Peace Plan for the Middle East

I’ve heard lots of “peace plans” offered or suggested in the last week or so, and they all start with Israel stopping its attack and moving back to [whatever] borders.

I have a radical idea, but one that would be more effective. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it would lead almost immediately to a cease fire and resumption of long-term peace talks.

It requires Arafat to take the first steps, however. All he needs to do is announce, in Arabic, though widely distributed media, that:
(a) He and his people recognize the right of Israel to exist;
(b) He wants a stop to the terrorism, suicide bombings, riots, snipers, rock-throwing etc.

He does that, and Sharon would pull his military forces back in a jiffy.

((Footnote: On (a), Arafat might want to say “…right of Israel to exist within the pre-1967 borders” and then exact borders could be left for negotiation. Same effect.))

What guarantees Ariel Sharon will pull the IDF back?

Hasn’t he already announced things like this pretty often?

Nope. That’s my point. He’s made wussy statements to the English-speaking/Western press, but he’s never made any straightforward such statements in Arabic to his people and to the Arab world.

You know, the demands that have been put on Arafat are bleemin’ TRIVIAL. Sharon has asked for a few lousy days of peace, and hasn’t gotten it. All Bush has asked for was for Arafat to denounce, in Arabic, the act of blowing oneself into pieces in places where many innocents will be killed. These are not unreasonable demands. They shouldn’t even be a bargaining chip, for pete’s sake. It’s just the right thing to do.

It’s very telling that the demands are so lopsided here (Israel must pull out its military and make itself vulnerable to more attacks, while all Arafat has to do is make a frickin’ speech), and yet some people see the demand on Arafat to be somehow unreasonable. It’s amazing.

Thinking about a peace plan, here’s what I think might work:

First, we have to consider the parameters of what’s necessary. Palestinians must get a homeland, very closely approximating the 1967 borders. There will be no right of return for 4.5 million refugees, but perhaps a right of return for the 20,000 or so who are still alive who were displaced in 1948. Jerusalem will have to be split, or some under shared governance. The suicide bombings must stop. And the Golan Heights will not be returned to Syria, although there’s a possibility that it could become a DMZ with small allowed civilian populations from both nations.

But Israel’s complaint about this is valid. First, any right of return allows 20,000 potential terrorist conduits to be opened in Israel. That’s very dangerous. Second, the 1967 borders are not defensible. About 90% of Israel’s population is within artillery range from Palestine. That’s a very real concern.

So here’s where the U.S. can come in. What we need is a new doctrine, formally stated, that the U.S. will use the full weight of its military in defense of Israel in the case of an attack initiated by others. It needs to be clear, specific, and and damned near unbreakable so that Israel doesn’t have to worry about a wobby president 10 years down the road re-defining it or abrogating it completely. It should include ALL options, including the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation to an attack on Israel with Weapons of Mass Destruction. Basically, we need MAD for the Middle East.

One of the dangers Israel faces is that the Arab world is huge in relation to it, and can withstand a missile attack or even a nuclear attack in a way that Israel can’t. Iran is already on record as pointing this out and recommending that Israel be attacked with nuclear weapons because it can be totally destroyed that way, whereas its retaliation cannot do the same to the Arabs.

So the U.S. needs to level that playing field. One nuclear attack on Israel will result in the invasion and destruction of the attacking regime, with nuclear weapons if necessary. Any incursion into Israeli territory will cause the immediate attack by the full weight of the American military in response. Any military buildup near Israel’s borders will cause the U.S. to immediately deploy its rapid response forces. These reactions need to be spelled out in detail and not left fuzzy, so the Arab world knows exactly what it would be facing if it attacked Israel.

Finally, the solution must NOT be one that makes it look like terrorism works. That means that Israel has to come out of this stronger than when the Intifada started, even if Arafat gets what he wants. Thus, the new military pact between Israel and the U.S. Preferably, it would be nice to expand that pact to include Britain and other countries, but the U.S. needs to make its own assurances absent of any ‘coalition’, because Israel knows it can’t rely on organizations like the U.N. to defend it. It also means that there need to be negotiated arrangements with Arafat as to what are acceptable responses by Israel to more terrorist attacks.

