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Obama's Second Term

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Mideast War and Peace

February 9th 2013

Obama Bibi

As President Obama prepares to visit the Middle East and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposes an Israeli government of national unity, let me suggest the United States work with leading nations to create a three-year, $1 trillion mini-Marshall Plan of aid, trade, loans and credits to become available to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and potentially others upon ratification of peace agreements between Israel and her neighbors.

In June, America will reflect on the 50th anniversary of the iconic speech by President Kennedy at American University that outlined the deadly dangers of a world plagued by the threat of nuclear extermination and offered a path to a better and safer world. Kennedy understood that it is not the job of statesmen to see the world as it is and complain but to envision the world as it can be and act.

Throughout the Middle East today, from Tel Aviv to Tehran, from Cairo to Gaza, there is a yearning for an end to the perpetual triumph of carnage over coexistence and the endless offensives of hatred against hope. A generation of young people are demanding their birthright to a better life. A generation of women are aspiring to a world of opportunity and justice. A generation of men and women, Muslims and Jews, Christians and secularists want freedom from tyranny, futility and poverty, but they find their common aspirations overwhelmed by small-minded politicians and diplomats who are still no match for the blood-stained voices of mutually assured destruction that plague the region.

Therefore, I propose the United States, our allies from the Atlantic to the Pacific, China, Russia, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and private groups such as the Clinton Global Initiative begin immediately to draft a historic $1 trillion plan for economic aid, development loans and trade credits to lift the lives of all who live in nations that ratify peace agreements. This would send a powerful message dramatizing the costs of carnage and the benefits of peace, and will reap huge dividends.

President Obama might ask former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to lead the private-sector initiative for this future Middle East Marshall Plan and rally business leaders and women around the world to stand with those who battle for Mideast peace.

Now is the time for epochal choices between coexistence and carnage. For Israel and the Palestinians, there is only one choice: a two-state solution. There is no alternative that does not guarantee a future of horror and misery for both the Jewish state and the people of Palestine.

The epochal choice for Israel is whether to form a true government of national unity including all Israeli parties willing to devise a negotiating position, based on mutual concessions between Israel and Palestinians, that could form a legitimate basis for a two-state solution. Netanyahu has wisely opened the door to a broad unity government. Israeli liberal and centrist parties should join with Netanyahu and responsible conservative parties considering the enormous consequence of this moment, which is fully understood by Israeli military and intelligence leaders who widely favor political solutions and gravely warn of the danger to Israel of continued political failures.

For Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, the epochal choice is whether he respects the democratic aspirations of his people and champions the aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis. It would be a tragic mistake for Morsi and the Egyptian military to expect permanent American support for a Mubarak-like regime that practices savage repression.

For Iran, the epochal choice is whether to resolve nuclear issues diplomatically, leading to an end to sanctions, or to make the mistake of not clearly understanding that if diplomacy fails, some form of military action will undoubtedly become inevitable. These are big thoughts and hard choices, but as JFK said, we do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.


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