For Biden, This Could Be a 'Kissinger Moment'

Thomas Friedman sees at least the possibility to forge Mideast peace
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2021 9:08 AM CDT
For Biden, This Could Be a 'Kissinger Moment'
President Biden speaks at the White House Friday, May 21.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has a new piece with a provocative headline: "How Joe Biden Can Win a Nobel Peace Prize." It involves two words that have long vexed US presidents: Mideast peace. Friedman voices plenty of skepticism about the prospects of negotiating a lasting peace in the wake of the latest Israeli-Hamas war, but he also notes that the conditions are similar to those that enabled Henry Kissinger to hammer out the "first real peace breakthrough between Israelis and Arabs" after the 1973 war. The columnist quotes academic activist Victor J. Friedman as emailing him to say, "Maybe this is another ‘'Kissinger moment.'" The key similarity between today and 1973? All the major players "have been dealt some huge painful shocks over the past year," writes Friedman.

The Palestinian Authority, for example, had to watch last year as the Trump administration got four Arab states to normalize relations with Israel, and none of those states renounced their ties as Israeli bombs pounded Gaza. Israel, on the other hand, was "stunned" that Hamas was able to set off the type of multi-front conflict that Israel hasn't seen since its founding in 1948. In short, the key players are vulnerable. "They know, deep down, that another round of fighting like the one we saw in the past two weeks could unleash disastrous consequences for each of them." That's why the possibility for peace exists, even if Kissinger had stronger negotiating partners. Does Biden dive in? "I won’t blame you if you don’t," writes Friedman. "I’d just warn you that it is not going to get better on its own." (The White House has sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region.)

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