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Some Foolish Wisdom Out of Washington

By Yisrael Medad
1/13/2009, 12:00 AM

The Washington Post published this following article yesterday from the The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's J. D. Crouch II, Montgomery C. Meigs, and Walter B. Slocombe.

Crouch II is a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy, served as assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor from 2005 to 2007; Meigs (Gen. Ret.) is visiting professor of strategy and military operations in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown and former director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization in the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and Slocombe is a 2004 Bush appointee to the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States regarding weapons of mass destruction. They recently co-wrote The Washington Institute publication, Security First: U.S. Priorities in Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking.

Heavy hitters.

The article is entitled Security First which, for me anyway, translates as: Israel's security last.

I've excerpted some highlights, and I've added my comments in italics:

"When the dust settles in Gaza, the Obama administration will take up the mantle of moving the two sides toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace. American efforts must focus on strengthening the capabilities of the Palestinian party upon whom hope for peace can rest, the Palestinian Authority, [perhaps they are better than Hamas but their performance during the Second Intifada and afterwards was not very reassuring for Israel and even now, seems more tobe concerned not with Israel's and Israelis security but with regime stability in the face of a possible Hamas coup d'etat] and ensuring the stability of the West Bank.

"Even before the breakdown of the Gaza cease-fire last month, Israelis and Palestinians were exhausted, bitter, and skeptical that a genuine partner for peace existed. The trust that the Oslo process intended to build collapsed with the second intifada, the wave of suicide bombings in Israel, the Israeli military's reoccupation of much of the West Bank and ongoing settlement construction...[note: if the first two elements hadn't occurred, the second two wouldn't happened. Conclusion? Arabs goofed it up, especially as Arafat led and guided and directed the Pal. violence]

"...Events in Gaza underscore the fact that progress toward peace will not occur without confidence that an agreement will produce lasting security...American efforts can forge a basis for security between Israelis and Palestinians by developing a professional Palestinian security system that would help inhibit Hamas in the West Bank and eventually allow the PA to reestablish its authority in Gaza.

"The United States already has a framework for supporting this process through the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), headed by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton...fundamental security will emerge only when Palestinian security forces target terrorist cells and networks, not just car thieves and other ordinary criminals. And despite some recent progress, counterterrorism efforts by the Dayton-led units remain extremely limited. [I have made that observation numerous times at my personal blog, here and here]

"...Dayton's...mission must have a regular budget and an augmented, qualified staff (only 16 Americans are assigned to the USSC, including just two speakers of Arabic). American forces must be given legal permission to directly supervise training and operations of foreign police. Authority for the mission should be transferred from the State Department to the Defense Department...as they currently must get permission and security protection from the American consulate in Jerusalem when traveling in the West Bank. [this is quite a silly situation which also indicates how very limited the mission is and how weak the Pal. security capability is]

"...There may be a role for international forces to monitor an eventual peace agreement, or even a possible border arrangement in Gaza as part of a cease-fire, but it would be impractical to make the international community responsible for delivering Israeli-Palestinian security before peace is achieved. For one thing, the Israelis would be unwilling to outsource their security to other nations, and Palestinians would be reluctant to accept what would amount to another, at least temporary, foreign occupation.

"In addition, NATO members and other potential participants in such a force would struggle to provide qualified combat, intelligence and civil affairs specialists for the mission. Many NATO militaries have never performed counterterrorism operations and have eschewed doing so in Afghanistan. [that is an understatement]

"...Empowering Palestinians to assume security responsibility and continued measures to enhance the Palestinians' ability to keep their side of an agreement should be America's principal contribution to the peace process in the coming months. [but, perhaps, a mechanism should be in place that will actually punish the Pals. if they don't accomplish anything in the way of security?]

If you have reached here, you will understand that it is Israel's fate, it seems, that the 'wise people' come along and make suggestions that usually are disconnected from the previous events and processess and failures that led to the breakdown of be it 'peace' or 'security'.  And they attempt to jump start a 'new' initiative but if, without taking into consideration that an agreed-upon mechanism must be in place, that initiative is one that does not lay out steps for punishment such as rolling back the diplomatic route or more, then that too is doomed to failure.

But failure means a weakening of Israel's standing and more importantly, its security.

And on security Israel cannot yield or surrender.  Nor can we be foolish about it.

Without that, Israel's security will always come last.