osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Short Reaction to Obama's Mideast Speach

Remember when I said Israel needs a new business model? So does the U.S. Hey, Obama, Bill Clinton called. He wants his Israel/PA foreign policy back.

Yes, actually saying "1967 borders with land swaps" was, I suppose, something of a big deal on a symbolic level. But it is pretty much where things have been since the Quartet and the Road Map.

The problem is that the U.S. oscillates between the W approach, which views the Palestinians as "the problem party" who must be pressured to negotiate, or the Bush I/Clinton/Obama approach, which views the Israeli's as the "problem party" who must be pressured to negotiate. Whta is overlooked is that neither party can negotiate because the bottom line demands of the other party exceed what either party can concede and survive.

Which brings me back to my preferred solution: parallel play. Israel and PA will each declare a state with mutually inconsistent borders. If this sounds ridiculous, I suggest explaining that India and Pakistan, India and China, and perhaps a dozen or so other countries with mutually exclusive claims over common borders. It is not an ideal solution, but it has potential for stability. Yes, it can go terribly, horribly wrong. But it also presents an excellent way for parties to ignore each other and go about their regular business.

Part of the reason this is a good solution is that the Palestinians really have no good way to extract settlers from the major settlements, and Israel has no interest in doing so. This reminds me of a delightful scene in The Vor Game with the line: "Miles judged the hostage problem unsolvable, so the only solution was to throw it back to Cavillo." The refugee problem is inherently unsolvable without overwhelming military force (which the PA lacks) combined with a willingness to commit atrocities (which the PA may well be willing to do if they had overwhelming force, but they don't). So toss the refugee problem back to the PA and make them figure out how to "transfer" residents of Betar or Ariel or Beit El.

Answer, they will insist Israel do it. Israel will ignore them, and will counter that the PA should receive in "their" borders Palestinians living in the areas claimed by Israel who refuse Israeli citizenship. This fun game can continue indefinitely. Just ask any "Korean" who is an nth generation resident of Japan.

So the U.S. policy ought to be "we are no longer trying to broker a peace deal. We will recognize Israel and the PA and encourage them not to shoot each other." Israel will continue to guarantee Israel's security in exchange for limits on aggression against the PA and no expansion of settlements outside the security fence. i.e., explicitly embrace the Sharon plan. At the same time, the U.S. will engage in diplomatic and economic relations with the PA, while managing to never discuss Israel with it. If this seems odd, I will note that U.S. has been doing this with Greece and Turkey since the two of them nearly went to war in the 1970s, as well as with India and Pakistan and China and Taiwan. Our diplomatic language is something like "distinct economies" and we recognize anyone who is recognized on the ISO 3166-1 list.

While we are at it, the U.S. ought to say "look, we recognize this is a multipolar world. That means other countries need to stand up. Instead of asking "why doesn't the U.S. do something about Syria or Bahrain," try asking China and Russia "so when are you guys gonna stop supporting these tyrannical regimes." But that would involve acknowledging our weakness, so I am not expecting it any time soon.

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