Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Novel Approach: Blaming The US For Arab Mistakes

Jeff Robbins, a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission during the Clinton administration, writes about the great expectations--and resultant responsibility--that are inevitably place on the shoulders of the US regarding crises around the world, and especially in the Middle East, by both Europe and elements of the Democratic Party.

So, what else is new
The problem is that all too often, those who blame the U.S. for failing to deliver Mideast peace are some of the world's most culpable enablers of Mideast violence--and those who are themselves actually responsible for erecting the fundamental roadblocks to a resolution of the conflict.
And who is it that has consistently put up the multiple roadblocks that have stood in the way of resolving what is supposed to be the key conflict, the resolution of which is claimed to be the answer to bringing peace to the entire region?

Robbins reminds us of a little history.
It was, of course, the Arab bloc, including the Palestinian leadership, that decided to reject the U.N.'s 1947 partition of Palestine into two states, Arab and Jewish, living side by side. Instead it invaded the nascent Jewish state rather than coexist with it, spawning the conflict that has so burdened the world for the last 60 years.

This was not a decision made by the U.S.

We are also not responsible for the Arab world's choice not to create a Palestinian Arab state in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank from 1948 to 1967, when it easily could have done so--before there were any Jewish settlements there to serve as the public object of Arab grievance.

It was not the U.S. whose leaders issued the largely unremembered "Three No's" of the Arab conference in Khartoum in the summer of 1967--"no" to peace with Israel, to negotiation with Israel and to recognition of Israel--after the 1967 war backfired so badly on the Arab world.

Nor can the U.S. government under President Clinton be criticized for failing to pursue Yasser Arafat with sufficient solicitude between 1993 and late 2000. The Clinton administration was, after all, the most ardent of suitors of the Palestinian leader--only to be forced to watch Arafat reject an independent Palestinian state in all of Gaza and virtually all of the West Bank. It was the Palestinian leadership, not the U.S., that decided in the fall of 2000 that, rather than accept an independent Palestinian state, its wiser course was to launch a four-year bombing campaign against Israel's civilian population. The result was not merely over 1,100 Israeli civilians killed, but several thousand Palestinians dead, as well as a shattered Palestinian economy and the decision by Israel to begin construction of a security barrier in July 2002.

...When Israel withdrew from all of Gaza in 2005, the Arab world had the opportunity for a fresh start there--to create a measure of hope for a population whose suffering long predated any Israeli presence. Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity, the Hamas-dominated Palestinian leadership opted to begin and then intensify an aggressive missile-launching campaign against Israeli civilian centers. [emphasis added]
The bottom line is that the Arab world has dedicated itself to putting the onus of resolving the results of their multiple missed opportunities on the shoulders of the US, while simultaneously dragging negotiations down under the weight of their demands for concessions in the name of they refer to as 'balanced' negotiations. Never is the Arab world required to assume responsibility for their actions--neither those on the battlefield nor at the negotiating table.
However significant the role of the U.S. is in nurturing political settlements of international disputes, it simply cannot prevent the Palestinian leadership and its Arab backers from making extraordinarily poor choices or, in President Clinton's parlance, "tragic mistakes." There is a marked tendency on the part of most of the world to cite the Bush administration's lack of "engagement" as the principal stumbling block to peace. It isn't. As for the Arab world, there is an even more pronounced habit of fingering the U.S. as the party which has the means at its disposal to bring about a Middle Eastern settlement, or at least conditions favorable to a settlement. If the past is any indication, the U.S. does not ultimately possess those means. The Arab world does.
The Arab world is in serious need of some tough love.

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