 people and a world with its breath indrawn, stilled in fear, fresh with the memory of horror, and awoke us all to the quality and power of a courage we could not know you had. That journey so inspired my own publication that it has thereafter never permitted your name to appear in its pages without the proud title of President beside it.
That journey of a hundred yards is how we know that you -- even if you do not think you can, even if you doubt how effective your effort might be -- can take yet another courageous journey across the world to Israel at a time when the tide of history is high, when the will to peace is weak, and when there are few options left other than a bitter, bloody struggle whose scars will endure for decades and likely produce not one inch of progress for humanity.
It comes also when the best efforts of your Secretary of State, your envoy Gen. Zinni, and Vice President Dick Cheney have failed to even slightly budge the boulder of hostility that stands in the path of peace. We do not fault them, either; the job was too large, the hatred too intractable, the issues too complex for any but the most singularly decisive leader, one with enormous personal support, to accomplish. Yes, there is much risk. Should your efforts fail to move either side, and the bombings and reprisals continue, you may lose some measure of the enormous political capital you have accumulated by your extraordinary leadership of this nation and its war against terror since the 11th of September, 2001. Yet there will be many who will not fault you for having made the effort. President Jimmy Carter tried but failed to free the American hostages in Iran; he is no longer condemned but honored for that act.
It is ironic to us that on the day of the cowardly attacks against New York and Washington, you seemed for long hours to be out of touch with the American people. Then, with decisive words and actions, your proved you were not. Today, you feel the sting of intense criticism, even from us, that you have not done enough to establish peace in the Middle East, and would do far less if you didn't need the support of the Muslim world for a new assault against Iraq. So there is no victory for you in standing still; you must either allow yourself to be moved by necessity to decisive action, or give yourself to the shadows of history. You have nothing more to prove to Americans; it is the crushing duty of leadership that must compel you now. We are with you and behind you, and however little that may matter when you weigh the risks ahead, let it console you, if you try to bend history to your will on behalf of peace, that for a shining moment you will push the shadows of doubt and fear aside and earn the admiration of the world.
Godspeed, Mr. President.