PEACE 2010. Peace process grows out of Middle East settlement
Steven Horowitz is a free-lance journalist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For several years during the 1970s he and his wife lived on a kibbutz in Israel, where he practiced sheep farming. From this experience evolved his strong interest in a Middle East peace settlement. In his fictional account, Mr. Horowitz shows how the two Germanys seized the diplomatic initiative in the Middle East during a period when both the United States and the Soviet Union were going through periods of economic stress. After forging and getting acceptance for a Middle East settlement, the authors of that plan then move to apply the same principles to a central European settlement. By the year 2010 the nations of Europe have once again taken up their historic role as major actors on the world scene. The Winners: Last September The Christian Science Monitor invited its readers to enter a contest -- Peace 2010. The invitation was to write an essay from the point of view of someone in the year 2010, telling how a lasting peace had been established among the nations of the world. By looking back from the year 2010, we hoped to show how a better world could evolve from a succession of events, not from a single conference. We also hoped to aid that process by engaging the thinking of intelligent persons on the side of a positive process.
We chose four eminent outside judges to pick the three winners, whose essays will be running today, Tuesday, and Wednesday. They chose essays which, from their point of view, are both realistic and at least partially feasible scenarios for peace.
On Thursday and Friday we shall present two additional pages of excerpts from essays which further round out the approaches to peace as we see them. BY the end of the 1980s the historical momentum for the division of Europe and global bipolarity had waned. Economic growth, the military and industrial engine of both superpowers, had become stagnant. In the West, the contradictory role of the US dollar as a source of stability and expansion had gridlocked the international monetary system. The deterioration of NATO's economic institutional framework undermined the political and military foundation upon which the historic partnership had been built.
In the East, economic dislocation severely strained the Warsaw Pact alliance system as well. After nearly two decades of expanding financial and trade linkages, the ensuing recessionary freeze placed untold hardship on communist and capitalist economies alike. The Soviet Union's ability to attain crucial hard currency shrank as European economic conditions worsened. With mounting subsidies to its Eastern European allies, Moscow was forced to make difficult decisions regarding domestic economic reform, bloc liberalization, geo-military strategy, and ideological alterations in the face of pressures for new political initiatives. The fiscal crises of the state, long a symptom of third-world political economy, had become the norm in the first and second world as well.
In Europe, the impact of this new economic environment was to increase the importance of Ostpolitik (the diplomatic stance taken by West Germany to the countries of Eastern Europe, most especially East Germany). In an era of severe fiscal restraint, the political difficulties within the separate alliance systems had lowered the threshold for military miscalculation. Hence, the two Germanys had become the focus of increasing international attention as fear mounted that the economic crises could produce an accidental European war. Pan-Europeanism and economic integration became the buzzwords of the 1990s as intellectual opinion coalesced around the idea that a political solution to the division of Europe was a solution to the economic crises as well.
Ostpolitik had never been easy. Any perceived movement by the two German states even hinting at reunification was always quickly repudiated across the entire spectrum of European politics. Yet with the emergence of the peace movement of the 1980s and the economic crises nearly a decade later, the pressure intensified for a resolution to the division of Europe -- and with it, the space for inter-German maneuverability.
After a series of limited mutual diplomatic initiatives, the two German states decided to test the waters for further advances. In consultation, they decided to calm traditional European and Soviet fears by discrediting the popular domestic idea of a neutral reunified Germany. In a joint resolution, the two governments stated unequivocally that unilateral or bilateral withdrawal from the present alliance systems was out of the question. Instead, they emphasized European unity first -- and German reunification as only a very distant political possibility.
