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The Caravan

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Issue 1923

Prospects for Progress for Israel and the Palestinians
Introduction
Introduction

The Unbalanced

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Balance is one of the innate concepts of the human condition, vital but never entirely attainable. Aristotle concludes his Politics with the imperative in every society of seeking a balance between the male “Dorian” and female “Phrygian” modes – not necessarily gendered but a human necessity all the same. Balance in baseball is a goal; the American League’s long streak of victories over the National League in the All-Star Games is concerning to the keepers of the sport. And, most obviously, the balance-of-power doctrine in matters of war and diplomacy are as old as these arts themselves.

Featured Analysis
Featured Analysis

The Meager Prospects Of Progress On The Palestinian Issue

by Itamar Rabinovichvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 19, 2019

Three weeks before the Israeli parliamentary elections of September 17 the prospects of progress, or of ending the current stalemate in Israeli Palestinian relations, are dim. mIsrael is but one of the protagonists in this conflict, but the outcome of the September vote will have a crucial effect on the Palestinian issue: it will determine whether the Right will remain in power in Israel and will affect the Trump Administration's pursuit of "the deal of the century", the term used for its quest to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict.

Featured Analysis

The Peace Fantasy

by Samuel Tadrosvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 19, 2019

In the introduction to his book, Power, Faith and Fantasy, the Middle East historian turned diplomat turned Israeli politician, Michael Oren, reflected on the chosen title. These three themes had guided the American adventure in the region power or “the pursuit of American interests,” faith or “the impact of religion in the shaping of American attitudes and policies,” and finally fantasy, “the idea of the Middle East has always enchanted Americans.” To be fair to America, it was hardly unique in its fantasies. In his magnum opus, The Chatham House Version, Elie Kedourie had aptly diagnosed the British fantasy “all those episodes show successive and cumulative manifestations of illusion, misjudgment, and failure.” Nowhere has this been truer than in the Holy Land.

Featured Analysis

Israel-Palestine Peace Is Possible

by Daniel Kurtzervia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Protracted conflicts are protracted for a reason. They involve deeply-held grievances; ethnic, religious or ideological animosities; territorial disputes; boundary issues; political power struggles; clashes over the distribution of wealth; and competing narratives; among other factors. Protracted conflicts are not static, but rather evolve over time. Conflict management and mitigation, a strategy for dealing with conflicts that appear impervious to resolution, miss the point; for these strategies often do not take into account evolving changes through which conflicts pass.

Featured Analysis

How To Think About Israeli-Palestinian Peace

by Dennis Rossvia The Caravan
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

I have worked on trying to resolve or ameliorate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in formal and informal capacities since the 1980’s.  Through two intifadas (uprisings) and the Oslo process, I have seen the conflict in its human terms and the toll it takes.  There were certainly times in the 1990’s when it seemed to be possible to settle the conflict.  Even after the Second Intifada, which imposed such a terrible price on both Israelis and Palestinians, I believed that the gaps between the two sides were bridgeable.

Featured Analysis

The Economics Of Calm

by Katherine Bauervia The Caravan
Thursday, September 26, 2019

In the absence of a horizon for a political settlement, economics and security will be the twin pillars of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. This is not an economic peace that holds out prosperity in lieu of Palestinian national aspirations but because it is in Israel’s security interest. As international donor assistance to the Palestinians has declined, Israel –and the defense establishment in particular- has more actively promoted economic and financial stability in the West Bank and Gaza.

Featured Analysis

Welcome to the End of the Process

by Tony Badranvia The Caravan
Thursday, September 26, 2019

Speaking to reporters in August, President Trump said he would likely wait until after the Israeli elections in September to unveil his peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. Although this plan has been long in the making, with the exception of the proposal to allocate investment funds to the Palestinian territories and neighboring countries, its details have remained unknown; and that’s a good thing. 

Featured Analysis

The Israeli–Palestinian Struggle, Continued.

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Whenever the Israeli–Palestinian question arises in Washington, an assumption inevitably precedes it:  the United States has an important and unique role to play in advancing peace between these two peoples.  Israelis and Palestinians might make progress alone (the 1993 Oslo Accords).  But the two can only go so far, so we are told, without American mediation, primarily because only Washington can push Jerusalem into taking risks— “land for peace” and military restraint toward the security deficiencies of the Palestinian Authority—that are the stepping stones to a two-state solution, the endgame for a peaceful settlement. 

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Featured Analysis

Rolling Back Iran: The Global Context

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A question mark is hanging over American grand strategy. The triumphal optimism that marked the end of the Cold War has given way to profound anxiety about the future of the international order. American supremacy has frayed and ominous challenges have emerged. We have entered difficult times. How did we lose our advantage? Can we reclaim it?

Introduction

Rolling Back Iran

by Charles Hillvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The matter of the Middle East is now critical to the fate of modern world order. The end of the Cold War, now a quarter-century in the past, increasingly looks like the turning-point from which began a downward spiral toward the global disarray and dangers which swirl through this still-new twenty-first century. For a short time the international relations sector buzzed with the possibility of “A New World Order” which President George H. W. Bush tried to describe without success. 

