The French Foreign Minister’s Epic Cluelessness

John Kerry

Laurent Fabius

We have had fun at the expense of John Kerry, who only aspires to be a Frenchman. It turns out that the real article–in this case, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius–can match Kerry’s myopia. Agence France-Presse reports:

A successful outcome to the US-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians would be like a “thunderbolt” for peace in the crisis-ridden Middle East, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Saturday.

“Even if we speak of other neighbouring countries — the dramatic conflict in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt — the fact remains that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is one of the issues, perhaps the central one, for the region,” he said in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after meeting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

“In a particularly troubled regional environment, it is even more important that we advance towards peace here,” Fabius said.

“If these negotiations are successful, it will be a thunderbolt for peace…a great stabilising element.”

This is a delusion that we have criticized many times: that the key to peace in the Middle East is resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In fact, Israel is just about the only peaceful place in the region. The Palestinians have long been used as pawns by corrupt Arab states; that will stop only when a broader reform comes to the Muslim world. In other words, don’t hold your breath.

Fabius says that “peace” between Israel and the Palestinians will be a “thunderbolt” and “a great stabilising element” in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. This is insanity. What concession could Israel make that would cause Assad to stop gassing his people? Or that would cause his opponents to lay down their arms? Or that would reconcile the Egyptian Army and the Muslim Brotherhood? Or that would cause Egyptian Muslims to stop burning down churches? Or that would stop the violence in Iraq? The conflicts that have set the Middle East aflame have zero to do with Israel. If Israel disappeared from the face of the Earth, it would do nothing to resolve the violent conflicts in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya or anywhere else.

Why do diplomats like Kerry and Fabius persist in this craziness? I think it is like the story about the guy who, late at night, is crawling around on his hands and knees under a street light. Another man passes by and asks what he is doing; the first man says he is looking for a lost watch. The second guy asks, “Is this where you lost it?” The first man answers, “No, I lost it over there”–pointing some distance away–”but the light is better here.”

I don’t think liberals like Kerry and Fabius are so stupid that they don’t realize that Israel has nothing to do with the current conflicts in Arab countries across the Middle East. But the light is better there: that is, they have no idea what to do about Egypt, Syria, and so on, but one thing the West can always do is pressure Israel to make concessions for “peace.” Will that work, for Israel or anyone else? Of course not. But liberal diplomats continue to pull the only lever they know how to get hold of.

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