Because it sought to resolve the German problem through a broader continental context, the joint declaration engendered a wide range of support from all European states including the Soviet Union. In a government statement, Moscow astonished the European and world political community by affirming its support for further inter-German initiatives. Concretely, this meant that Moscow too sought relief from its burdensome financial responsibilities by allowing the Pan-European economic integration movement to proceed unimpeded by military and political division. But even more important, it signaled a more dramatic shift in Soviet policy, holding the promise of even greater breakthroughs in the years ahead. THE East Germans speculated that Moscow appeared to be following a more moderate line of European socialist d'etente. By repositioning themselves to the conforming European view, the new young leadership in the Kremlin was squarely facing the geo-military disadvantages that the age of monetary restraints had placed upon them. Unlike the United States, which faced no conventional military threat, the Soviets were surrounded by a wall of containment stretching from the European Arctic Circle through the Continent to their southern border in Turkey, into Asia and at times including Iran and Afghanistan but most certainly Pakistan and China, and linked to the American Arctic Circle in Alaska through important bases in Japan and the Philippines. The economic luxury of a global checking action against this arc of fire had worn thin in the face of diminished world demand for oil, gas, and precious metals. With foreign reserves dwindling and unprecedented political and financial burdens from its East-bloc partners, confidence across Europe spread that policy had changed and more European-oriented wisdom held court in the Soviet capital. BOLSTERED by diplomatic success, the two Germanys sought, through consultation with their respective allies, to determine the next step in the direction of the European peace initiative. After a flurry of diplomatic activity, the consensus was that for any hope of a practical Pan-European security system to develop, some mechanism for peace exclusive of superpower bipolarity must be worked out on Europe's southeastern periphery, namely Turkey and the Arab-Israeli Near East.
After over two centuries of major power penetration and intrigue, the Middle East -- doggedly and almost unbelievably -- still held the key to Europe's future. With the exception of Germany, where American and Soviet forces squared off in nuclear stalemate, no other area on earth reflected the clash of the superpowers more than this ancient region. With a population base much smaller than Africa or Asia, and with natural resources (other than oil) nearly minimal, the Middle East nation-states had the highest per-capita expenditure for arms in the world. The vast majority were purchased from the superpowers. Why?
After World War II, the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, and the Baghdad Pact had institutionalized the ``wall of containment'' as US geo-military strategy vis-`a-vis the Soviet Union. Not content to accept military encirclement, the Kremlin adopted a leapfrog policy to challenge Western power in the Arab East. Curiously, the Soviets achieved in the next three decades -- first by their support of the establishment of the State of Israel and then by dramatically switching sides in the 1950s to the newly emerging Arab Nationalist camp -- a certain amount of success. However, neither superpower came close to achieving a hegemonic position, while the region unfortunately became a testing ground for military equipment and preparedness. Since 1973, with the emergence of the energy crisis, the strategic importance of the region had intensified. With the Carter Doctrine of 1979 and the second cold war of the next decade, fears mounted that Europe could be drawn into a nuclear conflagration that had its trigger in the Arab-Israeli Near East.
By the 1990s, Western European strategic thinking had begun to crystallize. If European d'etente was to continue, some new security arrangement outside the superpower confrontation and the wall of containment needed to be found to ensure the peaceful flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. The Western European states argued that genuine European peace could never be achieved while leaving the Middle East either ``finlandized'' or in a heightened state of bipolar confrontation. For the two Germanys, this meant their peace and the peace of Europe had ironically become the peace of Israel and its immediate neighbors as well.
Surprisingly, and with more independence than many thought possible, the East Germans moved first. In a series of stunning diplomatic dispatches, East Berlin sought not only to establish relations with Israel but also to suggest strongly that all communist nations do the same. Next, East Germany accused both superpowers of undue manipulation and control of Middle East affairs. In a high-level pronouncement, the government stated unequivocally that this kind of penetration was only possible ``given the unrealistic and maximalist aims of all parties to the conflict.'' They suggested that continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank or annexation of the same would foreclose any hope of a negotiated settlement. However, East Berlin then reversed directions dramatically, stating that any return of the disputed territories either to Hashemite (the present ruling family of Jordan) control or for the creation of a West Bank Palestinian state would be antithetical to Israeli security.
In an electrifying dual initiative, both East and West Germany (independent of their superpower patrons) announced that they had conceived, in mutual cooperation, a four-point outline for what they called the ``Inter-German Plan for Mideast Peace.'' They claimed that this plan had the active support of nearly every government in Europe on both sides of the Elbe.
