Reader Challenge: Is the Middle-East Peace Process an Artifact of Another Age?
National Security Network's Erica Mandell at Democracy Arsenal in Carpe Diem on Middle East Peace writes:
Dear Mr. President, it's time for Middle East peace. To use your own words, you gotta "keep on at it." Don't let this be a case of simply going through the motions either, like your predecessor, who waited until his last year office to get serious . . . . To sit back and watch efforts fizzle would squander a unique opportunity to have a lasting impact on a global issue.
As William Quandt, who was actively involved in the negotiations of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, explains, the time has lapsed when we can stand back and hide behind the notion that "we can't want it more than they do." As it turns out, we can, especially when our own interests are at stake.
On the other hand, writes Aaron David Miller in a Foreign Policy article, The False Religion of Mideast Peace:
. . . since the October 1973 war gave birth to serious U.S. diplomacy and the phrase "peace process". . . . the U.S. approach has come to rest [on] a sort of peace-process religion, a reverential logic chain that compelled most U.S. presidents to involve themselves seriously in the Arab-Israeli issue. Barack Obama is the latest convert, and by all accounts he too became a zealous believer, vowing within days of his inauguration "to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors."
The "dogmatic creed, with immutable first principles" includes:
First, pursuit of a comprehensive peace was a core, if not the core, U.S. interest in the region, and achieving it offered the only sure way to protect U.S. interests; second, peace could be achieved, but only through a serious negotiating process based on trading land for peace; and third, only America could help the Arabs and Israelis bring that peace to fruition.
The peace-process creed has endured so long because to a large degree it has made sense and accorded with U.S. interests. The question is, does it still? . . . Is the Arab-Israeli conflict still the core issue?
Sadly, the answers to these questions seem to be all too obvious these days . . . The notion that . . . Arab-Israeli peace would, like some magic potion, bullet, or elixir, make it all better, is just flat wrong. In a broken, angry region with so many problems . . . it stretches the bounds of credulity to the breaking point to argue that settling the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most critical issue, or that its resolution would somehow guarantee Middle East stability.
Focal Points readers are urged to read the Miller article in full. Then let us know whether you think, like Ms. Mandell and the Obama administration, that we need to carpe diem the Middle-East peace process. Or, as Mr. Miller writes, is it over-rated, unobtainable, and no longer the key that unlocks the door to Middle-East stability?