I came out against the immediate creation of a Palestinian state over a year ago because I don’t think the social and political materials for a state are there yet, and because I don’t think we should reward people who talk about peace in English and war in Arabic.
…but…Glenn thinks that the Palestinian people are part of a proxy war against Israel and the U.S., and that by attempting to be ‘evenhanded,’ we’re misleading ourselves. His concrete proposals are pretty reasonable:
I don’t think this means that the Bush Administration should be taking direction action against them — closing off their funding via shutting down Saddam is a good start, and a policy of slow strangulation directed at Arafat and his fellow terrorists is probably the most politic at the moment. We need to try to squeeze off the EU funding, too, especially now that it’s been admitted to be part of a proxy war by the EU not just against Israel, but America.
But let’s stop pretending that what’s going on between Israel and the Palestinians is some sort of family misunderstanding. It’s war, and the Palestinians — and their EU supporters — think it’s a war not just against Israel, but against us. We should tailor our approach accordingly.
But I still think he’s is wrong in this – wrong because I tend to think that while a bloodthirsty cult run by kleptocrats does dominate the Palestinian people today, I continue to believe (based on not much more than optimism and my own view of human nature) that this dominance doesn’t have to last. This implies that the issue is the leadership and dominant culture, and that the average Palestinian hasn’t completely internalized the values of that homicidal leadership; or rather that it is best to proceed as though that’s the case.
That’s a subtle but crucial distinction. It implies that we can be, in the terms of the Marines, both the “best friend and worst enemy” to the Palestinian people, and it builds a door that reasonable Palestinians can follow should they choose to.
Making that choice possible should be the goal of our policies in that area.
The paths are twofold; to openly go to war with the Palestinians (and in doing so, ultimately with the Arab world), or break the problem apart by doing several things: dry up the political and financial incentives being offered the Palestinians and terrorists to fight rather than simply live; find and neutralize the committed fighters; and work to empower (initially by keeping them from being killed by the more radical elements) the majority who I have to believe simply want to raise kinds and lead normal lives.
Note that none of what I’m proposing is easy. And that elements of it do involve the explicit use of force – against terrorist organizations operating in the Occupied territories and judiciously, against states that harbor or sponsor them.
But I think that it’s easier to try the complex solution before we simply sweep the table clean with a war.
Look, so far the Arab states have made it clear that they will fight the war against Israel to the last Palestinian. They have gotten a free ride in that they can send relatively insignificant amounts of cash and aid and so at a low cost have a lot of impact on Israel.
Our goals should be in part to end that free ride, and free the Palestinians from their role – as Glenn describes it – as cannon fodder in order to let them make a conscious choice about whether they want war or peace.
I won’t foreclose on the latter possibility until it’s clear that the Palestinian people have.