The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 22, 2012

Our View: U.S. has an interest in Middle East peace

The Free Press

— It might be easy with the Libertarian movement we’ve seen via Ron Paul and others of late for Americans to question our involvement and interests in the Middle East, particularly with Israel and the Palestinians.

But we’ve long had a history of partnership with Israel, one of the few and oldest Mideast democracies. Obviously, it’s in the U.S. interest to have stability in a region from which we import much of the oil that fuels our economy. U.S. trade of all kinds is growing in a part of the world that offers new markets for American goods.

But helping to broker Middle East peace is also just the right thing to do.

By some accounts, we’ve got some catching up to do. Some critics of the Obama and George W. Bush administrations argue Mideast peace hasn’t had the necessary attention from the U.S. for nearly 12 years. That criticism may ring true given U.S. resources were tried and tested and strained with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Now that both are winding down, we should be able to give our allies some hope that we are willing to devote time and resources to this longtime conflict that threatens many other nations as well.

The willingness of both sides to negotiate is a good starting point. Previous talks and agreement have even laid out some preliminary plans for splitting up disputed territory. It’s a job that some might say is halfway finished.

But unfortunately, due to our lack of attention or not, things seem to have escalated. Palestinian political group Hamas has somehow figured out how to have more accurate rockets and several have reached the key Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The political tide in Israel also seems a bit more militant and therefore there is less resistance to unleashing a ground war.

As the threats rise, U.S. intervention becomes more important.

An Israeli-Palestinian peace accord would go a long way to stabilizing all of the Middle East. We know there are more issues of stability popping up everywhere from Cairo to Libya and Syria.

Now is not the time to be pulling back our diplomatic strength and social capital.