What a “small-c conservative” would say about the peace process

The recent discussion on The Dish about Westerners getting “sick of the the Israelis and Palestinians,” with NATO intervention perhaps as Andrew’s medicine, got me thinking …

Although I’m a liberal, I try to remain open-minded to the virtues of conservatism, not in the modern partisan sense — that’s just a broken hornets’ nest right now — but in the “small-c” sense. In other words, what can we learn from conservative views on human nature and political power? I mean, for example, the kind of conservative perspective that Leszek Kolakowski outlined in his piece “How to Be a Conservative-Liberal-Socialist” [a link to the piece is on the sidebar] or the kind that Sullivan explored in his book The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back.

As a thought experiment, I wanted to offer what might be a small-c conservative’s attitude toward the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Of course, we have a national interest in ending a conflict that is perennially used by radicals and tyrants against the United States.

I’ve taken some inspiration from a recent post on The Dish, which reflected on what the decade should teach us. There was one passage in particular that I thought tried to evoke the stoical view of small-c conservatism in foreign policy. So what follows I’ve adapted from Andrew’s thoughtful passage on our ability to help revolutionary change in Iran ( — which, if only because of oil and Arab governments, would be in our national interest).

I’ve just contributed the text in brackets to Andrew’s:

What we have to understand — and what I have come belatedly and painfully to grasp — is that our collective narcissism can be an obstacle to successful statesmanship. In blunter terms: This is not about us. In so far as we have made [the question of what would fulfill Palestinian nationalist aspirations] about us, we have added mountains to the landscape of human misery and pain. This is a struggle for the [Jewish and Palestinian] people[s], [to end what has been] a long, brutal, bitter struggle [against the other’s statehood]. We should do all we can to support [a Palestinian state], without the [“anti-Likud”-type] grandstanding that actually helps the [right-wing’s power in Israel] rather than hurts it. But we have to understand our limits.
This process [of simultaneously moving two antagonists toward a grand compromise] will take time, and Americans’ well-meant determination to fix this state of affairs is, however understandable, naive. The arc of history is far slower than our 24-hour news cycle or our ADD blog-posting.

Italics, his.


One Response

  1. […] is sort of getting off on (a) being transgressive, (b) venting his resentment for the huge time that may be needed to ameliorate Muslim rejectionism, and (c) abusing one of neocons’ pet […]

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