Wednesday, January 28, 2009

They're Not Actually Smoking Crack, You Know....

When people like John Bolton start suggesting that Gaza be placed under Egyptian occupation control, your initial reaction may be, "What's he smoking? Why would Israel ever allow Egyptian troops on the streets of Gaza? Why would the Palestinians go along with such a thing?" But that would be missing the point. People like Bolton don't put stuff like this on the editorial page of the Washington Post because they're pulling wacky ideas out of thin air - they are attempting to prepare the public for an outcome that is acceptable to a particular political faction - one that disfavors ever allowing a genuine Palestinian state, but wants to remove the burdens of occupation from Israel.

Thanks to Carter, a president Bolton no doubt loves to malign, Israel and Egypt have several decades of stable peace. They're both highly dependent upon U.S. aid, and Egypt would certainly love to get more. Egypt has experience oppressing controlling its own Islamic factions, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt may not have much concern about Israeli politicians blaming every rocket that flies out of Gaza on Hamas, but as an occupier they would not want every rocket that flies out of Gaza to be blamed on them. So Israel gets more peace, Egypt gets more money, the Palestinians get more oppression, and everybody... everybody who matters to Bolton... is happy. If he can get Jordan to take over managing and controlling the Palestinian population on those remnants of the West Bank Israel chooses not to keep, all's the better. He concedes,
This idea would be decidedly unpopular in Egypt and Jordan, which have long sought to wash their hands of the Palestinian problem.
That's more than a bit dishonest. Jordan has a very large Palestinian population. In the past, this led to an ugly and violent confrontation between Jordanian forces and the PLO (September 1970, or "Black September"). It's difficult to conceive of a Jordanian occupation of the West Bank that would not ultimately precipitate similar conflict. (But what does Bolton care?)

Bolton refers to this as a "Three State solution", but it's patent that he doesn't actually give two figs about the Palestinians, and that it's actually a "one state solution with different occupying powers for the Palestinians."
One place to avoid problems is dispensing with intricate discussions over the exact legal status of Gaza and the West Bank.
Or as I suspect he puts it in less polite company, "Palestinians? F--- 'em". People more honest than Bolton who adore this "solution" are more accurate in their description - see, e.g., Daniel Pipes:
The National Post cleverly dubs my plan (in its title to this article) the "back-to-the-future option," but I like best the name bestowed on it by blogger Mary P. Madigan: "the no-state solution." Perfect.
Although analysis like this is typical of the garbage that passes for "scholarship" at the American Enterprise Institute, that's not the same as saying Bolton has no valid points. It does make sense to tie Gaza into Egypt's economy, particularly given how Israel has frozen it out of the Israeli economy - it's only other neighboring country. The same holds true for the West Bank and Jordan - although there are some real structural difficulties in separating the West Bank from Israel, worsened if Israel doesn't remove most of it settlements (and, believe me, removal of settlements is not part of Bolton's plan - he doesn't even mention them.) If we ignore religious and ethnic issues, it would make far more sense to fully incorporate the West Bank and Gaza into Israel; but that's not going to happen. Even with a tunnel connecting the two territories, it's hard to imagine the West Bank and Gaza forming a viable economy as an independent state.

Friedman Dancing With Bolton
Today, along comes Thomas Friedman with what he no doubt thinks is a clever twist on things - The 5-State Solution. In the column, Friedman pretends that he's King Abdullah II, proposing how the conflict can end... without a Palestinian state. This is a "five state solution" to Friedman as it involves Israel, Egypt (to occupy Gaza), Jordan (to occupy the West Bank), Saudi Arabia (to bankroll the occupations), "Palestine" (the nation not created, because it would continue to be under foreign occupation; but Friedman leaves open the possibility that there might be a Palestinian state at some point in the future, perhaps revisiting the issue after five years), and Israel. Oops - he forgot to consider this caveat: "The U.S. would be the sole arbiter of whether the metrics have been met by both sides" - I guess it's a "six state solution"? That'll go over well, on the day Saudi Arabia says, "We're done here, and now we should create a Palestinian State", and the U.S. says "no".

What of democracy, you ask? Well, I'm not sure that Friedman has ever cared about democracy. Palestinian human rights? Well... same answer. What's important to Friedman is that "This would be an Arab solution" that happens to resolve the conflict in a way 100% consistent with Friedman's own prejudices and desires, and that's good enough for him. The only question remaining is, does he know he's doing a slow dance with John Bolton and Daniel Pipes? I suspect so.

1 comment:

  1. They're an amazingly cute couple.


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