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Mon Mar 18, 2013, 02:38 PM

Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East

Rashid Khalidi on how the United States sustains the failure of the Israel–Palestine peace process

By Scott Horton



March 18, 2013


Columbia University historian Rashid Khalidi served as a Palestinian adviser during U.S.-brokered talks over a future Palestinian state. Now he has authored Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, a stinging attack on the role played by American representatives during the process. His book offers a perspective that Americans rarely hear: one that chronicles America’s steps and links them directly to the stagnation and failure of the entire process. I put six questions to Khalidi about his book:

1. Let’s start with a look into the future. You say that Washington’s partiality for Israel in Middle Eastern affairs has thus far cost it very little, largely because the Arab world consists of states where the opinion of the masses counts for very little — but that Washington may face a sort of democratic day of reckoning as the Arab world moves towards democratic governance. On the other hand, the consensus view in the recent Foreign Affairs special issue on the Arab Spring was that democracy was hardly yet in prospect. How far off do you think this day of reckoning is, and what form do you expect it to take?

Institutionalized functioning democracy is not yet in prospect in most of the Arab world. It may be a long way off. But I doubt that this region can permanently remain an anomaly in the world as a whole, which for decades has seen a trend toward more democratic governance, from East and South Asia to Eastern Europe and Latin America. The Middle East as a region is unusual in that because of its strategic importance it has long been subject to a high degree of external interference. It is also home to bastions of monarchical autocracy in the form of several Arab Gulf regimes, which are fighting a ferocious rearguard action against democracy.

But Arab peoples have demonstrated a profound aspiration for change in Egypt, Tunisia, and several other countries. We shall see whether that will eventually triumph, and whether Arab public opinion will finally have a say in policy-making on Palestine and other matters, or whether external meddling and the partisans of the awful Arab status quo will continue to prevail. If the latter happens, it will probably only be a matter of time until we see another series of explosions like those of the past two years. In any case, continuing to link American policy on Palestine to the persistence of this rotten and undemocratic status quo is a typically short-sighted approach.

in full:

http://harpers.org/blog/2013/03/brokers-of-deceit-how-the-u-s-has-undermined-peace-in-the-middle-east/

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