Friday, February 13, 2009

Half-Smart Herman

"Half-Smart Herman" is Arthur Herman, author of "Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry That Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age" and the person who penned this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Camp David and the foilbles of Jimmy Carter from which I've selected this on which to comment:

Yet for all their bluster and intransigence in public, Begin and Sadat were more than ready for a deal once they understood that the U.S. would do whatever was necessary to stop the Soviet Union and its Arab allies, such as the PLO, from derailing a peace. An agreement was hammered out for an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, coupled with vague language about Palestinian "autonomy." The item Mr. Carter had really wanted on the agenda -- a Palestinian state -- was kept at arm's length.

Camp David worked because it avoided all of Mr. Carter's usual foreign policy mistakes, particularly his insistence on a comprehensive solution. Instead, Sadat and Begin pursued limited goals...

Above all and most significantly, Camp David sought peace instead of "justice." Liberals say there can be no peace without justice. But to many justice means the end of Israel or the creation of a separate Palestinian state. Sadat and Begin, in the teeth of Mr.Carter's own instincts both then and now, established at Camp David a sounder principle for negotiating peace. The chaos and violence in today's Gaza proves just how fatal trying to advance other formulations can be.

The true story of Camp David is one of two ironies...The second irony is that if any one man deserves credit for Camp David, it is not Jimmy Carter but Anwar Sadat. It was Sadat who managed to save Mr. Carter from himself and revealed the true secret about forging peace in the Middle East: The Palestinian issue is the doom, not the starting point, for lasting stability in the region.

Now let's step back.

Herman writes earlier in the article that

After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Sadat decided that Egypt needed to start from scratch in its relationship with Israel. Sadat found natural allies in Nixon and Mr. Kissinger

But, since Menachem Begin came upon the scene as Israel's Prime Minister in 1977, what happened for those four years? Why wasn't there a peace agreement? Was it Sadat's fault? Or, could it be that it was really Menachem Begin that deserves the major credit for the success of Camp David, to the extent it was a success?

Who gave up the Sinai despite the 1967 Egyptian aggression? Who gave up the oild fields developed by Israel? What did Sadat yield in terms of physicalities? Who agreed to an autonomy plan for the Arabs of the Land of Israel? Who only permitted a cold peace?

Begin managed to keep the Jerusalem issue out of the main body of the agreement, relegating it to an "exchange of letters" on "positions". So Sadat, actually did pursue a "justice" path on this matter and thus, almost sabotaged Camp David basing himself on an "Islamic comprehensive peace" perception. Herman doesn't know his own material.

So, maybe Sadat isn't the real hero?


But I really liked this of Herman from two and a half years ago, analyzing the Suez Canal Campaign of 1956:

But they, and their allies the French and British, had not reckoned on the United States. President Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, were preoccupied with the Cold War. Like their Democratic predecessors, they were reluctant to support any move that smacked of "colonialism," no matter how justified. And Eisenhower, in Stephen Ambrose's words, was "uncomfortable with Jews" and never understood the threat Israel faced from its Arab neighbors. So the Americans refused to endorse the Suez invasion. "We do not want to meet violence with violence," Dulles said--words that have a disturbing echo today. Then the Americans went further. If the British and French attacked Egypt, Eden was told, the United States would not back them up in the United Nations.

Finally, in late October, after weeks of hesitation and prevaricating, the British, French, and Israelis struck. The British and French Operation Musketeer was a stunning success; in the face of the Israeli attack, Nasser's army collapsed. French paratroopers and tanks were poised to roll into Cairo. But then, with American encouragement, U.N. secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld became involved.

To this day in elite circles, his name is treated with pious reverence second only to Gandhi and Martin Luther King. After his death, his face even graced an American postage stamp. In fact, Hammarskjöld was arguably the worst secretary general in the history of the United Nations. He was certainly the most devious. He was the bleak prototype of another U.N. apparatchik, his fellow Swede Hans Blix. Smug, icily cerebral, essentially humorless, he possessed a smooth arrogance that concealed a bottomless pit of liberal guilt.

Suez was the making of him. From the start, Hammarskjöld steered the U.N. debate away from the question of how to deal with a lawless dictator, making it an open forum for denouncing "Western imperialism." The loudest voices came from the Russians and their Communist allies, who made Israel their particular target (even as Russian troops were crushing the revolt in Hungary). Nasser became the new hero of the "nonaligned nations," the Fifties code phrase for the new countries in Asia and Africa who were ready to play one Cold War superpower against the other. According to at least one insider, although Hammarskjöld personally despised Nasser, he deferred to Nasser's ambassador "on all points and at all stages" in arranging a final cease-fire and calling for a British, French, and Israeli withdrawal.

To Hammarskjöld, the issue was simple. If you were European and white, you were always in the wrong. If you were nonwhite, you were a victim of something and ipso facto in the right

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