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Monday, November 12, 2007

Time to stop pretending II

David Brooks has an interesting piece in the New York Times in which he argues that Condi Rice is bringing together the Annapolis conference mugging to form a coalition against Iran and not with any hope of actually bringing about peace between Israel and the 'Palestinians.' In Brooks' words,
It’s like having a wedding without a couple because you want to get the guests together for some other purpose.
Brooks' argument is actually plausible. Here's the crux of it:
Iran has done what decades of peace proposals have not done — brought Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. together. You can go to Jerusalem or to some Arab capitals and the diagnosis of the situation is the same: Iran is gaining hegemonic strength over the region and is spreading tentacles of instability all around.

The Syrians, who have broken with the Sunni nations and attached themselves to Iran, are feeling stronger by the day. At least one-third of Iraq is under Iranian influence. Hezbollah is better armed and more confident now than it was before its war against Israel. Hamas is being drawn closer inside the Iranian orbit and is more likely to take over the West Bank than lose its own base in Gaza.

In short, Iran is taking advantage of the region’s three civil wars and could have its proxy armies on Israel’s northern, western and southern borders.

Arab opinion, even in Sunni nations, is sympathetic to Iran. Egypt, which should serve as a counterbalance to Iran, is sclerotic and largely absent from the scene.

It’s no wonder Rice has acted so forcefully to forge the “moderate” coalition. She seems to sense what leaders in the region say privately: It’s not so much that they have high hopes of peace; it’s that they are terrified they will fail. If they cannot restart the peace process and build an anti-Iran alliance upon it, then the days of the moderates could be numbered. That’s why Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of Israel, pinned what’s left of his career to this Annapolis process at a speech before the Saban Forum Sunday night, and why other leaders are so fervent behind the scenes.
Now let's stop pretending and discuss reality. The Annapolis mugging is going to fail. It's going to fail for a lot of reasons. Here are some of them:

1. Even if an agreement were reached, neither Olmert nor Abu Mazen is capable of getting his people to approve it, let alone actually carry it out. Both of them are too weak. All Annapolis will accomplish is to set the starting point for the next round when the next US administration is in its death throes. That's why Israel should not be going.

2. If the Arab countries are as afraid of Iran as Brooks claims they are, they could help the 'process' along by offering the 'Palestinians' who live among them - particularly in Jordan, Lebanon (which should have more interest in this than any other Arab country) and Egypt full citizenship and equal rights. The reason Olmert has been pushing for a declaration that Israel is a Jewish state is because even he knows that there is no way Israelis will approve any deal that brings 'Palestinian refugees' into whatever is left in Israel after a peace agreement is signed. Not even a 'limited' return. Not even a 'right of return' that they promise us won't be exercised. No one here is going to open that Pandora's box. Not even Ehud Olmert.

But the Arab countries won't help the 'process' along, because they hate Israel and the Jews more than they fear Iran. And because everyone knows that Israel is Ahmadinejad's first target. The Arab countries should fear Iran. They don't - or they don't fear Iran enough.

While we're at it, it's time to stop pretending there's any such thing as a 'Palestinian' people. That would also go a long way towards solving the problem.

3. The 'Palestinians' don't fear Iran. They should. If Iran uses nuclear weapons on us, the fallout is not going to stop at the entrance to Arab towns, villages and 'refugee camps.' The only party that really does fear Iran is Israel. And Israel is the only party with the capability of responding.

4. If Condi Rice wants to reach a deal between Israel and the 'Palestinians,' she has to stop pretending that the sanctions are working. They're not and they never will. By signaling that the US is taking the military option off the table, she makes it impossible for Israel to make concessions even if it wanted to (and Olmert - for his own reasons - wants to make concessions a lot more than the rest of us).

5. Even if a deal were reached, it would not stop Iran and Syria. The Arab countries would have to agree to let Israel do whatever is necessary to protect itself. They actually did that - quietly - for a short period during last summer's war with Hezbulllah and Israel failed to respond effectively. That experiment is not likely to be repeated.

Note that this entire discussion - with the exception of item 2 - does not even deal with the 'core issues' of the Arab - Israeli conflict. At the moment, those are unsolvable too.


At 11:51 PM, Blogger Stephen R. Maloney said...

Israel: You continue to have one of the best blogs going.

I believe every conservative in America will want to support the candidacy of Lt. Col. William Russell (USA, Ret) who is running hard against John Murtha. Russell is a veteran of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. Please visit his web site to find out how you can help -- even if you don't live in PA. He's at: http://williamrussellforcongress.com.

Steve Maloney
Ambridge, PA
http://camp2008victorya.blogspot.com (On my own site, I've been putting up pictures from Iraq that show a much different version of that country -- and American soldiers -- than the one you'll see and hear on the MSM). Thanks to all of you.


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