Newt Blazes the Mideast Campaign Trail

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The time when U.S. politicians, despite their misgivings, fell in behind the White House in its dealings with foreign countries has long gone: Newt Gingrich arrives in Israel tomorrow, and his guns are already blazing -- at President Clinton. An op-ed article he wrote for today’s Jerusalem Post offers reasons for the Netanyahu government to reject Washington’s compromise ultimatum on troop withdrawal from the West Bank. “[Israel] cannot replace its generals' judgments on security concerns with the optimism of those who have never faced a threat to their survival,” wrote Gingrich.

“These days countries know they can go around the White House and make a direct appeal to Congress,” says TIME correspondent Douglas Waller. “That’s definitely had a chilling effect on Washington’s ultimatum to Israel.” Indeed, Mideast policy may be something of a lost cause in a U.S. election year.