The Middle East: Jordan's Quest for Peace

Courtesy Reuters

After more than a third of a century of conflict, the Middle East remains the greatest threat to international peace and security. In a fitting close to 1981, and as if to signal its own recognition of the fact, and further ensure that the so-called Camp David accords can never lead to a general settlement, the Israeli government enacted legislation that for all intents and purposes annexes the Syrian Golan Heights to Israel. And a new chapter in the conflict begins.

Despite what is often said in moments of frustration, most of us here in the Middle East believe it is in America's interest, as it is in the whole world's interest, to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict. Most of us continue to believe that U.S. policy has such a settlement as one of its principal objectives for regional and global and even domestic American reasons. What we see, however, is a tendency on the part of U.S. policymakers to fall into the same traps that we, who have suffered so long with this tragic problem, also allowed to impede us earlier. These traps include the "peace by pieces" fallacy, the related "squeaky wheel" tendency, and the "peace-on-the-cheap" syndrome.

Americans are not alone in their attraction to the concept of the realization of peace gradually. Whether expressed in traditional functionalist theory or neo-functionalism, whether in terms of concrete proposals such as the Johnson plan or Secretary Kissinger's step-by-step diplomacy, "peace by pieces" is a fascinating and useful concept. But no theory, no concept, should be considered universally applicable. We in Jordan supported Secretary Kissinger's attempt to use "step-by-step" diplomacy as a confidence-building measure to effect a necessary disengagement of forces on the Golan and Sinai after the 1973 War. It was the extension of this piecemeal approach to the peace process as a whole that we felt was misplaced.

The Middle East problem is a complex of issues. To disaggregate the whole into its parts may help reduce one or two of

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