US and EU Approaches Towards Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
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The discipline of International Relations is both an academic as well a public policy arena, which emerges from political science. It is the subject and channel of International Relations, which adequately addresses a foreign policy of a state within the confines of an international system. International relations also take into account role of international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as multinational companies/corporations.
Since the primary objective of international relations is both an analysis as well as formulation of a foreign policy, it could either be 'positive', or 'normative'. In order for a foreign policy tube either positive or normative, it has to inculcate such diverse areas and subjects as political science, economics, history, law, philosophy, area studies, sociology, cultural studies, and a number of other social sciences; hence its utility for both analysis as well as formulation of foreign policy.
In addition, it also includes and addresses such varied set of issues as economic development, foreign aid, environmental movement, nationalism, nuclear proliferation and human rights. However, for international relations to be practically applicable, effective, or at the least in the realm body of ideas, there are various theories, which ultimately lead us to the real world of policy. International relations theories thus provide a set of guidelines allowing us to agree to, as well as arrive at shaping better international outcomes. In addition, international relation theories allow for a better understanding of world events, and wherever necessary, provide for better solutions to the numerous issues and problems faced by the world community.
One may also note that any theory, including the various international theories may not provide for answers to all the problems and issues faced by the world community; yet they do provide and assist us in first thinking about and then finding probable and the most viable solutions to the horde of problems and issues faced by the world community. At the onset, international relation theories can and do provide us with alternatives, and possibly even anticipate the various courses of international events in the global spectrum of politics.
Some of the most common and practiced international theories include “Constructivism, Institutionalism, Marxism, and Neo-Gramscianism. Yet, the most dominant international theories, or rather the schools of thought which have been practiced in international politics include the international theories of "Realism" and "Liberalism" (Walt, 1998, p29.
Having briefly touched upon the subject of international relations and international relation theories, the following dissertation will strive to address the said two disciplines within the context of one of the past centuries most disputed international issue; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The dissertation will thus address this pressing international issue from the perspective of various international theories, with a particular focus on the different approaches taken by the United States of America, and that taken by the European Union.
For a better understanding of the different perspectives and approaches taken by the United States of America and the European Union respectively, it would only be imperative that an equal and in-depth study the various international relations theories be also made part of this dissertation. The study of the more dominant, if not all the international theories becomes all the more importance as both the United States of America and the European Union group of nations each follow a somewhat different set of strategies in their international relations.
The same is true for Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as both the United States of America as one international player, and the European Union group of nations as the second major player each address, view, and practice more than just a passing difference to one of the present days most pressing international conflict.
As the present dissertation addresses the primary subject of the recent different approaches of the United States of America and the European for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, and the Middle East Peace Process in general, it would only be imperative to commence the paper with the respective international relation theories, and through the study of these theories, present how respective international relations theories have influenced the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The following dissertation will thus strive to address the various international relation theories in brief, namely the theories of ‘Realism, Liberalism, and Constructivism,’ Though all these international relation theories enjoy their distinct places in international relations and politics, the theories of Realism and Constructivism are the ones that are practiced more commonly. Since these two theories comprise and are considered standard policy, the same will comprise of majority of the discussion in the present dissertation.
The international relations theory of realism being the most widely practiced, and the fact that it is this vital theory that has been at the helm of most, if not all US foreign policies, the same has also been adopted by majority of nations friendly with the United States, or have been her allies at one time or another. This will be followed by a discussion of the second most vitally important international relations theory, that of ‘Constructivism’. It is this theory of constructivism that has largely been pursued by majority, if not all the European Union nations.
The primary distinction between the theory of realism and that of constructivism is that, the theory of realism premises on the realist approach, as the term so states. On the other hand, the theory of constructivism largely relies on softer modes of communication, negotiation, socialization, and pursuit of ends through peaceful measures. The dissertation will then proceed with discussions on both the United States and the European Union nations, and address the perspective and approach taken by each on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in light of the pertinent international relations theory.
Some of the Dominant International Relation Theories In Brief International Theory of Realism
One of the primary topics to be discussed in the present dissertation is the role or perspective of the United States of Americano the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and show whether the United States is influenced by ideas from the international relation theory of “Realism". In this context, it would only be imperative to present brief on the international relations theory of "Realism", some of its key assumptions, and then arrive at the US approach respectively.
A brief on the international relations theory of "Realism" reveals that it has often been associated with German terms of "real" and "realitat"implying substantive or as the term so states real; and "politik"implying "politics" or "policy". Both these terms were perhaps first coined by one of Germany's leaders in the earlier part of the 20thcentury, Bismarck. In his attempts to bring about a suitable balance of power amongst the various European states, Bismarck sought peace as one of the most viable solutions in the then Europe of the earlier 20thcentury.
Bismarck was aided by a number of "realpolitik practitioners “who worked equally hard to avoid an arms race in Europe. Bismarck’s efforts however did not bear any fruit, as the early part of the 20thcentury witnessed arms race amongst the various nations of Europe, as well as formation of various alliances culminating in one of humanity’s first ever global tragedies, that of World War I.
Some of the principle theorist of the international theory of “Realism “includes Carr, Kenneth N. Waltz, and Hans J. Morgenthau. However, it was Morgenthau's "Politics Among Nations", which perhaps formally systemized classical 'Realism'. According to Margenthau, there exist six principles, which he outlined in his famous book, "Politics Among Nations". These six points are presented in the first chapter of his above said book. These vitally important facets of Morgenthau’s Theory of Realism are:
- International relations "…is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature".
- The key consideration "…is the concept of interest defined in terms of power’.
