Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Noah Feldman on ???

New York Times Magazine: By NOAH FELDMAN
Published: June 24, 2007

The de facto division of Palestine over the last week into a Hamas-led enclave in Gaza and a Fatah-dominated West Bank marks a new low in the sorry annals of Palestinian affairs. ... The Bush administration, too, deserves its share of the blame for openly neglecting the Middle East conflict for its first four years in office. As it turned out, feeling abandoned made ordinary Palestinians despondent about the prospects for peace — which enabled them to cast protest votes for Hamas without worrying that its election would effectively scuttle an already moribund peace process.

So what now? There will be no meaningful progress in the direction of peace until Abbas and Olmert are replaced by stronger leaders who can unify their constituencies enough to make negotiations seem credible. It will certainly take years for Israelis to once again see a partner for peace and for Palestinians to acknowledge that without a deal they are doomed to misery. In the classic Middle Eastern paradox, the mutual confidence that is the precondition of real compromise cannot emerge as long as each side sees the other as incapable of actually delivering on its promises. ...

Although our involvement obviously cannot guarantee improvement, there is a modest payoff at which we can aim: to stop the slide into anarchy before it really is too late.

If this goal of avoiding the worst in an already bad situation sounds familiar, it should: staving off disaster without much hope of short-term progress is also our current goal in Iraq. ...

Noah Feldman has a lot of impressive credentials, and seems on a rapid ascent (including a recent appointment at Harvard Law). For my taste, he seems to blather on in self-important fashion (very often on topics I care a great deal about), ultimately producing little lasting illumination. I could be wrong, and/or a bit jealous.

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