Who Makes Peace?

A Fistful of Euro’s P O Neill raises a good point about who is really involved in a “peace deal”:

When a long running conflict is finally brought to “closure”, is the deal only an arrangement between elites on each side? The question is prompted by the Northern Ireland peace process, where great progress in reducing violence and devolving powers has not been matched by more harmonious relations at the community level.

He (or she, there’s no bio) draws a comparison to the Middle East, suggesting that one internal contradiction of the Bush democracy promotion agenda (besides the fact that it was a cynical ex post facto justification for the Iraq War) is that the peace and stability it’s supposed to achieve depend on the region’s authoritarian leaders to impose it.

But as a French expression would have it, the Northern Ireland peace deal at least has the merit of having been done. That’s more than can be said for Middle East peace deals, which seem to dance tantalizingly into view only to cruelly vanish. So the Gaza ceasefire mediated by Egypt now looks like it’s hit a snag (over the lifting of the blockade), and it looks unlikely that the political will is really there for the very basics of the Syrian deal (turning over the Golan Heights for Israel, freezing out Hizbollah, Hamas and Iran for Syria). But this quote from Abu Marzouk, the deputy leader of Hamas who led the group’s negotiating delegation, is worth the price of admission:

We have interests and they have interests too. Each party will respond in a way that will serve his interests.

Except, of course, when things like ideology, religion, and the craven thirst for power get in the way.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned yesterday, while Israel is at least willing to indirectly negotiate with the symptoms (Hamas and Syria), it still maintains what seems like a discordant refusal to consider doing the same with the “disease” (Iran). RIA Novosti is reporting that Ehud Olmert has now suggested a naval blockade of Iran as a way of accomplishing what watered-down sanctions have not. Obviously, this is an absurd idea, as is the idea, also offered by Olmert, of banning Iranian air travel. But the fact that he’s willing to suggest them seem almost more bizarre than the rumors of war that continue to stream out of Jerusalem, London and Washington.

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