Posted ByÂ J.G. Thayer
Well, the Bush administration has finally reconciled itself to the reality that there will be no lasting Mideast peace agreement on its watch â€” and I find myself relieved. Secretary of State Rice is making her final visit to the region before leaving office, meeting with various and sundry involved parties, but says there will be no deal by the end of the year â€” and, presumably, by the end of the Bush administration on January 20.
As I said, I find myself relieved.
* Suckers in theÂ Netherlands: ‘Muslims victims of racism’
I am not a scholar of the Mideast, but in the years I have been following developing matters in the region, I have noticed that there is a recurring pattern in the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.
- Some outside body pushes for a peace agreement.
- The body brings representatives together in some new place for intense talks.
- The talks go on for a while, drawing up a plan.
- The plan is announced with much fanfare, with a series of steps to be taken by each side building towards a lasting peace.
- Before the conciliatory steps are begun, Israel is called upon to make some sort of concessions as a “gesture of good faith.” (Note: This can occur before or concurrent with steps 3 and 4. Also, the Palestinians are never called upon to make similar gestures.)
- Israel, under great pressure, makes the demanded “gesture” â€” usually involving release of prisoners or evacuation of lands.
- Israel is praised by the global community for its “commitment to peace.”
- The agreement begins to be implemented, with Israel always having to begin to make the real concessions (this is in addition to the prior “gesture of goodwill.”)
- Israel makes the first of its concessions, and is praised once more for its “commitment to peace” by the global community.
- The Palestinians start making excuses for why they cannot comply with the agreements they made at the negotiating table.
- Israel is pressured to continue with its commitments and obligations unilaterally, with the warning that “they must not endanger the agreement.”
- Israel reluctantly continues to make its concessions, but demands that the Palestinians begin living up to their end of the bargain.
- The Palestinians continue to prevaricate and stall, and warn that “rogue elements” might strike out to “destroy the peace process.”
- Israel announces that it will not continue with its obligations until the Palestinians begin living up to theirs. (Note that at this point, Israel has already made several concessions.)
- The Palestinians accuse Israel of “sabotaging” the peace agreement and warn of “dire consequences.”
- A “rogue group” of Palestinians attack Israel.
- The Palestinians warn Israel that any retaliation for the attack will “destroy the fragile peace” and end the agreement.
- The rest of the global community also pressures Israel to “show restraint” and “not break the truce.”
- Another “rogue group” of Palestinians commits another attack.
- Israel strikes back against the terrorists.
- The Palestinians announce that Israel has “destroyed the peace” and formally withdraw from the agreement.
- A fresh wave of terrorist attacks and Israeli retaliations resume.
- Return to step 1.
Obviously, there are variations, but that is the basic outline.
There’s an old saying that defines insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” Obviously, this pattern has not worked in the half-dozen or so times it’s been tried, but the world keeps coming back to it. Why on earth do they?
The world community does, I think, because it lets them seem like they’re actually doing something, and most politicians understand that it’s in their best interests to be perceived as doing something, even if (and sometimes especially if) they aren’t actually achieving anything.
The Israelis do it because they are constantly pressured by the global community to do so, and threatened with the withholding of aid and support if they do not comply. Also, they are always hopeful that this time it just might work.
And the Palestinians do it because it is to their advantage to do so. Because, while the process always loops back to the starting point, the concessions they win from Israel are almost always left intact. For participating in this recursive loop, they get to keep whatever Israel gives up in the early stages of the process. The prisoners released remain free, the surrendered land remains theirs, and other concessions often remain intact.
In essence, the Palestinians end up getting a few concessions for virtually nothing. It’s a very slow path to victory, but it’s certainly steps in the right direction. It’s the “death of a thousand cuts” writ on a global scale.
I don’t particularly enjoy being a cynic, but I have found that when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s usually the wisest and safest approach.
For the next round of this grand game, I would suggest a change from the beginning. Call upon the Palestinians to make the “gestures of good will.” Require them to make the first concessions, and structure the agreement that Israel is required to keep up with them.
Naturally, I don’t expect this to work. But it will have the effect of shortening the entire process considerably.
And who knows? Perhaps after going through this new pattern a few times, with Israel getting to keep whatever the Palestinians might concede before aborting the process, there will be a sincere effort to finally achieve a lasting peace in the Mideast.
At least, it’ll be an improvement over the existing, seriously broken model.
Within a few days of the American presidential election, Iran was already testing Obama with Ahmadinejad slyly offering him his congratulations.Â Obama gave a guarded, pro-forma reply that Iran had to stop supporting terror and that its development ofÂ Â nuclear weapons was unacceptable, without saying what he would do to bring ‘change’ to Iran.Â Â In response to that Ali Larijani, Speaker of Iran’s parliament, pointedlyÂ did not denyÂ that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. The ball is now once again in Obama’s court, and the impression strengthens that Iran is looking forward to running ever bigger rings around America.
