This is a good article:
Apr. 28, 2003
New Middle East? America's victory startles hawks and doves, By Yossi Klein Halevi
By YOSSI KLEIN HALEVI
I recently had this disorienting experience: Shimon Peres was quoted in the papers as once again predicting the imminent emergence of "a new Middle East," and I found myself wondering if he was right.
For years, Peres's new Middle East has been synonymous with self-delusion, the imposition of ideological wishful thinking on reluctant reality. Most Israelis have come to realize that the Oslo process, the ostensible harbinger of a new Middle East, was a Palestinian deception from the very beginning, a ruse to win territory and international legitimacy and then strike at Israel at the opportune moment.
And so talk of a transformed Middle East became a bitter Israeli joke.
The destruction of Saddam Hussein and the American commitment to fashion a post-jihad Middle East could create a new psychological reality. When the initial shock fades, the Arab world will be forced to face itself - its confusion of pride for honor, its culture of denial that blames outside conspiracies for its own moral and political failings. The Arab world will have to account - to the Iraqi people and to itself - for its legitimation of Saddam's pathological regime. Some in the region now concede that the Arab sense of humiliation at Saddam's defeat is itself the disgrace.
For Israel, there are profound lessons here too.
In the past two decades, we initiated two experiments to create a new Middle East. The first was Ariel Sharon's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, whose ultimate purpose was to redraw the regional map, transform Jordan into Palestine and force the Middle East to accept Israel's annexation of Judea and Samaria. The second was Peres's Oslo process.
Both experiments - one through conquest, the other through contraction - ended in disaster. The Middle East refused to be reimagined according to Israeli blueprints, aggressive or benign. The Lebanon war failed because the goal was unattainable: The IDF can ensure the viability of Israel, but not the political realignment of the Middle East. The peace process failed because Israel conveyed weakness and desperation, and the Middle East devours appeasers.
The national unity government of 2001 that brought together Sharon and Peres - the architects of Israel's two failed attempts at creating a new Middle East - was a historic turning point for Israeli society. Beyond political expediency, the two failed visionaries of a new Middle East were forced to concede their ideological dependence on one another. Sharon abandoned the dream of annexing Judea and Samaria and accepted Peres' argument that Israel cannot rule three million Palestinians and that a Palestinian state is inevitable. For his part, Peres abandoned the equally delusionary ambition of a negotiated settlement with Arafat and accepted Sharon's argument that peace would come only by defeating terrorism, not by rewarding it.
The war against Palestinian terrorism that Sharon - with Peres' crucial backing - launched last year has created the first stirrings of realism within the Palestinian leadership. Skepticism about Abu Mazen, and about the Palestinian willingness to live in peace with a Jewish state, is more than justified. Still, if a benign Palestinian state, however unlikely, does emerge eventually, it will be because Peres created the political conditions and Sharon the security conditions.
PRESIDENT George W. Bush's war in Iraq has also made a potentially decisive contribution to Middle East peace by removing the region's leading warmonger. And by insisting on a reformed Arab world as a prerequisite to Palestinian empowerment, Bush has made it clear that a Palestinian state will not be the harbinger of a new Middle East, but only its result.
That new Bush Doctrine corrects the fatal flaw of Oslo. Now, Israel won't be expected to make itself strategically vulnerable and empower the Palestinians until its neighbors abandon their jihadist ambitions.
The past two years have been so devastating that it is hard for an Israeli to overcome despair and conceive of a hopeful Middle East. Much of the world still doesn't understand the depth of our trauma and grievance: that our offer to be the first country in history to voluntarily share sovereignty over its capital was met by a Palestinian counter-offer of suicide bombings; that precisely at the moment when Israel finally accepted the international community's demands for withdrawal, we found ourselves facing the worst wave of anti-Jewish demonization since the 1930s; that once again the Palestinians were allowed to evade responsibility for their rejectionism and hide behind self-pity and victimization.
During the heyday of Oslo, Peres used to enjoy comparing the new Middle East to post-World War II Western Europe. He argued that, just as Western Europe in 1945 was ready to exchange dreams of national glory and military victory for less bombastic ambitions of prosperity and peace, so too had the Middle East fought one war too many and was ready for reconciliation.
Peres was right, at least, about one Middle Eastern nation. A majority of Israelis came to feel that they had indeed fought one war too many - beginning with Yom Kippur 1973, and intensifying with each subsequent conflict. The last military parade held in Israel was on Independence Day, 1973, about a half-year before the Yom Kippur War.
Since then, staging a military parade here has become inconceivable. Israelis no longer need to prove their Jewish manhood and negate the perceived passivity of Jews in the Holocaust through military bombast. Most Israelis cherish the IDF but see it as a tragic necessity, not as the ultimate measure of our worth.
Much of the Arab world, by contrast, continues to revel in military symbolism. Some Arab leaders still enjoy dressing up in military uniform; a "victory" parade is held every year in Cairo on the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.
The Arab world has not yet experienced its war to end all wars.
And so it is premature to herald the imminent emergence of a new Middle East. Profound dangers remain. We may yet find ourselves in conflict with Syria. Hizbullah is still aiming 10,000 missiles at the Galilee. And the Iranians are intensifying their efforts to create a nuclear bomb.
Still, the toppling of Saddam - and the hope of an American follow-up campaign against other jihadist regimes and movements - could turn out to be the old Middle East's World War II.
If so, it will prove that we need doves to dream of a new Middle East and hawks to create it.
The writer is the Israel correspondent for the New Republic. He is author of, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.