Ambitious think-tankers on peacekeepers and Palestine

A think-tank in Washington DC called the Center for a New American Security recently released a weighty-looking study (PDF here) that claims to examine issues relating to the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to a Palestinian state, once achieved.
The report is titled “Security for Peace: Setting the Conditions for a Palestinian State”. Note that: “Security for Peace”– not “Land for Peace”. And amazingly, as you read through this report you will find not a single map of where the Palestinian state will actually be.

Some folks, e.g. here and here, have described the release of this report as a big step forward. I beg to differ. Indeed, I do differ. I read/scanned quickly through the report last night and find most of it to be extremely thin gruel.
Some quick criticisms:
1. It’s not just the absence of a map– there is also very little mention of the political modalities of the two-state situation within which any peacekeeping regime would operate. A little table (p.95) that supposedly describes the four different ‘scenarios’ that Marc Lynch presents in his concluding chapter is indecipherable and has, I think, some of its content placed into the wrong cells. But the broader point is that unless we know the political modalities of the conflict termination effort that the peacekeepers would be tasked with monitoring, then really all speculation about the nature, role, and mandate of such forces is unknowable.
2. The authors studiously avoid dealing with the governance framework of any peacekeeping force. Would it be a U.N. force, acting under a mandate from UNSC? Or would it be a NATO force (as current national security adviser Jim Jones urged in November 2008)? Or would it be something else entirely, like the US-led “Multinational Force and Observers” (MFO) that monitors compliance of both sides with the terms of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty of 1979? This makes a huge difference.
Usually, you might expect the body that brokers the terms of the final peace agreement (FPA) would be the one that oversees the peacekeeping regimes for both the interim, FPA-implementation phase and the final, post-implementation phase. And of course, the global political dimensions of this question are vast. Lynch simply writes about an amorphous “International Force” with no governance structure of its own. That makes almost no contribution to the discussion of what needs to be planned for, and how to secure the global buy-in that would be necessary for this to succeed.
3. The authors, amazingly, make zero reference to the immense amount of work that the Geneva Initiative has done precisely on this issue of a peri-implementation and post-implementation peacekeeping regime. Truly amazing! Why on earth not?
Just go to this annex (PDF) to the G.I., that lays out in great detail how an International Verification Group (IFG) with an associated Multinational Force (MF) would operate. (Regarding the international legitimizing structure of the venture, as mentioned in #2 above, the annex states, p.2, that “The Parties [i.e., Israel and the PLO] shall invite the following member countries and organizations (“Members”) to participate in the IVG: i. The US. ii. The Russian federation. iii. The EU. iv. The UN Secretariat. ” In other words, the present ‘Quartet’.)
And of course, security and peacekeeping concerns are woven throughout all the rest of the G.I.’s annexes– which also include, as we know, very detailed maps of every aspect of the proposed FPA.
Now, it’s okay, maybe the folks at CNAS don’t necessarily want to buy wholly into the G.I.’s politics, which are determinedly non-Likud. But still, to make no mention at all of all that extremely detailed work, as though they had no clue that it even existed?? These guys can’t expect to be taken seriously!
… Some friends have said, “Yes, but CNAS is very well connected with the Obama administration, so the fact they’re even raising the issue of a post-peace peacekeeping regime in public at this time is significant.” Baloney. No-one is better connected to the national-security portions of the Obama administration than Gen. Jim Jones, who happens to be Obama’s national security adviser. Jones was, as noted above, pushing the idea of a NATO force in the West Bank back in November 2008; and as a previous military adviser to the Quartet it is almost certain that he has thought through other options, as well.
Daniel Levy discussed Jones’s NATO suggestion at some length at the New America Foundation on Dec 3, 2008, as I blogged here. And Daniel, of course– who’s a pretty well-connected guy in his own right in Washington; probably 100 times more so than the principal authors of the CNAS paper, Andrew Exum and Marc Lynch– has also been a key (Israeli) participant in the whole G.I. project. So I’m really not sure what political value-added this latest CNAS report represents?
Fwiw, Jones’s NATO-force idea got a cold shoulder from the Europeans, who immediately understood the difficulties involved in committing to sending troops into such a sensitive situation, when the content and politics of the governing FPA were still completely undefined. The Europeans have also, as we know, been growing increasingly uneasy about having their forces involved in the US’s extremely murky (or possibly even doomed) mission in Afghanistan.
Anyway, I don’t want to write much more about the CNAS study, most of which is unworthy of our attention. (The chapters on Timor Leste and Kosovo are of some interest, but limited relevance. The chapter on Lebanon is riddled with very elementary mistakes, some of them very serious.) The study is not even as textually “weighty” as some people might think! Though it boasts 107 pages, its page-length is greatly puffed up with pretentious-looking blank pages between the chapters, huge zones of white space on each page, etc. Put into any kind of normal page-formatting, it would probably come in under 70 pages.
‘Puffed-up’ seems a good description of the content of the study, as well. The people who worked on the Middle East sections of it– as opposed to the Timor and Kosovo case-studies– really need to go back and do a bit of elementary homework on the subjects they’re writing about.

6 thoughts on “Ambitious think-tankers on peacekeepers and Palestine

  1. Salah

    If we’re to believe the polls, Jewish support for a two-state solution has never been higher. According to a survey last month, 63% of Jewish Israelis expressed their desire for a final division of territories. According to another poll, conducted by the American Jewish Committee, 55% of US Jews expressed their approval of President Obama’s relations with Israel. Given the American leader’s steadfast insistence on a two-state final status agreement between Palestinians and Israelis, the polling results are clear.

    An Israel-Palestine like no other nation

  2. Abdelhafid Dib

    Thanks a lot Helena,
    I know it takes me time but I am going to read this report carefuly “Security for Peace: Setting the Conditions for a Palestinian State”, without making any comment about untill I finish reading it. You are a great militant scholar Helena I owe you an intellectual debt.

  3. Anonymous

    Exum’s background includes a stint at WINEP.
    Face it, Helena, this group obviously lacks the experience to properly address this matter, which is clearly a requirement of expertise. Maybe in 20 years they’d have it. Who knows where the situation will be by then, and how many wars will crop up.
    Damn shame.

  4. Ken Ward

    I have never found out what the “New” in the CNAS’s name means. Lubman’s seemingly favourable reference, linked in this post, to their preference for “technocratic problem-solving” rather than “ideological liberalism” is very redolent of the Vietnam War debates. Maybe CNAS would have been new then, or perhaps during the aftermath of the Spanish-American War in the Philippines.

  5. David

    I can’t quite figure out, why would there be a map? Are you suggesting that the framework of the peace keeping force (replace with whatever name you prefer) will determine or influence the shape of the borders? Surely it’s the other way around, that the borders will determine the framework of the peace keeping force?

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