In America, where I currently am, I hear amplification of this analysis. The point missed by many is that, contrary to the view that Obambi represents an abrupt break with the warmongering Bush, the said warmonger effectively tore up his own doctrine sometime around the middle of his second term. The key is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the way she has effectively hijacked American policy in the Middle East.
In order to counter the increasing power of Iran, Rice wanted to form a coalition with Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which regard Iranian power as a mortal threat to themselves. Their price was the ‘peace process’ towards the creation of a Palestinian state. These ‘moderates’ never for a moment expected this would actually result in a Palestinian state â€“ indeed, they would find such a development distinctly unappealing because it would be a proxy of Iran and thus increase still further Iranian control in the region. But the ‘peace process’ helped them in various ways: it weakened Israel, gave them a place at the global top table and furnished them with a plausible line to sell to their own home constituencies.Â Â
There were those within the Bush administration who viewed this with alarm. They argued that the US should be bolstering ‘moderate’ Palestinians by helping develop the institutions of a free society such as a free press and the rule of law, building economic strength and easing the lives of ordinary Palestinians â€” but not complicating all this by a political overlay which effectively rewarded terror by pressuring Israel to give up yet more land for Hamas/Iran to colonise. These voices were ignored. Rice was determined to force a political settlement.
The result is that the US has fallen into a trap. Far from peeling off moderate Palestinians from Hamas, Egypt and Saudi are trying hard to repair the breach between Fatah and Hamas. These putative allies of America are treading a fine line: playing the US along ostensibly in a common front against Iran, but at the same time doing nothing to act against Iran â€“ indeed, on the basis that the US is weak and will not act against Iran, even taking care to keep their own lines to Iran well and truly open.
So America has not only gained nothing, not only weakened the Israeli front line butÂ Â given Iran what it needs most of all â€“ the invaluable gift of time for it to bring its nuclear weapons programme to fruition. The result has been that, even before last week’s election, more and more voices in Washington were to be heard saying that America probably could live with a nuclear Iran after all. Unable or unwilling to control Rice through his own incompetence and weakness, Bush was already halfway to Obama’s position.
We will not know how Obama’s foreign policy will develop until we know his full team and particularly who gets State and Defence. But all the evidence to date suggests that he will throw Israel’s security under the bus while appeasing the enemies of the free world.Â Â
The appointment as his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, the reputed bruiser whose role is to crush with extreme ruthlessness all opposition to Obama’s programme,Â Â tells us very little â€” even though he is a former Israeli with a father who was in the Irgun Jewish terrorist organisation. So what? So was the father of Israel’s foreign minister Tzipi Livni, the woman who has done so much to weaken Israel by seeking to give away Israeli assets to Palestinian leaders who say in terms they will never accept Israel as a Jewish state, as well as strengthening the Syrians by talking to them.
Rahm Emanuel himself was involved in the catastrophic Oslo appeasement process, which led directly to the second intifada and helped fuel the rise of Hamas. What is little understood in a western world in thrall to the noxious narrative of Jewish control over the American agenda is that American Jews are overwhelmingly liberal or on the left â€“ and Jews on the left who support Israel often espouse policy positions which threaten to destroy it, thus making themselves the useful idiots for Israel’s enemies. Indeed Israel’s own politicians on the left, including the current Prime Minister â€” who has now said that Israel should revert to the pre-1967 ‘Auschwitz’ borders, a remark which caused evenÂ HaaretzÂ to choke on its falafel â€” have gone down precisely the same suicidal road.
In similar vein the prominent Oslo veteran Dennis Ross, who is currently desperately jostling for a place in Obama’s foreign policy team, is a friend of Israel â€“and yet he appears to have learned nothing from a process which led directly to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and the current impasse. He appears to be incapable of thinking outside the box marked ‘peace process’. But unlike the pursuit of true peace which can only arise from justice, the ‘peace process’ createsÂ moreÂ violence through arousing expectations which are not met and though strengthening the men of violence by rewarding and thus incentivising terror. And meanwhile Palestinian children are still taught to hate Jews and told that one day Israel will be destroyed â€“ and the Islamists in the region continue to multiply and divide into ever more extreme and murderous groups and factions.
According toÂ CNN, the Iranian Speaker Larijani said that
U.S. behavior toward Iran ‘will not change so simply’ but that Obama’s election showed internal conditions in the United States have shifted.
The Iranians are amongst the most shrewd and sophisticated strategists around. They can see that the election of Obama is a signal of American weakness. The question no-one can currently answer, however, is whether President Obama will now repudiate his history and turn through sheer force of circumstances into a centrist and war leader â€“ which would be remarkable but by no means unprecedentedÂ Â â€“ or will remain true to his radical past. Upon the answer to that question, the ability of the free world to defend itself against the onslaught now depends.