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Our “Entire Approach to the Region”?

Over on his Foreign Policy blog, Stephen Walt corrects his own previous assertion that Robert Kagan “helped derail efforts to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Apparently, Kagan not only didn’t work against Israeli-Palestinian peace — he’s actually never written or spoken about the subject at all! Naturally, the notion that a renowned “neocon” has steered clear of the conflict is jarring to Walt’s narrow it’s-always-about-Israel-for-them worldview. And so the face-saving proceeds:

Kagan’s statement raises an obvious question: what are his views on a two-state solution? He has been a prolific commentator on U.S. foreign policy in recent years — including our Middle East policy — yet he has apparently remained silent on one of the most important issues that shapes our entire approach to the region.

Of course, Walt has it all wrong. The two-state solution doesn’t shape our “entire approach to the region.” Rather, the main U.S. goals in the Middle East are promoting stability to ensure the free flow of oil, as well as containing – if not defeating – radical leaders and movements that threaten our national security. Indeed, the various efforts comprising our current policy in the region are all geared towards these ends: preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capabilities; ensuring the rise of a stable democracy in Iraq; supporting Israel to the extent that its neighbors are deterred from fighting it; backing Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority against Hamas; and maintaining strong alliances with Gulf Arab regimes.

In turn, promoting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only relevant to U.S. foreign policy interests insofar as the creation of a Palestinian state is a force for regional stability – and not a platform for radicalism. This is particularly true if you’re a realist – as Walt claims to be – and thereby prefer a foreign policy that places core national interests above moralistic motivations, such as securing Palestinians’ national rights.


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