Learning nothing, from Balfour to Kushner

Nov 02,2017 – JORDAN TIMES –

The United States and many Arab governments are looking at the really big challenges they face in our region — and then simply leapfrogging them and venturing into make-believe new worlds where everything is easy, clean and modern.

In Arab countries, this trend is primarily represented by governments that cannot address the daunting (and still worsening) challenges of equitable and sustainable human development that have accumulated after half a century of poor quality governance and that are captured most dramatically in unemployed and unemployable youth, rising poverty, worsening income and quality of life disparities, poor education outcomes, high informal labour rates, environmental distress and expanding wars.

Instead of tackling the root causes of these serious deficiencies, more and more Arab governments are turning to gimmicky and flashy plans to build new cities, even new capitals, that capture all the glitter of technology and green-friendly modernity.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait have all announced plans for such dramatic new mega-urban projects to build entirely new cities that would instantly solve all the problems those countries face.

Such ventures seem to me to aim primarily to impress foreign donors and private investors, rather than to tackle the root causes of the poverty- and inequity-based stresses that increasingly plague many Arab countries.

This capacity to ignore reality and escape into a happy new world where peace, security, technology and modernity reign is now also spilling over into the political and diplomatic realm.

Not surprisingly, the United States government actively promotes such fantasies that expect hope and dramatic innovation to replace the hard work of identifying the root causes of a political dispute and tackling them decisively and fairly.

This diplomatic version of the Arab world’s escapism into shining new zones of high-tech bikini beaches is exemplified by fresh reports that Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has just made another secret visit to Saudi Arabia to explore ideas for a regional Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

This was reported by Politico newspaper, which noted that this is Kushner’s third such visit this year.

Kushner reportedly continues to focus on attempts to draw Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and others into a grand bargain peace plan between Palestinians and Israelis that also repels Iranian influence in the region.

Such an “outside-in” regional collaboration would reportedly resolve the Palestinian-Israeli and wider Arab-Israeli conflict, promote closer ties between Israel and many Arab states in the region, and create a united Arab-Israeli-American alliance to confront and “roll back” Iranian influence in the region.

If these reports of American diplomatic aims are true, then it is probably time to assign Jared Kushner the title of “Junior Moron” because these aspirations are totally unrealistic and reflect mindsets in the US, Israel and Arab capitals that prefer to escape reality than to grasp and address its complexities.

They also totally ignore the sentiments of hundreds of millions of Arab men and women who repeatedly express their support for Palestinian rights and a fair resolution of the conflict, rather than submitting to Israel’s US-backed militarism.

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Categories: Arab World, Asia

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