Can Dr. Kissinger Save the Middle East from War?
by Gad Nahshon
In 1993 at the ceremony of the Oslo agreement, Dr. Henry Kissinger asked a senior PLO leader if he was satisfied. The leader said that still he wants to return to Jaffa. His home, his dream and the dream of his children is to go home: "It is in Jaffa," he explained to Dr. Kissinger, who shares with us this story in his new illuminating excellent book Does America Need a Foreign Policy Toward a Diplomacy for the 21st Century (Simon and Schuster, New York 2001).
This book is a must for anyone who wants to understand the present and the future of the American foreign policy. It is an analytical survey of the present set of relations between the U.S. and the major regional countries. Dr. Kissinger wrote one more classical book on foreign policy and he teaches America about the future of these relations. He peppered his discussions with many insights and also points out that the American public is ignorant as to the dimension of foreign policies. He complains that the media (T.V.) treats foreign policy as one more aspect of entertainment!
It is important to reassess foreign policy in this century because "...the United States is enjoying a pre-eminence unrivaled by even the greatest empires of the past. From weaponry to entrepreneurship, from science to technology..." writes Kissinger "...America exercises an unparalleled ascendancy around the globe."
Kissinger has a qualm that the American leaders of this century will make the wrong decisions in the New Age, the post-cold war era, in the world of globalization and in the age of information. Therefore, in this new book, Dr. Kissinger of Harvard, ex-foreign minister, and 1973 Nobel Prize Winner, suggests new ideas in order to shape a positive realistic American foreign policy and when Dr. Kissinger talks, America should listen! Today, the Middle East is a region on the bring of a total war. The posture of the Israeli-Arab conflict is on the verge of an explosion. The P.L.O. has pushed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a 'war of attrition.' The P.L.O. is moving on a course of building anti-confidence measures. It is managing an open policy toward the destruction of Israel, the 'Zionist entity.' It is managing an open international psychological war and even demographic war against Israel. (Any survey of terrorist P.L.O.'s acts demonstrates, clearly, the fact that the murderers target children and women. Do you remember the massacre of children in a school at Maalot?)
Dr. Henry Kissinger is an expert on the Middle East affairs. Often Jews and Israelis were very critical of his behavior. Some recall the fact that in the Yom Kippur War, Dr. Kissinger did not rush to help Israel and it was President Nixon who rushed to the rescue of Israel.
But it is important to see how he is assessing the crisis and how he suggests his new ideas which might prevent a total war in the Middle East. I would like to point out the fact that Kissinger views the issues of the settlements (obstacles to peace) as marginal. Kissinger explains:
The P.L.O. views Israel as an 'intrusion'
Today the war turned out to be a Muslim war
Israel suffers because it did not dismantle the first Intifada (Dec. 1987)
The P.L.O. views Israel as a weak divided state. The Israeli defeatism manifested itself in the evacuation from South Lebanon, a sign of weakness in the eyes of the P.L.O. Israel radiates weakness. Its policies radiate weakness. The P.L.O. believes that "Israel was psychologically on the run..." concluded Kissinger. The Arabs, he explains, view Israel as a strong military entity but that "...it was coming apart politically..."
Kissinger surveys, in his book, the history of war between Israel and the Arabs and the role of the various peace agreements. (He was among the contributors to the cool peace between Saadat and Begin in 1979). How has he assessed the failure of President Clinton and ex-prime minister Ehud Barak at Camp David? (No. 2) Kissinger knows that Arafat is a liar who never really honored the Oslo agreement but Clinton-Barak of a 'deadline' was a mistake! "Kissi" does not like deadlines in foreign policy. Clinton and Arafat knew that a future president will have to deal with any potential agreement. It was the wrong time for any negotiations. But the biggest mistake was done by Barak, who suddenly erupted with "...the flood of concessions..." Barak viewed them as a fuel for the talks. No one in history has suggested so many concessions. He even was willing to cross 'taboos' such as the Palestinian's refugees return.
So what happened in Camp David II? Arafat left the meeting because he viewed Barak's daring policy as a radiation of weakness! As to Clinton, Kissinger argues the American eagerness to achieve agreement helped Arafat to perform his love for blackmail and extortion. Therefore, the U.S. became a marginal player, a player who came to the table without a clear cut conception.
Can we save the Middle East from a total war? Dr. Kissinger outlined the following minimal ideas to be followed. They might thwart a total war, an explosion:
A. interim agreements
B. never use deadlines
C. Israel should announce its support for the establishment of a Palestine State
D. to reduce the contact between Jews and Palestinians, the issues should be about territory and borders. More power to Arabs in Jerusalem to reduce the settlements.
E. we should involve European countries and the U.S. in the peace process. The U.S. needs the support of moderate countries such as Jordan. Also, the agreement about the P.L.O. state will deal with the Jordanian interests
F. as to the future of the relations between Israel and the U.S.: the core of the relation is the American military support of Israel. America cannot be impartial. Israel cannot find an alternative to the military support. If the U.S. shrinks this support, the Arabs will go to war. Weak Israel will push the U.S. to send troops there. Then terrorists will attack them: "An Israel no longer able to defend itself will sooner or later be submerged in the tide of its neighbor's hostility," remarked Kissinger. Peace in the Middle East is an American responsibility as is its guarantee of Israel's security.
In this book he also discusses the fact that the U.S. does not view Iran as a problem. But Iran causes problems by supporting the Hizbullah Muslim terror. He suggested more support for Turkey and he argues that the U.S. should not allow Sadam Hussein to mock its policies in the region.
In this book, Kissinger discusses the reality of other regions. The following are some of his insights:
A. U.S. should lead the world for democracy but not as imperialistic power: co-operation and not enforcement
B. in Europe there is a new tendency for more integration. It is a challenge to the America hegemony. But the U.S. is not looking for hegemony: NATO should not turn out to be a mini-U.N. NATO should accept Russia as a member. To those who want to challenge American economic power, Kissinger suggests: TAFTA or Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area. Also, Latin America should support NAFTA (today, only Mexico and Canada);
C. Asia is a very important region: Japan is important to America. As to China: the regime is looking for peace and economic success and the Chinese army is not offensive in their nature. China does not look to export communism and honors the regimes of its neighbors. Kissinger believes that new countries might join the super power club: India in Asia, Brazil in Latin America.
There is one problem: Many of these countries are not true democracies in the Wilsonian tradition. Dr. Kissinger argues that the U.S. must solve problems by co-operation and dialogue because it does not want to be the world policeman.
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