Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sober analysis

It doesn't get much more clear-sighted than this. Ralph Peters in today's NY Post:

Today's session in Annapolis may or may not result in a we-the-undersigned statement or a few unenforceable commitments. And yes, there's merit just in bringing folks together and keeping them talking. But the baseline difficulty is that we want to solve problems for people who don't really want those problems solved.

Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah Party, for example, couldn't accept a genuine peace tomorrow morning - even though Hamas' coup in Gaza has put them up against the wall. Their problem? The most successful jobs program in the Arab world has been Palestinian "resistance" to Israel.

Consider what peace with Israel - real peace - would mean in the West Bank and Gaza, in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley: Tens of thousands of gunmen (and terrorists) out of work, with no marketable skills - and radicalized by decades of fanatic rhetoric.

Think a punk who's grown accustomed to swaggering around town in a face mask with a Kalashnikov is going to scrub squat toilets for a living?

Generations have grown addicted to the struggle - and its perks. It's the only bearable justification for their individual and collective failures in life. Real peace with Israel would probably spark a convulsion throughout the Arab world - as tens of millions realized that their sacrifices were a travesty that merely empowered thieves.

What Peters doesn't say but certainly appears to understand is that Israel does want the problems solved -- just not at the expense of her own annihilation. Understandable, you would think, as Israel is the party with the burgeoning First World hi-tech society just waiting for a respite from the terror and antipathy of her neighbors for a chance to show what she can really do. But it's a hard sell, nonetheless. It's far easier for many to believe that Israel has actually grown fond of the checkpoints, the fences, the reserve duty, the funerals and the "occupation." Go figure.

But Peters isn't done.

Another reason Arab states won't make peace: Most of their leaders have only survived in power because they have Israel to blame for every disappointment their people face. Israel has become the great excuse for every self-wrought failure in the Middle East - and that excuse is more valuable to Arab rulers than peace could ever be.

Were peace ever to arrive, Arabs might begin to demand good government. And the corruption that has thrived during decades of crisis could come into question. Worst of all, Arabs might have to accept responsibility for the catastrophic condition of their own societies.

This point has been made so many times it's almost a cliché. And yet, when you observe the behavior of the Arab delegates to Annapolis, it's pretty obvious. They're there for many reasons but peace is definitely not one of them.

And yet, America is once again placing its prestige and influence on the line in this seemingly eternal quest for the unattainable. Peters points this out quite eloquently.

If you want a sober perspective on the Annapolis dog-and-pony show, just ask yourself this: Who will leave disappointed, if nothing much results?

The Arabs won't care. They came because we got on our knees and begged.

The Israelis will just be relieved that their latest trip to the geostrategic dentist is over.

Any Russians soiling the furniture at the Naval Academy will be delighted if another American effort flops.

And the Europeans just popped in to check the "we care" box.

The only unhappy campers will be us. We set ourselves up. Again.

Oh, and even if there's some sort of agreement, only the Israelis will honor it. Grudgingly.

We're dealing with people who are fighting for their lives and homes. Our team's fighting for poll numbers. Now that's asymmetrical warfare.

Any questions?

(heads up courtesy of Soccer Dad)