Arab-Israeli Peace? Not A Chance, Says Former Advisor

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Apr 21, 2010 9:05 AM
Aaron David Miller, a former advisor on the Middle East to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, isn't too happy about the state of Israeli - Palestinian peace negotiations.

In fact, he's so unhappy, that he's just giving up.
Right now, America has neither the opportunity nor frankly the balls to do truly big things on Arab-Israeli peacemaking. Fortuna might still rescue the president. The mullahcracy in Tehran might implode. The Syrians and Israelis might reach out to one another secretly, or perhaps a violent confrontation will flare up to break the impasse.

But without a tectonic plate shifting somewhere, it's going to be tough to re-create the good old days when bold and heroic Arab and Israeli leaders strode the stage of history, together with Americans, willing and able to do serious peacemaking.

I remember attending Rabin's funeral in 1995 in Jerusalem and trying to convince myself that America must and could save the peace process that had been so badly undermined by his assassination. I'm not a declinist. I still believe in the power of American diplomacy when it's tough, smart, and fair. But the enthusiasm, fervor, and passion have given way to a much more sober view of what's possible. Failure can do that.
It's true; Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking has failed, again and again. But that doesn't mean it's hopeless. Miller may not be a declinist, but he's certainly a pessimist. Israel was built on a shoestring, with little to work with besides hope, and it continues to persevere against all odds. Unlike Miller, I believe a strong President with a solid grounding in international relations can move mountains when it comes to Arab-Israeli peacemaking. Obama is certainly not that President; maybe Bill Clinton wasn't even that President.

But Miller has made decades-long career in this field, and his point of view is not one to be discounted. Miller's long Foreign Policy piece — from which the excerpt above is taken — makes a convincing, if depressing, argument. If he's completely hopeless, well — it gives even a dreamer like me reason to pause.