- "…Interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid", although its exact meaning may change with time and circumstance.
- While moral principles have a place, they cannot be defined identically at every time and place, and apply differently to individuals and the state.
- "The moral aspirations of a particular nation…" are not "moral laws that govern the universe".
- Politics is an autonomous sphere that needs to be analysed as an entity, without being subordinated to outside values (Morgenthau, 1973,Chapter 1)
International Theory of Realism
In-depth studies on the international relations theory of "Realism “reveal that there exist a number of primary assumptions, which guide the followers, or practitioners of the "Realism" theory. One of the first assumptions of "Realism" theory is that the entire international system is anarchic implying that that is the state alone is the supreme authority, and no other state or states can or have the capacity to regulate the affairs of another state. The theory of "Realism" further assumes that any higher supreme authority cannot dictate a state, and that there is no existence of any world government.
This implies that each state must strive to create relations with other states on their own, instead of being dictated to do so. The theory of "Realism “further assumes that there is no role for any international organization, non-governmental organization, or multi-national corporation in the affairs of the state, and that the sovereignty of astute governs all the international affairs. Thus, following the assumptions of the theory of "Realism", a state is a rational actor amongst the community of global nations, and will always strive toward sits self-interest, which in turn call for ensuring the state’s security.
Continuing with the theory of "Realism", the same state will take all measures to secure its status as a sovereign nation including but not limited to amassing of resources, and relations with other states to be determined by the respective level of power enjoyed by the other state/s.
The level of power in turn is assessed from the respective state's economic and military capability. Perhaps the most stringent assumption inherent in the international relations theory of “Realism" is its belief that states are "inherently" aggressive, and further that a state's economic or military expansion can only be limited by the powers of the opposing state. (Waltz, 1964; Karl et al,1969; Mearsheimer, 1994)
A further insight into the international relation theory of “Realism" shows that it is divided into two sub-schools of thought, namely "maximal realism and minimal realism. The first sub-school of realism, the maximal realism asserts that a state enjoys the status of the most powerful entity in the world, and that all other states ‘align' themselves with this powerful state, and that too in their own interest and out of political necessity.
The theory of maximal realism further assumes and somewhat asserts that, if there are two equally powerful entities in the world, it presents an unstable international political scenario. A prime example to this respect is that of period of Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States of America. According the maximal theory of "Realism", such a situation will eventually lead to a stable international situation where one entity or state becomes more powerful, while the other into a less powerful entity respectively. (Waltz, 1964; Karl et al, 1969; Mearsheimer, 1994)
The second sub-school of "Realism", that of 'minimal realism ‘assumes that the smaller and less powerful entities or states will align themselves with the most powerful entity in the world, and this would be brought about to protect the interests of the smaller and less powerful states from the interests of the larger and single most powerful entity or state. The theory of minimal realism also assumes middle policy where two equally powerful states exist, and where the smaller and less powerful states may align themselves with either of the larger powerful state.
The choice of selecting one of the larger and powerful states depends on the smaller state's policies of the moment. This also implies that the smaller state may remain aligned with both the powerful states at the same time, yet pursue and align with one state keeping in view the interests and policies on a given area of politics, issue, or social problem. (Waltz, 1964; Karl et al,1969; Mearsheimer, 1994)
International Relations Theory of Neo-Realism
There exist yet another school of thought, one that is termed sane-realism". This was first coined by Kenneth N. Waltz in 1979, and was in fact an attempt at reformulating the original theory of ‘Realism' in a modern and scientific perspective. One of the most works of Waltz was "The Theory of International Politics", which aimed to rid the original theory of 'Realism' of its defects. The 'Neo-Realism ‘school of thought, with Waltz as one of its first proponents assumes and addresses the international relations in terms of the various ‘structural properties of the international system’ which focuses on the distribution of power.
The 'Neo-Realism' theory in international relations somewhat rejects the variable of human nature in both times of war as well as peace. The 'neo-realism' theory also neglects domestic politics of a given state, which is perhaps the darkest element of this theory. Neglecting domestic policies of states in turn paves the path for conflict and move towards war, both of which are primarily detrimental to the respective state as well as its populations. In addition, 'neo-realism' theory's primary assumption that the international system is anarchic, as also reiterated in the opening lines of theory of realism, further confirms the theory's own assumptions that conflict and war cannot be avoided.
In times of anarchy, as are the assumptions of the neo-realism theory, states pursue goals of security, either through self-help such as amassment of economic and military resources, or through the formation of alliances with those who enjoy the status the most powerful states in the world. However, the pursuit of security goals for a particular states through the neo-realism theory, whether through self-help, or through the alliances with other organizations both is somewhat practical for a short period only.
As this theory does not provide a permanent solution to the security needs of that respective nation simply due to the ‘security dilemma' where each state is witnessed to ever vigorously pursue attempts to improve its security, in turn 'provoking other states to do the same. The result of such conflicting approaches is none other than an insecure state, a condition that originally prompted the state to take or adopt policies according to the theory one-realism respectively. (Waltz, Theory of International Politics)
Yet another equally negative element of the neo-realism theory is its rejection of international institutions, which normally serve as regulators of state behaviour as well as promotion pdf peace. According to the theorists of 'neo-realism', the international institutions are entities of self-interested great powers. The role of international institutions as per the theorists of neo-realism is limited to reflection of, instead of providing a concrete shape to the existing distribution of power in a given state.
