Courtesy Reuters

Reviving the Middle East peace process is the worst kind of necessary evil for a U.S. administration: at once very necessary and very evil. It is necessary because the festering dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians in a volatile, strategically vital region has broad implications for U.S. interests and because the security of Israel is one of the American public's most enduring international concerns. It is evil because it is costly and difficult. The price of engagement is high, the chances for a solution are mixed at best, and all of the available approaches carry significant political risks. A string of poor policy choices by the Bush administration made a bad situation significantly worse. It inflamed passions. It weakened the position of moderate Israelis and Palestinians alike. And it reduced the U.S. government's credibility as a broker.

Even without the damaging aftermath of eight misspent years,

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  • WALTER RUSSELL MEAD is Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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