First, the plan called for a Palestinian-Jordanian sovereignty to be based on free and open elections, on the principle of one man, one vote, to be held jointly in the occupied territories and the East Bank of the Jordan River (currently Jordan). Second, the plan called for mutual recognition between the duly-elected government in these elections and the State of Israel. Third, it called for a Mideast conference between these two governments alone to negotiate the basis for equally shared rule in the disputed territories. And finally, the plan called for Jerusalem to be an open city -- and the capital of two nations living in peace.
The Israeli government had been truly surprised by the strength of the Inter-German Plan. For the first time since the founding of the state, the Israeli-Arab conflict had been placed outside the bipolar nexus. The plan's Pan-European urgency and its underlying challenge to Soviet intentions in Europe and the Mideast, vis-`a-vis its coordinated East-West authorship and support, gave it weight that could not easily be dismissed. After nearly half a century of conflict and isolation -- and with the prospect of deepening strains over finance with their Washington backers -- hard-pressed Israeli leaders could not easily disregard the diplomatic and economic advantages the plan portended. FURTHERMORE, third-world and nonaligned states alike had seen in the Inter-German Plan the distant hope that the potential reworkings of the political maps of Europe and the Mideast could be used as an important bridge for the North-South issue to outflank and weaken the East-West one. China and many African states began urging both Arabs and Israelis to see the wisdom of the plan. These states argued that a Mideast alliance inclusive of Israel offered not only the hope of peace with security for all but also a leadership role for the ``two Jerusalems'' among the family of nations. In early June of 1996 the Chinese government recognized the State of Israel, calling the Inter-German Plan a historic compromise and its principle of joint sovereignty a revolutionary development fulfilling the biblical prophecy that ``Jerusalem shall be like a light unto nations.''
Even with the prospect of strong international support, domestic considerations provided the plan strong political popularity. For Israeli Laborites, the old idea of bringing the Hashemites into a West Bank partition plan had worn thin. Jordan's King Hussein was either too smart or too weak to deliver, or both. Without partition, the only logical political choice for Labor was the shared-rule concept.
For Likud, the Inter-German Plan offered a kind of international recognition for the idea that Jordan represented part of historic Palestine and that its territorial inclusion was integral to any settlement. Likud feared a West Bank Palestinian state for its potential security threat; the prospect that regional Balkanization would only intensify East-West rivalries was also feared. However, the Israeli right had not been opposed to the idea of Palestinian nationhood. By placing absolute sovereignty outside the West Bank and by circumventing the sticky issue of Palestine Liberation Organization recognition through democratic processes, Likud seemed satisfied that shared rule in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem was the appropriate historic compromise needed for a just and secure peace.
From the Palestinian perspective, the Inter-German Plan represented a unique blending of opportunity and challenge. In particular, it meant a dramatic break with the past by unlocking the stalemated Palestinian-Jordanian-Israeli triangle through rapprochement with Israel. The PLO could potentially achieve sovereignty and simultaneously challenge the political domination of their movement by both the Hashemites and the Syrians. After nearly 30 years of Israeli occupation -- and the constant intrigues and setbacks of Arab politics -- this bold German plan held open the possibility of an entire reworking of the political map of the Arab East. By placing their authority east of the Jordan River, linked to a capital in Jerusalem and connected to joint rule with separate citizenship for both Arabs and Jews on the West Bank, a resurrected Palestine could fulfill the dream of a regional alliance stretching from the Tigris to the Nile.
While the PLO and Israel carefully weighed their responses, the Mideastern political game heated up. Both King Hussein and the Syrian government rejected the plan outright. But surprisingly, Egyptian-Israeli and Egyptian-Iraqi diplomatic relations improved as international pressure mounted for the compromise solution. Cairo officially called the plan ``eminently fair'' and urged the PLO to accept the ``international strategic implications of peace.'' Meanwhile, Baghdad, still embroiled in a strangling war with Shiite Islamic Iran, called the plan ``the beginning of a historic partnership among fellow Semites'' and concluded that it ``promised an era of genuine equality between the Near East and Europe.''
