Speculation about the forthcoming Trump peace plan has stirred nostalgia among veteran American peace-processors. Not that they ever brought peace– but they are looking back warmly on their efforts, with Aaron David Miller saying that the Camp David failure of 1999-2000 was “so inspiring and so quintessentially American.”
Former ambassador/negotiator Martin Indyk wrote on twitter on April 26:
@USAmbIsrael maintains the conceit that laying out the solution and then figuring out a process to get there is new. It was tried by Rogers (1969) and Reagan (1982) and failed. He who ignores history is bound to repeat it.
Aaron David Miller echoed Indyk’s view and mocked the Trump negotiators.
Hmm…. Looking at the fate of the Rogers and Reagan Plan we must have been stupid for not laying out a solution and then figuring out how to get there. And to do it by only working with one side too, all the better, right?
Danielle Pletka of the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute defended the Trump plan:
This may be true, but a) they deserve some credit for trying; and b) pretty rich to suggest that doing the same thing again and again and again is a sin. Or have you not met Dennis Ross. :)
Khaled Elgindy of Brookings weighed in:
But does handing Israel everything it wants while taking all the issues that Palestinians care about, including any hope of ending the occupation, off the table really qualify as trying?
Elgindy has a new book out called “Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians from Balfour to Trump.” It looks to be in the school of Rashid Khalidi’s book, “Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.”
David Rothkopf, a foreign policy mandarin, also dismissed the Trump plans:
We have too often seen ill-considered efforts produce dangerous unintended consequences. This one isn’t even ill-considered. It is un-considered. It’s a fraud founded in profound bias shaped by sloth.
Martin Indyk doubled down:
I do give them credit for trying. But they say they are reinventing the peace process because everything we tried failed. Only what they’re trying – launching a plan without a process, promoting economic peace, etc – has been tried before and it too failed.
Aaron David Miller responded to the reports:
The two state solution may be near dead. But why bury it. The Trump Administration should make it unmistakably clear it opposes Israeli annexation. This might help Netanyahu with his right wing. Unless of course this is precisely what he and Trump intend.
Then Miller became nostalgic, tweeting:
Martin: Do you remember what Clinton said to us at end of the second briefing before Camp David. 2000? Trying and failing is better than not having tried at all. So inspiring and so quintessentially American. Failure has a cost; it’s not free. And this isn’t even smart trying.
Martin Indyk responded:
Yes, I remember Aaron. Of course there can be terrible consequences to trying, especially trying the wrong way. But you can never know those consequences if you don’t try. What you can know is that nothing will come from not trying.
Both Indyk and Miller are liberal Zionists and go-to experts on the conflict, regulars on broadcast media. Indyk formerly worked at AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, and helped start the pro-Israel thinktank WINEP. Miller is a former State Department Middle East analyst, a negotiator in both Republican and Democratic administrations, now a CNN Global Affairs analyst.
In 2005, Miller confessed in the Washington Post in a piece titled “Israel’s Lawyer” that Camp David had failed because American negotiators had catered to Israel.
“For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel’s attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations.”
Back in January, Miller said that the Trump plan is DOA, in response to a report that the US plan would entail a Palestinian state on 85-90% of the West Bank.
I remember in 1999, telling my friend and colleague Dennis Ross how impressed I was that Barak had offered Palestinians 85% of West Bank, thinking that we might be able to do a deal. Not sure what I was smoking. In 2018, neither Bibi nor Abbas can accept that.
Thanks to Scott Roth, who had this to say about the nostalgia for the peace process:
You guys tried so nobly. Really. History owes you guys a huge debt. And if you had any self-respect or awareness you’d never talk about Israel and Palestine again.