Furthermore, it is the balance of power and its pursuit, which holds true for followers of neo-realism theory. For the governance of, and pursuit of accomplishing a balance of power, the greater and more powerful entities or states acquire both the economic means as well as military strength/power. When both the said tools too are presumably insufficient, the strategy of forming alliances with stronger and more powerful powers is then pursued(Waltz, 1964; Karl et al, 1969; Mearsheimer, 1994)
International Relations Theory of Constructivism
The theory of "Constructivism" is also an important theory practiced in the arena of international relations with places particular emphasis on " identities, norms, and culture in world politics". The theory of "Constructivism" thus allows for identities and interests of states to be used as tools for interactions, as are institutions, norms, and cultures utilized. The importance is therefore given to the different processes, rather than the structure of different actors and institutions not only for interaction, but also for arriving at peaceful means and resolutions of equally varied issues and conflicts in the realm of international relations, (Wendt, 1992).
Constructivism as an international theory also explains the role of human consciousness in addressing the various problems and conflicts in the international arena of politics. Thus, one may note that the human action including the human capacity as well as the will of the respective people are duly utilized in order to nurture a deliberate attitude and highlight the significance of a given issue, such as our subject conflict of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is the combination of the said human capacity and the will which in turn are responsible for the creation of social facts, or aspects which are dependent on the consensus of a given human agreements including but not limited to money, sovereignty and property rights respectively. The international relations theory of constructivism also explains the importance of identities and interests of the different parties to an issue or a conflict, and the fact that these parties or actors music-exist and share common factors as cultural beings.
The said different parties also includes the state as one of the social actors, which in turn is bound to follow both international and domestic rules. The state in turn has to follow certain set or rules, norms, institutions, and identities, and thus allow the international relations theory of constructivism to offer new concepts for addressing and perhaps even resolving given issues and conflicts within and amongst states or parties.
Thus, one may observe that the role of the human actors as parties to an issue or a given conflict, their identities and the role of institutions perhaps also act as theory’s limitation, and it is this reasoning due to which there is yet to emerge a general theory of social constructivism of reality. Thus it could be assumed that the theory of constructivism is merely confined as a philosophy or a perspective based on theory, rather than an approach to and for the study or practice of international relations.
On one hand, the theory of constructivism provides for a fruitful insight otherwise ignored by traditional theorists of international relations. At the same time the theory of constructivism also allows for an alternative framework, even though the same is theoretical in both perspective and practice in the arena of international relations.(Reggie, 1998)
The international relations theory of constructivism could well be summed up to include the states as being the primary units of analysis in international political theory. Furthermore, the theory of constructivism gives importance to the relationships of the various actors, including institutions within a given state, rather than focus on the material aspect, as is the case in theory of realism as one example. Another vitally importance aspect of the theory of constructivism is that it gives importance to identities and interests of a state, as also stated in the preceding lines, and somewhat overrides the role of, or system of human nature, or for that matter domestic politics in the realm of international relations. (Wendt,1994, pg.385)
The theory of constructivism also offers a combination of social theory of knowledge where the involvement of all the relevant actors/players to an issue or conflict are a requisite, as well as somewhat rejects an individualist approach and theory of action, as is the case in, for example the theory of realism. Then there is the analysis of power in explaining the theory of constructivism, where theorists of constructivism argue that the distinction of the levels of observation and that of action, followed by a reflexive link between the two levels is central for a better understanding of the said theory. (European Journal of International Relations, 2000, pp.147-182)
International Relation Theory of Liberalism
Unlike the above-discussed theory of 'Realism', the international relations theory of 'Liberalism' placed emphatically value and importance to international organizations, multinational corporations, Institutions as well as political parties of a given state. Thus, the role of such international organizations as 'the United Nations Organization', 'The International Monetary Fund', Transnational corporations to the likes of Shell, institutions such as 'The Papacy”, and to a certain extent political parties in a state are acknowledged as active players in the wider arena of international relations.
In addition, the international relation theory of "Liberalism' also places broad perspective to such age-old ideas as 'Wilson Ian Idealism' and contemporary neo-liberal and democratic peace thesis. It could also be implied that 'Liberalism' places the value of a state as one actor amongst the different actors, as also stated in the preceding lines. Thus, allowing a state to fully cooperate with and through institutional mechanisms and use bargaining as one of the means to peacefully arrive at solving solutions and protecting interests of the respective state. (Wendt, 1992)
Brief Historical Background
The above sections of the dissertation briefly discuss some of the dominant theories in international relations the world over, as well as provide an insight on the international relation theory of "Realisms “as a case study. The theory of "Realism" was chosen since it has become somewhat of a standard theory policy for majority of the western governments, with particular reference to the United States of America. In our present dissertation of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and forthcoming discussions on the different approaches by both the United States of America as well as the European Union group of countries, it is only imperative that the said conflict be briefed in its entirety.
Researchers and analysts the world over have described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the "War of Two Rights", and rightly so, as it is the precise description which best affirms as well as defines the basic set of principles of humanity on which the conflict continues to date. Both the major partners to the conflict, the Jews and the Palestinians follow their own perspectives, ideals, and common history which has led them to become partners to one of the most volatile and complex of all present day conflicts on the globe.
A glimpse on the region's history reveals that there exists a number of causes, issues, and factors which have fuelled, marred, as well as served to escalate this volatile and complex of conflicts over a period of more than 5 decades; the first vote to partition Palestine was casting 1947 marketing the beginning of the present day conflict. Though the singular event of creating a homeland for the Jews in areas that each party claims as their right was primarily between two distinct religions, Zionism and Islam, the conflict today has widened to include people of the same region/land (Palestine), same religions, and similar culture.
