Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Foolish Notion of "Linkage" in US Foreign Policy

The notion that solving the "Palestinian Problem" is the key to solving the Middle East's other problems is, and has always been, an idea that could only be held by someone who is not well versed in the history of this region and the population inhabiting it. Now let's take a look at an interesting exchange between journalist Jeffrey Goldberg former Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross:
Goldberg: Come back to President Obama and his understanding of this conflict. When I interviewed him in the beginning of 2008, when he was running for president, he referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “a constant wound,” one that spilled over into other areas of the Middle East. He appeared to be a believer in the linkage argument—that if you fix this, other problems in the Middle East might get fixed as well. Based on what you’ve observed, has he left linkage behind?

Ross: I think he has now. Certainly it stayed with him for a while. But reality debunks this notion now. It’s very clear that if you solve this, you’re not stopping one barrel bomb in Syria; you’re not going to stop an existential struggle in Egypt; you’re not going to—

Goldberg: —Yemen’s not going to get any better.

Ross: I think if you look at statements the president has made in the last year, you see for the first time a kind of acknowledgement of that. There was never an acknowledgement of that before. It weighed very heavily on the administration at the outset for sure. They saw it as being one of the sources driving terrorism. And so there was a kind of a traditionalist mindset on the conflict.

Jeffrey Goldberg, a long time Obamaphile, ascribes this foolish notion to the President of the United States. Dennis Ross affirms this, saying that, "Certainly it stayed with him for a while". Is it any wonder then, that President Obama is perceived here by the Prime Minister of Israel and others (including myself) as "hopelessly naive", as Goldberg himself put it? Of course Obama was and is not alone among decision makers in the United States regarding this matter.

The good news is that as Ross noted, "reality debunks this notion now". The truth is, reality has always debunked this notion!

How long will it take for opinion shapers and policy makers in the United States to understand that they are similarly mistaken about other things here, for instance their hostility towards Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria? Don't hold your breath!

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