In history one man can make a difference. This is the insight that has provoked historians to confect what is called the Great Man theory of history. For instance, had there never been a Napoleon Bonaparte, Europe would have remained an 18th century theme park far into the 19th century. Had there never been an Adolf Hitler, Europe would have remained a 19th century theme park far into the 20th century or at least until Josef Stalin made his move on Central Europe.
Incidentally, who would have stood up to Stalin in say 1940? I suppose the challenge would have fallen to Winston Churchill, but without Hitler’s remilitarization of Germany to provoke Churchill’s resistance in the 1930s, there might not have been a Churchill in the British government. Would the French have stood up to Stalin? Would the Germans under one of their postwar liberals?
I doubt it. Great men of evil character spread evil, and great men of good character oppose them. Yasser Arafat is a man who has made a difference, and the difference has led to violence and carnage, anarchy and war. He is the great man of evil character and he has yet to run up against a great man of good character equal to the task of eliminating him. Possibly Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can rise to the occasion. Last week, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested killing Mr. Arafat as “one of the options” in dealing with him.
There is no doubt the Israelis could kill him. In response to Palestinian terrorist organizations’ murder of civilians within Israel the Israeli military has been killing terrorist leaders. The chief terrorist leader is Mr. Arafat, and his whereabouts are never a secret. A surgical strike with missiles would end Mr. Arafat’s mischief.
The Israelis have been contemplating another option. For more than a year they have considered grabbing Mr. Arafat and shipping him out of his West Bank headquarters to another country. This would not be the first time Mr. Arafat’s penchant for mischief and mayhem has led to his reluctant departure from a country. Since 1967, he has been forcibly removed from five countries, all of them Arab. Jordanians, Lebanese, and Syrians have all forced him from their country, and he has always landed in another Arab jurisdiction. Now the Israelis contemplate shipping him abroad, but where to send him?
Allow me to offer a solution. There is another Arab country where Mr. Arafat has yet to reside and where the large Arab population unquestionably would welcome him. I suggest Prime Minister Sharon rise to the challenge, demonstrate he is one of history’s Great Men, and send Mr. Arafat to France.
The Palestinian has a wife in Paris and a friend in Jacques Chirac. The two could have long lunches together. They could even negotiate. Both love to negotiate. Over the years as Mr. Arafat has “negotiated,” thousands have died. Not as many people will die if Mr. Arafat is out of the West Bank, but in Paris negotiating can be very agreeable nonetheless, especially with so suave a negotiator as Mr. Chirac. Possibly the two might also invite Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder into their negotiations.
For 40 years, Mr. Arafat’s leadership in the Middle East has been a bloody string of murders and insurrections. From the massacre of Israeli athletes in the 1972 Olympics to the shipment last year of arms from Iran to the Palestinian territories on the ship “Karin A,” Mr. Arafat has been a leader of terror even as he has presented himself to the civilized world as a serious statesman. With his recent political ambush of Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen he has revealed himself to be anything but a serious statesman. He is a fanatical opponent of peace in the Middle East and of Israeli nationhood. The Israelis should send him to Paris. Then let us see what Mr. Chirac will do with him.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun, and an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute.