This piece was originally published in Vol. 2, Issue 1 (Spring 2012) of the Southern California International Review (SCIR), USC’s Undergraduate Journal of International Relations.
Peacemaking efforts in intractable conflicts rarely set high expectations for success. The conflict’s prolonged, historical nature paired with its deep psychological wounds make it nearly impossible for leaders to adopt political solutions. Given these difficult realities, the third-party mediators who lead peacemaking efforts are rarely held responsible for the outcome of negotiations—the difficult circumstances are deemed to be outside of a mediator’s control. Intrigued by the lack of consideration devoted to the third-party mediator, this study raises the question of whether a mediator could in fact have a significant influence on the outcome of an international negotiation, and if so, what factors could make some mediators more successful than others in leading disputing parties to reach an agreement. Using comparative analysis, this study offers an answer by evaluating the differences between the Egyptian-Israeli negotiations in 1978-9 and the Syrian-Israeli negotiations in 2000. These two cases demonstrate significant similarities, and yet one reached an agreement while the other ended in failure. While systemic, domestic, and individual analyses each attempt to explain the cases’ differing outcomes without considering the role of the mediator, these explanations are not entirely convincing. By examining the influence of third-party mediators, three relevant conclusions emerge:
1. A mediator who pursues a directive strategy, and has the power to enact it, is more likely to reach an agreement than one who resorts to merely facilitative tactics.
2. A mediator who prioritizes the peace process over other national security concerns is more likely to reach an agreement than one who does not deem the agreement to be essential to the national interest.
3. A mediator who utilizes team members with significant decision-making authority will be more likely to reach an agreement than one who does not.
These three conclusions suggest that a third-party mediator can have a significant influence on the outcomes of a negotiation—one that can rival, and at times supersede, systemic, domestic, or individual conditions.
On the week of January 3, 2000, the citizens of Shepherdstown, Pennsylvania decorated store windows with the same peace propaganda posters used twenty years earlier to celebrate the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. In 1979, Egypt became the first state to establish bilateral peace with Israel, and in 2000, as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa traveled to Shepherdstown to engage in an unprecedented level of negotiations, the international community could not resist the urge to hope for a similar outcome. The 1978 Camp David Summit led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and was the “yardstick” against which all other mediation efforts would be measured. Shepherdstown shared a particularly “eerie resemblance” with Camp David, and as the New York Times reported, comparing and contrasting the two was “inevitable, because parallels [were] so explicit.” Nonetheless as spectators evaluated the many similarities and differences between the two cases—the historical context, the issues to be negotiated, the prospect of success—there seemed to be one factor that escaped public scrutiny—the identity of the mediator himself. It is possible the role of the mediator was disregarded as being insignificant in comparison to the factors surrounding the negotiating parties or that the mediators —Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton—were viewed to be so similar that a comparison was not deemed to be of merit.
Unfortunately the Shepherdstown negotiations, and the Geneva summit which followed it, failed to achieve an agreement between Syria and Israel, and, in attempt to interpret the event’s failure, comparisons to the Camp David Summit resurfaced. Again, differences between the negotiating parties—their leaders, their domestic politics, and their position within the international system—dominated the discourse. Each of these explanations has merit, yet none is fully convincing. Intrigued by the lack of consideration devoted to the third-party mediator, this study raises the question of whether this variable could have a significant influence on the outcome of an international negotiation, and if so, what factors could make some mediators more successful than others in leading disputing parties to reach an agreement.
II. RESEARCH METHODS AND SELECTION OF CASES
This is a comparative case study that utilizes a method of difference framework. To succeed in this effort, two cases must be selected that are similar in many respects but nevertheless have differing outcomes. The strength of a comparative study is entirely dependent on case selection; cases must have convincingly significant similarities. Although no two cases are identical, the negotiations between Israel and Egypt, mediated by US President Jimmy Carter in 1978-79, and the negotiations between Israel and Syria, mediated by US President Bill Clinton in 2000, offer a remarkably strong comparison. This study does not intend to provide a complete account of all events surrounding either of the cases, but rather to simply consider and weigh the systemic, domestic, and individual level factors that may have contributed to the negotiations’ outcome.
Case One: Camp David Negotiations 1978-1979
While there is no way to briefly summarize a history between two nations that have been tenuous neighbors for thousands of years, this study is generally concerned with the period following the Six Day War ending June 10, 1967, after which Israel took control of the Sinai Peninsula. In response to the Six Day War, the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 242, which remains the primary international statement on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Resolution 242 calls on Arab states to recognize Israel’s right to existence, while requiring Israel to withdraw from territories acquired through war. Since the UN first articulated this “territory for peace” solution, it proved to be a challenging concept. However, Egypt was the first state to adopt its precepts, albeit warily. Egypt was adamant about recovering its lost land, and after a disappointing performance in the 1973 Yom Kippur War that exposed its insufficient military capabilities, it finally seemed willing to give the “land for peace” strategy a chance. Under the guidance of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy,” Egypt and Israel signed the Sinai II agreement in 1975, in which both states pledged to use diplomatic means to resolve the conflict with Israel. While this major development seemed to suggest that the two states were well on their way to full peace, it was also evident that both parties had drastically different views on what a peace could look like. Additionally, deep distrust between the parties prevented them from negotiating directly, and throughout the period the United States established itself as the only mediating party with the relationships and the leverage to advance Arab-Israeli relations.
Although the US put the Middle East on hold during the 1976 election, the new Carter Administration was eager to return to the cause. The Carter Administration first sought to achieve a comprehensive peace that would address all of the significant outstanding issues in the region. Intending to draw from the successful 1973 Geneva conference, Carter tried to establish another multilateral Geneva conference, in which all major players in the region would negotiate alongside the United States and the Soviet Union. This strategic framework collapsed as almost all parties disagreed over the general principles of a potential solution, the appropriate process of negotiations, and the participation of a Palestinian delegation.
Just as prospects for improvement seemed dim, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made a surprising and unprecedented move by volunteering to travel to Jerusalem and speak directly with the Israeli Knesset. Sadat was the first Arab leader to officially visit Israel, and although his speech articulated his long-standing position, the visit broke down significant psychological barriers between the two nations. About a month after Sadat’s visit to Israel, Begin traveled to Ismailiya, Egypt to engage in direct negotiations with Sadat. In their first attempt at direct negotiation, the two heads of state left with drastically differing accounts of the outcomes. According to the Israelis, Sadat was on the verge of accepting Israeli proposals, and if it hadn’t been for his hard-line advisers, would have done so. Sadat however claims to have left the meetings feeling disillusioned by Begin’s “ridiculous position.” At one point when Begin suggested maintaining settlements in the Sinai peninsula, Sadat actually thought it was a joke. Overall the Egyptians left believing that the Israelis were still unprepared to accept Egyptian sovereignty over the Sinai. On January 3, 1978, Israel began work on four new settlements in the Sinai, which angered Egyptians and Americans, who both thought Israel had committed to freezing settlements.
While direct relations between Sadat and Begin seemed to hit an impasse, the Carter Administration became more active in communicating with each side, working to understand each side’s proposals and trying to draw concessions to create a foundation for future agreement. On June 30, 1978, Carter was ready for bolder action and issued letters to Begin and Sadat inviting them to a formal summit. The Camp David Summit became a thirteen-day negotiation, held from September 5, 1978 to September 17, 1978. President Carter and his team mediated the negotiations, which were largely secluded from any media presence. While the mediations were trilateral, Begin and Sadat only met directly on the first and final days of the summit. The main issues of contention were Israel’s settlements, oilfields, and military bases remaining in the Sinai Peninsula and the question of “linkage,” or to what degree a Palestinian solution should accompany a bilateral Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement. Carter’s team shaped both of the resulting agreements: “A Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel,” and
“A Framework for Peace in the Middle East.”
In the months following Camp David, each party confronted political problems, and rather than quickly concluding the negotiations by signing a formal treaty, the process reached an impasse. By the end of 1978, prospects for peace seemed dim. Carter reentered the negotiations, ramped up US financial and military assistance to each state, and conceded loose linkage by allowing a weak and ambiguous statement on Palestinian peace. Eventually a formal Egyptian-Israeli agreement was signed on March 26, 1979, guaranteeing the full return and demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula and the normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt. Thirty years later the agreement remains unviolated.
Case Two: Shepherdstown and Geneva Negotiations 1999-2000
The history of issues on the Syrian-Israeli border are remarkably similar to those of the Egyptian-Israeli border. Much like the Sinai peninsula, the Israelis invaded Syria’s Golan Heights during the Six-Day war in 1967 and have ruled over the territory ever since. Although the Syrians tried to retake the land during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, they were ultimately unsuccessful and instead signed a disengagement agreement, forged by Henry Kissinger, agreeing to a ceasefire that continues to be enforced today. Under the auspices of UN Resolution 242, the Syrians believe the Golan territory is rightfully theirs, and they have refused to establish peaceful relations with Israel until every last inch of it is returned. Led by Prime Minister Hafez al-Asad, Syria criticized Egypt’s “land for peace” deal with Israel in 1978 and saw Sadat’s move as a betrayal of the Arab world. As Syria held strongly to its commitment to Pan-Arab nationalism, prospects of involving Asad in the peace process seemed dim throughout the 1980s. However, the 1990s opened a new chapter of hope on the Syrian front. After Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait in 1990, Syria joined the US-led UN coalition in the Persian Gulf War and afterwards agreed to participate in the 1991 Madrid Conference. Despite Syria’s advance towards peace, the Israelis, led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, were only interested in “peace for peace” agreements, refusing to give up the territory Syria clearly sought. However, when Labor-party reformer Yitzhak Rabin took office in 1992, peace on the Syrian front finally seemed attainable. Rabin understood that peace with Syria would require full withdraw from the Golan Heights and pledged to “withdraw fully from the Golan Heights provided Israel’s [security] needs were met and provided Syria’s agreement was not contingent on any other agreement—such as an agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” This pledge became known as the “Rabin deposit,” as it was a confidential commitment made to US negotiators to be presented to Syrian leadership. Although Secretary of State Warren Christopher communicated the offer to the Syrians, little was done to prioritize movement on the Syrian-track. Instead, attention went to the Palestinians who were simultaneously negotiating the Oslo Accords to be signed in 1993. Shortly after Oslo, a peace agreement with Jordan was signed in October of 1994.
During this period Secretary Christopher continued to meet with Rabin to discuss the Syrian track. On July 18, 1994, Rabin reconfirmed his previous commitment and specified it further to meet Asad’s demands. According to the long-held Syrian position, full withdraw required a withdraw to the June 4, 1967 line—the line that divided Israeli and Syrian forces on the eve of the Six-Day War. According to Ross and Christopher’s accounts of their meeting, Rabin agreed to withdraw to the June 4th line under the condition that security needs were met. This major breakthrough led to an “aims and principles” non-paper that began outlining security arrangements. Although various obstacles arose during this time, forward progress was evident. With an election approaching Rabin decided to put the Syrian track on pause, as talk of possible concessions could be controversial to his campaign.
In November of 1995, after speaking at a peace rally meant to promote the Oslo Accords, Rabin was assassinated by a right-winged Israeli extremist. His death shocked the international community and increased domestic support for Rabin’s commitment to peace, giving Shimon Peres, Rabin’s successor as Prime Minister, tremendous momentum to move negotiations forward. Upon entering office Peres was unaware of the commitments Rabin had made on the Syrian front and was surprised in particular by the promise to withdraw to the June 4th line; nevertheless, he told President Clinton he would affirm any commitments “Yitzak [had] made.” Peres’ team made progress on the Syrian track through meetings at the Wye River Plantation outside of Washington; however, as the third round of Wye talks began in February of 1996, a series of terrorist attacks—four suicide bombings in nine days—led Peres to suspend the negotiating process. The political climate in Israel drastically changed, and in May’s national election Benjamin Netanyahu, a right-wing Likud leader, defeated Peres, ending hope of realizing Rabin’s vision for peace. Netanyahu’s term left little room for progress, and while some attention was given to peace on the Palestinian front, little was done to address Syria. In 1999 Israel elected Ehud Barak, a protégé of Rabin, to replace Netanyahu. Clinton’s Administration had supported Barak’s campaign and was particularly encouraged by Barak’s willingness to make historic strides in the direction of peace—especially on the Syrian front.
After months of preparatory talks, Syria and Israel agreed to convene intensive high-level negotiations at Shepherdstown, West Virginia on January 3, 2000. While Barak had not yet confirmed a commitment to the Rabin deposit, he had alluded to it and was expected to deliver it. Hafez al-Asad, whose health was beginning to decline, did not attend the negotiations and sent Foreign Minister Farouk Shara on his behalf. Previously Asad had been unwilling to send senior-level officials to negotiations without preconditions, thus sending Shara was a notable concession. However, some Israelis interpreted Asad’s absence as a sign that Shepherdstown would not be the final round of negotiations. Additionally, Israeli domestic pressures had increased in the preceding weeks. Former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon publically labeled the Rabin deposit as a “dangerous” proposition, and Barak’s own coalition seemed weary of giving up any territory. With these fears in mind, Barak privately told US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk in mid-December of 1999 that due to the change in his political circumstances, he would be unable to deliver the deposit. Despite Barak’s trepidation, the American team still believed Shepherdstown would produce an agreement, or at least make large strides in that direction. Shara made several concessions during the round to demonstrate Syria’s conciliatory posture; nonetheless, Barak did not show flexibility on any territorial issues, offering nothing to the Syrian delegation. After four days of negotiation, the American team put forth a proposal describing Israel’s position but used bracketed language to identify the Syrian position. The draft did not put forth independent proposals and according to Ross, “reflected the reality of the Syrians agreeing on the principles of peace and the Israelis not accepting June 4 as the border.” After tabling the draft, the negotiations were suspended for the weekend; however, before reconvening, the draft was leaked to the Israeli press. Arabs were immediately outraged by the degree of concessions Syria had agreed to without being promised anything in return. Before leaving Shepherdstown, Shara directly asked Barak if he would confirm the Rabin deposit. Barak responded with only a dubious smile. The round of talks quickly concluded, and Clinton’s team was left to clean up the disaster. Although it is unclear what Clinton communicated to Asad in the following days, it was evident that Asad felt betrayed and exposed and was weary to continue talks. Nonetheless, the US team continued communication with both parties. Barak encouraged Clinton to organize a meeting with Asad, and Clinton agreed, believing that Barak would finally communicate an acceptable position.
Asad agreed, and the two met in Geneva on March 26th. Barak spoke with Clinton on the morning of the 26th to deliver his final position, which demonstrated concessions but only acknowledged withdraw to a “commonly agreed border” rather than fully affirming the June 4th line. Upon hearing the proposal, Asad immediately voiced his disinterest. Although the American delegation thought the proposal presented a fair solution, Asad would not agree to territorial tradeoffs of any kind, and the Geneva summit ended in failure only hours after it began. Clinton later described his disappointment: “In less than four years, I had seen the prospects of peace between Israel and Syria dashed three times: by terror in Israel and Peres’ defeat in 1996, by the Israeli rebuff of Syrian overtures at Shepherdstown, and by Asad’s preoccupations with his own mortality. After we parted in Geneva, I never saw Asad again.” Throughout his presidency a peace agreement between Israel and Syria seemed to be within reach; however, in the end, disagreement over a few hundred meters made the difference between peace and continued conflict. Little serious progress has been made on the Syrian front since.
III. THE INDIVIDUAL MEDIATOR
In 1991, Jacob Bercovitch, a leading academic voice in conflict and mediation studies established original data sets quantifying the variables that affect mediation success. While considering multi-level variables such as the characteristics of the involved parties, balance of power, nature of the dispute, and the duration of the conflict. In regards to Bercovitch’s variables, these two cases have several significant similarities (although the degree of similarity varies): the type/nature of issues in conflict, the importance of the dispute to each party, the relationship between the disputing parties, the international status of the parties, the parties’ acceptance of mediation and general commitment to settlement, the degree of control over the process that parties and the mediator have, the expediency of the mediation process, the environmental context of mediation, the expected likelihood of reaching a satisfactory outcome, and the rank of the mediator.
The final variable Bercovitch identifies is the mediator’s identity, skill, and strategy, which he argues can be “the most crucial variable affecting mediation outcomes.” This study will argue that this variable does reveal the primary difference between these two cases. Although mediators are often ignored, their strategic role, and the way in which it is utilized, does seem to account for the enduring shortcomings of the previous three explanations. Ironically, a comparison between these two particular mediators, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, is often overlooked because the two men have so many similarities. Both were in the same position of authority as presidents of the United States, and both were Democrats, Southerners, and optimists marked by their wit and sense of humor. Apart from their similar authority and personal histories, both Carter and Clinton had unique personal commitments to the Middle East—developing positive relationships with leaders, gaining popularity amongst citizens (although Carter more so with the Arabs and Clinton more so with the Israelis), and demonstrating impressive understanding of the region’s complex history and current conditions. In addition, both mediators entered the process in uniquely “ripe” times for negotiation, where all parties had notable benefits to be gained. Finally, despite the region being entrenched with controversy, both Carter and Clinton displayed considerable impartiality. Although specific members of Clinton’s team may have been less impartial, Clinton himself was greeted with praise in both Gaza and Jerusalem, demonstrating his ability to empathize with both sides. Despite these significant similarities, a critical analysis comparing these two mediators yields three significant differences that may hold causal influence on the negotiation’s outcome:
1. Mediation Strategy—the extent to which the mediator played an active or passive role in the negotiations.
2. Mediator’s Prioritization of the Negotiations—whether the mediator saw the negotiation to be a priority to his administration and of importance to advancing the national interest.
3. Mediator’s Use of Negotiating Team—the extent to which the mediator utilized team members effectively and maintained the group’s cohesion.
Assessing each of these differences requires comprehensive analysis, considering multiple perspectives and interpretations. This qualitative study proposes significant, but by no means binding, evaluations suggesting that, while some variables may possess greater influence, each contributed to the mediator’s effectiveness and ultimately to the negotiation’s outcome.
IV. VARIABLE ONE: MEDIATION STRATEGY
The first relevant difference between the third party mediators in these two cases is their mediation strategy. While Carter chose to directly shape the negotiations as an active, or directive mediator, Clinton allowed the negotiating parties to shape the process and slid into a more passive, facilitative role. As Zartman and Touval’s study suggests, a more active mediator is more likely to succeed, especially if he is in a powerful position that provides the resources to enforce his proposals. As Bercovtich concludes, “Mediation strategies that can prod the adversaries, and strategies that allow mediators to introduce new issues, suggest new ways of seeing the dispute, or alter the motivational structure of the parties, are more positively associated with successful outcomes than any other type of intervention.”
1. Carter succeeds as a directive facilitator intending to shape the negotiation process and outcome
1.1 Carter’s problem-solving style preferred detail-oriented, comprehensive preparation
First, President Carter’s background, interests, and political style bolstered his ability to engage directly in the negotiation process. Carter had a general inclination to be directly involved in any issue he deemed to be of importance. At times he developed a reputation as a micromanager, but his habitual attention to detail served him well as a mediator. With a background in engineering, rather than politics, Carter was trained to understand complexity, planning, and comprehensive design. This ability to comprehend intricate relationships gave him a strong edge as a tactical bargainer. Overall, Carter was a problem-solver at heart, and he would not be deterred by a difficult situation. In fact some in his administration suggest that he was actually most compelled to tackle challenging issues that no one else had been able to solve. In many regards Carter’s personal morality colored his entire approach to foreign policy—he was an idealist, who believed that with commitment and creativity, problems could be solved through cooperation. In addition to his commitment to detailed problem-solving, Carter also thrived in smaller groups, much like the setting encountered at Camp David. Carter was not a skilled orator and often fell flat on the public stage, but in smaller groups he was able to build trust through personal interaction.
1.2 Carter proactively initiates a risky summit negotiation
Second, Carter was proactive in taking a risk to initiate a summit negotiation, although the prospects for success seemed dim. Initially, Carter wanted to pursue a multilateral strategy to address comprehensive peace in the Middle East that even included the Soviet Union; however, when his strategy for a meeting in Geneva fell apart, he chose to boldly change course. After Begin and Sadat’s tragic failure at Ismailia, Sadat publically rejected continuing the negotiations. In response, Carter recognized that a “more active and forceful” approach was necessary and decided that the only solution, “as dismal and unpleasant as the prospect seemed,” was to bring Sadat and Begin together for an extensive negotiating session. He recalls:
“We [understood] the political pitfalls involved, but the situation [was] getting into an extreme state…This decision would prove to be a turning point in our effort to remove the only serious military threat to Israel’s existence, and to provide a blueprint for peace in the Middle East. At the time, prospects for progress were dismal…I was fairly confident that Sadat would cooperate with me, but I had no idea how Begin would react to my invitation.”
Carter’s only certainty was that Begin and Sadat would get nowhere on their own. The two men’s previous attempts at direct negotiation were fruitless, and their personal incompatibilities prevented them from compromise. However after making the decision to convene the summit, the Administration still had to decide what issues would be addressed and what form the negotiating process would take.
Given the initially low prospects of success, Carter’s advisers tended to be cautious in setting goals and prepared to rationalize failure. Although Carter recognized the importance of minimizing expectations, he was more interested in pursuing substantive ideas. By garnering international attention and support from the world’s political and religious leaders, he tried to impress on Sadat and Begin the importance of entering the negotiations with a willingness to make concessions. Finally, once beginning negotiations Carter shaped the process by determining when leaders would meet, when proposals would be issued, who would be consulted before issuing proposals and also by emphasizing the benefits of peace and the risks of failure. Few envisioned reaching an official agreement and suggested that the summit instead end in a more general agreement on principles. However, Carter was determined to work out the details and personally assume the risk that accompanied such an individual level effort.
1.3 Carter places no time constraints on negotiation and devotes his full attention
Third, in addition to the risk associated with convening a summit, Carter assumed an additional risk by placing no time constraints on the process and by devoting two full weeks to the negotiations. Throughout his presidency Carter demonstrated an unrivaled commitment to the Middle East peace process, but almost nothing illustrates this fact more than the shear time devoted to the Camp David Summit itself. Thirteen days secluded from the press, other domestic and international issues, and vital presidential responsibilities, Carter adamantly refused to put time limits on the negotiations in order to demonstrate his commitment to reaching an agreement. While the depth of his focus undoubtedly diverted attention from other important issues, Carter recognized that this is often the only way to reach success in the Middle East as the highly personalized political-cultural requires a strong degree of direct negotiation between leaders.
1.4 Carter develops a profound understanding of both negotiating parties
Fourth, Carter was active in acquiring a personal understanding of both Begin and Sadat. The two men differed drastically in both personality and negotiation strategy, thus his extensive efforts to reconcile the two further demonstrates his commitment to directing both parties to make concessions. Although Carter had developed a strong rapport with both Begin and Sadat before the summit, his team provided psychological briefing books that addressed how each leader could be expected to negotiate. The primary difference between Begin and Sadat was how they acted under pressure. While Sadat tended to generalize about proposals and over-arching goals, Begin paid close attention to semantics and would haggle over the meaning of individual words. Carter committed to studying how best to accommodate and communicate with each leader, and he was adept in responding to each of these strategies as his inner-engineer could navigate intricacies for Begin, while his idealism reassured Sadat’s insistence on the broader picture. When Sadat threatened to leave Camp David without concluding negotiations, Carter used his strong relationship and strategic understanding of Sadat’s interests to convince him to stay. Carter writes:
“Vance walked in with his face white, saying that Sadat had decided to withdraw completely from the negotiations and leave Camp David. Sadat had abruptly decided that our discussions would never yield an acceptable agreement and asked for a helicopter to take him to the airport in Washington. This was one of the worst moments of my life, I went to my bedroom, knelt down, and prayed, and—for some reason—decided to change from my sports shirt and jeans to a suit and tie. I went immediately to see Sadat…I explained to him the serious consequences of his breaking off the negotiations: it would damage severely the relationship between the United States and Egypt and between him and me; he would violate his word of honor to me—the basis on which Sadat and Begin had been invited to Camp David…I told him he had to stick with me…He was shaken by what I said, because I have never been more serious in my life.
Carter understood that Sadat valued their close friendship and hoped it would increase the partnership between Egypt and the United States. By emphasizing the long-term consequences ending the summit would have on this relationship both personally and politically, Carter was able to seize Sadat’s greatest fear and leverage it to save the negotiating process.
1.5 Carter sees himself as an active negotiator
Fifth, Carter himself defined his role as a “mediator and active negotiator.” Initially, Sadat encouraged the Americans to be a “full partner” in the negotiations in order to actively create independent proposals; the Israelis, however, preferred the US to take on a more symbolic role as a bridge builder between the two parties. In response to these opposing views, Carter did describe his role as a “full partner,” but on the condition that he would not try to “impose the will of the United States on others,” but instead search “for common ground on which agreements [could] be reached.” Thus, Carter chose to maintain his role as a mediator, but chose an active strategy that did advance independent proposals. In fact, the Israelis often accused the American team of being too active in the negotiations, especially when Carter took the Egyptian position towards the Sinai settlements.
Additionally, given Sadat’s disdain for details and trust in Carter, Sadat essentially gave the American President the authority and flexibility to negotiate on Egypt’s behalf. Thus, Carter actively wielded his influence as the leader of the United States to encourage concessions from both sides. As William Quandt recognizes, “Power is at the core of negotiations,” and Carter was skilled in blending pressures and incentives to arrive at a final agreement.
1.6 Carter advances a bold American position
Sixth, in addition to advancing bold and fair American proposals, Carter was personally responsible for drafting the Sinai agreement. Before beginning the summit, there was much discussion of whether the US would advance its own proposals, and many in Carter’s Administration advocated only advancing American ideas “if it [was] necessary to overcome obstacles.” However, Carter seemed to be interested in constructing a solution from the onset. Soon after taking office he wrote that his Middle East strategy was to, “put as much pressure as [he could] on the different parties to accept the solution that [the US thought was] fair.” Additionally, once constructing the process for the summit, Carter was clear that, while he would consult transparently with both sides, the American team “reserved the right and had the duty” to introduce a position of compromise. After directly shaping the negotiating technique that would require both sides to negotiate from a single-text, Carter and his team would draft proposals and discuss them with each side separately. The most impressive aspect of this technique is the extreme amount of personal involvement Carter had in developing these drafts. While the American team collectively wrote twenty-three drafts of the “Framework for Peace in the Middle East,” Carter handled the Sinai proposal, which required eight drafts, on his own. This strategy proved imperative to the success of the summit. For both Egypt and Israel, it was much easier to accept American proposals, rather than making concessions directly to each other. Direct negotiations played a very small role in the Camp David Accords, which not only gave Carter and his team an enormous responsibility, but also a crucial power to shape both the process and substance of the agreement.
1.7 Carter sees the agreement through to its completion
Finally, after concluding the summit, Cater continued to be active in following the agreement until its completion as an official peace treaty. This proved to be more difficult than originally expected as Begin reneged on previous commitments, especially in regards to the language on Palestinian autonomy. Nonetheless, Carter was willing to intercede directly as the process seemed to hit a stalemate. He traveled to both Egypt and Israel and introduced new statements, including guarantees of US military aid and financial assistance as well as commitments to act if the agreements were violated in the future. Carter maintained an active role for nearly eighteen months of negotiation until an agreement was finally signed on March 26, 1979.
Although the demands of the presidency could have limited Carter’s role, his interest in detailed problem-solving, his willingness to convene and devote tremendous time and energy to a risky summit negotiation, his profound understanding of both Begin and Sadat, and his leadership in advancing proposals demonstrate his active role as the architect of the Camp David Accords. As Brzezinski describes, “This was indeed [Carter’s] success. He was the one that gave it the impetus, the extra effort, and the sense of direction.” William Quandt echoes these conclusions:
Carter “played the role of draftsman, strategist, therapist, friend, adversary, and mediator. He deserved much of the credit for the success, and he bore the blame for some of the shortcomings. He had acted both as a statesman, in pressing for the historic agreement, and as a politician, in settling for the attainable and thinking at times of short-term gains rather than long-term consequences. In many ways the thirteen days at Camp David showed Carter at his best. He was sincere in his desire for peace in the Middle East, and he was prepared to work long hours to reach that goal. His optimism and belief in the good qualities of both Sadat and Begin were reflections of a deep faith that kept him going against long odds. His mastery of detail was often impressive. And he was stubborn. He did not want to fail.”
1. Clinton slides into a more communicative role and refuses bold, shaping action
1.1 Clinton’s problem-solving style is centered on his superb political abilities
First, Clinton’s personal and political style hindered his negotiation strategy. In many ways Clinton shared the optimism and belief in cooperative negotiating that were integral to Carter’s success. He also shared Carter’s personal interest in the Middle East peacemaking, which he demonstrated by being the first President to travel to Gaza, and the first since Nixon to visit President Asad in Damascus. However despite shared interest and optimism, two traits seem to separate Clinton from Carter. First, Clinton was much more of a politician. Many consider Clinton to be “one of the greatest political minds of a generation,” winning seven out of eight elections and serving twenty-one years in public office. President Clinton understood the domestic political situations the negotiating parties had to deal with. In particular, Clinton exerted tremendous effort and resources to get Barak elected, even sending his own political strategists Robert Shurm, Stanley Greenberg, and James Carville to aid in the campaign. Clinton was uniquely tied to Barak’s domestic political situation. Clinton the politician also had the ability to reach across barriers and appeal to both sides in a conflict; however, this also caused him to “portray positions as more flexible than they really were,” hoping that he would be able to charm his way past the details.
The second important difference between the two US Presidents is Clinton’s intellectual approach to problem solving. Clinton’s knack for politics was aided by his incredible intelligence, and multiple staff members describe Clinton’s mind as a “sponge” with a tremendous capacity to quickly absorb detailed information. Although he shared Carter’s ability to comprehend detail, he did not micromanage like Carter nor emphasize highly complex, structured problem solving. Rather, Clinton was a macro-level persuasion artist who used his ability to understand detail only as it benefitted his overarching vision. Some argue that Clinton may have become over-reliant on his intellectual ability and political savvy by failing to prepare adequately. While Carter refers to months of studying, William Quandt equates Clinton’s approach to preparation as “pulling an all-nighter.” While Clinton did have an incredible ability to hear both sides and empathize with each of them, Clinton was not one to get involved with substance. As Quandt notes:
“Those who knew Clinton best would frequently argue that his strengths and weaknesses were inseparable. He was intelligent, but not focused; personable, but not loyal; politically skillful, but deeply self-centered; flexible, but without a solid core of conviction…He had a deep need for recognition and success; was inclined toward compromise rather than principled stands; and was skillful with words and relationships to build broad coalitions of support for himself and his policies.”
Clinton preferred to be a politician with a talent for getting opposing sides to talk to each other. Both Barak and Asad considered him to be trustworthy and committed to the process, but seeing everything from a political lens may have hindered his ability to objectively push for a solution.
1.2 Clinton articulates a passive approach to the peace process throughout his term
Second, in addition to Clinton’s political mindset and improvised approach to problem solving, his Administration was hesitant to lead the Middle East peace process in general. The Clinton Administration lived by the motto, “we cannot want peace more than the parties do.” This articulates a passive approach that refuses to take the reins. Obviously this does not mean that Clinton did not want to play an important role in the peace process, indeed his record shows that his administration was involved in the Middle East peace process throughout his presidency; however, it does suggest that his posture was purely responsive to the wills of the negotiating parties. Clinton’s record in the region substantiates this claim: he played almost no role in developing the Oslo Accords, the Wye River Memorandum was never implemented, the Syrian-track negotiations failed, and the 2000 Camp David Summit also failed. This is not to suggest that the issues were easy to address, but for as much involvement as Clinton had, it is notable that in the end, he had little to show for his efforts, especially at the height of US’ international prestige when the most leverage was available to shape the process and outcomes.
1.3 Clinton does not prepare adequately for Shepherdstown and does not give the summit his full attention
Third, the Clinton Administration’s general hesitancy to direct the peace process was specifically evident during the Shepherdstown negotiations, as the process lacked strategic preparation. First, members of Clinton’s administration admit a general lack of structure, even calling the process “loosy-goosy.” Others echo a general sense of mismanagement and insufficient preparation, and Clinton himself referred to his role as merely “dragging a compromise over the finish line.” Clinton’s disillusioned conception of what would be required was also evident in his time commitment to Shepherdstown. Unlike Carter at Camp David, Clinton traveled back and forth between the negotiations and his other business at the White House. This either projects a sense of distraction or suggests that the Clinton Administration did not view Shepherdstown as a decisive round of mediation—either of which would have been detrimental to the impression Clinton’s team needed to make. Additionally, Clinton knew how important his authority would be in mediating between these parties, as neither responded well to other members of Clinton’s team. Barak believed that all negotiating should be done at the Head of State level and had a history of calling the White House demanding to speak directly with Clinton. Similarly, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara put up hard-line positions when dealing with Ross or Albright, and then became more flexible once meeting with Clinton. However as Ross admits, with Clinton constantly leaving and returning, it was difficult to keep the most flexible positions on the table. While Clinton’s staff worried that the President was being over-used, past experience with the Middle East should have illustrated the Head of State’s critical role as the ultimate authoritative figure in a highly-personalized political culture.
1.4 Clinton assumes a role as a passive facilitator at Shepherdstown
In addition to an ill-planned negotiation process at Shepherdstown, Clinton restricted his negotiation strategy by assuming a facilitative role. Rather than adopting Carter’s directive, shaping strategy, Clinton preferred to merely educate the negotiating parties on concessions that were needed. He pointed towards a solution instead of forcing either side to accept a position. In addition, the Carter team focused the negotiations on the central trade off to be made—land for peace—while Ross admits that President Clinton’s “style” was not suited to enforcing a basic tradeoff. Yet this allowed Clinton to avoid taking a position on central issues in the negotiation. He considered everything to be negotiable rather than setting clear terms for agreement. Both the Syrian and Israeli negotiating teams agree that the United States failed to capitalize on major opportunities. As Israeli political scientist Zeev Maoz observes, “The fact that the Clinton administration refrained from playing a more assertive role at crucial junctures of negotiation may have been as decisive a factor for the failure to reach an agreement as any error, hesitation, or misperception on the side of the Israeli and Syrian decision makers.” In addition, during the process Secretary Albright was aware of the directive leadership the negotiating parties expected from President Clinton. As she recalls:
“I asked both Shara and Barak privately if they seriously believed an agreement would be reached. They each said yes, which I found encouraging until I probed for the reason. They each believed that in the end President Clinton would intervene to force concessions upon the other.”
Clearly both parties expected Clinton to play a more directive role. Even Martin Indyk, one of Clinton’s leading advocates for the Syria first-track, admits, “It should not have been beyond the capabilities of American diplomacy to bridge the gap…It remains puzzling why [Clinton] didn’t try harder.”
1.5 Clinton allows Barak to assume a directive role
Not only did Clinton shy from directing the negotiations, he worsened the situation by allowing Ehud Barak to maintain control throughout the process. First, it was Barak who initiated the summit. Clinton clearly says, “Ehud Barak had pressed me hard to hold these talks early in the year.” Rather than controlling the timeline of negotiations based on US’ preparedness or Syrian domestic concerns, Barak’s wishes were paramount to all other concerns. While surely the negotiating parties and their willingness to participate is important, this directly contrasts the 1978 case where the Carter Administration initiated the process to respond to a stalemate.
After agreeing to Barak’s call to begin talks, Barak continued to dominate the process and substance at Shepherdstown. Ross recalls the first time Shara and Barak met at Blair House to appear before the press. Ross recommended that only Clinton make a statement in order to prevent either side from making a comment that might express rigid thinking. However, as Ross recalls, “Barak had other ideas” and suggested that each leader make a statement. As Ross foresaw, Shara’s statement appealed to the traditional Syrian base and was highly critical of Israel. Obviously Shara was to blame for his discouraging comments, but Clinton also deserved blame for allowing Barak to divert from the plan. After negotiations began, Barak set the pace, and was noticeably stalling to prevent progress. Yet Clinton continued to be conciliatory and was unwilling to force Barak outside of his comfort level. Clinton acute awareness of Barak’s political situation encouraged the US to be overly responsive to Israel’s internal political dynamics, causing them to “shift gears” on both substance and strategy at Barak’s request. Ned Walker, a former US Ambassador to Israel and the Assistant Secretary for Near East Affair reiterated Barak’s control:
“Nobody was telling Barak what to do. President Clinton was fully supportive of Barak. I don’t think if anybody had stood up and said ‘this doesn’t make sense,’ that anybody would have listened! Barak was just…he was in the driver’s seat throughout this thing.”
It’s likely that Clinton believed his personal relationship with Barak and skilled political persuasion would convince Barak to finalize an agreement at Shepherdstown; however, Clinton was unable to persuade Israel’s leader to commit. Secretary Albright explains that Clinton sincerely trusted Barak’s commitment to peace and was “reluctant to substitute his judgment for an Israeli Prime Minister who was so determined to make history” Ross reiterates this dilemma:
“We let Barak dictate too much of what was going to be possible and what we would do. We could have taken a tougher posture towards him in terms of just making it clear we wouldn’t do certain things. The problem is that, here was a guy who was prepared to make very far-reaching concessions and they were, after all, his concessions. They weren’t our concessions.”
While it’s understandable for Clinton to trust Barak’s judgment, a directive approach would have introduced other means to change Barak’s mind that would not have hindered the US’ commitment to Israel. Possibilities could have included increasing weapons systems, withdrawing campaign commitments, or threatening to walk away from mediation. Additionally, Clinton was an incredibly popular figure in Israel during this time, more so than Barak, and initiating a personal campaign for an agreement may have had a significant impact on Israeli public opinion. Overall, Clinton only facilitated the negotiation process at Shepherdstown and instead allowed Barak to lead. This strategy allowed both parties to escape without making any substantial commitments and furthermore, compromised the trust of the Syrian negotiating team. They entered the process with the understanding that the Rabin deposit would finally be put on the table and instead were left empty-handed and disappointed. As Clinton laments, “If we had known of Barak’s retreat in advance…we could have prepared the Syrians. As it was, we had misled them.” While Clinton acknowledges Syrian disappointment, and even hints at his own responsibility for it, he fails to recognize how a change in strategy could have helped prevent it.
1.6 Clinton never puts forth an independent American proposal
Sixth, Clinton’s draft treaty failed to put forth independent ideas or use language that moved the substance of negotiations forward. In Carter’s Camp David negotiations, a single-negotiating text was used to direct the process and substance while putting forth an American position. Clinton’s draft treaty did not serve the same purpose. Although Ross told Clinton to present the draft as the American judgment of what agreement could be possible, the draft was entirely silent on any Israeli concessions to be made. The draft only referred to a “commonly agreed border,” failing to commit Israel to the Rabin deposit. The Syrian team called the June 4, 1967 line the “ignition” to starting negotiations, and the American draft intentionally refrained from including it. In addition to concealing Israeli concessions, the draft included all the concessions Syria had proposed, many of which were substantial signs of progress. Although Ross encouraged Clinton to sell this draft to the best of his ability, Ross admits that the ideas never presented the best judgment of the American team:
“Agreements are forged…on the basis of reconciling the fundamentals each must have to preserve its identity, dignity, and political base. The Clinton ideas presented on December 23, 2000, did that between Israelis and Palestinians—at least in our best judgment. We never did the same on the Syrian track; the ideas presented on March 26, 2000, in Geneva were what Barak was prepared to have us convey to Asad…We understood it on the Syrian track but wisely never presented our best judgment the way we did between Israelis and Palestinians. I say wisely because… the most important American role is not putting our best judgment on the table. Our most important role may be getting the sides to the negotiating table when the only dialogue they have is one of violence…. Imposed decisions will not endure. No agreement forced from the outside will ever have legitimacy.”
Ross clearly prides his Administration on refusing to propose its own ideas, suggesting that somehow articulating an American position would have automatically “imposed” an unacceptable solution. Yet in light of the success of Carter’s single-negotiating text strategy, this argument is hard to defend. An American draft did not have to be the be-all, end-all to a negotiation. As Carter proved, an American position can be a starting point to objectively identify central-tradeoffs which would later be open to modifications from each side. Deputy Special Middle East Envoy Aaron David Miller also affirms Ross’ fear of taking “rigid” positions, but nonetheless, agrees that not taking any positions seems to have been a mistake. The Clinton team struggled in deciding how much to put forth throughout the Middle East peace process. Secretary Albright says they entered with the mindset that the parties needed to work it out for themselves; however, they ultimately realized that “the only way to do it was to put down [American] parameters.” Unfortunately, on the Syrian-track this never happened.
1.7 Clinton understands Syria’s bottom line, but never forces Barak to meet it
Seventh, after failure at Shepherdstown, the Clinton Administration continued to let Barak drive negotiations at Geneva, while leading the Syrian delegation to believe their requests would be met. First it is important to note a key difference between the Syrian and Israeli delegations: the Syrian team was clear about its bottom line, while the Israeli team never articulated their final position. With Syria, their bottom line had been clear for years—they needed every inch of land within the June 4, 1967 line, and they had shown no flexibility on this point. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem describes the first time he met Barak: “I told him twenty-eight times within two hours about Israeli withdrawal to the 4th of June, 1967 line. Barak told me, ‘Why are you repeating this?’ I said, ‘Because I want to you to go to sleep and dream of this line.’” Asad also directly told Albright, “I cannot settle for anything less…No person or child in Syria would agree to make peace with any party that kept even one inch of our land.”
Not only was Syria explicit in stating their position, but they were also not receptive to even subtle alterations. When the US proposed looking at the 1923 International Boundary instead, Asad’s legal advisor warned them of presenting the idea, arguing that merely suggesting it would illicit a negative reaction that could threaten the entire process. For Asad, the territory itself was not important, rather the land was a sign of dignity and honor. In addition, both Sadat in Egypt and King Hussein in Jordan had recovered all their land. Asad was the only hold out and the last true Arab nationalist, if he agreed to a deal he needed to be able to say “‘I got the same thing the Egyptians got in the Arab world with Camp David 1978, and the Jordanians too in 1994.’ He couldn’t go home and say ‘I got less.’” Clinton had tested Syria’s flexibility on this issue, but even he concluded that creative formulations of the Rabin pocket were not going to work—the June 4, 1967 border was the Syrian bottom line.
Not only did the Clinton team know Syria’s bottom line, but as they approached the Geneva negotiations, Clinton also led Asad to believe that his requests would be met. Amongst the Clinton team there are various stories concerning what Clinton actually told Asad when requesting the summit. However, the Syrian team convincingly contends that Clinton assured a full withdrawal. Deputy Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem says Clinton told Asad that Barak was “ready to please,” and Asad’s translator describes a phone call in which Clinton said, “your requests are met; you will be very happy.” Asad asked to clarify if this specifically meant the June 4th line would be delivered, and Clinton responded, “I don’t want to speak over the phone. But trust me: you will be happy.” Not only do Syrian claims substantially suggest that Clinton directly implied the June 4th line would be presented at Geneva, but Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan also claims to have relayed secret messages between Clinton and Asad guaranteeing the June 4th border. According to Bandar, Clinton said he knew Asad wanted Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights and reinstate the 1967 border. Clinton also said he was planning to pressure Barak to satisfy these demands; and if successful, he would initiate a summit. This was the message Bandar communicated with Asad. Bandar’s covert role is now widely acknowledged by members in Clinton’s Administration, but at the time there wasn’t a clear understanding of what he was communicating to Asad. If Bandar’s accounts are accurate, Asad was under the impression that a summit would only be convened if Barak had agreed to the June 4th line. Secretary Albright was not informed of this arrangement until she met with Bandar weeks after the summit. She was angered that National Security Advisor Sandy Berger had not kept her informed, “Son of a bitch! That Sandy…Now I understand why Asad looked so stupid to me.” While Albright and others on the American team thought Asad came to Geneva to negotiate in general, Asad was under the impression that his bottom lines had already been met. Instead, the US team exploited Syria’s trust by promising their bottom line without securing the assurance that Barak would deliver it.
1.8 Clinton never forced Israel to disclose its bottom line
This leads to a second critical oversight—Clinton’s team never specifically knew where Barak would draw Israel’s bottom line. Barak had a history of presenting his “last absolute final offer” when he in fact was saving additional concessions for “later.” Albright and Indyk both affirm that President Clinton went to Geneva without knowing what Israel was really willing to give up and that Barak refused to even discuss the issue. In this sense, the Administration had no end-game in sight, no specific Israeli positions, and no central tradeoff to build from. While Barak did articulate a position to Clinton, Barak’s own Chief Negotiator Uri Sagi claims that “he was prepared to go beyond that…He was prepared to go all the way.” Barak himself may not have known what his limitations were, and in spite of his undisputable desire for peace, he wavered in mustering the political courage to make sacrifices for it. Although Barak was too hesitant to state his absolute positions, he also did not want to close the door on the peace process. Much like initiating Shepherdstown, Barak prodded the Americans to arrange a meeting with Asad in Geneva. Clinton agreed, largely as a favor to the Prime Minister he was “unwilling to say no to.”
1.9 Barak continues to direct the negotiations at Geneva, while Clinton merely facilitates
Clinton arrived in Geneva aware of Syrian demands and confident in his persuasive ability but entirely dependent on Barak’s willingness to table the Rabin deposit. Once again Clinton acted as a skilled communicator and trusted leader, but not as a director—that was Barak’s position. Albright describes the extent of Barak’s control and explains Clinton’s willingness to go along with it:
“Always the micromanager, Barak produced a complete script for the President’s use with Asad. In a manner I thought was patronizing, he said it would be fine for the President to improvise the opening generalities, but the description of Israel’s needs had to be recited word for word. President Clinton went along with this process for several reasons. He had more hope than the rest of us that the initiative would succeed, and certainly Barak’s offer was more forthcoming than any other the Syrians were likely to receive. The President has also promised to support those in the Middle East who were willing to run risks for peace; astute diplomatic strategist or not, Barak led the region in this category. Finally, the President’s inherent optimism encouraged him to believe that a concentrated push couldn’t help but produce movement.”
While optimism is important, a realistic perception of limitations is also necessary. Clinton’s team knew Syria would not accept creative alterations to the June 4th line, and Asad was told that tabling the June 4th line would be the basis for resuming negotiations. Although the position Barak gave to Clinton hours before the meeting did express concessions, they did not specify the June 4th line and contained territorial swaps that Asad had always refused to accept. As an optimistic facilitator, Clinton was willing to relay these positions and articulate the need for peace, but a directive mediator would never have agreed to this process. At Geneva, Barak set Clinton up. Later Clinton told Barak he “felt like a wooden Indian doing [his] bidding.” This is not the posture of someone shaping a negotiation—this is the role of someone merely responding to it.
Throughout the mediation process, Clinton did not leverage American power to pressure both sides, but instead allowed Barak to take the lead. Clinton’s empathy for Israeli political concerns prevented him from issuing an American proposal or from forcing Barak to vocalize his bottom line. At the same time Clinton manipulated Syria’s trust, convincing them to wait for a boundary that Barak would never deliver. While Clinton succeeded in getting parties to the negotiating table—this was the extent of his role—thus he limited himself to serving only as a facilitator.
V. VARIABLE TWO: PRIORITIZATION OF MEDIATION OUTCOMES RELATIVE TO THE NATIONAL INTEREST
The second relevant difference between the third party mediators in these two cases is their perception of the mediation outcome as a priority to achieving the national interest. When a third party mediator, especially one who is also a Head of State, views a mediation’s outcome as being essential to achieving policy goals, he will be more involved in shaping the outcome to be in his favor. The Carter Administration considered Arab-Israeli peace to be critical to resolving the tension between the US’ commitment to Israel and its need to secure a stable oil supply from Arab nations and made this a priority in its foreign policy agenda. Conversely, the Clinton Administration recognized the value of Arab-Israeli peace but did not seem to have an invested American interest in the specific deal between Israel and Syria. Thus the differing prioritization of Arab-Israeli peace can be an influential difference between these two cases.
2. Carter saw the outcomes of mediation as a critical part of the national interest
2.1 Articulates the strategic importance of Middle East peace
Carter’s strategic prioritization of the Arab-Israeli conflict was grounded in his unique grand strategy. First, given the Cold War context, it is important to consider the positive effect Middle East peace would have on consolidating the Western sphere of influence. Carter articulates these concerns stating that he “did not want to see Soviet influence [expand] in the area.” However, it is incorrect to assume that this fear was the predominant reason for Carter’s interest in the region. His administration, especially in its first two years, had projected a continued message of disassociation from traditional Cold War policies. Jerel Rosati argues that Carter’s Administration intentionally moved away from containment, realpolitik, and anticommunist rhetoric, to instead project a more forward-thinking, post-Cold War grand strategy of preventative diplomacy, global complexity, interdependence, and human rights. Gaddis Smith repeats this conceptualization of Carter’s foreign policy:
“The four years of the Carter administration were among the most significant on the history of American foreign policy in the 20th century…The fundamental debate about how the US should behave in international affairs was waged with unusual clarity…An effort was made to think in terms of a lasting world order beneficial to all people, rather than to make every decision on the basis of short-term calculation of American advantage over the Soviet Union.”
Thus while Carter did have balance of power politics in mind, he also sought to understand the complexity of each issue rather than simplistically categorizing it in regards to bipolarity. In his 1977 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, a common stage for projecting grand strategy, Carter announced, “We can only improve this world if we are realistic about its complexities. The disagreements that we face are deeply rooted, and they often raise difficult philosophical, as well as territorial issues. They will not be solved easily. They will not be solved quickly.”
In addition to Carter’s overarching goal to use American influence to shape complex global issues, the Middle East conflict was prioritized as being of critical strategic interest. Historically the United States has had two enduring interests in the region: 1.) securing its oil supply and 2.) ensuring Israeli security. However there is also an inherent tension between these two interests, and for Carter, creating Arab-Israeli peace was the primary way to reconcile this tension. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance describes the Administration’s approach to policy in the Middle East:
“There was an additional dimension to the Carter policy that sharply distinguished our Middle East approach from that of our predecessors. Peace in the region would be a critical element in a broader American strategy for shaping a more cooperative world order in the coming decades. To cope with the complex challenges of a prolonged period of widespread, turbulent upheaval, we believed we would have to work toward developing institutions and processes for the prompt and orderly resolution of conflicts and the accommodation of social, economic, and political change. I also felt that in addition to serving the people of the region, peace in the Middle East would give support the those at home and abroad who believed that resolution of potential or incipient conflicts could be resolved by peaceful means.”
Carter’s term was also marked by its concern for economic interests in the Persian Gulf—he established national energy policy, created the Department of Energy, and responded to the oil crisis instigated by the Iranian Revolution. Obviously stability in the Arab region was integral to creating a long-term energy solution. In addition to energy concerns, the Carter Administration also acknowledged the danger of increasing extremism in the region. As Carter writes, the failure to establish peace “would provide an opportunity for the most radical elements to take over in the Middle East” and spread beyond the region.
Hostile Arab-Israeli relations were the underlying problem behind many of these issues, but the controversy and low-prospect for success deterred many from taking action. Yet Carter continued to prioritize the Middle East:
“Human rights, Israeli security, Soviet influence, Middle East peace, oil imports—these would be major concerns of our new administration. I struggled with the questions, and sought advice from all possible sources, only to be told by almost every adviser to stay out of the Middle East situation. It seemed that all the proposed solutions had already been tried and failed. However, I could see growing threats to the United States in the Middle East, and was willing to make another try.”
Carter was advised to “stay as aloof as possible from direct involvement in the Middle East negotiations” because the issues seemed too intractable. While Carter “could not think of any reason to disagree” with these evaluations, he nonetheless felt the commitment was too important to abandon.
2.2 Ignores domestic pressures and sacrifices political interests to achieve peace
Not only did Carter articulate the importance of Middle East peace as a foreign policy goal, but he also prioritized it to such an extent that it interfered or superseded domestic political concerns. When Carter first met Sadat, the Egyptian President questioned Carter’s commitment to staying active in the long and arduous peace process, especially given the heavy political pressures. Yet Carter confidently told Sadat that he “was willing to face any necessary political risks to reach a settlement.” At this stage Carter’s confidence may have been naïve, but as the negotiations proceeded, his comment foreshadowed his eventual fate.
Carter was never able to explain his policies to the American public or win enduring domestic support, and his disregard for public opinion proved politically costly, especially amongst the American Jewish community. In June 1977 Carter’s Chief of Staff, Hamilton Jordan sent the President a memo describing the strength of the Jewish influence within the Democratic Party, but still the President did not seem overly concerned with catering to the Jewish constituency. Soon the time-consuming Middle East negotiations became Carter’s heaviest political burden, but he continued to move aggressively despite the heavy domestic cost. As election season approached, Carter failed to convince the public, or even his own party, that his long-term vision for establishing a ‘global community’ was of utmost importance. Carter writes:
“I was really in a quandary. I knew how vital peace in the Middle East was to the United States, but many Democratic members of Congress and party officials were urging me to back out of the situation and to repair the damage they claimed I had already done to the Democratic party and to United States-Israeli relations. It seemed particularly ironic to be so accused, when I was trying to bolster our relations with Israel and strengthen its security.”
In the end, Carter continued to press hard in the Middle East knowing it could cost Jewish support, and more importantly, reelection. When added to the poor economy, the failure to rescue hostages in Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter’s political risks did not resonate positively with the American public. Carter reflects on this strategy, “Some of my political advisors said that addressing so many controversial subjects in my first term would alienate voters, and those predictions proved accurate.” While Carter’s persona as a Washington-outsider helped him win election in 1976, bringing a similar mindset to the presidency— by pursuing an agenda in spite of its heavy political cost—did not prove popular.
2.3 Describes Middle East peace as the defining issue of his presidency and continues involvement after leaving office
In the decades following Carter’s presidency, he has continued unprecedented levels of involvement in Arab-Israeli conflict resolution, demonstrating that the issue has always been of considerable personal importance. Carter authored two books on the subject and remains the leading supporter of comprehensive peace and a two-state solution in American policy discourse—a solution that the current Obama Administration has adopted. Carter has taken numerous trips to the region, monitored elections in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories, and facilitated dialogue between various Arab and Israeli leaders. In addition, the Carter Center has established permanent offices in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Gaza, displaying a permanent commitment to actively participate in the peace process. Carter describes Middle East peace as the defining issue of his presidency—indeed it took up a large amount of his time, hindered his ability to address other critical issues, and proved to be one of his only successes as President. Reflecting on his efforts Carter writes, “I have asked myself many times if it was worth the tremendous investment of my time and energy. Here again, the answer has not always been the same. It will depend on the wisdom and dedication of the leaders of the future.”
While Carter’s prioritization of Middle East peace reflected the strategic importance of the region, it is also demonstrates a general disconnect between these issues and the interests of the American public. In this regard, some consider Carter’s strategic priorities to be “ahead of his time”—his long-term solutions did not resonate with a short-term-thinking electorate. Although Carter’s inability to garner public support hindered his political success, his strong degree of prioritization increased his effectiveness as third party mediator. By personally and strategically prioritizing stability and peace in the Middle East, Carter was willing to devote considerable time, personal energy, and financial and military resources to the cause, all which proved to be essential in achieving an agreement.
