The Peace Puzzle

The Peace Puzzle: America's Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1989–2011

DANIEL C. KURTZER
SCOTT B. LASENSKY
WILLIAM B. QUANDT
STEVEN L. SPIEGEL
SHIBLEY Z. TELHAMI
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 384
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.cttq42fb
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  • Book Info
    The Peace Puzzle
    Book Description:

    "Having observed earlier periods of determined, persistent, creative and wise American diplomacy on the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are left to ponder whether that kind of American leadership and diplomatic wisdom can be recaptured. We also are left to wonder whether the supportive domestic environment in which previous administrations operated will recur, or whether Congressional and public support for Israel has limited administration options and thus changed the very nature of the American role in the peace process. Our overall conclusions in this volume represent a mix of process, politics, and substantive lessons learned, offered in the hope that a better understanding of the past can inform future policy."-from The Peace Puzzle

    Each phase of Arab-Israeli peacemaking has been inordinately difficult in its own right, and every critical juncture and decision point in the long process has been shaped by U.S. politics and the U.S. leaders of the moment. The Peace Puzzle tracks the American determination to articulate policy, develop strategy and tactics, and see through negotiations to agreements on an issue that has been of singular importance to U.S. interests for more than forty years.

    In 2006, the authors of The Peace Puzzle formed the Study Group on Arab-Israeli Peacemaking, a project supported by the United States Institute of Peace, to develop a set of "best practices" for American diplomacy. The Study Group conducted in-depth interviews with more than 120 policymakers, diplomats, academics, and civil society figures and developed performance assessments of the various U.S. administrations of the post-Cold War period. This book, an objective account of the role of the United States in attempting to achieve a lasting Arab-Israeli peace, is informed by the authors' access to key individuals and official archives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6586-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE DECLINE OF AMERICAN MIDEAST DIPLOMACY
    (pp. 1-14)

    The Arab-Israeli peace process has generated dozens of scholarly, autobiographical, and policy-oriented books, each trying to describe what happened in past negotiations, why success has eluded the parties, and what can be done to promote progress. We are adding to this small library for several interrelated reasons.

    First, much of the existing literature is deeply flawed. Memoirs, incomplete personal accounts, and partisan-infused policy analyses have sometimes distorted the history of the peace process. There is even disparity among the memoirs: some firsthand accounts of the Clinton years offer honest self-criticism that is difficult to find in the first wave of...

  5. CHAPTER ONE OPPORTUNITIES CREATED, OPPORTUNITIES LOST: Negotiations at Oslo and Madrid
    (pp. 15-58)

    On March 6, 1991, President George H.W. Bush addressed Congress in the aftermath of America’s lightning victory over Iraq in the first Gulf War. The president, clearly basking in the glory of success in mobilizing an international coalition to reverse Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait the previous August and in presiding over a quick, one-sided military victory, used the occasion of his speech to Congress to lay out his post-war policy objectives. Articulating his hope and vision for a “new world order” and resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the president said,

    We must work to create new opportunities for peace and...

  6. CHAPTER TWO WITHIN REACH: Israeli-Syrian Negotiations of the 1990s
    (pp. 59-104)

    During the 1990s, the U.S. government dedicated a great deal of time and energy to Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. As we now know, those efforts failed, and interpretations regarding the reasons for this failure differ widely. Many observers, including President George W. Bush (43), seem to have concluded that Israeli-Syrian peace was unattainable—and, in any event, of little strategic importance—based on an understanding of the events of the 1990s. The regime in Damascus was seen as weak and possibly vulnerable to ouster. The situation on the Israeli-Syrian border was quiet, so there was no sense of a crisis that...

  7. CHAPTER THREE THE COLLAPSE OF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATIONS
    (pp. 105-153)

    The collapse of the Camp David negotiations in July 2000, the subsequent rise of the al-Aqsa Intifada, and Israel’s mea sures in the West Bank and Gaza in the following months were hugely consequential to the prospects for Middle East peace, to the regional order, and to American foreign policy. These events put an end to a paradigm that began with the end of the Cold War, the successful reversal of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and a significant American military presence that seemingly ushered in a new era of American influence in the Middle East.

    When, a year later, a...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR GEORGE W. BUSH RESHAPES AMERICA’S ROLE
    (pp. 154-190)

    George W. Bush was a president with a new approach to foreign policy, a leader conscious of his predecessor’s failed peace bids, and a commander-in-chief who was seized after 9/11 with a missionary zeal to fight terrorism and to transform the broader Middle East. Taken together with the difficult negotiating environment during his first term, these factors aligned to set the stage for a dramatic departure from the post-1973 American approach. For three decades, the United States conventionally placed priority on Arab-Israeli diplomacy and emphasized active mediation. Bush returned to Ronald Reagan’s more hand-off policy. Intense internal divides also characterized...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE THE ANNAPOLIS DENOUEMENT
    (pp. 191-240)

    The second term of the Bush administration was still dominated by the aftermath of 9/11 and the Iraq War; by po liti cal reform in the Middle East; and by the creation of new institutions for Palestinians, including a new security force trained and largely funded by the United States. But the major change was the new secretary of state. Colin Powell was never close to the president or to many of the top officials such as Vice President Richard Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The new secretary of state, former national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, was one...

  10. CHAPTER SIX OBAMA: An Early Assessment
    (pp. 241-267)

    Few American presidents have assumed office with expectations as great as those that greeted Barack Obama in January 2009. Panicked by financial crisis and disillusioned by a decade of war, Americans elected Obama with high hopes that he could transform critical domestic and foreign policy problems. Promising a new style of politics, Obama pledged to turn around issues such as Iraq and the collapsed Arab-Israeli peace process. On the international stage, Obama’s rise to power was greeted with almost universal enthusiasm, including in almost all Arab and Muslim countries.

    Obama entered office with a strong desire to differentiate himself from...

  11. EPILOGUE: LESSONS LEARNED AND UNLEARNED
    (pp. 268-276)

    The United States does not bear sole responsibility for the persistence of the Arab-Israeli conflict or for the inability of the parties to resolve their differences through a negotiated peace settlement. This conflict is rooted deeply in history, both ancient and modern. Arabs and Israelis must assume the burden of explaining to their own people why they have not yet made the requisite compromises necessary for peace.

    In his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 21, 2011, President Obama emphasized the importance of bridging the narratives that separate the parties.¹ He said, “Each side has legitimate aspirations—and...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 277-326)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 327-337)