Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Matthew Yglesias: Dennis Ross Is a Little Insane

Matt writes:

Matthew Yglesias / proudly eponymous since 2002: This is really much more Dennis Ross' field than mine, so I'd be interested to hear what others have to say about it, but I think the Israel-Palestine agenda he outlined in a column yesterday is a little insane.... This seems badly, badly flawed to me and indeed, overwhelmingly likely to produce the following outcome:

Olmert and Abbas make a cease-fire agreement. Someone from Hamas violates the cease-fire agreement. Israel re-occupies the territories. This discredits Abbas an ineffective in improving the condition of Palestinians. Hamas wins the election. Dennis Ross proclaims that conflict has been "transformed between a national conflict into a religious conflict" and America must get "out of the peace-making business for a long time. As Ross says, the upshot of this will be that "Islamists will be able to dominate the most evocative issue in the region." A great victory for Iran, al-Qaeda, Hamas, Israeli settlers, etc., unfortunate for Israel, bad for the United States, and terrible for the Palestinians. But so why is Ross proposing it?

Any conflict-resolution scenario needs to cope with potential spoilers, which is an intrinsically difficult task. The one thing you really can't do, however, is signal to the spoilers in advance that a single provocation is likely to derail implementation and derail it in a manner likely to bring the spoilers to power. You're just setting yourself up for failure.

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