2. Clinton expresses strategic interest in the Middle East, but the importance of Syrian-Israeli peace is unclear in the Administration’s long list of ambiguous priorities
2.1 The Administration articulates an ad hoc approach to national security goals
Although the Carter Administration tried to move US grand strategy away from traditional Cold War concepts, the Clinton Administration was forced to grapple with the uncertainty of the post-Cold War era and struggled to articulate a coherent grand strategy within this context. Like Carter, Clinton recognized global and regional complexity; however, his record shows a lack of clarity concerning the goals of foreign policy and the proper means needed to achieve these goals. According to Barry Posen and Andrew Ross, Clinton’s foreign policy attempted to mesh several divergent views: 1.) his own inclination towards American activism, 2.) the necessity of exercising US leadership and power, 3.) Congress’ preference for unilateral US action, and 4.) the American public’s disinterest in foreign affairs. Under the direction of National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, catering to each of these pressures resulted in a strategy defined as “enlargement,” which argued that the US could best achieve its goals by actively engaging with the global community. Within this paradigm the Administration’s National Security Strategy defined the US’ central goals as “sustaining security with military forces that are ready to fight, bolstering America’s economic revitalization, and promoting democracy abroad.” These broad goals, founded on an ambiguous grand strategy, created considerable room for flexibility. However this tailor-made approach had the consequence of appearing incoherent and disjointed, or even worse, causing a failure to appropriately allocate resources to protect long-term interests. In order to avoid the dangers of ad hocracy, the Clinton Administration tended to adapt or abandon efforts that proved costly on either the domestic or international front. In this sense, Clinton’s priorities hinged on managing costs and benefits rather than adhering to a single ideological or strategic paradigm.
2.2 Understands value of Middle East stability, but Syrian and Palestinian negotiations vie for Administration’s attention
Given the “a la carte” procedure for determining foreign policy priorities, it is necessary to analyze where the Middle East peace process ranked amongst other issues. Rhetorically, the Administration publically identified the Middle East’s importance to global security, but in the National Security Strategy’s forty-plus pages of comprehensive planning, only two small paragraphs are devoted to “enduring interests in the Middle East peace process.” This signals that while the issue was on the radar, it was not considered an imperative concern. In addition to measuring the priority of Middle East negotiations, it is also necessary to consider the prioritization of the Syrian-Israeli negotiations in comparison to the Palestinian-Israel negotiations. Unlike Carter’s attempt to link Egyptian and Palestinian agreements, the Clinton Administration had to deal with both issues separately. Although both tracks were pursued concurrently, Barak was unlikely to make major concessions to both Syria and Palestine, thus the Clinton Administration tended to play the tracks against each other, searching for the greatest room to maneuver; again, the strategy to maximize gains is evident.
At the beginning of Barak’s term as Prime Minister, Clinton’s team made the strategic choice to pursue a Syrian agreement first. Martin Indyk was the primary supporter of the Syrian track, arguing that Syria was more critical for achieving US interests. Peace with Syria, who occupied Lebanon at the time, would likely lead to peace with Lebanon which could silence the lingering threat from Hezbollah. In addition, Syria was the only remaining conventional army in the region and was also the primary leader of the pan-Arab movement—this made Syrian peace essential to regional stability. Indyk also argued that only Syria had the regional power to persuade other nations to normalize relations with Israel and isolate the rogue regimes of Iraq and Iran, potentially changing the “whole [regional] dynamic in a very positive way.” In addition to the strategic value of the Syrian track, it was also considered to be the easier, more straightforward tradeoff.
Barak also supported a Syria-first option, and in the end, this was the strategy that won the day. However, it was not the preferred approach from every voice in the Clinton Administration, and several considered it “a big waste of time” because it focused too much on regional balance of power instead of recognizing the Palestinian plight as the fundamental core of Arab-Israeli conflict. While approaching Syria first may signal its superior strategic value, having the Palestinian negotiations on the back burner allowed Clinton’s team to shift gears as soon as the Syrian track became too complicated. Thus, it’s difficult to determine if one was prioritized over the other, or if instead the Administration simply prioritized whichever track had the greater prospect for success.
2.3 Clinton demonstrates a concern for domestic political considerations and is unsure of the relation to national security concerns
A common criticism of Clinton’s foreign policy at the end of his term is that international goals became overly intertwined with domestic politics, grasping at straws to repair Clinton’s reputation and legacy. Indeed Clinton’s precarious situation lent itself to increasing efforts at creating positive press. As Dennis Ross recalls, “There was no doubt in my mind that under the pressure of the Starr Report, there was a strong desire to show that the President was doing his job, was not distracted, and was visibly dealing with highly sensitive, serious issues.” While this offers some explanation for why the Administration may have rushed the negotiation process, it does not convincingly suggest that the Middle East peace process resurfaced solely to boost Clinton’s image. On the contrary, it is important to consider Barak’s election in Israel as a primary reason for reemphasizing Arab-Israeli peace towards the end of the Clinton era. Clinton showed interest in Middle East peace throughout his presidency but struggled to negotiate with conservative Israeli leaders. Thus Clinton played an active role in supporting Barak’s campaign, and once elected, both leaders seemed ready to get negotiations moving. This positive development in Israeli domestic politics only coincidently coincided with Clinton’s domestic troubles.
Clinton’s PR considerations may have encouraged amplifying involvement in the Middle East to some degree; however, the importance of the Middle East was still preceded by other domestic considerations—primarily maintaining approval from the Israeli lobby. Although Clinton was not up for re-election, he showed a commitment to both Vice President Al Gore’s presidential bid and his wife’s campaign for Senate. While Carter chose to disregard the American-Jewish voice, Clinton was not willing to risk making a “high-profile presidential commitment” that could “provoke a domestic controversy.” While making strides in the Middle East would have provided a much needed victory for Clinton’s team, this could not come at the expense of greater political calculations. Again, cost and benefit analysis is the key determinant of the Administration’s priorities, and it is evident that domestic considerations outweighed aims for peacemaking.
Finally, unlike Carter’s clear personal commitment to taking a great risk to reach agreement—a risk that contributed to his failed re-election campaign and even the assassination of Anwar Sadat—Clinton appears less convicted of the issue’s importance. Ross recounts a discussion with Clinton before beginning the Camp David II Summit: “As we walked out the door, he looked at me and said, ‘This is the right thing to do isn’t it?’ Nodding, I simply said ‘yes’…Sure, he understood the value of Middle East peace for his legacy. But ultimately, he acted on the summit because he believed it was the right thing to do.” Despite Ross’ commentary, in this vulnerable moment it is unclear what Clinton actually believes. Indeed, it is fair to second-guess any major decision, but Clinton appears to have no conviction, no assuredness that his efforts were essential—not just essential to some utopian notion of world peace, but essential to securing US’ interests. While Carter does say he questions the worth of his efforts, he adds that this is only because they are fragilely dependent on the efforts of leaders that have followed him, not because he doubted the importance of the issue. Clinton, however, seemed to “have no views of his own,” addressing the conflict “as if the United States had no independent national interest at stake in the peace process.”
In hindsight, this misjudgment proved costly, and the failure to make progress with either the Syrians or Palestinians further destabilized the region. As Martin Indyk recognized:
“We hoped to take advantage of a symbiotic relationship between peacemaking and dual containment. The more we succeeded in brokering a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, the more isolated Iraq and Iran would become; the more effective we were in containing the destabilizing activities of these two rogue regimes, the easier it would be for Israel’s neighbors to make peace with the Jewish state. It was a neat and logical design. What we failed to foresee was that a reverse symbiosis could also take hold. If Clinton failed at peacemaking, the rogue states would become less isolated and contained, and if he failed at dual containment, peacemaking would become that much more difficult.”
Indeed this “reverse symbiosis” did occur—in Gaza and the West Bank the Second Intifada broke out shortly after the Camp David II negotiations fell apart, and in Lebanon Barak withdrew Israeli troops without signing a peace agreement, allowing Hezbollah to gain power and count the withdrawal as a victory for violent extremism. A year later, after the 9/11 attacks, Middle East instability proved to be a foremost threat to US security, and it is all too easy to wonder if a successful peace effort could have made a difference.
Clinton’s prioritization of the Syrian-Israeli conflict reflects his administration’s general ambiguity towards setting strategic interests. Rather than defining a clear grand strategy, the Administration’s decision-making was anchored in cost-benefit analysis, seeking to “enlarge” the scope of its economic, political, military, and humanitarian influence where it could gain the most bang for its buck. In the introduction to his memoir, Clinton closes by saying, “Even when I wasn’t sure where I was going, I was always in a hurry.” Although removed from its original context, this statement seems all too fitting for Clinton’s approach to foreign policy strategy—he often didn’t know what his priorities were and tried to take a short cut to figure them out. While this proved effective in some cases, it was ultimately unsuccessful in this one.
VI. VARIABLE THREE: USE OF NEGOTIATING TEAM
The third relevant difference between these two cases is the primary mediator’s ability to successfully utilize the remaining members of the negotiating team. While both Administrations dealt with negotiating parties who highly valued the individual participation of the Head of State, it is obvious that a President cannot devote full attention to a single issue or process that requires years of preparation, research, and diplomatic effort. Thus it is crucial to examine which figures controlled the peace process in the President’s absence. Rather than extending this study to consider the numerous individual traits held by each team member, this variable will only consider a team member’s negotiating authority, or bureaucratic rank within the administration, with the hypothesis that given the highly personalized negotiation environment, a higher ranked official would be more effective. In addition to the rank of leading team members, this variable also considers the degree to which the President was able to maintain internal cohesion within the negotiation team. Thus while Carter’s team cooperated cohesively and allowed Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to exert considerable authority, the Clinton Administration relied on Special Coordinator Dennis Ross to lead the negotiating team.