This settlement will also probably have to be imposed on Arafat, because I have serious doubts that he will bargain in good faith about anything.

So, what do you thiink? Is this a workable plan?

I think your “Dr. Strangelove Platform” won’t get you past New Hampshire if you plan on running for president, Sam.

There’s no consensus in the U.S.–certainly nothing enduring–for the type of permanent linkage or response you propose. In the abstract, perhaps. But if push came to shove and thousands of U.S. troops were imperiled and the spectre of an oil boycott and possible nuclear warfare loomed, forget it. Israel is left twisting in the wind.

MAD works only if the players are rational, not when they are suicidal martyrs who passionately believe that genocide will get them face time with Allah. Within 15 years, the rogue nations of the Middle East will have ICBMs capable of reaching the heartland of the United States. (And also “suitcase nukes” already prepositioned for attack.) We probably won’t have a viable missile defense system before 20-25 years. Do the math and you’ll see why this linkage would be political suicide for any U.S. presidential candidate. Israel’s future is bleak.

A few comments:

Correct, the threat to Israel comes form guerrila warfare not state versus state warfare.

Rubbish, utter and complete rubbish. No one has better than some crappy ass tactical theatre missiles, old Soviet Scuds which are not scalable for technological considerations. There’s not a singel sign that any nation has ICBM cap or even on the road. Theatre weapons may be another issue.

Even N Korea which was obsessed with this only managed a jerry-rigged concoction which might hit Alaska on a good day.

There is not a shred of evidence such devices actually exist outside some fevered imaginations and perhaps KGB agitprop.

Bah, and double bah, this is scaremongering at its worst.

The problem with Sam’s scenario is that it supposes the threat is addressable on a state level. It is not. Israel’s future is not of necessity bleak, the running sore that is the occupation can be healed and given a proper settlement, there is every reason to believe that some chilly peace can be achieved.

The Israeli problem is not capacity to defeat armies, it is capacity to deal with guerrilla warfare and insurection in the occupied territories.

Okay, say Arafat does say, in Arabic, “It’s wrong to blow up yourself where innocents will be killed.”

Now what do we do with those who think that ALL Israelis and ALL Americans, just by being Israeli or American, is automaticall NOT an innocent?

Arafat has no reason to say such a statement. No self-serving reason, at least. The challenge is to find something he could say that does not defy the mood of the Palestinian masses (currently, bloodthirsty) and thus threaten his power, but still calms Israel.

I don’t envy the Secretary of State’s job.

Mike Duncan

Regarding the threat of nuclear missiles in the middle east, Collounsbury Said:

You need to read up a little more on what the threat is, Collounsbury. Specifically, you might want to start with the Shihab-4 and Shihab-5 missiles that Iran is developing.

Specifically, the Shihab-4 has a range of 2000km, and has been in development since 1996. It is also designed to carry ‘unconventional’ warheads. It would have been ready to fly this year, but the U.S. pressured Russia into stopping support of its development. But last year China starting supplying support of its development, and it could be ready to launch in a year or two. This missile can hit the souther EU states, as well as any target in the Middle East. This is not a pie-in-the-sky flaky weapon like Saddam’s SCUDS. This is a modern, highly developed missile system.

By 2010, Iran will have completed a variant called the Shihab-5, which will have a range of over 6,000 km. That will be able to hit U.S. targets in Hawaii and Alaska with a 1000kg warhead, and the southern coast of the U.S. mainland with a smaller one…

North Korea, in the meantime, already has a missile that can hit the west coast of the United States. If you’d like to see some evidence, have a look:

Year: 2005

  1. Iran nukes Tel Aviv, either as a surprise or jumping in in support of their Palestinian brothers who are still suicide bombing restaurants.
  2. All of Israel’s nukes are launched. Tehran and most military industrial targets in Iran are destroyed, as well as possibly Baghdad, Damascus, and anybody else who as so much as batted an eye at Israel in the last few years.

