Finally a leak. Some details are beginning to emerge about the here to fore John Kerry’s veiled peace mission in the Middle East, and it appears to follow the pattern of other recent pacts of the Obama administration in the region.
The pattern is relatively simple. It starts with the hype of a major break-through. An announcement of forthcoming negotiations that would avert war and would deliver a non-violent resolution of an impending crisis to a peace starved audience at home and abroad. The hype is all about the promise and hope of permanent peace, but ultimately delivering an empty shell in the form of an interim framework for additional talks.
This was true in the case of Iran and Syria, and now holds true for the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreement. Once diplomats assume charge of a problem a metamorphosis of a sort takes place, and a diplomatic solution becomes the goal rather than the means to solving the problem. The negotiations become both an end in and of themselves, and the goal becomes an agreement on something, anything, all parties can embrace, rather than a true and just solution to an international problem.
In the case of Iran it took the form of halting uranium enrichment to 20% but enabling Iran to rehabilitate it’s economy while leaving it with the capability to resume enrichment and continue it’s march towards a nuclear bomb any time it so wishes. In the case of Syria, it put an end to use of chemical weapons while providing the Syrian dictator with an international green light to the continued slaughter of civilians by all other means he chooses.
The second step in the march to an agreement is the ‘hush hush’ secretive one. During this middle phase a frantic shuttle diplomacy takes place, and long meetings into late hours of the night are headlined by the media but no substantive contents leak out. It is the longest and most important step. It allows the skeptics and doubters to speak up, and the opposing parties come out with various conflicting estimates about wide gaps, difficulties, and the likely and unlikely success estimates. It’s the watering down phase of public expectations, and a show of effort, perseverance, and good will by all parties. The intent is after all more important than the results. It is during this phase that the initial lofty goals of permanent peace are trimmed down to temporary and interim, and all the core disagreements are eliminated from the discussion so that the parties can agree on something, anything. By then the public euphoria of yet another peaceful resolution has taken over and no one really cares about the content anymore.
The final step generally begins with the first official leak. The pink colored trial balloons are released. In all agreements the devil is always in the details, except that the details are often conspicuously missing from the Obama formula for the resolution of international crisis. In the case of Iran, the missing details were issues such as missile delivery systems, trigger devices, and the dismantling of centrifuges and nuclear weapon capabilities. In Syria, these were Iran’s and Hezbollah’s involvement, civilian casualties, and the continued rule of the butcher of Damascus. Finally there comes the time for the disclosing of an agreement which ends up being an empty frame work for further disagreements. At the unveiling, in front of the world audience one can only hope that no one notices that the emperor has no cloths.
So it has come to be that the Obama administration is preparing to announce yet another monumental diplomatic accomplishment, a frame work for discussion on peace between Israel and the Palestinians. As all others it appears to be rich with slogans but poor in detail. The parties will agree on the only things they can agree on; striving for a solution and agree on the concept of two nations for two people. There is going to be mention of a Palestinian Capital in Jerusalem, but not it’s size; security for Israel, but no mention of concrete arrangements or time frame; exchange of territories, but no defined dimensions or areas. It will be hailed for having averted another intifada, and it will be vague enough to give President Barack Obama some breathing room until after the mid-term elections.