3. Carter’s team works cohesively allowing Secretary Vance to exert authority as Carter’s second in command
Throughout the negotiating process President Carter was able to keep his foreign policy team on the same page in regards to their strategic and procedural vision for the Middle East negotiations. The unity between Brzezinki, Vance, and Carter was evident throughout the Camp David Summit. As Carter himself reported:
“The United States group was a smooth-running and well-organized team. There was no way to distinguish between the staff members who worked under me directly and those who worked for Dr. Brzezinski or Secretary Vance. Even in times of fatigue, stress, or disappointment, I do not recall a single unpleasant difference among us.”
The negotiation parties also acknowledged the strength of the Administration’s internal dynamics. Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman described the American team as being “marked by a high degree of unanimity.” Developing internal agreement allowed the Carter team to present a united front with clearly articulated objectives.
Not only did Carter’s team remain unified, but Carter’s negotiating efforts were also strengthened by delegating significant authority to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. Before entering office, Carter made it clear that he wanted Vance to assume a personal leadership role in the Middle East. Vance traveled considerably in the early stages of Carter’s term, leading diplomatic efforts throughout the region to push for the Geneva meetings and then later to garner support for the Camp David Summit. Not only did Vance lead a successful diplomatic effort, but he also played a significant role during the summit itself. As Brzezinki noted, Vance, utilizing his extensive experience as a lawyer, “was at his best in the context of these highly detailed and exhausting negotiations. He was persistent, solid, and well informed. Though often exasperated with the Israelis…he never let his feelings affect his dealings with the Israelis and as a consequence he was able to orchestrate the lengthy negotiations which consumed so much of 1978.” Vance’s mastery of legal esoteric argumentation matched that of the detail-oriented Israeli team, enhancing the US’ ability to keep pressure on Begin and overcome his many semantic objections. Although the media suggested that Brzezinski and Vance were bitter enemies, Brzezinki denies that he had anything less than admiration for Vance’s handling of the negotiation process and even asserts that “after Carter, in the US government, Vance deserves most credit for this achievement.” As the Secretary of State, Vance was the US’ leading authority on foreign policy issues; while Vance clearly had the personal ability to contribute to Carter’s efforts, he more importantly had the authoritative weight to lead the parties. Carter recognized that utilizing the decision-making authority of higher-ranking officials, in particular Secretary Vance, created the greatest opportunity for success apart from his own personal involvement.
3. Clinton’s team is not utilized to its fullest capacity, allowing a non-authoritative figure to lead the process
During the transition from the George H.W. Bush Administration, Clinton recognized Dennis Ross’ efforts as Bush’ State Department Director of Policy Planning, and particularly his success in convening the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference. Although Ross initially was planning to leave the State Department due to dissatisfaction with his demoted position as a “special advisor,” Tom Donilon, the White House Chief of Staff, wanted to keep him on board. Initially, Ross said he was not enticed by lower-level opportunities and that to satisfy him, Donilon “would have to upset the whole bureaucratic structure.” Ross clearly wanted significant independent authority to address Middle East issues, so they accommodated his wishes by creating a new position as Special Middle East Coordinator responsible for leading negotiations on Arab-Israeli issues. Ross would report directly to the Secretary of State, and he accepted the position under the condition that “there would be no question about [his] authority either within the State Department or outside it.” From the onset Ross clearly demarcated his ownership of the Arab-Israeli issue. As Ned Walker, former US Ambassador to Israel, noted, “When Secretary Albright hired me she said, ‘I want you to stay out of the negotiations—that’s Dennis’ job…So the whole portfolio of Israeli-Arab was strictly housed in Dennis’ shop.” Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Walled Moallem said Ross communicated similar sentiments to their negotiating team, “He told us…that nobody could advise Clinton on the peace process except him…He told me that everything had to come through him.” While working outside of the traditional bureaucratic structure gave Ross the opportunity he wanted, in the eyes of the negotiating parties his arbitrary position did not carry decision-making authority. As Quandt recalled from his negotiation experience, “Only the President and the Secretary of State have much clout with the Middle East parties…No one in the Middle East will show his cards to anyone on the American side other than the highest authority.” Additionally, to some degree, the Arab negotiating teams did not trust Ross’ impartiality and often considered him to be too pro-Israeli. Despite Ross’ expertise and clear access to Clinton as an advisor, he could not put pressure on the parties themselves because he did not possess that type of authority.
In addition Ross took on such a large role that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s authority was significantly underutilized. Although Albright did succeed in diplomatic roles, she relied on Ross’ expertise to address procedure and strategy. As Mohammad Dahlan, a former National Security Advisor for the PLO, observed:
“Dennis Ross was the man who was in charge. With all my respect to Secretary Albright, she didn’t release any wonders about the file unless she had the agreement of Dennis Ross. She didn’t say anything about [the] situation unless she had the agreement of Dennis Ross…Even in some press conferences when she was talking, she was also looking at Dennis, just to have his agreement.”
Although Dahlan was speaking from his experience with Albright and Ross during the Palestinian negotiations, it seems likely that Secretary Albright ceded control to Ross during the Syrian negotiations as well. While Ross’ expertise was of critical importance, it could not fit the need for a strong, authoritative second-in-command, especially given that, unlike Carter, Clinton was regularly absent from the negotiating table. While Clinton’s team may have possessed strong skills overall, he did not have a definite leader to substantially drive negotiations forward when he was not present. This oversight limited his team’s ability to maintain constant pressure on the negotiating parties.
In comparison to the previous two variables, the use of negotiating team members is a much simpler concept, and while it may have less effect on the negotiation’s outcome, it is an important difference to consider. If applying authority is necessary in order to move a negotiation forward (in either a facilitative or a directive role), a mediator must have team members who posses this authority to lead efforts when he is absent. While Secretary Vance skillfully served in this capacity throughout the Egyptian-Israeli peace process, Dennis Ross’ unauthoritative position could not fit the need for a strong secondary leader.
Reflecting on the failure of Shepherdstown and Geneva, Dennis Ross writes that opportunities for peacemaking are fleeting and fragile—“they can be easily lost.” Limited progress on Arab-Israeli conflict since Clinton’s final efforts demonstrates the truth of Ross’ observation. However, the question persists—what factors can make the difference between a negotiation that is “lost” and one that ends in a sustainable agreement? Using comparative analysis, this study offers an answer by evaluating the differences between the Egyptian-Israeli negotiations in 1978 and the Syrian-Israeli negotiations in 2000. These two cases demonstrate significant similarities and yet different outcomes, making their comparison optimal for a method of difference study.
In response to the shortcomings of existing explanations, this study examines the role of the third-party mediator and argues that a mediator can have a significant influence on the outcome of a negotiation.
Three relevant conclusions emerge:
1. A mediator who pursues a directive strategy, and has the power to enact it, is more likely to reach an agreement than one who resorts to merely facilitative tactics.
2. A mediator who prioritizes the peace process over other national security concerns is more likely to reach an agreement than one who does not deem the agreement to be essential to the national interest.
3. A mediator who utilizes team members with significant decision-making authority will be more likely to reach an agreement than one who does not.
Carter out-performed Clinton in each of these criteria, suggesting that Clinton could have significantly increased his ability to reach an agreement between Syria and Israel by shaping and prioritizing the peace process and by delegating primary responsibilities to cabinet members who had the authoritative respect of the negotiating parties.
Accepting these conclusions still leaves several concerns unanswered—two primary issues merit some discussion. First, it would be ignorant to avoid conceding that, although both tried, neither Carter nor Clinton was able to make any progress on Palestinian-Israeli peace. Thus, the extent to which a third-party mediator can affect negotiation outcomes seems to be dependent on the case’s level of intractability. While Syria and Egypt had a comparable level of intractability, introducing the more difficult Palestinian case undoubtedly poses a challenge. A powerful, shaping mediator, with an authoritative team, who makes peace his only priority will still not always achieve agreement. Yet, it also seems worthy to note that as a one-term President, Carter did not have as much time to pursue the Palestinian track. Israeli-Palestinian issues were of little concern to the Reagan Administration, which undoubtedly prevented further progress. While one can only speculate the possibilities for peace had Carter been reelected, at the very least it can be assumed that he would have continued to pressure Begin on settlements and Palestinian autonomy. This leads to the second important consideration—although Carter’s mediation style proved to be more effective, it undoubtedly distracted his attention from other concerns and could surely be linked to his failure to win reelection. This begs the question: is great political sacrifice necessary in order to devote the attention and shaping power a negotiation of this type requires? If so, it seems unlikely that many leaders will be willing to take up the cause. Although policymakers continue efforts to address intractable conflict, particularly between Israel and Palestine, efforts are unlikely to make significant progress unless they actively engage in the process with steadfast political courage and perseverant personal dedication from the highest echelons of leadership. Like war, peace must be waged with conviction that provokes sacrifice, and until peacemakers prioritize this level of commitment, their admirable efforts will continue to fall short.
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