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Monday, January 07, 2013


In the Washington Post, Jackson Diehl makes some good points about the futility of the obsession of the Obama administration - and of several of its new appointees - with bringing about 'peace' between Israel and the 'Palestinians.'
In Washington, some of the loudest calls for Obama’s reengagement come from the “realist” foreign policy camp, populated by figures such as former national security advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft — and former senator Chuck Hagel, whom Obama is considering for defense secretary. These folks opposed the war in Iraq, and they reject U.S. intervention in Syria or military action against Iran’s nuclear program. They have been arguing for years that it is time for the United States to recognize limits to its power.
When it comes to Israel, however, the realists assume boundless U.S. strength. If only he chooses to do so, they argue, Obama could join with U.S. allies or the U.N Security Council in imposing a two-state solution on the Israelis and Palestinians, like it or not. The supposition seems to be that a United States too weak to force Bashar al-Assad out of Syria can compel Israel’s advanced democracy and the leaderless Palestinians to accept compromises they have resisted for decades.
There’s nothing wrong with the realists’ goal. Though often accused of being anti-Israel, Brzezinski and Scowcroft have proposed parameters for a Palestinian state close to those embraced by previous Israeli governments. Their solution is eminently logical; it’s the means of getting there that beggar belief. Obama’s first term was proof: The president proved unable even to force Israel to freeze settlements, or oblige the Palestinian Authority to negotiate — much less dictate a deal.
European governments mostly realized long ago that no U.S. administration would or could strong-arm the two sides. Yet they cling to another dogma, one that I suspect is shared by Secretary of State-to-be John Kerry: that an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is the key to stabilizing the broader Middle East, from Morocco to Iraq. It’s an idea nourished by old and new Arab rulers across the region, from Egypt’s new Islamist president to the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who are eager to divert U.S. attention from their own troubles.
If Palestinian statehood is so crucial, then it must be at the center of U.S. foreign policy, regardless of whether the time is ripe. But is it? As Egypt polarizes between secular and Islamist camps, and Syria’s vicious war pits Sunni Muslims against Alawites and their Shiite allies, it seems clear that the region’s biggest conflicts are those of Arabs against Arabs. But Western governments are at a loss over what to do about these battles. For the Israelis and Palestinians there is, at least, a well-known formula: conferences to be arranged, shuttles between capitals, dickering over conditions and pre-conditions.
I'm not sure he's right about the Europeans 'getting it,' but the rest of that excerpt is correct. So why the obsession? Does the US share the Arab goal of extirpating the Jewish state? (I believe that the Obama administration shares that goal, but I don't believe the American people support it).

Then we have Diehl's prescription:
But what’s needed is a concerted but low-key policy, one that aims at creating conditions for a long-term solution but does not pretend that it can be delivered in the next year or two. Obama should encourage Israel’s new government to take palliative steps to ease movement and promote development in the West Bank; he should press Egypt’s ruling Islamists to exert a moderating influence over Hamas. Above all, he should accept the lesson of his first term: that making Middle East peace a presidential priority will not make it happen.
This hints at what is probably the biggest weakness of the entire 'peace process.' From the beginning, every negotiation between Israel and the 'Palestinians' has had a deadline. Deadlines in negotiations don't work unless each side has something to be permanently lost if the deadline is missed. Sadly, the 'Palestinians' don't have the feeling that they will ever permanently lose the opportunity to gain a 'state.' So the deadlines won't work. But so long as the deadlines are there, they will be used as a hammer to beat up on Israel. 

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At 5:31 PM, Blogger Eliana said...

One insurmountable problem with the "peace process" is that they predetermined the only possible outcome (two states) rather than using the "peace process" to find out what might be the best, safest, and most realistic outcome of the conflict.

They set the ending first, which is like setting the outcome of a car shopping trip as confirming that the customer is going to end up owning an expensive car from a specific car dealership regardless of the amount of money that the customer has to spend or the haggling that goes on.

The customer can offer ten cents for the car. If he knows that it's already been decided that he'll own the car no matter how little money he pays, then he can offer less than a dollar for 20 years while the "peacemakers" wrack their brains and blame the car dealership for not giving him the car.


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