Thus, one may observe that there are distinct branches of Muslims (Lebanese Shiite and Lebanese Sunnis) and Christians (Jews and Lebanese Christians), all of who follow their own ideals, set of principles and characteristics within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today divides not only the major religions, it also includes and is more than influenced by countries as far off as the United States of America, European Union group of nations and the Soviet Union. This is not to mention the alliances, support and sympathies from equally diverse cultures and regions of a number of countries around the world for both the major parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jews and the Palestinians.(Shapiro, 2005; Lynn, 1993)
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Historical Dateline in Brief
A brief historical background to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reveals that it can well be dated back to the 1800s, a period when the Jewish populations across Europe were facing severe persecutions. The answer to these persecutions led the Jews to a political movement, namely Zionism, in turn allowing them to move towards their biblical Promised Land. This was perhaps the beginning and establishment of a Jewish homeland within Palestine.
The period prior to 1920 shows that the present day lands of Israel, all of the Occupied Territories of Gaza, and the West Bank were within Palestine. Yet the influx of Jews from across Europe commenced tensions within the entire Palestine, which later on turned and escalated into one of history's longest ever conflicts.
The period of World War I, in particular the year 1916 witnessed the British Empire collaborating, and somewhat convincing various Arab leaders to revolt against the Ottoman Empire in return for support of, and the establishment of an independent Arab state which included Palestine. The British Empire, however did not keep its promise, and only a year later in 1917, announced its support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. This historic turn of events was done by Lord Arthur Balfour, the then British Foreign Minister, as also naming the event as 'The Balfour Declaration of 1917'.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917, in turn opened up a new era of tensions between the Israelis and the Palestinian people, somewhat forcing the British Empire to enforce a mandate over the entire Palestine. This mandate spanned from 1920 to 1947. This was also period during which World War II was coming to an end, and the formation of the United Nations was on the anvil of the globe.
One of the most severe implications and in-human acts perhaps never witnessed in all of previous human history were the atrocities committed against the Jews at the hands of German leadership, a series of events that forced majority of the western countries to support and bring the Jews to areas that today comprise of the state of Israel, and the occupied territories. Also termed as the "Holocaust", the atrocities against the Jews at the hands of the Germans, virtually confirmed their place in the present days regions of Israel. Thus, it would not be wrong to deduce that the 'Holocaust' was one of the primary factors for the formation of the state of Israel.
The end of World War II, and the newly formed United Nations then witnessed a move to bring about peace in the Middle East. This was done through the formation of two states, and the internationalization of state of Israel. Palestine was thus partitioned and Israel formed on May 14, 1948.
The establishment of a separate state for the Jews also witnessed majority of the Arab states rising in opposition. Among the states in Middle East who rose to oppose the establishment of Israel included Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Egypt. Yet, all these states were defeated at the hands of Israeli army. The Israelis were thus successful in securing a homeland, while the Palestinians were left without a state.
An important event in the historical perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. The war of 1967 was a pre-emptive strike by the Israelis against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Though it was presumably an pre-emptive strike, yet the objective was perhaps to take over the territories of Golan Heights bordering and under the control of Syria, the West Bank bordering and under control of Jordan, and the Gaza strip from Egypt. History is evidence to the fact that Israel more than doubled its territories in this Arab-Israeli War of 1967. It is also one of the crucial issues, which have served to prolong the said issue from being resolved, or for peace to become permanent in the said issue.
Later attempts by a number of countries of the Middle East including the United States, such as the joint attacks on Israel by Egypt and Syria in 1973, and the Camp David Accord of 1978 duly sponsored by the United States, and which involved top leaders from both Israeli and Palestine, failed miserably. The 1978 Camp David Accord however did accomplish an ally in Egypt, while the Arab world in general felt loss, as vast areas of disputed Palestine still remained unresolved and disputed.
The entire decade of 1980s, the 1990s, and well to the end of the20th century witnessed the emergence of the Palestine uprising, also known as the 'Intifada', and continued violence in the regions of occupied territories, where the young Palestinians in particular came out on the streets, at times with nothing more than sling shots and stones. At other times, with suicide bombings which left scores of Israelis killed and injured.
In response, the Israeli too responded with a result that both sides suffered numerous casualties. The Oslo Peace Accord of 1993, though was an attempt to strike a peace deal forth Palestinians, yet this event, similar to earlier attempts to prove to be a one sided affair. As critics have continuously termed the Oslo Peace Accord to have largely benefited the Israelis more than it did for the Palestinians, as the accord has allowed the Israelis control over land, water, roads, and other necessary resources.
As of the present day scenario, Israel today has some of the most advanced and superior military in the region, including both high techmilitary equipment, arms industries, and to top it all, nuclear capability matched only with the largest powers in the world. All this has been possible with economic and military assistance from the United States of America.
Aside from the unilateral role of United States of America for the state of Israel, the role of the United Nations too has been critical, as two UN Resolutions, namely UN Resolution 242 and 181both have called for return of all lands captured in the 1967Arab-Israeli War, both of which are yet to be implemented, leaving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unresolved as ever. (Shah, 2001)
The US Involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
A brief on the involvement of the United States of America in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reveals that the US first collaboration was witnessed when the United States supported the United Nations in the establishment of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948. With the United States of America taking over as the principle ally for the Jews, the British mandate (1920-1947) came to an end.
Ever since the establishment of the State of Israel was declared, the United States has continued to support Israel in practically all areas of Israeli economy. According to various studies, the state of Israel has been one of the largest beneficiaries of US aid ever since its establishment in1948, which according to estimates has today reached some 3 billion dollars annually.
