What he said

I’m just now getting a chance to read up on the particulars of the widely-criticized Annapolis “peace” conference, but don’t have a lot of time to blog about it this afternoon. In the interest of time, Captain Ed gives a good summary here and pretty much sums up my thoughts on the issue:

So will this conference finally find a resolution to the conflict? Will it even outline the path to such a resolution? Not unless the Arabs have finally resolved to live in peace with Israel. As Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis put it yesterday, the conflict is either existential or a border problem. If the latter, then this kind of conference makes sense, and should resolve the issues relatively quickly. If the former — if the Arabs simply cannot live with a Jewish state in the region — then all of the conferences in the world won’t solve the underlying problem.

Why hold the conference, if that’s the case? The pragmatic reason is to build support for other American initiatives in the region. The idealistic case is that the more diplomatic contact the Arab nations have with Israel, the more likely they will see coexistence as a possibility. With Iran looming as a threat to their power, countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan understand that the Israelis have higher priorities than meddling with their regimes.

In the end, however, either there will be all-out war or a negotiated settlement. Rather than assume the all-out war, a diplomatic conference at least gives everyone a chance to check the scorecards after seven years of silence. If the Arab nations accept Israel, then the conference can start looking at the border questions. If not, we know where the problem still lies.

I don’t hold out a lot of hope that much – if anything – is going to be resolved at this conference, and the numerous criticisms I’ve read about the whole idea are justified, but Ed’s right: it’s worth a shot. Yeah, we’re already seeing tacky, symbolic photo ops all over the place, but the important thing to remember is that this conference is being held on our turf and on our terms, unlike Pelosi’s big misadventure to Syria early this year, which was a disaster.

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