CNAS Report is a Sign of the Times

For another data point on the marked shift in American discourse on Israel/Palestine that has been occurring in recent years, check out the new report on “Setting the Conditions for a Palestinian State” that was released today by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). The report lays out the framework for the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to enforce a potential two-state solution in Israel/Palestine.

As is so often the case, what’s important here is not what is being said, but rather who is saying it. CNAS was founded in 2007 by Michele Flournoy (now the Obama administration’s undersecretary of defense for policy and rumored to be a potential successor to Robert Gates) and Kurt Campbell (now a top Asia hand at the State Department), who were only two of the nearly dozen CNAS vets to join the Obama administration. A major part of the reason for CNAS’s pipeline into the administration is the organization’s success in portraying itself as the home of “serious” liberals that even a hawk could respect. Without detracting from the organization’s fellows, many of whom are genuinely excellent, it is fair to say that CNAS has strived to cultivate an reputation for technocratic problem-solving rather than ideological liberalism. The organization did not make its name with outspoken denunciations of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; it made its name with pragmatic recommendations for how to wage the wars more effectively. (The fact that the organization formed and its leadership came to public prominence well after the wars were already underway means that we will never know whether many of its leaders would have favored the wars in the first place.) In particular, CNAS has carved out a niche as the think-tank of choice for proponents of counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, currently enjoying something of a renaissance in popularity; CNAS’s current president, Lt. Col. (ret.) John Nagl, helped write the military’s counterinsurgency field manual under General David Petraeus.

CNAS’s apparent aversion to political risk-taking makes it all the more surprising to see the organization wade into the fray on Israel/Palestine — and particularly to raise the once-taboo issue of an international peacekeeping force to enforce a two-state agreement. Coming on the heels of the recent controversy surrounding Petraeus’s own views on Israel/Palestine — he came under fire from hawks for suggesting [PDF, p. 12] that the perpetuation of the conflict harms U.S. interests — the release of the CNAS report suggests two things. First, there is a growing belief both in the military and in Washington national-security circles that the status quo on Israel/Palestine is unacceptable and that assertive US action is necessary to change it. Second, there is a diminishing level of fear about the political consequences of making such beliefs public.

6 thoughts on “CNAS Report is a Sign of the Times”

  1. Wait until November and American Zionists, both Christians and Jews, will show the political fallout.

  2. The Israelis would love to have "international peacekeepers" (i.e.: American soldiers) detaining pregnant women at checkpoints and shooting rock-throwing kids with rubber bullets.

    1. Israel will never acquiesce to international forces in Palestine – mainly because they will never willingly accept letting go of the W.Bank or Jerusalem without being forced to.

      International forces can also observe and document the incredible crimes committed by Israeli soldiers and citizens against Palestinians that have been occurring everyday for 62 years…

  3. It's all baloney. The zionistrs want all of the west bank and are simply continuing their plan of erasing the Palestinians from human memory. Since no one has the stomach to confront the Zionists and force them to accept a Palestinian state, the only option is to talk big talk about it, while the facts on the ground remain the same old same old.

    For five thousand years the Jews have been spreading across the "diaspora" and building a holocaust wherever they went. Unable to seen the pattern and the underlying cause in their behavior, they're at it yet again. Sad, very sad. As an American and a Jew, I would very much like to avoid being victimized when the reaction comes.

  4. What right did us Brits have to hand a Peace loving unarmed Muslim peoples land away to a bunch of Europe's unwanted Revolutionaries Troublemakers and Agitators (as they were viewed at that time) they-Zionist Immigrants mostly arrived with nothing and would steal off anybody and soon got the guns to do it by force Massacring Village after Village, now the same Bloody minded Zionists own most all of the US 450 Stations TV Newspapers the whole Media, so few good ordinary Americans can realise they are now supporting a pure Fascist Aggressive State of Israel..

  5. It might be coincidence that 10 of 13 of these Should-Read books have been written previous to 2005. In case you're, like I'm, uninterested in having to decide on between books written a long time in the past and books written by these with at least a slightly ulterior motive, purchase some books.

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