One of the most significant aspects of US involvement, in the historical perspective, has been the unilateral support provided to Israelis during the 1956 debacle of Suez Canal. In the said debacle, Israel together with Britain and France invaded the Sinai Peninsula in order to re-gain access to the Suez Canal, which the Egyptians had nationalized. The United States of America, duly sided with the Israelis, the British and the French in their endeavour to re-open the Suez Canal for western trade in general and Israeli shipping in particular.
The United States however forced the triad group of states to withdraw their forces from the Sinai Peninsula. The US together wither most staunch Middle Eastern ally, Israel feared that the capture of Suez Canal could interpret into a loss for one of the most vital trading links for the West for the Middle East in general, and for Israel in particular. As history later proved, the United States has been a long-time supporter, and perhaps the largest ally for Israel since the latter's establishment in May 1948. (Shah, 2001)
The EU Involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
As for the European involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one may note that the British Empire was perhaps the single largest ally for the Jews, not only assisting the Jews to move to their biblical homeland in Palestine; it was the British Empire who helped in the establishment of both Zionism and the establishment of the state of Israel.
However the second half of the 20th century is witness to the increasing Israeli aversion to European involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thus, one may note that Israel has mostly preferred a bi-lateral solution to the said conflict, however when this was found impossible, Israel chose to accept and follow US dictates. At the same time any European Union involvement of assistance was more than rejected.
The reasons for Israel's singular stance and alliance with the United States is found in the EU's continued 'pro-Arab ‘posture, which gave a rather stronger support and sympathies for the Arabs in general, and the Palestinian people in particular. Another vitally important factor which somewhat strengthened Israel's alliance with the United States has been their common military and political polices.
In contrast, EU has yet to forge a common foreign and security policy, as it continues its status as an association of various sovereign states, each with a different foreign and security policy respectively. Perhaps the strongest factor for Israel to continue her allegiance with the United States of America, as compared to the European Union, is the former's proven policies both direct and indirect support for Israel. Israel's only former alliances were the French, which too ended in the middle of the 1960s, and to some extent Germany.
Thus, both the conditional and the unconditional support for Israel has been forthcoming from the United States only, hence the loss of, or absence of any confidence in Europeans for the Israelis respectively, a stance which perhaps continues to date (Become, 2004)
The US Approach
One of the best evidences to describe and support the US approach, and her pursuit of policies/theories of realism can be found in an article titled "Thank God for the death of the UN" authored by the architect of Iraq war, Richard Pearle in "The Guardian's" issue of March21, 2003.
Thus, realist policies as pursued by the United States of America can well be observed all over the world in general, and the Middle East in particular, which is also the subject of the present dissertation. Unlike the rhetoric of freedom and democracy as generally preached byte United States of America the world over, it is the suppressive and more than autocratic regimes who are favoured and with whom allegiances formed.
History is evidence to this fact that it has been more than a better part of past half a century, since the United States has been in pursuit of supporting self-appointed leaders across the globe. Examples of various assistance and support programs include financial and military assistance, taking measures for the security of, and providing advice on political and economic issues. The realist approach is thus evident in the pursuit of the support and assistance provided to both military regimes as well as 'brutal' leaders in a number of countries around the world..
Examples to this respect include support of Shah of Iran in 1954 against the democratically elected government of Mohammad Masada; or first arming the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein and later keeping silent over the use of chemical weapons against Iranians and Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraq during the era of the Islamic Revolution in Iran led by Ayatollah Khomeini. The realist approach of the successive US administrations can also be witnessed in the support of Kuwait, when this small kingdom was attacked by the Iraqis, and later against the same Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, in the US war against terrorism, in the aftermath of September 11 events. (Safi,2005)
The EU Approach
In contrast, the European Union has by and large pursued policies based on theory of Constructivism, though the results have been the same: failure to accomplish a long lasting peace in the Middle East in general and for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular. European democratization expert Richard Young puts the stance taken byte European nations as the "third way", and terms the approach as “ineffectual", simply because it also resulted in a failure with respect to a permanent peace for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Young further comments that even though the European Union enjoyed an advantage over the US in both strategic terms as well as qualitative and quantitative terms, the European Union suffered failures in areas of decision-making.
According to Young's suggestions, the fault lay in the absence of the language of democracy, with more emphasis on indirect methods including introduction of economic reforms, and programmes for the promotion of good governance and the development of a civil society respectively. Though such approaches falling in the category of constructivism have had the tendency of becoming more popular, as compared to methods pursued in democracy, the results obtained were failure at resolving issues and policies becoming ineffective in the long run.
Another factor which more than provided for a different approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the European nations was that of financing through aid and grants. Although EU reform-related funding was favoured over any similar US approach, the EU approach albeit the spate of ever-new action plans, research papers, and equally effective initiatives practically failed to bring any increase in the promotion of, or sustaining of democracy measures in the Middle East in general, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular.
It was further noted that European governments had the tendency to reassert more on democracy measures as compared the US policies of pursuing "socio-economic and techno-governance" measures. In Young's views, the au was recommended to pursue a more comprehensive political approach, which would not have a tendency of isolating the civil society and governance initiatives; instead they would serve as positive political interventions whenever there was an opportunity to do so. (Democracy Digest, 2004)
The US and EU Involvement In The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict In Light of the Theories of International Relations
Before one ponders on the extent of involvement for both the United States of America and the European Union in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is only imperative to have a glimpse of the present scenario of the said conflict. The United States of America as well as majority, if not all the countries of the Europe remember the former leader of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat as an individual who obstructed as well as sponsored terrorism.
