Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    JNS.org – Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city — so much so that it goes by the nickname “Gaza Strip.” Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot engages in fierce action sequences in the new Wonder Woman trailer, which Warner Bros. premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The nearly 3-minute trailer, the first to debut for the superhero film, shows scenes of Diana, princess of the Amazons, fighting alongside men in the battle against the world’s toughest enemies. The first shot of the video shows Wonder Woman discovering a man, Steve Trevor (played by actor Chris Pine), washed ashore. The clip then takes viewers to the all-female island where Wonder Woman was born. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli actress Moran Atias said that playing a Muslim woman in the hit FX series Tyrant has changed her outlook. “Educating myself about a different culture has made me more hopeful and humble, that we’re all the same,” the Jewish actress, 35, said during an interview with AOL Build. Atias plays Leila Al-Fayeed, the strong and politically minded wife of the president of Abbudin, a fictional Middle Eastern country run by a dictatorial family. The Israeli-born former model, who earned the title of Miss Globe International […]

    Read more →