You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

The Real Encumbrances to Israeli-Arab Peace

Aaron David Miller is one of those youngish senior Middle East experts who's been in the field since at least James Baker was secretary of state. At that point, Miller more or less adhered to the Baker line which was--how can I say this?--downright anti-Israel and arguable anti-Semitic. You do remember "fuck the Jews," don't you?

Miller is on his own--he being very rich--and the only old-time prejudice he seems to retain is one against his former colleague Dennis Ross. Of course, Ross now works for the president, but he did not come into his own until Obama's prejudices against Israel and his silly delusions about the Arabs brought him nothing but grief.

I wrote about Miller very favorably on April 27, 2010 because, in an essay in Foreign Policy titled "The False Religion of Middle Eastern Peace", he tried to free U.S. policymakers from the constraints that led them down the same old paths they had trodden and which led to impasse and calamity.

On Sunday, Miller published an essay titled "Five myths about Middle East peace" in the Washington Post. I don't agree with all of it. But, as I wrote six months ago, it is also an audacious piece of analysis.

Here's his most significant point: even if Israel and the Palestinian were to reach agreement on the settlements...

...negotiations would still confront another galactic challenge: a crisis within the Palestinian national movement, with two authorities governing two discreet areas with two different security services, two different patrons and two different visions of the Palestinian future. The upshot of the battle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority is that without a monopoly over the forces of violence in Palestinian society -without one authority to silence the guns and rockets- no agreement can be implemented.

Almost no one is saying that. But it is not only true. It is virtually a truism. In Israel, only the right makes the point. But the Israeli right is so bound to the silliness of expanding settlements that it fails to recognize that it is an agreement of boundaries that will determine which settlements stay and which settlements don't...regardless of how many additional bedrooms are built in Ariel.

And what about Arab-Israeli peace as a key to everything else? Miller points out that National Security Adviser James Jones was an adherent of the view that Israel is the deus ex machina for every problem we face in the Muslim world. And for many months Obama behaved as this were true. It is not.

Arab-Israeli peace will not stabilize Afghanistan or facilitate an extrication of U.S. forces from there. It will not create a viable political contract among Iraq's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. It will not stop Iran from acquiring enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon. It will not force Arab states to respect human rights. Nor will it end anti-American sentiment fueled by our support for authoritarian Arab regimes, our deployment of forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, our war against terror or our close relationship with Israel.