Isn’t it about time those involved in the latest Arab-Israeli war admit that peace in the region isâ€”at this present timeâ€”impossible? Everyone always says they want peace (along with love and understanding), but I think more progress could be made with more realistic goals. Instead of peace, perhaps the goals of international efforts should be equilibrium, some kind of balance of power. With the momentum behind the cycle of violence, the legacy of grievances, and the structural imbalances currently in place, not to mention perverse incentives that enable the most militant people on either side to reinforce each other’s power and agendas, talk of a peace “process” takes on ever more absurd dimensions with each passing day.
While the Palestinian or Israeli on the street, when asked, would probably say the right things about wanting peace, or preferring peace to war, or perhaps wanting “peace with honor” or “a just peace,” it’s not at all clear to me that either side is willing to make the kinds of painful concessions and sacrifices that would be involved in any kind of lasting peace that didn’t involve the elimination of one entire side of combatants. Any armistice or cessation of fighting would almost by definition leave in place “facts on the ground” that would stick in the craw of large populations on either side of the conflict. The circumstances and rhetoric that encourage Arab terrorists to continue to target innocents and Israeli settlers to continue to colonize the West Bank will not disappear just because diplomats sign another agreement.
It seems to me that the only real alternatives are to let the situation continue to spiral out of control or to impose some sort of global occupation on the entire disputed region, hunting down war criminals and policing the borders. Don’t ask the Palestinians to agree to stop suicide bombers. Make them stop, but don’t leave it to Israel to do so. Don’t ask the Israelis to dismantle “some” of the “outlying” settlements. Dismantle them and encourage the settlers to move back into Israel proper. None of these ideas will be popular, neither with the global powers who’d be expected to sacrifice and die for the sake of clamping down on the horror unfolding there now, nor with the citizens of Israel and the unincorporated quasi-state of Palestine. Rather, a quixotic quest for peace will most likely continue to be the global community’s response to the outrages and atrocities erupting daily. My hope is that abandoning the unrealistic goals of peace, forgiveness, and brotherhood of man, we might just be able to deal with the reality of the situation.
[originally posted at junk mail]