US Foreign Policy
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Blessed Are the Peacemakers is a new series in marcgopin.com that will feature writing by or about significant peacemakers who are confronting the conflicts facing humanity with courage, creativity, and passion.
The essay below is written by Hind Kabawat, the foremost peacemaker of Syria and my partner of five years in Middle Eastern peacemaking:
WHAT THE MIDDLE EAST NEEDS IS THE “AUDACITY OF HOPE”
For the last five years or so, I have been actively working with Jewish colleagues in the US and elsewhere to help broker a lasting reconciliation between Israel and its Arab neighbours. But in the wake of the carnage in Gaza, it is impossibly difficult to be optimistic about the future of the …
A surprise development in the million dollar question of who President Obama will appoint to oversee Israeli/Palestinian conflict intervention. I had lobbied hard in these pages earlier in the year for George Mitchell to be sent in. More recently there had been much speculation and controversy over the appointment of Dennis Ross. Serious media reports now indicate that former Senator Mitchell may be a strong possibility, and that this will meet with a much better reception in the world beyond the United States. I want to reiterate my arguments earlier for why Mitchell is crucial.
Here is an excerpt from Change in U.S. Middle East Policy:
The president must be a person who sees the need for constant engagement on the ground in Israel, so that both sides have a third party they can rely on to push for compliance to agreements. Both sides of the conflict need …
Akiva Eldar writes brilliantly as usual. Here is an excerpt:
What shared values did the black American liberal observe over the last few days as he watched the broadcasts of sites bombed by Israel in the heart of the world’s most densely populated region? Is it possible to expect that the memory of the horrors of the Holocaust will influence Obama’s relationship with Israel? Last week, a Jewish member of Britain’s parliament said his grandmother was not murdered by the Nazis in order to provide a pretext for Israeli soldiers to murder Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.
The spokesman for the Israeli consulate in New York boasted of the masses who attended a solidarity demonstration with the children of Sderot. He did not mention the masses of Jews who do not know where to hide their shame at the sight of pictures of Palestinian men weeping bitterly over the families who
Population analysis says much more than either war or peace slogans. The anger Israeli Jews feel about Kassams and suicide bombs could possibly explain the level of brutality of the Occupation, but it cannot explain the population explosion of Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
The population growth among West Bank settlers was three times higher than that of the rest of Israel during the past 12 years, according to a report by the Ariel College Center of Samaria.
The statistical annual report shows that the Jewish population in the West Bank more than doubled during that time, with a growth of 107 percent. The report also shows that the settler population has surged from 130,000 in 2005 to 270,000 by the end of 2007.
Meanwhile, the entire population of Israel grew by 29 percent over the same period.
This population trend has continued over the past three years,
Aaron Miller writes an extremely pessimistic piece of advice for President elect Obama on the impossibility of Israeli/Palestinian peace right now. I think that it is a very well written piece, and that anything Aaron writes should be studied carefully. But there are two responses that should soften his pessimism.
There is a myth out there driven by the Clinton parameters of December 2000, the Taba talks in 2001, the Geneva accord a year later, and the hundreds of hours of post Annapolis talks between Israelis and Palestinians that the two sides are “this close” (thumb and index finger a sixteenth of an inch apart) to an agreement. The gaps have now narrowed, perhaps impressively, but closing them, particularly on the identity issues such as Jerusalem and refugees, is still beyond the reach of negotiators and leaders.
The dysfunction and confusion in Palestine make a conflict-ending agreement almost impossible. The
Yesterday Marc participated in panels on Capitol Hill and at The National Press Club to coincide with the release of a seminal report entitled “Changing Course: A New Direction for Relations with the Muslim World” issued by The US-Muslim Engagement Project. Marc was one of thirty four Americans who constituted the Leadership Council on U.S. Muslim Engagement. It was a bipartisan group of leading Republicans, Democrats, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, secular and religious, liberal and conservative. They met over a period of two years to create this report which has detailed recommendations for the United States Government, NGO’s, and for the governments of the Muslim world. The convening this extremely diverse group was also meant as a model of how to change course and what kind of negotiations need to take place in the United States in order to create positive change, as well as in the global …
I have been uneasy for eight years with the trend in American politics of anointing men with tempers. This is not safe in terms of global conflict. I think of the incredible pressures of the White House, and the reality of having the ability to destroy the earth many times over. I think of the Cuban Missile Crisis and how we might have all died when I was six years old if John and Bobby Kennedy had uncontrollable tempers. I opposed John Silber and Howard Dean, two Democrats, for president because of their tempers, which I personally witnessed. In conflict, character is everything, far more important than strategy, though strategy matters. More will emerge in the future about anger and George Bush, and about the conduct of the war, but in many ways that is history now. What matters now is whether Americans make a wise decision about their future.…
Ehud Olmert is beginning to outline his final vision of peace between Israel and Palestine, and it is revealing.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that the price of an agreement with the Palestinians would “move us very close” to an exchange of equal amounts of territory, and that this must be stated “honestly and courageously.” The alternative to an agreement is a bi-national state, an idea, he said that “ever-growing segments of the international community are adopting.”
Speaking at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Olmert said the agreement now being formulated would give the Palestinians 100 percent of the West Bank, or territory of a similar area. “I’ll still be here,” he told committee members who said they wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to wish him good-bye, in light of the Kadima primary Wednesday, which is expected to result in his resignation.
David Ignatius has a sympathetic read on American involvement in Georgia’s decision to attack South Ossetia. Is he right? Not sure. He seems to believe that Georgia’s behavior was not based on American prodding, and that, on the contrary, the Administration was telling him to keep the brakes on. David is an astute, centrist observer with an intelligence background. The problem now is one of radical distrust by any of our allies of a Republican Administration. David writes:
The signal Bush is said to be sending Saakashvili is: “We’re with you. We take your survival and interests seriously. But be smart. Don’t give Russia a pretext.” This go-slow message is in part a reflection of the administration’s frustration that Saakashvili ignored repeated advice over the past two years not to provoke Russia over the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Having promised Moscow that the United States would restrain
Mark Mardell’s Euroblog about the EU’s response to Russia at the Avignon retreat, and the string of comments in response, represent a good window into how Europeans are struggling with the question of Russian intervention in Georgia and its consequences. Here is an excerpt:
In EU jargon this meeting is a “Gymnich”, named after the German castle where the first one took place. It’s an informal meeting, which means it can’t issue conclusions. But in reality it’s likely they will decide whether to go along with the plan of the German foreign minister to launch an investigation into the beginning of the war.
Mr Miliband was not against this “It is important to make sure false stories about the origions of the crisis do not become holy writ ..but equally that serious allegations are followed through.”
They will also look at the plan to send EU monitors to report on