Peace through Strength

Politicians think they can make peace by negotiation.  History suggests otherwise.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in 2010, said, "We all know there is no alternative to peace through negotiations, so we have no alternative other than to continue these efforts."   [emphasis mine]

At the same time, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered, "... committed and determined to work for a peace agreement through negotiations that leads to an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state that realizes the aspirations of the Palestinian people."

So,  let's examine recent negotiation peace efforts in the Middle East: 

  • September 1993: Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] sign a Declaration of Principles on autonomy after months of negotiations in Oslo, Norway
  • July 2000: Bill Clinton hosts talks with Yassar Arafat and Israeli premier Ehud Barak at Camp David that collapse over the issues of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, causing a new Palestinian uprising, or intifada
  • June 2003: The launch of a "roadmap" for the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005 at a summit in Jordan with George W. Bush, Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, and Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas
  • February 2005: Sharon and Abbas meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and declare an end to hostilities
  • September 2, 2010:  Obama launches direct talks at a White House summit with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • May 19, 2011: Obama calls for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, namely the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem
  • July 19, 2013: At the end of his sixth visit to the Middle East in as many months, John Kerry announces agreement has been reached on a basis for resuming final status negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis
  • August 19, 2013; Abbas calls for the US to step up its involvement in peace talks, saying its role should be proactive and not merely supervisory
  • September 26, 2013; Hamas and the Islamic Jihad called for a third intifada, and a spokesman for Hamas  said that the current peace talks were "futile"
  • November 6, 2013; Israeli negotiators said there will not be a state based on the 1967 borders and that the Separation Wall will be a boundary
  • February 11, 2014; Palestinian Official Says "Armed Resistance" an option if peace talks fail

In a recent New Yorker interview:

That the Obama administration's continuing engagement in the Israeli Palestinian peace process seems to be driven more by the need to burnish Kerry's ego and and less by a consideration of core national interests became clear when President Obama told a New Yorker interviewer recently that there the chances of of Kerry brokering a peace deal was "less than fifty-fifty" (imagine President Kennedy telling the world that the chances of resolving the Cuban missile crisis was "less than fifty-fifty").  So it looked as though the time and effort that Kerry was putting in all this amounted to nothing more than going through the motions.

You would think that politicians (of all stripes) would have learned from the above long list of failures.  Yet hope springs eternal for John Kerry in spite of Clinton's 2010 failure.  On July 30, 2013, Kerry offered this:

We're here today because the Israeli people and the Palestinian people both have leaders willing to heed the call of history, leaders who will stand strong in the face of criticism and are right now for what they know is in their people's best interests.  Their commitment to make tough choices, frankly, should give all of us hope that these negotiations actually have a chance to accomplish something.

Meanwhile, Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, was appointed in July 2013, by John Kerry as the special envoy for the peace process.  At that time, Netanyahu and Abbas committed to a nine-month negotiating period during which they would try to forge a final peace treaty creating an independent Palestinian state.  However, "The aggressive push by Mr. Indyk and Mr. Kerry to put in place the framework agreement has tested relations between Washington and the Israeli government."

But reality rears its ugly head once again.   Fatah central committee member Abbas Zaki, in a January 6, 2014, interview, said that the Palestinian Authority [PA] will agree to a treaty with Israel if a Palestinian state can established on the 1967 lines.  Zaki continued that the 1967 lines are not the final borders to which he is looking, that the 1967 border is only be the beginning.  The plan is to continue to other ends.

And there is currently a search underway to replace Martin Indyk, suggesting that both Kerry and the Obama administration expect current negotiations between Israel and Palestine to extend well beyond the April 1, 2014, deadline initially set as a target date for an agreement.

I think Douglas Murray at the Gatestone Institute, best states what Obama and Kerry are missing.

For let us not forget that the premise upon which Mr. Kerry's peace plan, indeed anybody's peace plan, must [be] built, is the presumption that the talks are between two parties who are sincerely and demonstrably committed to peace and not on the determination of one to annihilate the other.

In Syria, the Obama and Kerry joke continues:  With Syrian rebels ousted by al-Qaida-linked militants, Obama is seeking new ideas to end Syria's civil war.  Further, the Israelis don't see any progress by Kerry.  And the Israelis have more than a passing interest in Kerry's efforts.

In all of history, there has been only ONE way to even get close to lasting peace, and negotiations ain't it: make war so painful, so undesirable that the war-maker appeals for peace.  The question, then, is how to make war painful?  The concept of Peace Through Strength is it.  Build an arsenal of weapons, be prepared to inflict pain, then be willing to use it.  Key word: willing.  Show the war maker that his efforts will be painful to him, more painful than what he can inflict on his enemy.  Then, if he continues, inflict pain.  Don't keep drawing red lines

Ronald Reagan did it.  His peace philosophy made the USSR blink in 1986.  And, the demise of the USSR soon followed, eliminating one source of a threat to peace.  The USSR saw that Reagan was willing to use what the U.S. had built up.

Did you know that the phrase "Peace Through Strength" is the title of a book written by Bernard Baruch, a former World War II adviser to FDR?  Though the book was published well after WWII, the concept was used effectively by FDR.  After December 7, 1941, FDR built an arsenal that could inflict pain on the Japanese, then was willing to use it.  He turned loose the Army and Navy, and they battered the Japanese to the point that they ultimately surrendered, and have not made war since.  We all know how effective negotiations with the Japanese were before December 7.

Neville Chamberlain tried to negotiate with Hitler.  Negotiations ultimately didn't work: Hitler was only emboldened.

So, Mahmoud Abbas is correct. There is no alternative, from his perspective, to negotiations. They never work.  They provide "cover" with Kerry and the MSM, while the PA pursues its real agenda, the one Zaki revealed.

Bottom line: Negotiations have never achieved lasting peace.  There is an alternative to negotiations,  one that actually works.  Pursue a "peace through strength" policy and be willing to use it.

But that's just my opinion.

Dr. Warren Beatty (not the liberal actor) earned a Ph.D. in quantitative management and statistics from Florida State University.  He was a (very conservative) professor of quantitative management specializing in using statistics to assist/support decision-making.  He has been a consultant to many small businesses and is now retired.  Dr. Beatty is a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years.  He blogs at

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