U.S. Forces on the Golan Heights?
As part of its search for a “comprehensive” peace, Israel is negotiating an agreement with Syria that is expected to entail Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and possibly, over time, the complete return of the Heights to Syria. Relinquishment of this territory is a sensitive military and political issue, not just in Israel but also in the United States, because Israel expects that compensatory security arrangements will include the deployment of American troops to the Golan as monitors or peacekeepers.
This study evaluates the benefits and costs to the United States of such a Golan mission for the U.S. armed forces. The benefits—that is, the rationale for such a deployment—divide into three categories: monitoring, deterrence, and support for a Syrian-Israeli peace. The study concludes that the costs—undertaking of risks, commitment of resources, and transformation of the U.S. role in the region—would substantially outweigh any benefits. It concludes that the United States should not deploy its troops on the Golan Heights and that the cause of peace would not in fact be served by such a deployment. This study does not attempt to weigh the merits of the Arab-Israeli negotiating process or the resulting or anticipated accords. Nor does it purport to judge whether Israel should withdraw from the Golan Heights in pursuit of peace with Syria. Indeed, the signatories to this study represent a range of opinions regarding Israel’s peace policies and the issue of Israeli territorial concessions to Syria.
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