Thomas Friedman says America should wash her hands of the peace process and cut aid to both the Israelis and Palestinians until they're ready to be serious about peace. Blake Hounshell says the U.S. can't just walk away:
But unfortunately, it's not so easy to just walk away. Not only has the United States given billions in military and economic aid to Israel over the last three decades -- and provided Israel diplomatic cover at the United Nations and other fora -- it has also propped up the Palestinian Authority while Arab leaders have broken promise after promise to help. U.S. bases dot the region, and U.S. troops are currently occupying two Muslim countries. American money goes to build settlements in the West Bank.
Seems like all the more reason to begin searching for another strategy. Hounshell argues that rather than pull back, the U.S. should double down and "propose" its own solution (and then what?) or do something really clever and unseat Netanyahu to put in the supposedly more pliable Livni. At which point, the Obama administration, Arab world, Palestinian Authority and Israel will make peace.
Of course it isn't. In fact, sustaining the peace process and America's broad and increasingly untenable definition of its interests in the Middle East is just as unrealistic as the notion that we can simply pull up stumps and leave tomorrow. I think even the most earnest proponent of "off-shore balancing" or non-interventionism understands that changes to American policy couldn't happen instantly. But there is a vital question of trajectory. For thirty years - since the Carter Doctrine - the U.S. has taken a path of deepening involvement in Middle Easttern affairs. It was a slow but steady accumulation of interests, military bases, commitments and a sense among Washington elites that concepts like "American prestige" had become inseparable from whether or not it could keep its arms wrapped around this unwieldy bundle.
In an era where the great power competition that compelled the Carter Doctrine is over and one in which America is menaced by a transnational radicalism, sustaining or even deepening our ownership of various Middle Eastern conflicts seems lethally counter-productive. That American commitments can't be unwound overnight is no argument against the proposition that we should at least get started.