EACH TIME THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS GET INVOLVED IN THE PEACE PROCESS THE ISRAELIS GET SHAFTED …

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It’s déjà vu all over again!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.

 

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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.

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CONFLICTS THAT CANNOT BE RESOLVED

by Irving Kristol

 

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?

 

Peacemakers

Peacemakers to end all peacemaking …

‘Conflict Resolution’

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.

 

What could go wrong?

What could go wrong?

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.

 

ISAIAH 9:6Mediation 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.

FAILED PEACE PLANS

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.

 

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERDThe 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?

 

American Leverage

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.

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