US Army Goes Academic With Stupid (Hopefully Not Dangerous) Results
Everyone wants to be a hero and solve the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. What do you get when an American army officer writes a semi-academic paper recommending strategy for continuing the training of the Palestinian Security Forces thinking that will solve the problem? Let me show you what you get.
As part of the US Army War College programme, students select an area of particular interest to them and write a paper as part of the college’s Strategy Research Project. Colonel James Lock wrote a study that he called: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Opportunity Amidst Crisis. In a footnote, he noted that he served as Deputy Director for Training, Education, and Leader Development in USSC from 2015-2016. USSC trains Palestinian Security Forces and coordinates between them and the Israeli army (IDF). Therefore, he has field experience in our region. Yet, he chose to open his article with this absurd statement:
The protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the primary sources of tension in the Middle East today.
Has Colonel Lock’s brain been asleep for the last few years? This old mainstay of anti-Israel propaganda no longer can be said to hold water by any stretch of the imagination. Shortly after that, he sets up what he seems to think is a balanced framework of the problem:
Security issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be considered from the perspective of both parties. From the Israeli perspective, security can be defined as protecting Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks and preventing the establishment of a hostile nation in the occupied territories. From the Palestinian perspective, security can be defined as bringing an end to the Israeli occupation and achieving sovereignty over its territory.
Okaayyyy. Is Lock suggesting that if the Palis have sovereignty and there is no “occupation”, then the terrorist attacks will stop and they will not be a hostile nation? (Shhh. Don’t tell Lock that the occupation includes all of what is currently internationally recognized as Israel. He thinks the Palis have accepted a Jewish country in their midst.) So here is what Colonel Lock tells us he is going to do for all of us:
This paper outlines several recommendations USSC must consider in order to develop the Palestinian Authority Security Forces (PASF) into a capable and effective security force as a part of a two-state solution.
Yes, folks! The two-state-solution that is still reputedly the only game in town! For those uneducated among his readers, Colonel Lock sets the record straight with a little bit of history:
The First Intifada [1987-1993] demonstrated to the Israelis and the international community that, after twenty years of occupation, the Palestinian people were willing to fight and die for their freedom and right to self-determination.
I am confused, Colonel Lock. Between 1948 and 1967, the people living in what is now generally (misleadingly) referred to as The West Bank had Jordanian citizenship. They did not petition Jordan to recognize them as a separate people with the right to self-determination. Arabs lost a war against Jews and that turned them into a Palestinian people? Fine. Let us say that is true, just to see where Lock goes on from this:
The sustained level of unrest during the First Intifada led many Israelis to question the value of maintaining control of the occupied territories, opening the door to a “land for peace” deal.
There is that “occupied territories” thing again! OK. Let us say that the disputed territories were occupied . . . so giving up occupied land for peace sounds reasonable, no? You want the land; we do too, but we want peace more — so do we have a deal?
Recognizing the fluid situation in the occupied territories, the PLO changed its official position in 1988 and endorsed the concept of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza, along pre-1967 borders.
I wish Colonel Lock provided sources for where he gets the idea that the PLO changed its official position in 1988. And I have no idea what he means by a “fluid situation”. In any case, according to a New York Times article on the Stockholm meeting at which Arafat supposedly extended an olive branch instead of a rifle, the US government dismissed this claim. In fact, Arafat was denied a visa to attend an UNGA meeting in New York because he was still recognized as the leader of a terrorist organization. The meeting took place in Geneva instead.
Here is what Lock concludes about the first intifada:
The First Intifada proved to be a seminal event in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it enabled a territorial compromise and spawned a new generation of Palestinian leadership from the youth in the West Bank and Gaza.
“Spawned” is a great term for it! Every dictionary I opened, considered “to spawn” to be a derogatory term for the production of distasteful offspring. Was that a Freudian slip, Colonel Lock?
Furthermore, Colonel Lock, I dare say I think your brain has been running on automatic for years: what kind of territorial compromise do you see in the offing? I saw two Israeli Prime Ministers offer the PA over 95% of the land the Arabs lost in their attempt to eradicate the State of Israel. In the name of compromise, the PA should have grabbed the offer and set about to establish the sovereign state you seem to think they want alongside of Israel. Oh! When you talk about compromise, you mean Oslo!
These direct bilateral negotiations culminated in 1993 with the signing of the Oslo Accords, a groundbreaking agreement whereby both parties recognized the other’s right to exist and outlined a path towards a two-state solution.
The only ground breaking that has taken place since Oslo is the digging of new graves.
To establish momentum towards peace, the Oslo Accords delayed resolution of the most contentious issues, to include the final status of Jerusalem and the disposition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The delay in resolving these two issues ultimately contributed to the collapse of the Oslo Accords.
And to what do you attribute the delay in resolving these two issues, dear Colonel Lock?
Although he did not openly withdraw from the Oslo Accords, Netanyahu undermined the spirit of the agreement by rapidly increasing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Netanyahu’s policies contributed to a delay in the negotiation timelines outlined in the Oslo Accords, effectively halting the transition of Areas B and C to Palestinian control.
Ah! Let us blame Netanyahu, shall we? Netanyahu undermined the spirit of the agreement? Except that Netanyahu did not rapidly increase Israeli settlements in the west Bank — in fact, during the Netanyahu years, there has been almost no settlement growth at all.
But Abbas honoured the spirit of the agreement by remaining in office for twelve years – perhaps it is 13 years by now. Elections were supposed to have taken place after five years, but were not; that is okay, is it? Terrorism was supposed to have been stopped, but it is being incited vigorously. Abbas walking out of negotiations or refusing to enter them — that and the first two points have nothing to do with delaying the negotiation timeline, eh? I guess once Abbas and co. had been spawned, the PA leadership did not have any desire for a new generation of leaders to come along and take their place. Why give up the keys to the palace wherein sits the goose who lays the golden eggs? Better to keep the people busy hating Jews.
And finally, Area C (and the settlements therein) was not intended to be handed over to PA control as a whole. Rather, its fate was to be decided in the final negotiations. Colonel Lock links to the Oslo Accords in his paper, but it appears he did not read the document.
Given all the misunderstandings Colonel Lock demonstrates in his brief history of what had brought us to the current situation, I wonder why I should trust any recommendations he may make. But let us have a look at what he thinks should happen anyway:
The Israelis and Palestinians must agree to a new, conditions-based plan to transition Areas B and C to Palestinian control. The new transition plan must also include an enforceable timeline for the transfer of control and withdrawal of the occupation forces from the West Bank. In May of 2016, Ilan Goldenberg of the Center for American Security provided a detailed proposal for an enforceable, conditions-based transition plan incorporating the security concerns of both parties. Barring these two conditions, USSC should maintain its current force structure, leveraging its relatively small size to build trust and confidence between the IDF and the PASF. [emphasis added]
Trust and confidence? As an Israeli, this seems like a basis for a plan devised in Hell. I have the feeling that the PA leadership would laughingly go along with whatever plan the Colonel would devise because it seems he would be willing to hand Israel’s future to the Arabs — Lock, stock and barrel — and on a silver platter of naive good intentions.
Colonel Lock thinks that the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to be the source of unrest in the Middle East” (as he restates at the end of his paper) and that USSC coordination with the PA and Israel is the key to security for both. Poor Colonel Lock has no idea of the tempests that would be unleashed in the Middle East were he to be given the authority to make far-reaching decisions.
Apparently the US Army War College awards masters level degrees in strategic studies. If Colonel Lock’s research paper is an indication of the level of acceptable “scholarship” at this institute, one can only hope that the completion certificates are for wall decoration purposes only. Alas, I fear that is not so.