The Middle East peace process has become a sacred cow for American diplomats. To flatter their own sense of importance, they believe that no peace will be achieved without U.S. involvement, conveniently forgetting that the 1993 Oslo Accords were mediated by Norwegians and only blessed by the United States. The bribe offered last week by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows the craven collapse of U.S. diplomatic judgment.
The deal offered the Israelis more than 20 F-35 fighters, a package worth in excess of $3 billion, in return for a 90-day renewal of the Israeli moratorium on settlement expansion on the West Bank. The moratorium is intended to induce Palestinians to rejoin bilateral talks. A bad deal, you say? There’s more. The moratorium would not cover East Jerusalem, the area currently in hot contention, and past Israeli moratoriums have been riddled with loopholes. Worse, the United States has agreed to block U.N. initiatives unfavorable to Israel, including approval of a possible unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence. That would close out the one remaining option available if bilateral negotiations fail. What the United States has bought, if the Israeli cabinet accepts the deal, is not time for negotiation but rather a one-sided settlement dictated by the Israelis, unacceptable to the Palestinians and guaranteed to ensure protracted conflict.Karzai Might Be Right
In Kandahar, NATO officials say they are routing the Taliban. Special Operations units have killed 339 mid-level Taliban commanders and 949 foot soldiers in the past three months. Meanwhile, 57 Americans died.
During the Vietnam War, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara employed the term body count to argue that because the United States was killing more enemy soldiers than the enemy killed Americans, “we” were winning the war. But while 57,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese were killed, the United States still lost the war.
Today, in Taliban-controlled Chak, outside Kabul, the almost-nightly helicopter raids by special forces have killed dozens of local citizens, and thousands march at their funerals chanting, “Death to America.” Afghanistan’s President Karzai has recommended ending the raids.
Unless our government wants to revert to another failed Vietnam strategy, it should listen to Mr. Karzai. He might be right.