That is the most likely exchange of events.

Questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What has Iran gained?
  2. What have the Palestinians gained?
  3. Will this be coupled by a large scale invasion by Arab states, including the moderate ones like Jordan and Egypt?
  4. Why would they do this?
  5. Would the US and the rest of the world just sit by and watch the fireworks anyway without a mutual defense treaty?

I can’t possibly see how anybody would side with Iran in this action. Iran is probably mostly a parking lot anyway.

I see massive humanitarian and military aid to Israel. I see NATO and UN peacekeepers there to fight off any kind of Arab invasion.

But I really can’t see this scenario happening. Iran has too much to lose – it is the second largest oil exporter in OPEC. Quite simply, the West can boycott OPEC and go to alternate sources like Africa, South America, North Sea, and Russia with a bump in price. And Iran has nothing to gain except large-scale martyrdom.

As others have pointed out, state-sponsored terrorism is relatively easy to deter or to fight. It is the extragovernmental crazies that all of us really have to worry about. And Sam Stone’s peace plan doesn’t address that.

I’m afraid, C K Dexter Haven that you are forgetting the realities of true hatred. We went through it in the 1770s and the 1850s. The Irish, who sided with the NAZIs rather than support the British, went through it in the early 1900s and vestiges can still be seen in N. Ireland today. Were Arafat to do what you suggest, Gen. Sharon would ignore him–and rightfully so. Were Arafat to do what you suggest and were to sound truly sincere, it is next-to-impossible that he would survive the week politically and, with high liklihood, would find his own headquarters visited by a suicide bomber–with Iraq sending the usual blood money as a reward.

Sam Stone’s “Dr. Strangelove Platform” might be a good strategy for Israel but the U.S. can never adopt such a stance. For one thing, as tsunamisurfer pointed out, the political situation here in the U.S. is not at all plainly pro-Israel. It’s nowhere as lopsided as it seems to be in Europe–but, then, that’s a second reason why we can’t go Sam Stone’s route; not unless we are willing to totally alienate our economy, and perhaps our defense forces, from the EC.

However when tsunamisurfer writes “Israel’s future is bleak” I suspect that the opposite might be more true. Israel knows what it’s doing and, I suspect, is fully and carefully prepared for the expected consequences.

I disagree with Collounsbury’s thought that the “suitcase nukes” are mere KGB propaganda; I think that they are all-too-real. The only question is how many of them have gotten loose. As to sneering at theater-level nuclear weapons–might they not be enough? Even plenty?

And all this says nothing about the unintended consequences of the U.S. nonproliferation policy on nuclear weapons. It has pretty well succeeded but it has also just led those who wanted nuclear-based weapons of mass destruction to turn to other means: Biological and, possibly, chemical weaponry. :frowning:

All these and several other problems need to be faced squarely before any real progress toward peace can be realized.

I do believe Sharon would pull out if Arafat started making REAL overtures. I believe this based upon the fact that he went into Ramallah saying “Seven Days of Peace and we’ll pull out and go into peace talks” he didn’t get it and said “Well alright, we’ll pull out and get peace talks.” the bombing got EVEN WORSE with the Passover bombing.

So I’m sorry to say it, but screw Arafat, screw Hamas, and screw the EU and it’s anti-zionism. Israel has tried and tried for peace, but for some reason people expect them to be 100 times more tolerant than anyone else in the world would be, so screw it. I hope Israel doesn’t pull out of Palestine for another couple weeks, at least not until they have more confirmed kills on known terrorists, enough confirmed kills to make the terrorists believe that the Israelis can and WILL find them if it comes to that.

The only way to peace in this situation is when the Palestinians submit to the fact that the Israelis ARE more powerful, that they can stop them from attacking them, and they WILL stop them from attacking them if it comes down to it.

