News / Middle East

Analyst: Another Approach Should be Taken to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Stephen Kinzer, a journalist and author of the book 'Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future'
Stephen Kinzer, a journalist and author of the book 'Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future'

Multimedia

Audio

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been visiting Washington and New York. He met with U.S. President Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to discuss issues, including the Middle East peace process. Mr. Obama said the Israeli leader showed a willingness to engage in serious talks with the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu said it was time for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians to begin.

However, Stephen Kinzer, a journalist and author of the book Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future, which looks at conflict resolution in the Middle East, believes another approach should be taken to resolve the conflict. VOA’s Susan Yackee asked him what new policies the United States could pursue to help stabilize the region.

Kinzer: I start from the idea that our policies are really stuck in the past. We have a policy designed to confront the Middle East of the Cold War, but the Cold War's been over for more than 20 years and our policy is stuck in the past. So I feel that we need new ideas and creative thinking and "out of the box" approaches to that region. That's my first conclusion.

The second is, as we approach that region in a new way to try to promote our own interests and the interests of stability in the Middle East, we would be wise to look for partners and not try to do it all ourselves and assume that only we have the good ideas in the Middle East.

And my third is, who would those partners be? If you look around that region and ask yourselves, "Which countries have long-term strategic goals that are similar to ours and also have societies that are similar to ours?" The only two Muslim countries in the Middle East that fulfill those criteria are Turkey, and surprise, Iran. So, I think in the future, in the 21st century, you're gonna see the emergence of this power triangle: U.S., Turkey, and Iran.

Yackee: But why should the U.S. pursue a partnership with Turkey and Iran?

Kinzer: There are different reasons for the both of them. I think in both cases, you see societies that are open and democratic and eager to engage with the rest of the world. In Iran, you don't see a government that encourages that but the society in Iran, as I found in my recent visit there last month, is amazingly vibrant and democratic. But over the long run, what about strategic goals? So it's not a hard sell to say that Turkey and the U.S. have closely linked strategic goals.

After all, we've been NATO allies with them for decades. But what about Iran? Isn't it a little counterfactual to think of the U.S. in a strategic partnership with Iran? I'd suggest this: First of all, Iran has a great ability to stabilize Iraq. They can do more to stabilize Iraq than anyone else, particularly in cooperation with the Turks who have very good ties to the Sunni factions there. So if we want to get out of Iraq, without another explosion of violence there, Iran is a vital partner and also has the great ability to stabilize Afghanistan on the other border.

Iran, of course, has long relations with Afghanistan and a lot of Afghanistan used to be a part of Iran up until Iran lost a few wars in the 19th century. Iran is eager to ensure the free flow of energy resources from the Persian Gulf to the West. Iran is the bitter enemy of radical movements like Taliban and al-Qaeda.

So when you look forward and put aside the prejudices of the moment, you think about state interests, which don't change when regimes change, you see that Iran's long-term state interests, along with its vibrantly democratic society, if not government, make it a very intriguing potential partner for the United States.

Analyst: Another Approach Should be Taken to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict
Analyst: Another Approach Should be Taken to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Yackee: Well, should the U.S. rethink its relationship with Israel?

Kinzer: I think it is right for the U.S. to maintain a long-term strategic partnership with Israel, but when I was in Israel researching this new book I have, I did find a new growing body of opinion in Israel and I think it's also reflected in the United States. It's asking themselves, "Are our political leaders able to make decisions that really guard our security over the long run or are we taking steps that seem to defend ourselves right now, but may undermine our security in the long run?" 

So, I'd like to see the United States adopt a view that in the long run, Israel is not going to be able to defend itself forever with only military means. The best guarantee for Israel's long-term security is a calm neighborhood.

Therefore, anything the United States or anyone else from outside the region does in the Middle East that helps stabilize that region and diffuse confrontation is actually good for Israel in the long run.

Yackee: Could Turkey be the arbitrator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Kinzer: I hope so and I fear that the confrontation over Turkey and Israel over this Gaza flotilla in recent weeks might weaken that possibility. That's a very bad idea. Turkey is caught up in a lot of emotion now, because their citizens were killed on the high seas and there's a lot of anger about what's happening in Gaza.

But Turkey should not pick up one of the bad habits of the United States. One of our bad habits is that we make our foreign policy often based on emotion without stopping to think about what's really in our long-term interests.

Turkey's in an emotional state about Israel now, but actually the Turkey-Israel relationship is so important for the Middle East. Israel needs a Muslim country as a bridge out of its isolation. Only Turkey can play that role because of its long relationship with Israel. Turkey needs to ratchet down its feelings of anger and confrontation and realize that since it also wants a stable Middle East, it needs to maintain a good relationship with Israel.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid