Foreign Policy Blogs

Aaron David Miller on the Peace Process: "Why I'm No Longer a Believer"

Veteran advisor on Arab-Israeli negotiations, Aaron David Miller, details in a Foreign Policy article why he has lost his once-steadfast faith in America’s ability to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Comparing the peace process to a “false religion,” Miller reflects on the fact that each U.S. president since the October 1973 war – most recently President Obama – has made Arab-Israeli peace a priority, even as the situation has become “nastier” and “more complex.”

Although Miller has spent the past 30 years arguing the importance of Arab-Israeli peace, he now believes that other issues must take priority, saying:

” U.S. priorities and interests, too, have changed. The notion that there’s a single or simple fix to protecting those interests, let alone that Arab-Israeli peace would, like some magic potion, bullet, or elixir, make it all better, is just flat wrong.”

While Miller maintains that the “unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict is still a big problem for America and its friends,” he cites the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America’s battle with terrorism, and the growing nuclear capabilities of Iran as three foreign policy issues to which the Obama Administration should perhaps give precedence; “the believers need to re-examine their faith, especially at a moment when America is so stretched and overextended.”

He ultimately concludes:

“Governing is about choosing; it’s about setting priorities, managing your politics, thinking strategically, picking your spots, and looking for genuine opportunities that can be exploited — not tilting at windmills. And these days, Arab-Israeli peacemaking is a pretty big windmill.”



Alexandra Raphel

Alexandra Raphel recently returned from the hot and sandy Gulf State of Qatar, where she worked for the Brookings Doha Center, a project of the Brookings Institution. Prior to moving to Doha, she interned for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings in Washington. Alexandra has also worked for the Iraq Study Group, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She survived four winters at the University of Chicago, where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science. She now works for a global international development firm based in Washington, D.C. and enjoys football (watching, not playing), perusing art museums, and learning to ride her bike.