The Folly of Obama’s Mideast ‘Peace’ Push

January 8, 2014 7:51 am 0 comments

President Barack Obama meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office in 2009. Photo: White House.

The breaking news that al Qaeda has captured Fallujah and Ramadi raises the question whether America’s sacrifices in Iraq were made in vain. It also highlights the utter inadequacy of President Obama’s Middle East policy, especially his disregard for critical regional threats.

Instead, Obama has focused on Israeli-Palestinian issues, essentially to no avail. Despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated visits, including one just ended, the “peace process” has seen no significant movement.

Proponents of “peace processing” ignore this reality, asserting that the process itself has an inherent value, and that real movement comes only when deadlines loom and decision-makers realize “it’s now or never” to “take risks for peace” and achieve “a peace for the brave.” And when all else fails, peace processers say, “What have we got to lose?”

Such rhetoric might be appealing initially, but it is in fact utterly hollow. The entirely predictable unraveling of Obama’s current effort is neither novel nor surprising. What is surprising is the near-religious faith peace processers still profess, despite the overwhelming contrary evidence. It’s therefore critical to note the negative consequences of their approach — because there is indeed much to lose by continuing to follow their strategy.

Diplomacy, like all human activity, has costs as well as benefits. The obsessive focus on Israeli-Palestinian issues incurs what economists call “opportunity costs” — namely, the lost opportunity to concentrate on other issues of greater importance or where there are better chances for progress. This is a decidedly serious problem.

The most immediate costs fall on the parties themselves, especially Palestinians, used and abused for decades not by Israel, but by Middle Eastern radicals who’ve made “Palestine” the point of their attack against Israel’s very existence.

With attention diverted from repeated failures to create legitimate, representative institutions of governance, Palestinians have been left with a corrupt, ineffective Palestinian Authority, no functioning economy, few useful economic skills, precious little foreign investment and a dependency existence fostered by UN and other relief programs.

The vaunted “international community” should feel only shame for emphasizing the mirage of “Palestine” instead of the basic economic aspirations of individual Palestinians.

As a result of all this, there is simply no Palestinian entity that can make and implement the kinds of commitments necessary to sustain a true peace agreement. This is the basic reason why the current Obama-Kerry effort must inevitably fail.

Individual Palestinian leaders may perform responsibly, not simply grasping for wealth and power, but they alone can’t provide adequate assurances of sustaining any agreement over time.

Israel, in turn, faces even graver problems, notably Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, resurgent terrorism and the failure of the Arab Spring. Every hour spent talking to Secretary Kerry about West Bank apartment construction is an hour not spent addressing these more serious issues.

US time and resources are also being diverted from other, more-pressing international problems, not least of which are elsewhere in the Middle East. Iran’s nuclear-weapons program is not merely or even primarily Israel’s problem, it is America’s. Unfortunately, Obama’s administration is making the same mistake as its predecessors by trying (and failing) to negotiate Iran out of its nuclear ambitions.

But even beyond that, Obama’s misjudgments and inattention are imperiling the entire region. Libya is dissolving partly because Obama lost interest once Khadafy was overthrown, leading to the Sept. 11, 2012, murders in Benghazi, which remain unavenged and unresolved 16 months later. Syria is not only in chaos, but so too is Obama’s Syria policy, incoherent to the point of embarrassment for almost three years.

There is turmoil across North Africa as Islamic extremists and militants threaten existing governments. South Sudan is collapsing in civil war and others seem destined to follow. And, again, there is al Qaeda’s resurgence in Iraq.

More globally, of course, are the serious problems of Chinese territorial aggrandizement in Asia; Russian efforts to re-establish hegemony in Ukraine, the Caucasus and other former Soviet states, as well as North Korea’s threatening nuclear-weapons program.

The list is long. For Obama to focus on Israel-Palestinian issues to the effective exclusion of others more pressing in the short run and more consequential in the long run therefore imposes high costs on the United States and future administrations.

Finally, there is always the danger that, as the “peace process” deadline approaches, the White House will try to impose a solution on Israel. If so, some will undoubtedly hail it as representing success for Obama’s efforts, but that would be pure propaganda.

The parties must themselves not only want peace, as former Secretary of State Jim Baker repeatedly emphasized, but they must also both be capable of it. Until those conditions are met, peace processing is not just wasteful but potentially dangerous.

John Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. This article was originally published by the New York Post.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.