When will the Jews abandon their blind allegiance to the American Democratic party?
The liberal Dems have done nothing to help our ally Israel; yet come November the Diaspora will most certainly cast a vote for the very policies which harm their brothers the most.
The article below was published in the Wall Street Journal on 5th of September 1997. Nearly twenty years later the Obama has repeated and enlarged the errors of the Clinton Administration.
CONFLICTS THAT CANNOT BE RESOLVED
Three more bombs went off in Jerusalem yesterday (Thursday, 4 September 1997), killing at least six people and injuring more than 165. The Islamic terrorist group Hamas claimed responsibility. Back in Washington, the Clinton administration uttered the usual platitudes and talked of postponing Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s planned peace mission to the Middle East next week. But already the administration is pondering ways to save the “peace process.”
Peace processes are proliferating all over the world, along with the violence that gave birth to them. There is the Middle East peace process, of course, but peace processes are also at work in the Cyprus conflict between Greeks and Turks, the Northern Ireland conflict between Catholics and Protestants, the Korean conflict between Communists and non-Communists, the Bosnian conflict between just about everyone, and in many other conflicts around the globe. Nor are they limited to international conflicts. In the California Legislature a bill has been proposed authorizing a Peace Process Task Force to oversee truces in gang warfare.
So many “peace processes” and so little peace! What’s going on?
Well, what’s going on is the familiar story of a social science theory being promoted to politicians who find it an attractive and easy option. The theory in question is “conflict resolution,” by now a venerable department of social psychology with some thousands of “experts” who are happy to sell their services to foundations, government agencies or troubled nations. Our State Department is thoroughly under the sway of this theory -aren’t diplomats by training experts at conflict resolution? -and so is the United States Institute of Peace, whose latest bulletin features a summary of a speech by Joseph Duffy, director of the U.S. Information Agency. It reads: “The new information technologies are transforming international relations, opening up new possibilities for conflict prevention, management and resolution.”
Just how these technologies are to perform this task we are not told, nor is there any hint of why they do not seem to be working effectively in all those peace processes under way. But the basic idea of a “peace process” as a most desirable alternative to violent conflict is very attractive to these enchanted by the therapeutic approach to all of life’s problems. It is equally attractive to political leaders who perceive it as a way of “doing something nice” without really doing anything.
Still, it is hard to find a peace process that has accomplished anything, anywhere.
Still, it is hard to find a peace process that has accomplished anything, anywhere. That is because “conflict resolution” is itself a rather pompous, high-sounding theory with a very skimpy, simple-minded psychological basis. The axiom of this theory is that harmony among human beings is more natural than conflict -no original sin here!- and that if only we can get the parties in conflict to talk to one another, the level of “mistrust” will decline and mutual understanding increase, until at some point the conflict itself will subside. It is thinkable that such an approach to marriage counseling might in some cases be productive, but its extension to the level of statecraft, or to any conflict between collective entities, is an extreme case of academic hubris.
When collective entities clash, it is usually because their interests are at odds. Mediation may in some instances be helpful. But mediation and conflict resolution are two different things. Conflict resolution focuses on the psychological attitudes prevalent within the two entities, and tries to reform them. Mediation focuses on the interests at issue, tries to envisage a settlement minimally satisfactory to both parties, and then aims to persuade them to move to such a settlement. A crucial difference between mediation and conflict resolution is that the former has a compromise as its limited goal, where the latter has “better trust and understanding” as its goal, on the assumption that this will inevitably mark the end of conflict and the advent of pacific harmony.
Mediation played an important role in bringing the recent United Parcel Service strike to an end. One doubts very much that it resulted in “better trust and understanding” on either side. But the sphere of conflict was limited at the outset -UPS did not wish to break the Teamsters union, and the union had no desire to destroy UPS. A mediator in such a situation operates within a fairly well-defined realm of possibilities, and hopes to nudge the contestants toward a realization of one of these possibilities.
The reason the “peace process” gets nowhere in places like Northern Ireland and Cyprus is that no mediator can envisage an end situation satisfactory to both parties. An expert in conflict resolution can easily and always envisage a radical reformation of feelings, attitudes and sentiments in the populations involved, so that the problem, as it were, resolves itself. Unfortunately, he is not in possession of a therapy to create such a miracle.
The best publicized “peace process,” of course, is directed at Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs in the Middle East. In this process, our State Department plays a crucial but muddled role. It is in part a cool mediator, in part a fuzzy therapist in conflict resolution. Its step-by-step approach is justified in terms of “building mutual trust,” but the nature and direction of these steps strongly suggests that the department does indeed have an end in view. Unfortunately, it is not an end ever likely to be acceptable to either Jews or Arabs, which is why it is best obscured by conflict-resolution rhetoric.
It seems clear to any attentive observer that the “final solution” the State Department has in mind is that Israel should return to its 1968 borders (perhaps with minor revisions) and the Palestinians should have their own state on the West Bank. The tip-off came when the Netanyahu government “leaked” a proposed map of the West Bank, based on something like a 50-50 partition. It was the first time an Israeli government ever publicly contemplated such a partition, and a mediator, playing his traditional role, would have explored whatever possibilities were inherent in this move. There is little doubt that the terms of any such partition were negotiable. But the State Department never discussed this idea with the Arabs or the Israelis. It simply ignored it as a distraction from the “peace process.”
But it is extremely doubtful that Israeli public opinion, whatever Israeli party is in office, will ever accept the State Department’s ideal solution. It would pose too many obvious problems for Israel’s military security. The only reason the Arabs launched their war in 1968 was because Israel’s geography-with the middle of the country only 13 miles wide-made it seem so vulnerable. Israelis have no desire to return too that status quo.
The Arabs would surely be happy to accept the State Department’s goal-but for how long? The Palestinian media, and Palestinian leaders speaking to their own people in their own media, have given clear signals that their goals have a further reach: sharp limits on Israeli immigration, return of an unspecified number of Arab refugees, even the dismantling of a specifically Jewish state. The State Department is dismissive of such rhetoric, since it would render hopeless the dream of an eventual “conflict resolution.” But there is plenty of evidence that the Palestinians are not so dismissive, which is why the State Department has never asked the Palestinian leaders explicitly to disavow such an agenda. And neither are the Israelis, listening to this rhetoric on Arab radio and reading it in Arab newspapers, so dismissive. How can they be?
The only reason the Mideast “peace process” gathers so much attention is because of American leverage over Israel, which has produced results. In fact, these results only reveal the “peace process” to be another name for an appeasement process, whereby Israel makes concessions and Arabs simply demand more. But that cannot go onmuch longer, as Israeli patience has pretty much reached the end of its tether. The Mideast “peace process” is fated to end in a stalemate, just like the Northern Ireland, Cyprus and all the other “peace processes.”
Perhaps this will persuade the State Department there really is a difference between the art of diplomatic mediation and the social science of “conflict resolution.” On the other hand, perhaps not.