Yet in the eyes of the people of Palestine, and to some extent some of the European nations, Arafat enjoyed a popular place as a crafty politician and as a leader of the Palestinians. Arafat's name in the Arab world too remains ever popular. With the new and somewhat moderate leadership at the helm of Palestinian Authority under Abu Maze, both the United States of America and the European nations well realize that they can forge plan to convince the people of Palestine to accept the legitimacy of Israel, in return gaining a sovereign Palestinian state, and possibly lasting peace in the Middle East.
The acceptance and respective recognition of the state of Israel by the Palestinian people would not only end the continuing violence and tensions which have gripped the region for more than half a century, it will also tend to mend the damaged US image the world over, as well as repair the rift between United States strongest ally, the European Union.
A brief into the approaches of both the United States of America and the European Union nations reveals that each pursued a somewhat different policy; the United States of America in pursuit of realist policies as is evident from the unilateral support to and for the state of Israel; while the European Union pursued policies of constructivism based on socialization, understanding and pushing for negotiations as a means to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
These two equally different approaches of the US and the EU were more than apparent, however these policies came to a halt after the events of September 11,2001.
One of the strongest factors which have somewhat forced the European nations to accept the stance taken by the United States is the war on terrorism initiated after September 11 attacks on US soil. The said attacks led the US to re-assert and re-examine her role in the Middle East in general, and for the state of Israel in particular. Since the attack on US soil is no longer a threat as it was converted into reality on September 11, the US has had to eliminate and in turn strengthen her realist approach of protecting her own soil as well as that of her most strongest ally in the Middle East, that of the state of Israel.
Keeping in view the strong economic and military alliance between the state of Israel and the United States of America, it should of no surprise that the US war on terrorism would be utilized to further cement the existing strong relationships between the US and Israel. This also implies that the US would not hesitate to levy economic sanctions, or take military action, if and whenever she feels that there is a threat of terrorism, including reprisals against suicide bombings and other attacks by the Palestinians through Israeli forces.
The US war on terrorism also aims to 'protect' other moderate allies of the US in the Arab world. Though it remains to be seen, whether the US would indeed be able to completely win over the hearts of her Arab friends in the Middle East, keeping in view of US unilateral support for the state of Israel; for the Palestinians this means a diminishing support from the European nations, as they too have somewhat begun to favour the US, in particular on the issue of terrorism.
Another set of factors which have somewhat served to bring relevant changes in the policies of the European nations, including their rejection of international relations theories of constructivism include the US foreign policy, in particular during the era of the present Bush Administration. One may thus note that the US has chalked out its own course after September 11, somewhat rejecting any regards for an establishment or initiation of any dialogue with the nations on the other end of the Atlantic Ocean.
Europeans too are at the crossroads, as they feel dejected after a number of international agreements and issues stand rejected by the United States of America. Examples to this effect include the Kyoto Agreement, The ABM Treaty, and the International Criminal Court, all of which are evidence of the disrespect of international institutions by the United States, hence the spate of tensions and rift with the European nations.
These rifts and tensions between the US and the EU were further widened in the wake of anti-Americanism across majority, if not the entire Europe, forcing both the followers of realist theories as well as those of constructivism for the eventual fate of US actions. One aspect is however clear, and that is the spate of unilateral actions not only forth Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also for a number of international issues by the US will only change after the end of the present Presidential term of the US Administration. This strategy has also led many to ask themselves on the nature of American policies to come, and the extent to which the US will pursue her ideals of realism.
The international theory of constructivism as pursued by a majority of European nations can also be evidenced in the European nations ‘somewhat pro-Palestinian policies. Some of the recent examples to this respect include the 'Venice Declaration' signed in 1980, which provided the Palestinian Liberation Organization a legitimate partnership with the European Union, in turn paving the path for a Palestinian state addressed for a common foreign European policy objectives.
The decade of the 1990s is witness to the largest donations from the Europeans forth Palestinian people, including a rise at a time when the Israeli authorities halted the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. Other initiatives which more than provide evidence for the pursuit of policies of Constructivism in particular and Europe'spro-Palestinian support in general. I n this context, the European Union continues to remain a strong proponent for Palestinian people, such as the peace proposal titled 'Roadmap' initiated by the Quartet, duly initiated in 2002.
These conditions and initiatives have however changed, in particular after the September 11 events. The EU nations now in a state of perplexity and confusion as the have begun to realize the ever changing geopolitical situation in the Middle East in general and within the disputed territories of West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights, with each of Palestinians and the Israelis claiming their rights respectively.
Yet another factor which provides credence to the changing policies of Europe towards the Palestinians include the somewhat culpable role of Palestine's former leader Yasser Arafat. This factor was further precipitated with the idea that the Palestinian ideology behind the spate of suicide bombings and other forms of attacks against the Israelis was more than just ideology, or for that matter accomplishment of a Palestinian state. These factors more than worsened and weakened the otherwise strong pro-Palestinian sentiments, policies and aid byte Europeans, in turn turning towards a realist approach as taken and pursued by the United States of America. (Lynn, 2005)
The Major Levels of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict In Light of the Theories of Realism and Constructivism
Though both the international theories of Realism and Constructivism have been, and continue to be pursued in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict bay number of nations and parties involved, a broader insight would reveal a number of levels of conflict where both the issues and players have a different level. As will be evident in the following lines, all the issues and players to the said conflict are somewhat similar and interconnected proving a singular approach, rather than a distinction as one may wish to otherwise assume.
