All US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives, initiated by Democratic and Republican Presidents, aimed at advancing the cause of peace, while enhancing the US strategic stature. However, all failed on both accounts.
The well-intentioned US peace initiatives were doomed to failure by the tendency to downplay the complex intra-Arab/Muslim Middle East reality, since they conflicted with the eagerness to advance peace ASAP, wishful-thinking and oversimplification.
US peace initiatives were the casualties of the inherent conflict between Western eagerness for quick-fix and short-term convenience, on the one hand, and the long-term and complicated nature of the intricate reality and national security, on the other hand.
US peace initiatives were frustrated by the tectonic forces which have shaped the well-documented intra-Arab/Muslim labyrinth since the birth of Islam in the 7th century: explosive unpredictability, violence, intolerance (religiously, ethnically, politically and socially), absence of peaceful-coexistence domestically and regionally, minority/rogue regimes, disregard of civil liberties, brutal domestic fragmentation (tribally, ideologically and religiously) and the tenuous/provisional nature of regimes, policies and agreements.
Moreover, the US peace initiatives were further derailed by the politically-correct assumptions that the Arab-Israeli conflict has been “The Middle East Conflict” and that the Palestinian issue has been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a core-cause of Middle East turbulence and a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making.
Such assumptions have been dashed against the rocks of Middle East reality, as highlighted by the 2010 eruption of the still-raging Arab Tsunami (erroneously named “the Arab Spring”), which has been totally unrelated to the dramatically less significant Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue.
Furthermore, the preoccupation with the Palestinian issue – at a time when the Middle East and the US are confronted with significantly more pivotal national and homeland security challenges/threats – has damaged the US posture of deterrence and its regional and global standing.
All US peace initiatives attempted to force Israel into making major concessions to the Arab/Palestinian side, thus rewarding systematic Arab aggression, which encouraged further aggression. These initiatives exhibited the self-defeating moral equivalence between (Arab) aggressors and the intended (Israeli) victim; between the most effective, unconditional strategic ally of the US (Israel), and a close ally of enemies and rivals of the US, such as Nazi Germany, the USSR, the Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela (the Palestinians); and between the role model of counter-terrorism (Israel) and a role model and a major training ground of anti-US terrorists and a shrine of hate-education (the Palestinians).
The subversive and terroristic track record of the Palestinians, and their closest allies, sheds light on the inherent contradiction between the need to minimize Middle East instability and violence, on the one hand, and the attempt to establish a Palestinian state, on the other hand.
US peace initiatives have forced the Palestinians, in particular, and the Arabs, in general, to outflank the (“infidel”) US from the maximalist/radical side, thus further intensifying conflict and disagreements.
Contrary to the well-meant goal of the US peace initiatives, this added fuel – not water – to the fire, exacerbated instability and undermined US diplomatic and geo-strategic posture and interests. One may note that in spite of the US presidential recognition of the PLO, its support for the idea of a Palestinian state and sustained pressure on Israel to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the US has been systematically terrorized by Shite and Sunni Islamic terrorism.
While all US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives have failed (e.g., the 1970 Rogers Plan, the 1973-75 Kissinger initiatives, the 1982 Reagan Plan, the 1989-92 Bush/Baker initiatives, the Clinton initiatives, the G.W. Bush initiatives and the Obama/Kerry initiatives), Middle East reality has highlighted the indispensable role of the US as a facilitator – not initiator – of peace initiatives, which were launched directly between Israel and Arab entities. Thus, it was the critical US support of the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan initiated peace processes – during their intermediary and mature stages – which propelled them to fruition.
Furthermore, the cardinal US role in facilitating and coalescing Israel’s enhanced cooperation with pro-US Arab regimes in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula – which has not been preconditioned upon Israeli concessions to the Palestinians – has projected a realistic US policy in the Middle East. It has been a policy which recognizes the order of regional and global priorities, highlighting the intensified lethal threats of Iran’s Ayatollahs and Sunni Islamic terrorism to the US’ homeland and national security, as well as to every pro-US Arab regime in the region, none of which is related, directly or indirectly, to the Palestinian issue.
Will the US benefit from the lessons of its many well-intentioned (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives by avoiding past errors?!
Will the US leverage its peace-making experience by focusing on its game-changing, constructive role as a facilitator, rather than an initiator?!
Will US policy-makers adhere to the life-saving advice, shared with drivers in West Texas: When smothered by lethal sandstorms (the Arab Tsunami…), don’t get preoccupied with the tumbleweeds on the road (the Palestinian issue…)?!
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
The Ettinger Report
“Second Thought: A US-Israel Initiative”
This article was first published in The Ettinger Report on July 16, 2018
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“We’re engaged in a marathon – which will last well beyond our own life time – which requires tenacity on behalf of reality and truth, in defiance of delusion and distortion” – Ambassador (Ret) Yoram Ettinger
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by Yoram Ettinger
Published Dec 2014
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