Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"We couldn't do it with Arafat and it looks to me... we can't do it without him"

I've tried to stay as far away as possible from the Arab/Israeli conflict on this blog -- because it's probably the rawest of all political issues, and I'm not interested in making enemies. (Plus, I've found that I'm usually no good at convincing anyone of anything.)

However, for those who do care about the conflict (as I do) it's worth looking at this bloggingheads dialogue between Eli Lake and Clinton administration official Aaron David Miller -- if only for this bit of wisdom:

"We couldn't [do a peace deal] with Arafat," says Miller, "and it looks to me...we can't do it without him."

It's funny, that was the conventional wisdom back in the 1990s, but it has fallen so out of vogue that it came as a blazing insight when I heard it yesterday.

There's a lot of truth in that.

After Yasser Arafat died my immediate thought was that a huge stumbling block to peace had been removed and that now the serious people could take over. Well, it's been well over four years and the serious people seem weaker and less relevant than ever. This is not to say that Arafat wasn't a stumbling block. He was. A major one.

But I think Miller is right when he says that Arafat had the power to make a deal happen -- if he wanted to. It's just that nobody could figure out what could make him want to.