Featured Analysis

Iran Thrives In The Levant On Weakened States Threatened By Sunni Radicalism

by Fabrice Balanchevia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The announced defeat of the Syrian rebellion and the Islamic State is favoring the extension of Iranian influence in the Levant. The Iranian corridor between Beirut and Tehran via Baghdad and Damascus is now a reality. Territorial continuity was achieved symbolically at the end of May 2017, when Iranian-funded Shia militias joined on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border north of al-Tanf. In Iraq, Iranian allies Syria and Lebanon dominate; people support them out of fear, default, or sympathy. If the West wants to fight against the Islamic Republic's influence in the Levant, it must understand the root causes pushing more and more Lebanese Christians, Iraqi Shiites, and Syrian Sunni Arabs into the Iranian camp.

Featured Analysis

Repackaging Trump’s Iran Strategy

by Sanam Vakilvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Trump administration has articulated a much-needed strategy designed to pressure and contain the Islamic Republic of Iran’s malign regional influence, which spreads throughout Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. While reducing Iran’s imprint and leverage throughout the Middle East is indeed imperative for regional stability, the Trump administration’s methods and means will not prove successful because its strategy is zero sum against Tehran and a perpetuation of the traditional American approach to dealing with the Islamic Republic.

Featured Analysis

The Limits Of The Indirect Approach

by Tony Badranvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In October 2017, the Trump administration rolled out its long-anticipated policy to counter Iranian expansionism in the region. The policy pays significant attention to Hezbollah, Iran’s principal instrument of regional power projection. After eight years of American courtship of Iran, which drastically elevated its regional position, pushing back against Tehran and its proxies was always going to be a formidable challenge.

Featured Analysis

Countering Iran While Retreating

by Reuel Marc Gerechtvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Time has almost run out for the United States to deny the Islamic Republic hegemony in the northern Middle East. The clerical regime has the high ground and the Americans are, at best, slowing Iranian advances. The approximately two thousand troops Washington has reportedly deployed to Syria, mostly in the north and the southeast, have prevented the Tehran–Moscow–Damascus axis from dominating all of the strategic locations in the country. But if President Trump really did tell Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he will cut military aid to the Syrian Kurds, the most reliable of America’s disparate anti-Islamic State “partners on the ground,” and he meant it, it’s a decent guess America’s military presence will diminish.

Featured Analysis

Whither Indonesia?

by Paul Wolfowitzvia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The news from Jakarta last April 20 presented a very sad juxtaposition. On the one hand, there was US Vice President Mike Pence, expressing his admiration for Indonesia’s tradition of religious tolerance and moderation and reassuring Indonesians on behalf of the Trump administration, that the new visa restrictions would not apply to Indonesians.  At the same time, the Acting Governor (equivalent of Mayor) of Jakarta, Basuki Cahaya Purnama – commonly known as Ahok – was facing a court in that city on the criminal charge of blaspheming Islam. 

Featured Analysis

ISIS In Mindanao: A Threat To The U.S.?

by David S. Maxwellvia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

We should be clear: Mindanao is not Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan.  We cannot approach a province of our longest standing treaty ally the same way we do in Syria or any of the other 18 or so countries to which the ISIS virus as spread.

Featured Analysis

Chinese Citizens Beyond State Borders And The Perceived Threat Of Islamism In China

by Kelly A. Hammond via The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Islam came Islam came to China in the seventh century when Muslim envoys in the service of the third Caliph Uthman traveled to Guangzhou (previously Canton) to discuss trade and diplomacy with the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Emperor Gaozong had a mosque erected in their honor, and for the next few hundred years the majority of Muslims in the Chinese empire were sojourners traveling from Arabia and Persia as merchants. It was not until the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) that Muslims really started to settle permanently in China. The Mongols imported Persians and Central Asians to work as administrators and bureaucrats, while also deploying large embassies to places like Bukhara and Samarkand to facilitate trade and diplomatic relations. 

Featured Analysis

Islam, Islamism And US Strategy In Maritime Southeast Asia

by Russell A. Bermanvia The Caravan
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Maritime Southeast Asia, the area circumscribed by the Malaysian peninsula, the Indonesian archipelago and the Philippines, is vital to US strategic concerns for two primary reasons. First, this region includes the South China Sea where American and Chinese ambitions may be heading toward direct conflict as China continues to press forward with its agenda of extending its reach.

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The Caravan is envisaged as a periodic symposium on the contemporary dilemmas of the Greater Middle East. It will be a free and candid exchange of opinions. We shall not lack for topics of debate, for that arc of geography has contentions aplenty. It is our intention to come back with urgent topics that engage us. Caravans are full of life and animated companionship. Hence the name we chose for this endeavor.

We will draw on the membership of Hoover's Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order, and on colleagues elsewhere who work that same political and cultural landscape. Russell Berman and Charlie Hill cochair the project from which this effort originates.