Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan That Doesn't Need Israel

As revolutions spread through the Middle East, Avishai concludes that what we need is: Next, an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan
Obama’s blueprint should not be aimed at getting the conflicting parties to “yes,” but at getting world powers to “agreed.” After presenting his plan to the Quartet, Obama should seek endorsements from one O.E.C.D. leader after another (diplomats in Jerusalem tell me the E.U. Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton is just “waiting for the word from Washington”).

An Obama blueprint should be declared in the spirit of the Arab League Initiative of 2002. It should be endorsed in advance by key U.S. Senate leaders, such as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry.
In other words, peace must be imposed. And how would this help?
It would be a signal to Palestinian youths that an internationally backed state is, in effect, on the horizon; that in seeking unity between Fatah and Hamas, they should continue to empower the Palestine Authority to enter into international agreements and honor Abbas’s call to refrain from political violence and abhor acts of terror.

A blueprint would have enormous impact on Israeli politics, too. It would empower the moderate Israeli political parties — Kadima, Labor and the rest — to wrest back the political center from the parties of Greater Israel — Netanyahu’s Likud, Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalists and the religious.
This is ignorant. If Hamas and Fatah reconcile, it will empower the parties of Greater Palestine. Abbas has been equivocal in condemning terror and much more decisive in wanting to reconcile with Hamas, which, of course, would make peace impossible.

Simply put, Avishai's op-ed is devoid of serious analysis, preferring instead to rely on preconceived labels rather than a careful consideration of the facts.

We also have Thomas Friedman's Looking for Luck in Libya

After a confusing (but apparently accurate) survey of the landscape in the Middle East Friedman writes:
Welcome to the Middle East of 2011! You want the truth about it? You can’t handle the truth. The truth is that it’s a dangerous, violent, hope-filled and potentially hugely positive or explosive mess — fraught with moral and political ambiguities. We have to build democracy in the Middle East we’ve got, not the one we want — and this is the one we’ve got.

That’s why I am proud of my president, really worried about him, and just praying that he’s lucky.

Unlike all of us in the armchairs, the president had to choose, and I found the way he spelled out his core argument on Monday sincere: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And, as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”
But what Friedman doesn't explain is why Libya and not Syria, for example.

Asad hasn't carried out any reforms, still supports terror, has stockpiles of WMD, and even tried to build a secret nuke facility. But unlike Qaddafi, he cleans up nicely and his wife is chic. Asad gets a pass; Asads always do.
Friedman doesn't have an answer, so he hopes that Qaddafi crumbles without much of a fight, but early rebel gains have apparently been reversed. Friedman has no idea what he's talking about. The choice to join against Qaddafi was arbitrary with little serious thought. While I understand Friedman praying for luck, there's no reason for him to be proud of President Obama for making that choice.

David Lesch has added a Where's the moderate Bashar Assad I know op-ed to the Times's opinion page.
Will he be like his father, Hafez al-Assad, who during three decades in power gave the security forces virtually a free hand to maintain order and sanctioned the brutal repression of a violent Islamist uprising in the early 1980s? Or will he see this as an opportunity to take Syria in a new direction, fulfilling the promise ascribed to him when he assumed the presidency upon his father’s death in 2000?

Mr. Assad’s background suggests he could go either way. He is a licensed ophthalmologist who studied in London and a computer nerd who likes the technological toys of the West; his wife, Asma, born in Britain to Syrian parents, was a banker at J. P. Morgan. On the other hand, he is a child of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the cold war. Contrary to American interests, he firmly believes Lebanon should be within Syria’s sphere of influence, and he is a member of a minority Islamic sect, the Alawites, that has had a chokehold on power in Syria for decades.
If Assad could "go either way" why hasn't he shown it in eleven years on the job? Like the Op-Classic the Times dredged up the other day, this seems more an exercise in apologetics than a serious analysis.

(Yes I know he's a senator, but he seems to be a sort of unofficial ambassador of the administration.)
In an interview Tuesday, Kerry told me that he had contacted senior Syrian officials to demand an end to the killing. “I delivered as strong a message as I can that they have to avoid violence and listen to their people and respond,” he said. “Obviously the way the government has behaved is unacceptable. Sixty-one people killed is terrible, its abhorrant behavior.”

Now Kerry, like people across Syria, is waiting to hear a speech that Assad’s aides have promised he will deliver outlining a political liberalization in response to demonstrations across the country. “It’s a significant test,” Kerry said. “It’s a seminal moment.” The senator has heard promises of reform from the regime in the past. “I’ve always said, ‘put it to the test, don’t take it at face value,’ Kerry said. “You have to find out what people are prepared to do.”

Kerry indicated that he thinks Assad could still redeem himself with his people and with the United States. ”If he responds, if he moves to lift the emergency law, to provide a schedule for a precise set of reforms and a precise set of actions....we might begin to question whether something different is happening,” Kerry said.
Again, hasn't Assad's eleven year record told us anything? Diehl acknowledges that Syria is:
a regime that has been Iran’s closest Arab ally, and a weapons supplier to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Kerry thinks that there's still hope for change.

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Anonymous said...

Isn't the difference between Syria and Lybia obvious?

Lybia used air-craft against the civilians. Nobody else has.

Having a goal of destroying air-craft and air-bases is relatively easy and safe.

NormanF said...

Bernard Avishai's plan could only be imposed by force.

A peace plan imposed by outside powers could not last.

Think of the Versailles Treaty... every attempt in Israeli and Palestinian politics would be made to get rid of it.

Avishai still thinks we're living in the colonial era. The West, with all its military power, is unable to impose its will on a recalcitrant Libya.

There's no chance it will fare any better with Israel and the Palestinians.

No imposed peace can succeed where the natives themselves are incapable of resolving an intractable conflict. Avishai's plan in truth would empower the extremists and fatally undermine the center is he so desirous of rescuing.

But then again only intellectuals could come up and believe in stupid ideas that have no chance of making it in the real world.