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I think it's safe to assume that any "echo effect" caused by resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute will be similarly insignificant.

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Steve Clemons (via David Schorr) waxes ambitious about the peace process currently underway:

The United States and its core allies have decided to try and remake parts of the world and as might be expected, much of the Arab Middle East and the global Muslim community have institutionalized grievances about their place in the modern world and wonder if the West values their lives and societies. The Palestinian mess is for many of these people the packaged microcosm of their anger about exploitation and humiliation by the West and by their own governments.

Solving the Israel-Palestine conflict will not solve all the political and identity tensions which will continue to boil in Arab and Muslim-dominant states -- but the echo effect of resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will knock down many walls in these societies that have been resisting change.

This strikes me as eerily similar to neoconservative promises of "regional transformation" following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Just as those proved to be bunk, I think it's safe to assume that any "echo effect" caused by resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute will be similarly insignificant. We should have learned by now that individual societies have their own grievances and their own dynamics and that basing U.S. policy on sweeping predictions about how they'll react to changes in other countries is a recipe for trouble.

Rather than pin our hopes on radical historical pivot points, I'd argue that it would be better to dial back - just a little! - the idea that we need to "remake parts of the world" to be secure. We also need to be thinking quite seriously about what happens when these talks fail - as they almost certainly will.

UPDATE: Daniel Larison has some additional thoughts about linkage and Iran.

(AP Photo)

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