The vast majority of conflicts in the Middle East have little or nothing to do with the Palestinians or Israel. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard or read some “expert” claiming that “Palestine is the key to peace”. There is no linkage between Israel-Palestine and peace throughout the Middle East. If Arafat had signed an agreement in 2000 and actually lived up to it, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, et al would still continue to exist and Iran would still be trying to get a nuclear weapon.
by Jeffrey Goldberg
Among many Middle East analysts, particularly those of the so-called “realist” school of foreign policy thought, “linkage” is a holy doctrine. It holds that peaceful compromise between Israel and the Palestinians will lead to a generally placid Middle East. But it’s a false notion. One of its more famous advocates is Chuck Hagel, President Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense.
In my Bloomberg View column, I look at Hagel’s views, and try to understand how linkage became such a dominant doctrine when it is so provably false:
“The core of all challenges in the Middle East remains the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict,” Hagel said in 2006. “The failure to address this root cause will allow Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorists to continue to sustain popular Muslim and Arab support — a dynamic that continues to undermine America’s standing in the region and the Governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and others, whose support is critical for any Middle East resolution.”
As Martin Kramer wrote: “The vocabulary here — ‘core,’ ‘root cause,’ ‘underlying’ — is taken from the standard linkage lexicon, which elevates the Arab-Israeli or Palestinian-Israeli conflict to a preeminent status.” [.........]
In his 2008 book, “America: Our Next Chapter,” Hagel wrote that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “cannot be looked at in isolation. Like a stone dropped into a placid lake, its ripples extend out farther and farther. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon feel the effects most noticeably. Farther still, Afghanistan and Pakistan; anything that impacts their political stability also affects the two emerging economic superpowers, India and China.”
I would love to hear Hagel’s views on this subject today, because his theory of linkage — and his belief that a Middle East freed from the Israeli-Palestinian dispute would be a “placid lake” — has been utterly discredited by events. [........] But these same terrorists are unalterably opposed to a compromise that would allow two states, Israel and Palestine, to live side by side, because they are opposed to the very existence of Israel. They try to subvert the peace process because they fear it will legitimize the existence of a country they hate.
[........]The past two years have proved the theory of linkage to be comprehensively false anyway.
Come with me on a quick tour of the greater Middle East. The Syrian civil war? Unrelated to the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. The slow disintegration of Yemen? Unrelated. Chaos and violence in Libya? Unrelated. Chaos and fundamentalism in Egypt? The creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank would not have stopped the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, nor would it have stopped the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Terrorism in Algeria? Unrelated. The Iranian nuclear program? How would the creation of a Palestinian state have persuaded the Iranian regime to cease its pursuit of nuclear weapons? Someone please explain. Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq? The unrest in Bahrain? Pakistani havens for al-Qaeda affiliates? All unrelated.
Read the rest -Is Palestinian-Israeli peace the key to happiness in the Middle East ?