Thursday, May 28, 2009


Linkage is an old diplomatic term here in the Middle East.

There's one type of linkage such as this:

...the judgment that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians should command American attention.

And it isn’t just the specialists. They would be seconded by Jimmy Carter, who was recently asked: “Is the Israel-Palestine conflict still the key to peace in the whole region? Is the linkage policy right?” Carter’s answer: “I don’t think it’s about a linkage policy, but a linkage fact…. Without doubt, the path to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem.” Likewise, Zbigniew Brzezinski: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world.”

Let's call that the "big general" one. There is a bigger one, that of Kissinger.

And we have the "specific" one or ones. We'll ignore this one ("The Islamic Linkage between the Middle East and Southeast Asia") and others like it for the moment. But I will recall the "reassessment" period:

In foreign policy, the major development at the beginning of Rabin's term was the Sinai Interim Agreement between Israel and Egypt, signed on September 1, 1975. Both countries declared that the conflict between them and in the Middle East shall not be resolved by military force but by peaceful means [8]. This agreement followed Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy and a threatened ‘reassessment’ of the United States’ regional policy and its relations with Israel. Rabin notes it was,”an innocent-sounding term that heralded one of the worst periods in American-Israeli relations.”[9]
It was bad:

During Kissinger’s shuttle to Israel in early March 1975, a last minute reversal to consider further withdrawal, prompted a cable from Ford to Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, which included;

I wish to express my profound disappointment over Israel’s attitude in the course of the negotiations… Failure of the negotiation will have a far reaching impact on the region and on our relations. I have given instructions for a reassessment of United States policy in the region, including our relations with Israel, with the aim of ensuring that overall American interests… are protected. You will be notified of our decision[41]

On March 24, Ford received congressional leaders of both parties and informed them of the reassessment of the administration policies in the Middle East. There was only one way a “reassessment” could have a practical meaning: to cancel or suspend further aid to Israel. And this indeed was what happened. For six months between March and September 1975 the United States refused to conclude any new arms agreements with Israel.
It got worse:

Secretary of State James A. Baker III gave Israel a blunt public warning Monday that unless it stops building Jewish settlements in occupied territories, it will not get $10 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to help resettle hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

"The choice is Israel's," Baker said, appearing before Congress as Middle East peace talks resumed here and delivering what amounted to a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's government.

"This administration is ready to support loan guarantees for absorption assistance to Israel of up to $2 billion a year for five years, provided though there is a halt or end to settlements activity," Baker told the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations. "From our standpoint, it's up to Israel. She can determine whether she wants to take action which would permit the strong support of both the legislative and executive branches for these loan guarantees or not."

And now, we have this news:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said he was prepared to eliminate his country's settlements in the West Bank in order to win U.S. support for his policies toward Iran's disputed nuclear activities, Agence France-Presse reported

Israel, the United States and some European nations suspect that Iran's nuclear program is geared toward nuclear-weapon development..."I identify the danger and that's why I am willing to take unpopular steps such as evacuating outposts. The Iranian threat is above everything," Netanyahu told Israeli political allies, according to the Yediot Aharonot. "There are things on which you have to compromise," he said (Yana Dlugy, Agence France-Presse/Google News, May 26).

And we continue and link with this:

Influential Saudi royal Prince Turki bin Faisal...previously Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington and the ex-head of its intelligence service...said he is unaware of any plan being proposed by Arab states to offer Israel additional diplomatic incentives beyond those already laid out in the existing Saudi-backed Arab Peace Initiative first put forward in 2002.

"Arabs have already given enough concessions," said Prince Turki, adding that the onus was now on Israel to create the environment for a lasting peace. This includes implementing measures like ending roadblocks into Palestinian territory, releasing political Palestinian prisoners and halting settlement expansion..."Expansion of settlements has to be stopped for any meaningful discussions to take place," he said. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem will go ahead despite opposition from the U.S. government.

Of course, the communities of revenant Jews resident in their national homeland in communities throughout the area is a constant, despite all the above.

And now North Korea is revving up the nuclear threat and that means:

The tremors of Monday's North Korean nuclear test have been felt all around the world, no more so in a country seemingly not directly affected by whether or not North Korea is a full-fledged nuclear power. In Israel, there is deep concern, an existential fear even - over the implications that Iran will be next in the nuclear line.

What links exist? Are they genuine? Are they truly inter-related?

He thinks not:

Dennis Ross, the U.S. Secretary of State's special adviser on Iran, says in a new book that the United States will not make progress toward peace in the Middle East with the Obama administration's new plan.

The book, written with David Makovsky and entitled "Myths, illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East," opposes the Obama administration's concept of linkage. Contrary to the position of the president and other advisers, Ross writes that efforts to advance dialogue with Iran should not be connected to the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

...Because of Ross' position, his superiors at the State Department do not allow him to promote the book or be interviewed about it.

In the second chapter, entitled "Linkage: The Mother of All Myths," Ross writes: "Of all the policy myths that have kept us from making real progress in the Middle East, one stands out for its impact and longevity: the idea that if only the Palestinian conflict were solved, all other Middle East conflicts would melt away. This is the argument of 'linkage.'"

And there is also this new linkage:

The London-based Palestinian daily, Al-Quds Al-Arabi even said the Arab moderates governments were actively working on building an alliance with Israel to counter Iranian influence in the region.

So, what real link is there between the right of Jews to live in their homeland and the crazy states (*) of Iran and North Korea?

What could Israel possibly have with N. Korea's aspirations and irrational thinking?

And what link does Hilary think she can afford to lose in this latest performance of hers?



The notion of the "crazy state" is not new. It was coined some 30 years ago by the Israeli strategist Prof. Yehezkel Dror, in his book "Crazy States: A Counterconventional Strategic Problem."

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