A look back at great moments in Middle Eastern diplomacy!
As students of history are aware, peace was first brought to the Middle East by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who in 1956 stopped Israel, France, and Britain from beating up the Egyptians and seizing control of the Suez Canal from Gama Abdel Nasser, who had just “nationalized” it. Since then, several other American Secretaries of State have brought peace to the Middle East in similar ways—By WOOF’s informal count, secretaries of state who have achieved peace in the middle east prior to Mrs. Clinton include the above mentioned Dulles as well as Christopher Archibald Herter, who founded the Middle East Peace Institute while serving with the World Peace Foundation; Dean Rusk, who when implored by Israeli Minister Eban to intercede on Israel’s behalf to prevent an attack by Egypt, refused, but encouraged a cease fire after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War; William Pierce Rogers who brought peace to the Middle East on behalf of President Nixon by brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Egypt; which led to the 1973 Yom Kippur War in which Israel was attacked by Egypt, Syria and Jordan whereupon it defended itself successfully enough that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was obliged to bring peace to the Middle East by persuading Israel to cease firing and return the Egyptian Third Army.
Following the election of James Earl Carter, the first peanut farmer from Georgia to win the American presidency, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was persuaded to leave his duties with the Trilateral Commission long enough to help forge the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab neighbor. The treaty was signed by Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Sadat of Egypt, thus bringing peace to the Middle East. This lasted until President Sadat was shot to death by his own troops while reviewing them on parade. Cyrus Vance was shortly succeeded by Edmund Muskie who brought peace to the Middle East by negotiating a halt to Soviet expansion into the Persian Gulf region just prior to the Soviet expansion into the region, while in 1982 Secretary of State Al Haig brought peace to the Middle East by negotiating a cease fire between Israel and the PLO after which the PLO shot an Israeli ambassador in London and shelled several of Israel’s northern communities. This resulted in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon which threatened to eliminated the PLO until special envoy Phillip Habib finessed a regional truce calling for the removal of all foreign armies from Lebanon, thus bringing peace to the Middle East.
Secretary of State Haig was succeeded by Secretary of State George Shultz who focused U.S. diplomatic efforts on resolving the conflict in the Middle East, specifically by insisting that Israel abide by UN resolution 242 and withdraw from the West Bank. Schultz was then able to bring peace to the Middle East by opening a diplomatic dialogue with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Yasir Arafat. Peace in the Middle East was cemented by Secretary of State James Baker at the 1991 Madrid Peace conference which called for an end to the ongoing conflict between Israel, the PLO, and neighboring Arab countries. Baker’s successor, Lawrence Eagleburger, maintained the peace process by talking Israel out of shooting back when Saddam Hussein fired a total of 42 Scud missiles at it during the first Gulf War. But peace in the Middle East was thereafter ensured by Secretary of State Warren Christopher who in 1993 persuaded the Israelis and the PLO to sign the Oslo Accords, recognizing Israel’s right to exist in return for Israel allowing the Palestinian Authority to exist.
By 1997, however, the Palestinian Authority was sending swarms of exploding Palestinians into Israel, engaging the attention of Madeline Albright, Secretary of State under William Clinton. Secretary Albright felt that peace could prevail in the Middle East if Israelis agreed to refrain from building new Jewish settlements in disputed areas. Albright was replaced by Colin Powell who announced that the United States was “ready to contribute actively” to the process of bringing peace to the Middle East, adding that Yasir Arafat should “arrest, prosecute, and punish the perpetrators of terrorist acts,” which didn’t actually happen. Next, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s successful negotiation of several agreements in the Middle East, including the August 14, 2006 ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, led to lasting peace in the region, lasting in fact until 2008 when the border between Gaza and Egypt was breached by Hamas who installed Russian and Iranian rocket launchers whereupon followed 2,378 additional rocket and mortar attacks on Israel. Fortunately, as noted above, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has now arrived in the Middle East, and Reuters and the AP reported Tuesday that peace has come at last to that war-torn region. WOOF hopes that this brief and admittedly hurried review of the Middle Eastern peace process has been enlightening!