2014 June 29 Sunday
Yet Another Middle East Peace Process Fails

In perpetual re-runs: The US-run so-called Middle East peace process (after decades this phrasing gets old) has collapsed yet again. Supposedly the Obama Administration "invested enormous amounts of time and political capital in the peace process". Really?

Who takes seriously the idea of a Mid East peace process aimed at getting Israelis and their Arab Muslim neighbors to like each other and be glad they have each other as neighbors? Who cares? Who takes it seriously? Who thinks it has a snow ball's' chance in hell?

The Middle East peace process is one of those perennial delusions in US political culture. Why do we have to pretend there is such a thing as a real Middle East peace process? What there really is: The US tells the Arab countries that we aren't going to let them destroy Israel. The Israelis build more settlements. The Palestinians get squeeze and demand to be given back the land in Israel. This all happens while the Palestinians make more babies in a war of the womb fought against the most orthodox Jews in Israel who stay home and also make lots of babies. The US taxpayers fund the buying of influence in Jordan and Egypt to prevent a new war. Whoever is US president pretends to be pursuing a peace process.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 June 29 10:24 PM 

Black Death said at June 30, 2014 7:51 AM:

Every US president that I can remember has had a "Middle East Peace Plan." Yet the situation there is worse than ever before. At one time, the goal was to protect Israel from her Arab neighbors, but Israel is now the regional superpower and no longer needs protection. So the Arabs (plus the Iranians) have reverted to doing what they like best, which is fighting with each other. The US has spent trillions of dollars and thousands of lives pursuing - what, exactly? Of course, this does not include the well over one million locals who have been killed in the various wars and other disputes, but nobody really cares about them. In the Middle East, life is cheap. How nice it would be to hear a US presidential candidate say the we have nothing to contribute here, our efforts have made things worse, and we're washing our hands of the whole mess.

BTW, here's a nice little contribution from Tom Ricks on a piece of high-sounding but meaningless blather that can be used to address virtually any "crisis." Obama, Kerry and McCain, feel free to copy:

We live in a world of constantly accelerating change. We have to do better at adjusting to this.
"Some people in this town might not want to hear it, but now is not the time for business as usual. Nor is this the time to retreat. We cannot lead alone -- but lead we must! To do that, we need to focus on better developing our strategic leadership, in order to develop whole of government capacity.
"That brings us to cooperation. Let me be clear: Coalitions are essential. We have to do better at working with them. As Churchill said, the only thing worse than having allies is not having them.
"There are no easy answers. But we must produce them nonetheless.
"I know I am asking for much here. Our goals are bold and won't be realized overnight. We must work harder to achieve them, and to do so we must overcome petty partisanship.
"In conclusion, our approach must meet the new demands of a complex and rapidly changing world."
* If you are John McCain add this bonus sentence: "[Current situation in country X] is the gravest since the end of the Cold War. We should intervene, militarily if necessary."

Jim said at June 30, 2014 8:03 AM:

Truman's decision to get involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict was taken against the overwhelming opinion of the foreign policy bureaucracy at that time including heavy-weights like George Marshall. Presumably this decision won Truman some votes at enormous and continuing costs to the American people.

Dan said at June 30, 2014 9:09 AM:

Obama really thought he could do this. He came in without deep knowledge of history, without an ability to really understand and appreciate both sides of argument, and with supreme confidence in himself.

Dan said at June 30, 2014 9:10 AM:

Obama really thought he could do this. He came in without deep knowledge of history, without an ability to really understand and appreciate both sides of argument, and with supreme confidence in himself.

Wolf-Dog said at June 30, 2014 3:06 PM:

If the Arab world had accepted the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan that created two separate states, one for the Palestinians and one for the Jews, the suffering of the Palestinians would have been far less intolerable, and not only there would not have been any Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but more importantly, only a small fraction of the 720,000 Palestinians would have become refugees, as they were expelled when the borders of Israel got enlarged as a result of the 1948 and 1967 wars (the descendants of these 720,000 Palestinian refugees are estimated to be 5 million people, most of them are not only in Gaza and West Bank, but also scattered in many countries in the world.)

Here is a discussion of the Palestinian refugees:


Here is the original map of the 1947 partition:


And here is a detailed discussion of how the UN made the partition:


And finally, here is the map of the current borders of Israel which includes mostly the 1967 borders, and does not include the West Bank, but despite this, nearly 5 % of the West Bank is inhabited by Jewish settlers, who basically took additional land:


While it is true that the original Zionist immigrants did take land from Palestinians long before the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, the overwhelming majority of the 720,000 Palestinian refugees were expelled during and after the first war of 1948 when the Arab world attacked to annihilate Israel. On that occasion, Israel captured more territory and most of the 720,000 Palestinians were expelled during those events, not before and during the 1947 creation of Israel.

For the record, in the map of the 1947 UN Partition Plan above (the first link), the southern part given to Israel (the region south of Beersheba in the map) is a desert.

In the end, the non-recognition of Israel by the Arab world, is not just territorial, it is also ideological, and although it is clear that it is totally wrong for Israel to allow the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, this is not the cause of the problem.

Jim said at July 1, 2014 8:55 AM:

Wolf-Dog - None of what you say has anything to do with whether getting involved in this conflict was in US interests. Virtually no US diplomats at the time including people life Marshall and Kennan thought it was a good idea to do so.

Wolf-Dog said at July 1, 2014 11:17 AM:

I never said that anything was in US interests. All I am saying is that the existence of Israel is the main cause of the tension between the Arab world and Israel, it's not simply a matter of adjusting borders.

Generally, nations only follow their interests, benevolence is a statistical error. After WW II, for a variety of reasons world powers, including especially the Soviet Union, wanted to create Israel. Initially Stalin strongly approved the creation of Israel because he thought that the leftist Eastern European Jews in Israel would be useful for spreading communism in the Middle East, but when Israelis favored the US, this time the Soviet Union turned against Israel by arming the Arab world. During WW II, since the Middle East was firmly under the control of European powers, after WW II it seemed (to the Europeans and Americans) that it would not be difficult to force the Arab world to accept a country as small as Israel. But later, the situation gradually changed. But historically, for all its faults, Russia (the successor of the Soviet Union) has one thing to be proud of: it has a record of not abandoning its previous allies, as it has demonstrated in Syria, while the US abandoned its previous allies more often.

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