March 25, 2007

Another American Peace Plan In The Works?

Condoleezza Rice will make yet another comprehensive tour of the Middle East in the coming days, which has fueled speculation as to the motivation behind it. The fourth trip in as many months appears to signal that the US, which has avoided creating an American plan for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, may now have decided to risk the damage to our credibility by crafting our own solution:

In making her fourth trip to the Middle East in four months to try to breathe life into dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has opened the door to the possibility that the United States might offer its own proposals to bridge the divide on some of the entrenched issues that have bedeviled the region for decades.

“I don’t rule out at some point that might be a useful thing to do,” Ms. Rice told reporters in Washington before departing for Aswan, Egypt, where she met with Sunni Arab allies on Saturday before her journey to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Such an initiative would be proof of a profound policy change for the Bush administration, which has steadfastly refrained from trying to impose any American-made solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ...

“We’re at a critical juncture right now,” said David Makovsky, a Middle East expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The Arab states can reach out to the Israeli center, and to Olmert,” referring to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, who Mr. Makovsky pointed out is politically weakened right now within his country. “But if they don’t, they shouldn’t be surprised if Israel moves rightward,” which could complicate the peace process, he added.

The sense of urgency has built within the Bush administration as well. Several State Department officials say there is now internal acknowledgment that the previous hands-off policy had caused prospects for peace to deteriorate. “This is a place where if you leave things alone, they don’t just stagnate,” one administration official said. “They get worse.”

I'd take exception to the notion that the Bush administration has left anything alone. This administration is the first to make the creation of a Palestinian state the official policy of the US, and ever since Rice replaced Colin Powell, we have visited this region more often than any other. The effort to keep American fingerprints off of any peace plan did not come from a lack of interest but from an attempt to show any eventual plan as organic to the region.

Other Presidents have attempted to create a Pax Americana in the Middle East, and have received mostly grief for their efforts. Ronald Reagan attempted to insert American forces in Lebanon to act as a buffer peacekeeping force in order to cool the temperature after the PLO established itself in Beirut. We withdrew after 243 Marines got killed in a truck-bomb attack, one of a line of missteps that bolstered radical Islam in the region. Bill Clinton tried to craft a peace plan and nearly succeeded -- until Yasser Arafat showed that he didn't really want a two-state solution and launched an intifada after the Wye accord got adopted by the Israelis. Jimmy Carter successfully brokered a peace between Egypt and Israel, but avoided the Palestinian problem and essentially bought Egypt for $2 billion a year in aid. (That's not to denigrate the courage of Anwar Sadat, who paid for that peace with his life.)

Could the US put a peace plan into action now? The Arab states have moderated their stances somewhat in the intervening years, apparently tiring of the Palestinians almost as much as the West has. They have accepted Israel as a fact of life, and appear to want normal relations with Israel more than before. However, they do not want to be seen as facilitating Israel's existence for domestic political reasons, so an American-initiated plan suits them better. They will want to see something along the lines of the Arab League plan, but could perhaps be persuaded to bend on some of the terms.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, any peace plan requires a Palestinian community ready to live peacefully. That has been the stumbling block for decades, and if anything, the situation is worse now than before. Instead of secular terrorists running the show, now we have Islamist terrorists in charge of the Palestinian Authority. The latest group of leaders won't even commit to honoring the thin number of agreements reached with the PA in the past. How can we expect to trust them to honor any future commitments they may or may not make?

An agreement may not even be the point. The continuous trips and the unsuccessful efforts may just be designed to show that the US remains engaged and willing to work towards peace, rather than reflect any hope that a peace agreement can be reached with the factions involved. If so, Rice really knows how to sell the performance.


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Comments (7)

Posted by Lew [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 25, 2007 11:18 AM

Right again Cap'n! In order to have a negotiation you have to have at least two parties willing to negotiate something. If one party is flexible and the other rigid, then the only thing obtainable is the surrender of the party willing to be flexible.

Now if a couple of unconnected gumbas out here in flyoverland can figure this out, and assuming at least a moderate amount of intellect on the part of our State Department, what do you suppose the goal of all this fluttering about might be?

I suspect that the immediate purpose is not to find a peaceful solution to the Palestinian/Israeli problem. Instead, it may be to further a longer term goal of driving a wedge between the so-called "moderate" Middle Eastern states and the "Radical" terrorist supporting states and their client groups. In effect, to isolate them and make it possible to contain them in some sense. Historically speaking, American diplomatic strategy has from the very beginning been "isolate and contain and manage" when it comes to a real problem in the world. In fact you could almost assert that every war we've ever gotten into was occasioned by a breakdown of the "container".

Maybe our State Department is working on a way to adapt the problem of terrorism to that habitually preferred strategy.

Posted by Michael Smith [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 25, 2007 11:23 AM

A recent poll taken among Palestinian high school students showed that over 80% believe that Israel does not have a right to exist and that suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians are a legitimate method of resisting "the occupation". This is what these young adults have been taught -- just like their parents before them -- in Palestinian schools in Gaza and the West Bank.

There will be no peace with these people for decades to come.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 25, 2007 12:13 PM

Not so fast!

Yeah. Bush is the Realtor for the HOUSE OF SAUD.