Realism and Constructivism in the International Perspective
For example at the international level of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it has been common for foreign powers to levy their influence in the region of the conflict. Example to this respect may be witnessed in the era of 1800, when Russia, France and the Great Britain were the major players.
Thereafter, in the middle of the 20th century, these powers were somewhat replaced by world's two greatest superpowers, namely the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR, as also the present-day Russia. Moving on, one may note that the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in yet another change, making France, China and Germany as the major players respectively.
A brief on the strategic manipulation of a region by either of the powers would show that each major power or nation would select or align herself with an ethnic or religious minority, and move on to forge formidable base through the chosen minority. Evidence to this respect can be witnessed in the choice of Catholic Marinates in Lebanon by the French, and the selection of Sunni Arabs first by the Turks and later by the Great Britain respectively.
A similar strategy was adopted by Great Britain through the import/immigration of Hashemite family from the Arabian city of Mecca for Jordan and the Jews from the various parts of Europe duly relocated in Palestine. One may note that in each of the said cases, the local groups or parties had a set of their own interests and legitimate reasons for their relocation, all of which were expertly utilized by foreigners for the latter's purpose.
Taking on the same line of strategy, the United States of America as another example chose three major non-Arab nations to fulfil her own desires, interests and objectives respectively. These nations included the states of Iran, Israel and Turkey, though good relations were nurtured with other Arabian states as well such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but to a lesser extent. However, a spate of violent acts on the part of individuals/groups from the same states forced the United States to change her strategies and renew her alliances in the region of the Middle East.
Example to this respect includes the take-over of Iran by Ayatollah-Khomeini duly overthrowing a trusted US ally, the Shah of Iran. This was followed by an escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 1982. Notable events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict included the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the siege of Beirut, the Sabra and Satilla tragedies, the death of 241marines in Beirut, the hijacking of an American commercial airliner, and the holding of American hostages by Iran for 5 years.
From the US perspective, each of the above violent acts precipitated change; a change from the previous policies of alliances with regional players/groups, to the more stringent and realist approach. The period between 1979 when the Iranian revolution overthrew the Shah of Iran, to the early part of the 1990s decade, the US endeavoured to nurture and create new alliances; however, each of the alliances somewhat failed for one reason or the other.
For example a closer liaison was developed with Egypt immediately after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, an arrangement with Iraq, renewed efforts to build a liaison with Iran through secret arms shipments, and the assistance provided to Syria in 1991 in the Gulf War of the same year. This was followed by a close relationship with the then Israeli government under Prime Minister Shamir, which included a negotiated settlement for arriving at a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This deal however did not materialize as the Shamir government lost in the elections of June 1992, once again leaving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unresolved as ever.
Realism and Constructivism In The Regional Perspective
Discussing the various levels of conflict within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one may also note that aside from the international players and equally international issues, which provided the subject conflict an international status, there has been a regional level as well. For example, within the Middle Easter group of nations, each country vies and competes with the other for a number of issues and factors including, but not limited to influence, security, land, and water.
Examples to this respect may be witnessed in the infighting between Syria and Iraq over some of the said issues. Then there is the ever disputed rivals in Israel and Jordan, each of who claim ownership to the disputed regions and territories of West Bank, a region to which the Palestinians too claim as their historical land.
On similar lines, Syria has always felt comfortable if and when she is assured that there is a friendly government in the neighbouring state of Lebanon, hence her hostility with Lebanon. The state of Israel too harbours similar sentiments about Lebanon, hence here too the same regional level of hostility respectively.
One of the most serious incursions within neighbours occurred when Iraq invaded her neighbour Kuwait in 1990, a conflict that also brought the United States amidst the conflict with some 500,000 Americans in support of Kuwait. The Iraq-Kuwait war was indeed one of the most deadly conflicts ever, as it resulted in huge suffering for the Iraqis, not to mention consequent uprisings in Iraq and Turkey.
In turn, the above deductions and distinctions allow us to ask the basics of the said conflict. This queries may include the number of people/parties to each side, the extent of ownership of land, the distribution of land, the ownership to resources of the region, the import of resources to the conflict, and finally, if there ever was, ores a viable and permanent solution such solutions as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Stockton, 1993)
Krasner’s Sovereignty In Light of International Relations Theories of Realism and Constructivism
However, the term sovereignty has been challenged by one Stephen Krasner, author of the famous work titled, "Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy", duly published in 1999 by the Princeton University Press. According to the author it is the same term of sovereignty that has been elusively used as myth, and expertly converted into a science of statecraft.
Krasner has based his findings on historical study, which he traces back to15th century when major European power, with the exception of England agreed to sign a document titled "Peace of Westphalia" in 1648. As also one of the meanings of the term sovereignty as articulated by Krasner, it was the 'Peace of Westphalia" which laid the foundations of territorial integrity. The reality, according to Krasner, is quite the contrary, as norms of non-intervention had practically no relationship with the said peace accord, as the same were articulated in the second half of the 18th century.
Krasner's writing on sovereignty though explains some four different meanings and their applications in international politics and international relation theories; it is the 'Westphalia sovereignty ‘that more than explains the dilemma of such conflicts as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its entirety. Thus, according to Krasner explanation of sovereignty, the 'Westphalia sovereignty ‘comprises of two principles; namely the territoriality and the exclusion of external actors from domestic authority structures.
Other types of sovereignty as noted by Krasner include international sovereignty, domestic sovereignty, and interdependence sovereignty respectively.
