It's been less than four months since President Bush's last trip to the Middle East. His attendance at the World Economic Forum in Egypt this weekend afforded him another opportunity to make diplomatic progress on a host of issues, but most importantly, Iran.
With leaders of so many of the regions leaders present, the message was unmistakable and clear: Iran's theocratic government is a threat to peace and the best way forward is not to recognize ore reward it with meaningless talks it, but to isolate it. That has been the longstanding policy of the United States under both Democrat and Republican Administrations. Despite the calls of Iran's enablers in the U.S. for talks for the sake of talking, President Bush is continuing U.S. leadership whose ultimate goal is non-military regime change in Iran.
If Democrats really sought a peaceful solution to the problem of Iran they would support these efforts, not undermine them.
President George W. Bush speaks before the World Economic Forum on the Middle East Sunday, May 18, 2008, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The President told his audience, "I know these are trying times, but the future is in your hands –- and freedom and peace are within your grasp." White House photo by Chris Greenberg
President Bush Attends World Economic ForumThe trip afforded President Bush the opportunity to visit Israel again, as he did in January. And it was during his speech to the Knesset (Israeli parliament) that he laid down the cornerstone of his diplomatic approach. It was this speech that generated so much defensive angst among Democrats. The old saying: "if the shoe fits, wear it" comes to mind.
Sharm el Sheikh International Congress Center
Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
White House transcript
May 18, 2008
...I know these are trying times, but the future is in your hands -- and freedom and peace are within your grasp. Just imagine what this region could look like in 60 years. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserve -- a democratic state that is governed by law, respects human rights, and rejects terror. Israel will be celebrating its 120 anniversary as one of the world's great democracies -- a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people.
From Cairo, Riyadh, Baghdad to Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy and tourism and trade. Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, where today's oppression is a distant memory and people are free to speak their minds and develop their talents. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause.
President George W. Bush receives a standing ovation by members of the Knesset Thursday, May 15, 2008, in Jerusalem. Acknowledging the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence, the President told the Israeli parliament, “Earlier today, I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: "Masada shall never fall again." Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side.” White House photo by Shealah Craighead
The President was also welcomed in Saudi Arabia:
President George W. Bush and King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz walk the red carpet after the arrival Friday, May 16, 2008, of the President and Mrs. Laura Bush to Riyadh. As guests of the King, the President and Mrs. Bush will overnight at his Al Janadriyah Ranch before continuing on their Mideast Visit Saturday to Egypt. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian
The meeting in Egypt offered an opportunity to apply personal diplomacy at the highest level with a host of regional leaders:
President George W. Bush is joined by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Saturday, May 17, 2008, as they speak with members of the media following their meeting in Sharm el-Shiek, Egypt. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
President George W. Bush and the Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani shake hands following their meeting Sunday, May 18, 2008, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian
President George W. Bush shakes hands with Jordan's King Abdullah II at the conclusion of their meeting Sunday, May 18, 2008, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian
President George W. Bush shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday, May 17, 2008, at the conclusion of their meeting with members of the media in Sharm el-Shiek, Egypt. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
President George W. Bush embraces Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak upon his arrival Saturday, May 17, 2008, to Sharm el-Sheik International Airport in Sharm el-Shiek, Egypt. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian
Behind closed doors, after the photos are taken, the real work of advancing an agenda of peace is ongoing in bilateral and multilateral meetings. So much for the U.S. acting unilaterally. (unless of course you are Obama, then unilateral meetings with rogue regimes and offending our allies is ok).