YESTERDAY'S DIPLOMACY, TODAY'S MESS
By Micah Halpern
Tuesday July 5, 2005
Now it's official. The Palestinian Authority has neither the desire nor the will to control the situation in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal from the area and they cannot and will not assume control as Hamas attempts to garner newfound strength as a result of the withdrawal.
What makes it official? Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross, the former ambassador and the special envoy, have proclaimed it to be so.
"I don't see that the Palestinian Authority has the capability or the intention to take control" said Indyk while in Jerusalem this week.
Hamas "see themselves now as an equal partner" with Fatah and Authority is the way Ross put it.
It just so happens that I agree with them. Their analysis and my analysis concur. So why do I find these statements, coming from these men, to be at the same time tragic and surreal?
Because these are the guys responsible for shaping United States policy in the Middle East for the past decade.
Because these are the guys who helped create this mess.
Because for all those years, Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk were duped.
Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk played leading roles in shaping the very situation Israel and the Palestinians find themselves in today. All their great analysis, their insight, their mediations, their secret meetings turn out to be irrelevant given today's facts on the ground. They, along with the myriad other United States diplomats and envoys sent to make things better, to move them along, were distracted from the truth because they were goal driven. Reality played a very small role in determining policy, it was pretense that mattered.
Who duped them? Who played the game better than they did? Yasser Arafat, certainly. Arafat was a master manipulator, a master at double speak, a master at promising and never fulfilling. Yasser Arafat was a confidence man. And neither Ross nor Indyk understood his con. And neither one of them understood his true motive, deciphered his modus operandi, or challenged his raison d'etre.
Why? Because they wanted to, needed to, believe that their goal was near.
And that's why I find it somewhat unusual, bizarre, amusing, to see these men today, the words "expert" and "commentator" under their names. They espouse their oftentimes ridiculous commentary on "the situation in the Middle East" without truly admitting that they themselves were so heavy handed in dictating the play book that has resulted in so much turbulence and tragedy for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. Today, they talk as if they had nothing to do with what happened.
They are not alone. Others, of course, do the same. Sometimes I laugh out loud when I hear Former CIA and Former FBI people talking about the Middle East and terror. I'm still waiting to hear someone with enough conviction to say, "well, we were dead wrong on that one, we just misread that situation."
About a month ago in Washington DC, Aaron Miller, the third member of the peace team triumvirate, presented his ideas on the failed Middle East campaign. Miller had the creative gumption to actually say that the failure was because the United States was Israel's advocate and protector. Had the US been an impartial mediator maybe things would have turned out differently.
That's a maybe. But this is for sure: Of course there will be anarchy when Israel leaves Gaza. Unless a strong Palestinian police force takes immediate control over Gaza and over all Palestinian areas, there will be lawlessness.
Of course there will be anarchy, because there is already anarchy. Abbas has refused to use his power to force the hooligans the gangs and the terrorists to obey the rules of civil propriety. Abbas operates out of the fear of creating a civil war, but that fear will backfire and his own actions will lead to the civil war that will oust him.
Abbas strives to lead as Arafat ruled. Allow for disarray. Allow multiple groups to vie and fight for control amongst one another. But Abbas does not have Arafat's style, he doesn't have his stamina, no one could oust Arafat.
There are two groups to blame for the crisis that will arise when Israel departs from Gaza. Israel is not one of them. They are faulty US policy and strategy and weak myopic Palestinian leadership. That's all. It's official.