a False Peace
is hardly reason for despair that the Camp David "summit"
called mainly so Boy Clinton could burnish his legacy seems to have
ended in ostensible failure. It is doubtful that the failure will
erase the modern superstition that wise and enlightened diplomacy
and sustained negotiations can solve any problem in the world. But
if it even raises a few cautionary flags about the capacity of the
keepers of the New World Order to bully or buy whatever they want
in other countries especially if the next U.S. administration
pays attention it might prove helpful in the long run.
Clinton, in acknowledging defeat, sounded almost precisely the wrong
sentiment: "I think they both remain committed to peace,"
he said. "I think they will both find a way to get there if
they donít let time run away from them."
it might be healthier precisely to let time run away from them.
To give him some credit for insight, President
Clinton did note that while the issue of the final status of
Jerusalem was the most intractable issue, he claimed there was not
"a great deal of disagreement" on the practical, operational
questions of the way people there would live under some future accord.
Somehow, despite disagreements among their political leaders
disagreements that may be inevitable and long-standing Israelis
and Palestinians will find ways to coexist.
MUST GROW, NOT BE IMPOSED
suggestion doesnít rule out the possibility, of course, that the
immediate aftermath of the Camp David failure might involve some
rioting, violence and general instability. But to the extent that
the interests of both sides are served by minimizing violence, people
will find ways to get along, even if with little warmth. And if
both sides have little interest in getting along, any agreement
reached by leaders closeted with the Boy President will be a phony
signs are relatively hopeful. When I talked to the British historian
Sir Martin Gilbert a few years ago, when his useful history of Israel
had just been published, he explained that when he went to Israel
and traveled, for example, to Bethlehem, he moved quite smoothly
between Israeli and Palestinian jurisdictions with little trouble
or fanfare. The Palestinians might not have a de jure state, but
there are Palestinian border guards, Palestinian police and Palestinian
authorities in the territories over which Arafat and his minions
have sway. It might as well be a state with the few positive but
mostly negative results such status confers on a territory.
the Israelis and Palestinians can bring themselves to ignore President
Clintonís advice and "let time run away with them," the
de facto division will come to seem more and more normal. The lack
of a "final status" agreement with every detail laid down
in black and white will seem less and less important as people become
accustomed to the facts on the ground. As the divisive issues become
less important because the sides have lived with minimal mutual
violence for a while, perhaps they can be resolved. But it will
take time and patience and, of course, it might not happen. But
the cessation of violence is more important than having a diplomatic
package tied into a neat little bundle.
world seldom resolves itself into neat little bundles. But neat
little bundles are what most diplomats and politicians in search
of a legacy generally desire. May they be frustrated.
long-term optimistic view is hardly inevitable, of course. In his
"Jerusalem Dispatch" in the July 24 issue of the New
journalist Yossi Klein Halevi outlined some of the obstacles
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak from the domestic political scene
are essentially two deals Barak can make," Halevi wrote before
the acknowledgment of failure at Camp David, "and neither is
acceptable to the Israeli public." Accepting Arafatís demands
in their entirety full withdrawal from the West Bank, refugee
return, and recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over the Old
City of Jerusalem (excluding the Jewish Quarter) is one.
But that would provoke open revolt against a leader who had faced
a humiliating vote of no-confidence that almost ended his government
a couple of days before Camp David began.
second deal would be to "accede to most, but not all, of Arafatís
demands," which would mean withdrawal from most of the West
Bank, limited family reunification for Palestinians and Palestinian
control over outlying Arab Jerusalem suburbs. But that, Halevi believes,
wouldnít end the conflict, though it would keep it at a relatively
low level. But it would divide the Israeli public hopelessly.
like the second deal is possible (though hardly inevitable) over
time, and informally though trying to formalize it would probably
provoke conflict and reasons for both sides to hold resentments.
So maybe itís better not to try to formalize it, not to struggle
to put all the issues into a diplomatic instrument.
MESSAGE: BRING THE TROOPS HOME
G-8 meeting that President Clinton decided to attend while the Camp
David negotiations continued offered a lesson that few American
politicians will want to hear but that should be heeded. Itís time
to think seriously about removing American troops from Okinawa,
and before long from the rest of Japan and eventually, as
a GAO report that coincided with the meeting suggests strongly,
from much of the rest of the world.
immediate occasion for a protest against the US military deployment
on Okinawa was the use of the island for the G-8 meeting of leaders
of industrialized countries, with concern heightened by the recent
alleged molestation of a 14-year-old Okinawan girl by a drunken
American serviceman. But the issues and the resentment are deeper.
impetus to hasten a fundamental reconsideration of US global strategy
should be strengthened by a report Friday from the General Accounting
Office, Congressís investigative arm, noting that despite some improvements
many US military bases overseas have poor security and remain vulnerable
to possible terrorist attack. The report was an assessment of a
security improvement program begun in the wake of an incident four
years ago when a truck bomb killed 19 Americans at a US military
complex in Saudi Arabia. The question of why US troops are even
in oil-rich Saudi Arabia was not asked, but it should be.
policymakers would do well to consider the possibility that the
best way to prevent terrorist attacks against US military personnel
and equipment might be not to have them deployed in overseas locations,
among people already inclined to resent what they might see as US
imperialism. Along with concerns about security, questions should
be asked about what positive US interests are served by having troops
in Saudi Arabia and Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, Japan, Korea and elsewhere.
protests on Okinawa suggest resentment of a magnitude US officials
would do well not to shrug off. Between 25,000 and 27,000 protesters
(on an island with a total population of 1.2 million) surrounded
the massive Kadena Air Base, linking hands to form a "human
chain" demanding an end to the US military presence. News reports
did say some protesters were flown in from other parts of Japan;
even so, that is a huge demonstration. President Clintonís promise
to reduce the US "footprint" on the island is far from
sufficient acknowledgment of the fact that the Okinawa bases are
a continuing source of irritation and burgeoning anti-American sentiment
among those we are purportedly defending.
an American perspective, the Okinawan base and, indeed, the
US military presence in the rest of Japan and in South Korea
are artifacts of an earlier era. Right after World War II and during
much of the Cold War, it might have made strategic sense to keep
so many American troops in Asia. But South Korea and Japan can defend
themselves now. If anything, US troops are more a tripwire
guaranteeing that any future conflict would be more complex and
potentially global than necessary than a deterrent to future