The Israelis too are “Facts on the Ground” and that seems to be taken out of the equation. The Israelis are there because they had nowhere else to go, they would have displaced SOMEONE no matter where in the world they settled and they had enough of a history there, with enough Jews settled there that they could form a power base to protect themselves and that is exactly what they did, unfortunately the Palestinians got screwed over by everyone involved. However the harsh truth is, the Israelis are there, Israel exists, and it’s not going ANYWHERE short of genocide. However as the terrorists have absolutely NO qualms about killing Israelis and they are unaffiliated with the people who wish to make peace, then unfortunately violence IS the answer.

Let me spell it out here that I do not claim that EVERY Palestinian is a member of Hamas, Al Aqsa, Kill Every Jew Ever Born, or any other of these organizations nor do I think every Palestinian supports this kind of behavior, nor deserves what they are getting, I just see no alternative.


The real risk in the Middle East isn’t that suddenly Iran will launch a nuclear missile at Israel - it’s that Iran will use the threat of a nuclear attack to pressure Israel and other U.S. interests. Nuclear blackmail, in other words. When it comes to threatening U.S. interests, Iran’s extremism and instability work in its favor, because if they bluff and claim that they’ll launch, it’s a threat you can’t ignore.

Right now, Israel leads in the balance of power because it has nukes and a much better military. That forces the other states in the area to back off and give Israel respect, even if they really desire to destroy it. Nuclear weapons are the great equalizer. What if Syria and Iran make a pact that Syria moves its military against the Golan Heights, while Iran threatens Israel or the United States with a nuclear launch if it interferes? This is the kind of instability that will drive us nuts in the future if these problems aren’t dealt with now.

Well aware of them Sam, I’m also aware that they are in development, not actual operative systems to my understanding.

Given the degree of spin that surrounds these things, I take a highly jaundiced eye towards claims of range etc.

I am not, of course a military boy, but I prefer to rely on the skeptics insofar as the scaremongers seem to have been wrong on a fairly consistent basis.

Granted, it is a theatre weapon (aside, my comments on theatre weapons were in re the threat to the USA, not to their threat to Israel).

As they say in the Middle East, incha’allah. When development results in real working tests, then I’ll price it in, else I’ll look at it in the same context I look at claims Iraq was behind al-Qaeda, axe grinding.

Not to deny Iran is trying, the question is achievement.

Bullshit. jshore among others has in the past provided critical appraisals of the N Korean cap. Alaska, yes on a good day. W. Coast USA in the wet dreams per my understanding from surer folks.

As for the Syrian threat – it ain’t gonna happen. The Syrian bastid are untrustworthy fucks and no way are they putting their own asses on the line. Their pattern has been such since 67, whatever fantastical scenarios the red meat crowd wants to dream up.

As for Sharon, you’re all smoking crack if you think he’s about pulling out and a serious P state. The fool hasn’t even learned the lessons of Lebanon, the disaster he cooked up for Israel. Thank, among other factors, his ham-handedness for the emergence of Hizbollah. (Recall the southern Shi’ites initially welcomed Israeli troops.)

Friedman had perceptive comments on this recently. Sharon has no vision for the future which is remotely workable. Moreover, his own actions have helped drive the PLO into the arms of Hamas. My sense --from Arabic mind you-- is that PLO has returned to radicalism which had after 94 begun to ebb away.

I remind everyone there are not going to be any virgin births here, and that Sharon is going to have to negotiate with people with blood on their hands (as he has on his, even from an objective POV, and from an Arab POV oh boy). See Northern Ireland, Algeria etc. etc. etc.

Frankly from my POV this is looking more and more like an anachronistic bloody grudge match between two old men whose time and ideas have past.

(In re suitcase bombs, I repeat, I know of no solid evidence they actually exist outside of KGB agitprop.)

There is no solution now or in the near future. There is no true willingness or ability on either side to compromise in real terms with respect to what the other side really wants at present. It’s going to continue to be an orgy of fire and blood for quite some time. At some point a set of achievable goals will emerge out of the smoke and rubble but it’s much too early for that at this point. In terms of real population damage the Israelis and Palestinians have just been pop gunning each other to date. There’s a lot more killing and damage to be done before anyone starts thinking seriously about a workable solution.

