Is Israel the Problem?

Amir Taheri,
Commentary Magazine

Fifteen years ago, after the first defeat of Saddam Hussein and the liberation of Kuwait, President George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker faced the question of how best to exploit the American victory as a means of stabilizing the Middle East. The obvious course would have been to deploy the immensely enhanced prestige of the United States, backed by its unprecedented military presence in the Persian Gulf, to help create new and durable security structures in a region regarded as vital to American national interests.[..]

But nothing of the sort was ever considered in Washington. Instead, as Baker declared in September 1991, the administration would go for “the big thing”: that is, finding a solution to the century-old conflict between the Jews and the Arabs. The result was the Madrid conference, an impressive show of heads of state but, as the decade’s subsequent events would prove, a wholly counterproductive exercise in peacemaking.

The two key analytical assumptions that led to Madrid were, first, that the Arab-Israeli conflict was the issue, the Ur-issue, of Middle Eastern politics and, second, that all the other issues in the region were inextricably linked to it. Despite everything that has happened in the interim to disprove these two assumptions, they still underlie the thinking of diplomats today. Most recently, they were repeated almost word for word in the long-awaited report of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) headed by the very same James Baker. CONTINUE

February 22, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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