Jewish Right To Israel

Jewish Right To Israel
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Former Advisor To 6 Secretaries Of State: Fixing Arab-Israel Conflict Won't Fix The Middle East

In February 2009, I wrote: Obama Being Advised To Pursue A Minimalist Approach In Israel-Palestinian Conflict.

One of those advisors was Aaron David Miller:
Aaron David Miller, who recently wrote a piece for Newsweek entitled If Obama Is Serious
He should get tough with Israel. He was an advisor to 6 different Secretaries of State from 1978-2003.

According to Miller:
"This region, as best I can understand it, hates big ideas. Particularly those big ideas imposed, crafted or orchestrated from outside. And frankly, transformative diplomacy was the essence of the previous administration's approach to this region. Regime change, democratization, grand bargains, grand rhetoric, one-size-fits-all," he said.

Instead, Miller called for "transactional diplomacy" based on small, pragmatic steps like getting Israel to open up Gaza for reconstruction efforts. Miller said President Obama should save his "big ideas" for dealing with the economic crisis in the United States, and take small, incremental steps in the Middle East.
Now in The False Religion of Mideast Peace: And why I'm no longer A Believer, Aaron David Miller has moved has distanced himself completely from the idea that the peace process is the key to the Middle East:

I can't tell you how many times in the past 20 years, as an intelligence analyst, policy planner, and negotiator, I wrote memos to Very Important People arguing the centrality of the Arab-Israeli issue and why the United States needed to fix it. Long before I arrived at the State Department in 1978, my predecessors had made all the same arguments. An unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict would trigger ruinous war, increase Soviet influence, weaken Arab moderates, strengthen Arab radicals, jeopardize access to Middle East oil, and generally undermine U.S. influence from Rabat to Karachi.

From the 1940s through the 1980s, the power with which the Palestinian issue resonated in the Arab world did take a toll on American prestige and influence. Still, even back then the hand-wringing and dire predictions in my Cassandra-like memos were overstated. I once warned ominously -- and incorrectly -- that we'd have nonstop Palestinian terrorist attacks in the United States if we didn't move on the issue. During those same years, the United States managed to advance all of its core interests in the Middle East: It contained the Soviets; strengthened ties to Israel and such key Arab states as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia; maintained access to Arab oil; and yes, even emerged in the years after the October 1973 war as the key broker in Arab-Israeli peacemaking.

Today, I couldn't write those same memos or anything like them with a clear conscience or a straight face. Although many experts' beliefs haven't changed, the region has, and dramatically, becoming nastier and more complex. U.S. priorities and interests, too, have changed. The notion that there's a single or simple fix to protecting those interests, let alone that Arab-Israeli peace would, like some magic potion, bullet, or elixir, make it all better, is just flat wrong. In a broken, angry region with so many problems -- from stagnant, inequitable economies to extractive and authoritarian governments that abuse human rights and deny rule of law, to a popular culture mired in conspiracy and denial -- it stretches the bounds of credulity to the breaking point to argue that settling the Arab-Israeli conflict is the most critical issue, or that its resolution would somehow guarantee Middle East stability.
Read the whole thing--and let's hope that other advisors who have Obama's ear do the same.

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