Saturday, August 05, 2006

Europe vs. U.S. in the Middle East

Tom Segev in in an commentary in Haaretz that challenges the conventional wisdom that Israel's interests are served by "serving" the U.S. interests in the Middle East and suggests that Israel would have been better off by following the European lead in the region:
If Europe had some say in the region, Israel may have started negotiations with Hezbollah on the release of the soldiers it abducted - and hopefully, it still will do so - instead of getting mixed up in war. For some years now, more Middle East-related wisdom emanates from Europe than from the United States. It wasn't Europe but the United States that invented the diplomatic fable called the road map; it wasn't Europe but the United States that encouraged unilateral disengagement and is allowing Israel to continue oppressing the population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The United States is not engaged with Syria; Europe is. Syria is relevant not only for settling the situation in Lebanon, but also in managing relations with the Palestinians. This is the real problem. Because, even if the United States conquers Tehran, we will still have to live with the Palestinians. In Europe, they already understand this.(read the rest)

Those who are familiar with my writings know that I have been making similar arguments for the last ten years or so. I think that the Europeans are going to adopt a more activist role in the region now that the U.S. position is eroding. I do hope that some Israeli leaders will promote a more creative strategy that will embrace this EU role.