Why Clinton’s Efforts to Bring Peace to the Middle East Must Fail

by | Sep 25, 2000

One crucial element of Clinton’s legacy is his desire to be remembered as the American President finally responsible for ensuring peace in the Middle East. To that end, he has pressured the Israelis and showered favors on a life-long, Palestinian terrorist in an effort to force agreements over land disputes. As efforts of this sort […]

One crucial element of Clinton’s legacy is his desire to be remembered as the American President finally responsible for ensuring peace in the Middle East. To that end, he has pressured the Israelis and showered favors on a life-long, Palestinian terrorist in an effort to force agreements over land disputes. As efforts of this sort have failed in the past, this one is also doomed for failure because it, like others before, is based on the same false premise.

The essential idea behind Clinton’s efforts (and all the others) is that sacrifice is required to ensure peace. In this case, Clinton’s goal is to coerce Israel to sacrifice their land and defensive requirements to appease a tribe that has been trying to exterminate the Israelis for decades. Sacrifice, however, will not create peace; it will only make the Israelis more nervous and defensive, and also encourage future Palestinian claims against Israel. Ask Neville Chamberlain how effective this kind of foreign policy is. (He appeased Hitler during World War II — Editor).

The only way to ensure peace is not to sacrifice one’s interests, but to identify and pursue them. For example, recent discoveries of gas off the Israeli-Palestinian shoreline, combined with the material greed required to extract these resources, are all that is necessary to catalyze a lasting peace if only the two parties had the wisdom of avarice.

Profit, and the possibility of a self-sustaining energy system, should be enough to motivate anyone to cooperate on extracting the estimated 5 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves, and it all depends on an essential element of peace: the repudiation of collectivism in favor of individualism and everything that entails.

For example, making money on such activity demands the recognition of property rights–the recognition that those who create wealth have the right to dispose of it. The idea of property rights rests on that of individual rights–the recognition that the individual–not any state or collective–has the moral autonomy to pursue his own values, create his own fortune and make his own life.

In other words, if the Israelis and Palestinians were greedy enough to want to become the next squillionaires of the Middle East, they need only recognize the enormous potential value of those newly discovered reserves and set out to undercut the monopolists of OPEC. Were the Palestinians to drop their altruist demands for Israeli capitulation and say, “Here’s an opportunity to make some money,” the rationalizations behind their hostility would lose their significance.

Is this Utopian? Absolutely. To expect that the Palestinians would abandon their tribal and religious hostility for the Jews (and that the Jews would abandon their own socialistic tendencies) is more than na

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Andrew Lewis is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

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