America on the Sidelines

In an article for Foreign Policy, Laura Rozen reveals the degree to which the Israeli national security establishment has now moved out ahead of the Bush administration’s hardline posture in the Middle East. There’s no small amount of irony there, since it was this same Israeli national security establishment that initially reinforced Bush’s policy of isolation and containment of the region’s bad guys. But now, in the case of both Hamas and Syria, Israeli insistence has led to Washington lifting its objections to backchannel talks. Rozen suggests that while a late-administration reversal can’t be ruled out, most people are already pinning their hopes on a future administration’s re-engagement.

I don’t have much to add here, other than to point out that the Israeli political arena consistently includes points of view (ie. talking with Hamas) that are considered off-limits in the States. I’ve also yet to see a more convincing formula than Yitzhak Rabin’s for engagement: Negotiate as if there is no terror, and fight terror as if there are no negotiations.

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