Collounsbury: The Shihab-5 is an offshoot of the Shihab-4. Probably with a second stage on it, but I don’t know for sure. The Kosur missile is even more advanced than the Shihab-5, and may be even closer to deployment because it’s a variant of the North Korea Space Launch vehicle, which was already in testing as of four years ago.

Here’s an excerpt from testimony before Congress from Harold Walpole, director of the National Intelligence Council:

More specifically:

That’s the Shihab-4. The Shihab-3 has already been deployed and is in mass production. It has a range of 1300 km, and can hit Israel and Turkey, as well as many Arab nations.


full transcript here:

Sorry to interrupt but I can’t let this outrageously inaccurate statement slide. The Irish were technically neutral during the war, although any history will tell you that their wartime policies favoured the Allies in practice.

It’s true that some particular Irish people sided with the Nazis, but so, I’m sure, did some particular Americans. That doesn’t make it true for the country as a whole.

Anyway, carry on.

I read the materials Sam.

What I get out of it is there is large degree of uncertainty and the bald statement that ‘radical Mid-East countries’ will have ICBM capacity to hit middle American in 15 years is pie in the sky scaremongering.

Yes, Iran is aiming for such capacity.

Yes, Iran --if all goes well technically and we don’t manage to spoil their efforts-- may test --test-- ICBM range systems within 10 years or 15.

Yes, there is long range reason for concern.

Historical experience, however suggests both goals are technically hard to achieve.

The real issue is theatre weapons --which in the context of the message I ref’d are irrelevant. They are terribly relevant to whacking regional opponents and that IS a problem. A real serious fucking problem which should not be underestimated. However the idea in 15 years a MENA region power will have real ICBM cap is pure bullshit. Best case scenario (for them, not us) is a test platform which might just do the job. Given that there is no doubt that if a State hits us with a nuke we fucking pulverize them, that’s not a good deal for them until they gots themselves real cap.

(This abstracts away from the unknowable political evolution of Iran, which all things being equal --they never are of course-- seems likely to lead to moderation.)

No, Iran or Iraq is not going to be ready to hit Middle America with a nuke in 15 years --barring some spectacular failure of course, such as Russia or China giving the regime nuclear capacity right out. insofar as Russia has sometimes testy relations with Iran in re the Caucasus region I think this is alarmism.

The issue is misplaced concerns not that there are not real problems.


… And a congressman who has been studying the subject for years on the subject say there’s no doubt that such nuclear suitcases do exist.

“I can tell you unequivocally we built these devices similar to this and so did the Soviets during the Cold War,” said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa. “The defense minister of Russia told me to my face, ‘Yes, congressman, we built these devices. Just as your country built them during the Cold War.’”

…Lebed later testified before the Congressional Military Research and Development Subcommittee at a hearing on 1 October 1997 where he stated that the bombs were made to look like suitcases and could be detonated by one person with less than 30-minutes preparation. Lebed’s claim that such devices had been manufactured were corroborated on 3 October by testimony from Russian scientist Alexei Yablokov, former environmental advisor to President Yeltsin while serving on the Russian National Security Council (see According to the press release from Rep. Curt Weldon’s office (R-Pa):

Yablokov stated that he personally knows individuals who produced these suitcase-size nuclear devices under orders from the KGB in the 1970s specifically for terrorist purposes. As a result of their being produced for the KGB, Yablokov has stated that they may not have been taken into account in the Soviet general nuclear arsenal and may not be under the control of the Russian Defense Ministry.

For Yablokov’s comments on suitcase nukes and Lebed given on WGBH/Frontline see

Weldon has further said that the Russian government eventually acknowledged that such weapons had been produced.
In a later floor speech (Security Issues Relating to Russia, 28 October 1999) Weldon asserted that a total of 132 devices had been built with yields from 1 to 10 kilotons, and that 48 were unaccounted for.

Compiled from the House of Representatives on-line archive, news service releases, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Sixty Minutes program, and (yes) TV Guide.