NEWS FLASH: Gore picks Jewish running mate, Senator Joseph Lieberman, following a long-standing Clinton policy of using Jews to implement anti-Israel policies. Beware!!
By Boris Shusteff
The obsession of American Presidents with "peace" in the Middle East has a much longer history than most people realize. Those who think that several years ago Hillary Clinton was the first to advocate a "Palestinian homeland" are wrong. It was President Carter who, in the middle of March 1977 in a town meeting at Clinton (!), Massachusetts "created a sensation by his spontaneous and unexpected public statement that 'there has to be a homeland provided for the Palestinian refugees who have suffered for many, many years' " (1).
It was in 1975 that America formulated her policy for the "new Middle East," which is almost undistinguishable from the one that Shimon Peres dreams of today. Like the Oslo agreement, it was created in quiet academic circles by a study group convened at the Brookings Institution. The report generated by this group was entitled "Towards Peace in the Middle East." Professors Zbigniew Brzezinski and William Quandt, who later joined the National Security Council staff in Carter's administration as National Security Adviser and Office Director for Middle Eastern Affairs respectively, were among the sixteen members of the study group.
The content of the "Brookings Report" became the blueprint for America's policy in Arab-Israeli relations. William Quandt presented its main points in the book "Decades of Decisions." Of major interest today are the items related to the Palestinian state, border issues and Jerusalem. Quandt described them as follows:
1. Palestinians: The Palestinians, provided that they are prepared to accept the right of Israel and Jordan to self-determination, should be accorded the same right. In addition, Palestinian refugees should be helped to resettle in a newly formed Palestinian entity if they so choose and to be compensated for lost property.
2. Boundaries: In accordance with principles laid down in UN Resolution 242, Israel, in exchange for the establishment of peaceful relations and suitable security arrangements, should agree to withdraw to the pre-June 5, 1967, lines with only such modifications as might be mutually accepted.
3. Jerusalem: Any settlement should meet at least the following criteria: unimpeded access to all holy places; no physical barriers to free circulation within the city; substantial political autonomy for each national group within the city in those areas where it predominates (2).
It is clear that in today's political language, the authors of the 1975 study envisioned the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state, the return of the Palestinian refugees, Israel's withdrawal to the pre-June 5, 1967 borders and the political division of Jerusalem. It is exactly this policy that America has tried to implement in the Middle East for 23 years.
Throughout the duration of the Clinton administration America's attempts in "helping" Israel to achieve peace with her neighbors have transformed into an obsession. Shoving the "peace of the brave" down the throat of the Jewish state became its favorite occupation. To the detriment of America's interests and after miserably failing in all other international endeavors, President Clinton has devoted his greatest efforts to building his legacy on the remnants of the Jewish state.
In the eight years of Clinton's presidency the world has become a much more dangerous place. It is not the intent of this article to remind readers of the many American failures in the international arena during this period. Here are just enough examples to point at the reality that America's prestige among the world's nations has reached its all-time low. U.S. relations with India, China, Russia, Greece and scores of other countries are definitely below a satisfactory level. Nuclear weapons have spread into India and Pakistan. Rogue states like North Korea, Iran and Iraq are continually developing weapons of mass destruction and missiles for their delivery. America's patrolling of Iraqi airspace costs millions of dollars every month to American taxpayers but can do nothing to prevent Saddam Hussein from recovering his might.
Against this background America's obsessive preoccupation with the Arab-Israeli conflict is just another blunder in its international policy. Edward Luttwak wrote on July 30 in the Sunday Telegraph (London):
"Today, what is left of the Arab-Israeli dispute... does not pose a threat to world peace. The global threat comes from Saddam Hussein. Nearly a decade after his crushing defeat everything coming out of Iraq, including Saddam's own declarations, shows that his priorities have not changed one iota since he sent his troops into Kuwait" (3).
Instead of seriously dealing with Iraq and scores of other important international issues that threaten America's leading position as the world's only superpower, Clinton's administration has devoted an absolutely disproportional amount of its time to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Incapable of reaching a success in dealing with other countries, Bill Clinton has directed all his energy to transforming Israel, a staunch American ally, from a big asset into a liability.