With West Bank Palestinians strongly supportive of the plan, and with their traditional Arab patrons appearing to line up against the Jordanian King, the moderate Fatah leadership (the PLO faction) was forced to choose between Israeli d'etente or the possible crumbling of all international and domestic support. With both superpowers strangely quiet, yet duly impressed by the potential new constellation of forces, all the international factors in Mideast politics had converged into the moment of truth for Israelis and Palestinians.
Then it happened. With the international stakes mounting, both the PLO and Israel -- entranced by the political possibilities of affirmation -- accepted the general outline of the Inter-German Plan for Mideast Peace. CONCLUSION
With a stunned world watching, the dramatic events of the Middle East in the year 2000 heralded what was popularly called ``the decade of Europe and Jerusalem.'' Palestinian elections were indeed finally held, and moderate Fatah candidates had won a clear majority. But more important, the Middle Eastern conference following these elections had institutionalized a startling new military concept which would alter the course of European and world history.
Since sovereignty in Jerusalem and the West Bank was to be shared, the Israeli and Palestinian governments created a joint elite corps of military forces integrated into a single defensive unit. The relevance of this idea of a military condominium for the purpose of a monitored defense of the territories took the two Germanys and all of Europe by storm. Across the Continent, expectation ran feverishly high that what had been accomplished in the Holy Land by Pan-European and inter-bloc initiative could be accomplished across the division of Germany and Europe as well.
Within a short 10 years, the budding supranational economic institutions of Europe were complemented in the miltary sphere by the new Jerusalem concept. Central Europe was declared a ``defensive military zone'' and NATO and Warsaw Pact forces retreated from German soil. A joint East German-West German military command was created, and the two states instituted defensive integration procedures. Negotiations were begun for similar structures involving France and Poland, the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia, and Belgium and Hungary.
By the year 2010, the Mideast Peace had held strongly for a decade, while Pan-European d'etente and bloc integration leading to potential bloc dissolution had become a raging force. Likewise, a formal Near East Security Alliance involving Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, and Turkey had formed. Under the bylaws of this alliance, neither US nor Soviet equipment or personnel were allowed in the military operations of the respective countries. Only European material (not including Soviet) was allowed to be bought. Furthermore, the Near East Alliance formally backed the idea of a military-free zone in the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, finance and industry ministers from Near East Alliance countries had also begun negotiation on a supranational framework for economic cooperation. Intellectual speculation suggested that formal economic linkages between Europe, the Near East, and Africa would become the next step in the quest for economic recovery. Many nations north and south supported this concept.
In hindsight, the economic crises of the 1990s had changed the nature of the nation-state in many international spheres. The superpowers were faced with great restraints upon their power by a combination of the multilateral actions of smaller states working cooperatively and the domestic fiscal and political pressures caused by economic dislocation. In the process, the East-West military conflict diminished in perceived international importance. North-South issues more vital for economic recovery became paramount. What began slowly as a European economic initiative had advanced to include a structure for Mideast and European peace and a 21st-century supranational agenda for an African-Mideastern-European economic community.
In the Soviet Union, the political perceptions involving the concept of a unified Europe as an important bridge between North and South had moved foreign policy toward European d'etente. The tremendous response by the nonaligned and communist countries to the Inter-German Mideast Peace initiative had strongly reinforced Moscow's thinking.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the severity of the economic recession had moved the political center of gravity to a more social-democratic position. Both political parties realigned on foreign policy issues to a more isolationist position. The Republicans had become more libertarian, while the Democrats became more socialist. Both parties emphasized a more cooperative approach to North-South problems in the Americas.
The year 2010 was in no way a utopia. However, it was a realistic beginning for the establishment of international institutions to plan more equitably the world economy and secure the peace. If these structures for peace can hold, the 21st century promises even greater progress in eliminating once and for all the deadly nuclear menace. We can then usher into place the swords-into-plowshares Messianic era.