Trump's Recognition of Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights is an Attempt to Provoke a Major War in the Middle East


          After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the National Security Council considered a memo I wrote suggesting a negotiated solution to the crisis. My suggestion was that Iraq should be allowed to keep Kuwait (subject to suitable safeguards for the indigenous population), but to punish it for its aggression, it should have to cede land in the west to Syria. After all, virtually landlocked Iraq has a far more legitimate claim to Kuwait, its natural harbor, than Israel does to the West Bank, and Golan Heights.


          The land thus acquired by Syria would have given it a reason and a face-saving device to come to an accommodation with Israel on the Golan Heights. Then, all the countries in the Middle East could kiss and make up, create a Palestinian State, and open their borders so that the economies could be integrated like the rest of the world.


          My peaceful negotiated solution was rejected in favor of war for two reasons. The first was the fear that ceding the western, mostly Kurdish parts of Iraq to Syria would create a nucleus of an independent Kurdistan that would try and incorporate the Kurdish parts of Turkey, a NATO member. So, Turkey would have opposed the peaceful solution.


          The second reason, the rationale really, and the one most germane to this article, is that the United States refused to countenance the destruction or partition of "a member of the United Nations" according to Jon Meacham's biography Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George H. W. Bush. Bush had been the United States Ambassador to the United Nations during Richard Nixon's presidency.  The real reason for the war was to protect Saudi Arabia and Israel by degrading Iraq's military power, that the United States and its allies had helped to build during the Iran-Iraq War. The US had buyer's remorse.   


          In 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and claimed it as Iraq's 19th province, the United States cobbled together a coalition of half a million troops and expelled Iraq from Kuwait, destroying Iraq in the process.


          Iraq was then under virtual occupation, sanctions, north, and south no-fly zones until the United States invaded in 2003 and toppled Saddam Hussein. So, when it comes to changing the borders in the Middle East, the United States is opposed, at least when the Arabs try to change them.


          Now, Trump's recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights proves the contention of the Arabs that Israel is just a Crusader State supported by the west.  Whereas the United States went to war to prevent borders from changing when it was a matter of one Arab state annexing another, when Israel claims to annex Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, all in violation of United Nations resolutions, it is supported by the United States.


          Trump's clear and unrelenting bias toward Israel is a virtual declaration of war. Israel and the United States are wrong on the merits, and they leave the Palestinians and Arabs with no alternative than violence because ignoring the law and flouting United Nations resolutions is also violence.


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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf