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September 24, 2008

The Absurdity of the Bush-McCain Middle East Policy
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

So, as many have already reported Max Boot seems to have gone on a bit of a neoconservative bender at a retreat hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Throwing Bush under the bus; Saying the peace process just isn't a serious priority; And essentially saying that the McCain administration would discourage the Israelis from continuing negotiations with the Syrians.  Boot has written about some of his comments being taken out of context, but I think it's still worth making two substantive points.

First, the idea that we should be discouraging the Israelis from talking to the Syrians when they are making progress on a peace agreement is a reversal of fifty years of American policy.  We have never discouraged Israel from talking to one of its Arab neighbors.  We've always had a policy of not dictating to the Israelis what they should do on matters of their own security (Although some American administrations have taken a more proactive approach than others).  But until Bush we've never actually campaigned against moving ahead on any kind of talks that might make progress on peace.

Second, it's true that ultimately the U.S. can't solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  And the issue is a frustrating mess.  But we've already seen what Boot's mentality of not engaging does.  The Bush administration neglected the peace process from 2000-2006 and what happened?  Violence spiraled out of control.  Gaza completely fell apart.  Things got much much worse.  So, it's not that an Obama administration can change things overnight.  The situation is not a good one.  But we do know that American inaction tends to make the situation worse not better and that the smart and sensible policy is to engage.


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