Your Lying Eyes

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12 April 2010

Fatal Flaw in Our Mideast Policy

Sure, we'd like Israel and the Palestinians to sit down and negotiate in good faith, and for Israel to stop building new settlements in Palestinian territories. But the basic premise seems fatally flawed: the Palestinians are probably not really capable of running an independent, functioning state. Maybe they can, but we've seen no evidence of it. Any Palestinian state will very likely be highly dysfunctional, suffering chronic poverty and fiscally imprudent. The persistent mal-governance will lead to perennial unrest and resentment towards its high-performing neighbor, which will translate into continued terrorist activity, which will of course lead to the inevitable Israeli "disproportionate responses" periodically, which will just feed into the cycle.

I'm thinking about this after reading an article about the Obama/Netanyahu tensions in the Financial Times (via Drudge).
Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu share the view that Tehran must be stopped from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, a scenario both maintain would destabilise the wider Middle East and embolden Israel’s most committed foes. But there is a fundamental, and increasingly visible, rift on how best to respond. Crudely put, the Americans view Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts as the key ingredient in building an Arab coalition to curb Iran. Israel, by contrast, argues that a lasting Middle East peace is only attainable once the world has dealt with the threat from Tehran.

Speaking to more than 7,000 people at last month’s annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the powerful pro-Israel lobby group, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, highlighted the propaganda value of images of the occupied Palestinian territories, calling for Israel to help change “the facts on the ground” to “refute the claims of the rejectionists and extremists and in so doing create the circumstances for a safe, secure future for Israel”.

She added: “Behind these terrorist organisations and their rockets, we see the destabilising influence of Iran. Now, reaching a two-state solution will not end all these threats . . . but failure to do so gives the extremist foes a pretext to spread violence, instability and hatred.”

The US is also stepping up work with Arab states to contain Tehran. But as General David Petraeus, head of US central command, said last month: “If you go to moderate leaders in the Arab world they will tell you that the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process causes them problems.”
Sure, the continued building of settlements is a rather sore point, but I can't see much changing either way. Suppose Israel announces they will stop building settlements - what's supposed to happen, the Palestinians are going to suddenly put their noses to the grindstone and get to work on building functioning state? When Palestine continues to be mired in poverty while lobbing grenades into Israel, will the Arab states shrug their shoulders and say to us "Oh well, we tried...now what was it you wanted us to do again about Iran?..." I'm just not seeing it.

4 Comments:

Blogger Black Sea said...

The US is a nation built on the premise of success. This has its pros and cons, but undoubtedly, one of its greatest cons is the tendency to assume that the rest of the world thinks the same way, or hopes someday to think this way, even aspires to think this way.

For an American, few things are more frustrating, and -- in a sense -- inexplicable, than a problem without a solution. For most of the rest of the world, few things are more unremarkable. I supppose in a way this is a tribute to our track record of success, but it does tend to blind us to how the rest of the world works.

Sorry, but the mideast crisis -- which will soemday come to an end, as all things do -- will never come to the type of end that our foreign policy pundits and domestic bureaucrats would consider successful. The end of this crisis, when it comes, is likely to be messy, tragic, and unfair. Just like so much of life.

April 14, 2010 2:48 AM  
Blogger KingM said...

What is needed is a Cyprus-like split. Move all the Greeks to one side, the Turks to the other side, put up a big wall and then have the two sides cut off all contact with the other country. Violence will dwindle and both sides will get about to worrying about other problems.

I suspect that the innate ability of Palestinians is probably surprisingly high, like Lebanese and Tunisians, other populations with a high percentage of ancient Mediterranean roots.

April 15, 2010 2:14 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

I suspect that the innate ability of Palestinians is probably surprisingly high, like Lebanese and Tunisians

I don't think so - I suspect they're a pretty self-selected in-group of shiite fundies and unlikely to function well in a modern economy. I know his data isn't always the most reliable in the world, but Lynn has their average IQ at 85, and there isn't much "real world" evidence to contradict it.

April 17, 2010 9:16 AM  
Blogger Rick Darby said...

She added: “Behind these terrorist organisations and their rockets, we see the destabilising influence of Iran. Now, reaching a two-state solution will not end all these threats . . . but failure to do so gives the extremist foes a pretext to spread violence, instability and hatred.”

Black Sea is right. The United States's diplomatic corps cannot fathom that our values and ways of resolving things are not universally distributed; they are actually rather rare. There are people, and groups, who don't need a "pretext" for violence and hatred. It permeates their culture. They don't read an article in the Financial Times and mutter, "I say, those Israelis have a lot of damned cheek! I'm going to head over to the streets and give the cycle of violence a push!"

But as General David Petraeus, head of US central command, said last month: “If you go to moderate leaders in the Arab world they will tell you that the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process causes them problems.”

If he actually believes what they tell him, we are in even worse trouble than I thought.

In theory, a two-state solution would be the least bad option. The Palestinians and their manipulators had the chance to create just such a solution, and intifada was their response.

April 23, 2010 4:09 PM  

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