But Olmert's more than half-way out the door. And, then what? I'd bet Israel will be in a state of "elections," that will drive her away from Bush's HOUSE OF SAUD "plans."

You may also want to notice that the Shalit kid is probably dead. And, Abbas just added he wants 9000 arabs freed from Israeli jails, before he even talks about "returning Shalit."

Let alone, the Saudi's plan to infest Israel with "returning palestinians." As if this anti-Semitic "plan" flies.

More like flies. Than propelled flight.

But all this does is diminish Bush even more.

He's doing this to Condi? Well, what would be worse? Giving Condi pelosi's rag, and seeing what she could "clean" with it? The rag didn't nothing for the donks.

And, it's too bad that Bush can't talk. He's got no credits with the American public. Not even an Oscar will come his way. That's just how it is. As he wastes the next two years. Looking for a "respectable" exit from the White House. While, sure. Other things could fall into his lap.

He could lose Cheney to heart disease. Ruth Bader Ginsberg may succumb to her cancer? You just never know, given the sad shape of democracies these days. Which seems to be riding on the fumes in back of the UN's bus tour.

Oh, and just to add to the worries we should be having, Musharraf has run out of steam.

Which means/ If we're not serious about using our military tools to their fullest, we'll get hit from the Saudis, who have their eyes grooved on Pakistan's arsenal. While, it seems the mountains of money the Saud's have spent on Whabbism, is a turkey that's making the mosques gain leverage ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Of course, the good news is that Condi has not political capital, either. She can dance with the likes of Chirac. But a lot of good that did for the Lebanese.

It's almost as if the world is waiting for a true leader to emerge. And, I'll place my bets, here. Israel goes first. Olmert isn't about to do much in terms of getting Israelis to agree with what the Saudis want. No matter what Bush and Condi proffer.

How long can this game last?

Oy. Let's hope it moves along for the two final years of Bush horrid presidency.

Posted by amuro316 [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 25, 2007 12:16 PM

Good points Captain, especially in regards to the long-term planning. I don't think anyone in the Bush administration believes in a "let's craft a peace-at-any-price" kind of deal like James Baker basically wanted. But they do believe that eventually, a peace accord will happen.

They're just setting the table with precedence, involvement, and hopefully, common sense. Most of the major state players around Israel and Palestine are more than willing to make a peace deal, but the long-term stumbling block remains the Palestinian people themselves.

The sooner they get rid of Edward Said's victimization crap, the faster they'll find peace. That, however, might take decades. In the meantime, the most that we can do is keep ourselves involved- but do so realistically.

Posted by patrick neid [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 25, 2007 4:41 PM

“We’re at a critical juncture right now,” said David Makovsky, a Middle East expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

forgive me for yawning.

what is going on is a plo/hamas two step trying to figure out how to extort the next billion that the eu already wants to give them so they can kill more jews while disguised as repressed freedom fighters instead murderous dead enders that should be euthanized. my guess is our state department is probably trying to get them some money---with the wink and nod that it won't go to the military wing, you know, the three card monty thing for supposedly humanitarian purposes.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 25, 2007 8:02 PM

Honest. There's no connection between Iraq. And, Israel. That's what Bush is doing, though.

Because? James Baker wants to "get" territory from Israel.

Seems, back in 1991, when Arik Sharon was Housing Minister; every time Sharon got angry at Baker, he built another outpost.

So, Baker NOW wants this land.


Ollmert? Wow, he's even more unpopular at home, than Bush is, here.

But it's paced, on purpose, to be a walk in molasses. Smells "sweet." Keeps the boobs in the mainstream media "happy." And, gives the UN idiots chances to fly back and forth.


Well, she's not presidential timber.

Heck, Bush, isn't, either.

But what's it gonna take to see this whole scheme of things falling apart yet again?

Bush doesn't learn.

That's the reason things are like they are.

Someday? This idiot in the white house will be compared to Jimmuh Carter. FAILURES.

Well, algore would have been worse!

Why is it that there are so many leaders, today, and not one of them is hot?

Merkel? Germany's idiot.

Chirac? France's exiting idiot.

Tony Baloney Blair? You need me to tell you?

By the way, when the 15 British sailors got taken off their rubber rafts at gunpoint, do you think someone's career went "smash?"

We never hear about those who are not prepared. While we know all about Captain Queeg. What actually happens in real time?

Are we to be entertained with the frauds who are looking to "move Israel" into some deal? Whose gonna sign the papers? Olmert? You're kidding me. RIIGHT?

Amir Peretz? Doesn't even speak any English. Forget about him.

Livni? She's a jerk.

Which fits the stage pieces.

Just like hollywood. You'd think a place that once held "A" stars. And, "B" stars. Would have a talent pool. But nada.

It's as if the world awaits newcomers.

When Bush leaves? You think anyone's gonna remember this fool? Let me quess. I think the answer is "no."

Can we get by? Well, aren't we? Isn't Israel? You see progress just because the saudi's are screaming?

Well, the future is still packed with surprises.

How do I know? Because the future is ALWAYS surprising. And, you get no early peeks, either.

Posted by Monkei [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 26, 2007 1:25 PM

Hmm, from today's issues and today's standards, 2 billion a year to Egypt seems like a heck of a deal!