Dennis Ross has an op-ed in today’s New York Times on what the Obama administration should do regarding the Middle East “peace process.” The piece comes after news that “peace process” envoy Martin Indyk is packing up shop and two Palestinian children were killed by Israeli fire in demonstrations against the occupation. Below are two excerpts:
The alternative to ending the conflict, however, need not be endless conflict. If neither side is capable of ending the violence now, then more limited, but feasible, goals should be adopted. Indeed, in the coming months, both sides and the United States should focus on defusing the conflict and building a bridge to peaceful coexistence.
If the two leaders are unwilling to take these steps, then it is time for Washington to shift its objective to conflict management. A conflict-management approach would not focus on producing formal agreements, which may be too difficult for both sides. Rather, it would concentrate on brokering smaller understandings and getting the two sides to take parallel or coordinated steps that could improve the reality on the ground.
Got that? Both sides, Ross argues, aren’t moving thus the U.S. should take a long-term conflict management approach. The paragraphs seem consistent, which is what you would expect in a single op-ed piece. Except the thing is, these paragraphs are from two different Ross op-eds, basically arguing the same thing. The time in between? Thirteen years. In these thirteen years Israel has killed thousands of Palestinians, built thousands of new homes for Israeli colonists and probably received close to 40 billion dollars in aid from the government Ross is advising. And yet Ross’ advice is unchanged; kick the can down the road and manage the conflict.
Seriously, why does anyone listen to this guy? Why does the New York Times publish these tired and recycled ideas on the most prestigious opinion page around? Are we merely trying to find out how many different ways Ross can write, “The Peace Process is Dead, Long Live the Peace Process” in 800 words?
The readers of the New York Times deserve better than this. Policy makers in the U.S. government deserve better than to get the same outdated advice that has failed time and again. Most of all, Palestinians deserve better than the suggestion that their fundamental freedoms should be put on hold as long as the U.S. finds it inconvenient to do anything but “conflict management.”