Walter Russell Mead on “frozen conflicts” and Israel

Walter Russell Mead:

Years ago I spent a lot of time studying the state of US-Cuban relations.  I came to the subject with the optimism that most Americans bring to just about every world problem; surely there was a solution somewhere that moderate people of good will could find.  But the deeper I got into the subject, and the more I met with people in the US and Cuban governments, in the Cuban American community, and in the community of activists and lobbyists who work on the issue, the more I came to see that things weren’t that simple.

After a lot of head scratching and a lot of wasted time it finally dawned on me that there were important reasons why US-Cuban relations had been frozen in this pattern for so long.  Nobody really liked the status quo: but everybody preferred it to any of the feasible alternatives. This was true of the Castro government, of the Cuban American community by and large, and also of the US government.  It was also true of many of the other countries in the region; no Caribbean country wants to think about what would happen to its tourism industry if Cuba suddenly opened up to Yankee visitors.

Since then, it’s become ever more clear to me that this pattern fits many of the other frozen conflicts around the world — and it definitely fits the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  We don’t really like the status quo, but nobody sees a realistic path to a viable alternative that would work much better.

Read the rest, including the discussion of the various silver linings for Israel.


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