It is obvious that the current American administration does not understand that, if forced into the "Auschwitz borders," as Abba Eban called its pre-June 5, 1967 boundaries, Israel will become a country without a reason for existence, without a soul and without a future. It will be unable to defend itself due to a complete lack of strategic depth. Its borders will be indefensible. Zbigniew Brzezinski already knew this in 1977. He wrote in his memoirs that the Arabs and the Israelis "must recognize the basic incompatibility between acceptable and secure frontiers for Israel. The two were in fact a contradiction in terms: genuinely defensible frontiers could not be acceptable to the Arabs, because they would have to involve major acquisition of territory by Israel, while what would be acceptable to the Arabs, would definitely leave Israel vulnerable" (1).
The scheme developed by the American professors was piously followed by all American administrations; the "peace process" speeding up when a Democratic President was in power and slowing down slightly with a Republican President at the helm of the country. While the original plan, developed in 1975, was in America's interests at the time (since it allowed the US to sidestep the Soviet Union in its attempts of hegemony in the Middle East), with recent changes in the international arena, the situation in the Middle East also changed. As Luttwak wrote:
"In the 1970s, when the United States and the Soviet Union were each backing local sides, the struggle between Jews and Arabs had the potential to ignite a nuclear war between the superpowers. What is left of the Arab-Israeli conflict is no longer the focus of regional politics, let alone of world politics" (3).
However, the Clinton administration has completely missed the point that since the Soviet Union cease to exist, the threat of nuclear war today comes from a different direction. Obsessed with the "peace process" it has not realized that there is no reason to weaken Israel any more by forcing it to retreat. It did not occur to Clinton that a strong Israel with "genuinely defensible frontiers" is the best way to guarantee America's position in the Middle East.
America cannot expect Egypt or Saudi Arabia, which spend several billion dollars every year on military equipment, to play a significant role, if needed, in opposing the threats to America's interests from Iraq, Iran or Pakistan. It is only Israel who will be ready to shoulder this responsibility, since it is Israel and no other country in the Middle East that shares many common values with America.
It appears that George W. Bush and his advisers are the first to understand that the disintegration of the Soviet Union has completely changed the Middle East and that the American policy there should be changed as well. On May 22, speaking at the AIPAC Conference in Washington, Bush indicated that there could be a reevaluation of the Brookings Institute study if he becomes the President of the United States. He said:
"My support for Israel is not conditional on the outcome of the peace process. America's special relationship with Israel precedes the peace process. And Israel's adversaries should know that in my administration, the special relationship will continue, even if they cannot bring themselves to make true peace with the Jewish state."
Bush's intentions to put this special relationship with Israel above the "peace process" were confirmed on August 2 in Philadelphia, during the Republican National Convention by former secretary of state George Shultz. He recalled a speech made by Vice President Al Gore last year in which Gore said that America should stand by Israel when it takes risks for peace. Shultz told the audience of about 150 Republican Jewish activists and leaders, "I said I didn't agree with that. I think the US should stand by Israel. Period. When you say 'risks for peace' you are saying 'risks to your security.' I've discussed this at some length with Governor Bush. I know he has the same view I do."
These recent declarations from American politicians are a first step in the right direction. Now the Israelis have to make next step. As George Schultz said "it is up to the Israelis to decide what is best for them." The best thing for them is to tear apart the Oslo agreement. It has been null and void for many months already. It is time to build a strong country with strategic depth and defensible borders, not a banana republic, but one that is a reliable and an equal American partner. [08/03/00]
1. Zbigniew Brzezinski. Power and Principle. Memoirs of the National Security Adviser 1977 - 1981. New York, 1983.
2. William B. Quandt. Decades of Decisions: American Policy Toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1967-1976. University of California Press. 1977.
3. Edward Luttwak. Never mind Jerusalem, what about Saddam? Sunday Telegraph (London), 30 July, 2000.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.