NEW YORK (VINnews) — “If you keep hitting a brick wall in your endeavors, there’s a sign there….find another way round.” This quote is true both to daily life and to any endeavor including international diplomacy. Many times politicians entrenched in one particular mindset find themselves hitting a brick wall so many times that they are convinced that there is no way around. Their hubris, buoyed by political success and fame, leads them to ineluctable conclusions which are often merely costly mistakes.
Examples that come to mind include France’s dependence on the Maginot Line prior to the Second World War, Chamberlain’s statement months before the war: “I bring you peace in our time”, and the US’s botched campaign in Vietnam. Examples from closer history would include the Oslo peace process, initiated under the fallacious presumption that an inveterate terrorist would suddenly change his ideals and turn against others embracing terror.
In recent times the most egregious political errors have been committed in relating to Iran’s growing belligerence. As far back as 1996, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu warned in a speech in Congress that “If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind.” He added that “the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.”
While Netanyahu was premature in his concern about Iran’s attaining nuclear capability, he was definitely prescient when he warned in 2009 that Iran was upgrading uraniam and could pose a threat in the coming years, which if not for some efficient and covert Mossad actions would surely have materialized. And as the lone opposer of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, Netanyahu was belittled by former American secretary of state John Kerry in his 2018 memoir for “distorting” the nuclear agreement in Congress and delivering a “well-crafted but purely political statement, not an honest analysis of nonproliferation strategy.”
In the same year- 2018 – Netanyahu finally succeeded in persuading Congress and the US administration of the inherent dangers in the nuclear agreement, but Kerry of course continued to hit the brick wall.
Kerry’s obsession with the settlements and his contention (supported only by the Palestinians) that they were the obstacle to peace led him into another brick wall in his Middle East policy. Kerry could not fathom any possibility of peace in the region without Israel unilaterally dismantling all of its settlements and he said as much in a harsh, blunt speech just 23 days before his administration concluded its inglorious work in the Middle East. Instead of turning eastwards towards the moderate Arab countries, Kerry chose to blast Netanyahu for undermining peace and working towards a ‘one-state solution’ even as the Palestinians had shown no inclination for peace and had never ceased inciting against Israel in all of their educational textbooks or calling for its destruction.
Kerry’s conviction became something of a religious belief. In the following clip he insists that “there will be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world without the Palestinian process….that is a hard reality.”
It is important to realize that the myopia of politicians like Kerry and Obama regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is the result of such dogmatic, obscurantist statements and convictions. It behooves Kerry to issue an apology for having badmouthed Israel as the obstacle to peace, even as the UAE and Bahrain, two Arab nations with strong ties to the Palestinians can see it as a beacon of light and democracy in a dark and fractured region.