“How about starting an Afghan Peace Process Today?” Mickey Glantz. 14 September 2010

Written by M. Glantz. Posted in All Fragilecologies

Published on September 13, 2010 with No Comments

Mickey Glantz
14 September 2010

“The Middle East Peace Process is alive, if not well”

In the introduction of his book Peace Process, William B. Quandt wrote, “Sometime in the mid-1970s the term peace process began to be widely used to describe the American-led efforts to bring about a negotiated peace between Israel and its neighbors. The phrase stuck, and ever since it has been synonymous with the gradual, step-by-step approach to resolving one of the world’s most difficult conflicts. In the years since 1967 the emphasis in Washington has shifted from the spelling out of the ingredients of ‘peace’ to the ‘process’ of getting there.” [from Wikipedia: Peace process: American diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1967. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution and University of California Press].

Once again since the mid-1960s, newspapers and TV channels are filled with facts and subjective commentaries about the Middle East Peace Process and the prospects for peace. We’ve heard about this process for decades with some successes but a lot more of “marking time or major setbacks.” Many blame a failure of the parties to communicate. The “failure to communicate,” though, is not the problem.

The various factions involved in or concerned about bringing peace to the region know well what the other protagonists want. The problem is that no one really wants to give in to what the others want, because it would impinge on what they strategically want to achieve from the peace negotiation process. This process has been going on for decades and now there are institutions and their leaders who actually benefit not from peace success but from stalemating the peace process. Nevertheless, each US President tries to broker a peace agreement in the volatile Middle East and each time the process ends with assassinations, conflict and stalemate.

In the meantime, a few thousand miles away, the US military is engaged one way or another in wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. US combat operations have allegedly come to a recent halt (though about 50,000 troops remain in the country and we do have an unusually huge embassy complex there). As for the war in Afghanistan, it is heating up and US troops are increasingly in harms way, as the weekly fatality count shows.

This map speaks for itself

So, my question is this: if successive US political administrations, both Democrat and Republican (liberal and conservative), agree on fostering peace negotiations in the Middle East and view negotiation among enemies as a good thing, why is a peace process not viewed as a useful path toward bringing peace to southwest Asia and especially to Afghanistan?

If we feel so committed and confident that we can bring about peace is such a troubled region as the Middle East, why not show that very same level of commitment to our own peace process to get US troops out of Afghanistan? As the adage goes, “what is good for the goose should also be good for the gander,” no?

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