International sovereignty refers to the practices that are linked tithe mutual recognition and usually between territorial entities that have formal juridical independence. Domestic sovereignty implies to the relationship of the organization of public authority within a state, and to the level of effective control exercised by holding authority.
Finally, the interdependence sovereignty refers to the ability of public authorities to regulate flow of information, ideas, goods, people, pollutants, or capital across the borders of their state.
Krasner's original premise on sovereignty is based on the fundamental distinction between authority and control, even though the author himself claims that the line between the two is often diminished. Thus, Krasner rules that it is the group of policy makers and rulers, and not the heads of states that make the choices about institutions, politics, and about politics. It is the decision of the rulers, which governs the choice between international legal sovereignty and Westphalia sovereignty.
Modern political history, according to Krasner is based not on norms, but on the exceptions as laid down by the rulers. Krasner's writings also confirm the premise that today's world does not honour universal rule of international legal sovereignty, or the premise that mutual recognition be offered tithe formally independent territorial entities, or nations. In addition, Krasner’s writings also confirm that present day lip service of on-intervention is a privilege available to a handful of powerful nations. And that state autonomy and human rights, otherwise found in contemporary environment are values placed at two opposite ends to the extent of a conflict.
From the above discussion on the writings to the likes of Stephen Krasner, it would be apparent that rulers instead of the states are the real actors in the real political arena, and that the state has no value except for the regime who is in power. This would also infer that the human being as the principal actor on the stage of world history and international politics enjoys precedence over all the institutions, structures, and that personal decisions override international norms.
Examples of Krasner's premise of 'Westphalia sovereignty’, which were openly violated, include "the illegitimacy of revolutionary regimes(the Holy Alliance), the provision of national security (the Platt Amendment imposed on Cuba by the United States), problems of drug running (the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama) or the protection of the Soviet commonwealth (the Brezhnev doctrine)." (Krasner, 1999, pp264)
International relations theories, including Realism and Constructivism as discussed in the above dissertation strive to explain the differing modes of power politics by different players and upon equally variable issues. However, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one example of the numerous similar conflicts and issues around the world, and over the ages also provides a glimpse how human beings have made theories, broken them, and then remade them to suit their prime objectives.
Beginning from the international theory of realism, as practiced by a number of western governments and states, to the more conservative and normative theories such as constructivism, one may note that in essence, each had its own framework of ideas; and each chose its own groups/parties to pursue, propagate, nurture or even directly assist their chosen allies. These lines of strategy brings onto the leading term of 'sovereignty', its limitations, extent, and above all its context in ruling states, holding on to power, and expanding power/authority through manipulation or even forced coercion.
The dissertation's primary topic, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an outstanding example of explaining the term sovereignty, and how various global players/nations have acted (according to some for the last more than hundred years, and on the obvious since the last half century) both in favour of, and against the very principles of sovereignty, that is if there ever was the application of the term. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict also highlights some of the leading aspects such as the acceptance of, and transgression of basic human rights and those of a minority (the armed struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinian people for ownership to land, water and other basic necessities of life).
The conflict equally highlights the increasing role of a number of international financial institutions (international donor agencies have generously donated to the Palestinian people through various European governments; according to one estimate the Palestinians have received the highest amount of per capita aid in the entire third world group of countries at approximately 315 USD per person).
The above dissertation discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the differing approaches by the United States of America and the European Union nations also brings to light one of the present day’s most vital dilemmas; terrorism. The Jewish populations residing within Israel condemn the Palestinians and term the acts of the latter as terrorist’s acts.
The Palestinians, on the other hand not only reject their stance as terrorism, they insist that their struggle is aimed at obtaining the basic of rights as promised under chartered by International Human Rights and other similar instruments respectively. One may thus observe, that whether it is the Realist approach as pursued by the United States of America and her friends, or the more conservative approach of Constructivism, long pursued by the Europeans with particular reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; there lies a very thin line between the two.
The reasons are obvious, as none has resulted, let alone made significant strides towards a lasting peace towards the subject dissertation's primary topic: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This not imply that peace to this Middle Eastern region is impossible. On the contrary, it proves that either or both the theories could be questionable.
One aspect is however too clear. The use of force in the Middle Eastern Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot bring about any peace, democracy, or provide justice to the aggrieved parties. Peace and democracy has to accomplished from within, and cannot be imposed from the outside. Autocratic regimes using means to suppress their own populations and silence those voicing their concern for basic human rights cannot ever move towards a lasting peace, in turn developing their own nations.
Profound examples to this respect can be found in the unilateral support of Shah of Iran, as also mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, and a repeat of the Iranian reaction to her policies is by all means not the answer to the permanent solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In contrast, the other party may find a probable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the joint removal, or flexibility in number of areas, which are presumed as rights by one party, and hurdles to the conflict. These include amongst other the rigid documentary resolutions, plans, agenda, and offers including Resolution 242, the 1980 Venice Declaration by the European Union which recognized Palestinian's right for self-determination, the 1981 King Fahd’s Plan, the 1988 PLO recognition of Israel, the 1998 European Union declaration, and the latest plan of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
On the other hand, the Israelis too must learn to shun the otherwise 'realist' approach as pursued by the United States, which primarily aims to terminate all terrorists, through the use of extreme power tactics; instead the Israelis must learn to use the more softer channels such as the judicial apparatus, monetary controls, and diplomatic means to frustrate the designs of terrorists. Thus, long lasting peace can certainly be accomplished through a minute focus on equally minute issues including, but not limited to the status of Jerusalem, the rights of refugees, the right to basic amenities for life such as water, and respect for border by each party to the conflict.
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