There was a time when all roads to peace went through Washington. From the 1978 Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt brokered by President Jimmy Carter to the 1993 Oslo Accords signed on the White House lawn to Senator George Mitchell’s Good Friday Agreement that ended the fighting in Northern Ireland in 1998, America was the indispensable nation for peacemaking. To Paul Nitze, a longtime diplomat and Washington insider, “making evident its qualifications as an honest broker” was central to America’s influence after the end of the Cold War.
But over the years, as America’s foreign policy became more militarized and as sustaining the so-called rules-based order increasingly meant that the United States put itself above all rules, America appears to have given up on the virtues of honest peacemaking.
We deliberately chose a different path. America increasingly prides itself on not being an impartial mediator. We abhor neutrality. We strive to take sides in order to be “on the right side of history” since we view statecraft as a cosmic battle between good and evil rather than the pragmatic management of conflict where peace inevitably comes at the expense of some justice.
This has perhaps been most evident in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is now increasingly defining America’s general posture. In 2000, when Madeleine Albright defended the Clinton administration’s refusal to veto a U.N. Security Council Resolution condemning the excessive use of force against Palestinians, she cited the need for the United States to be seen as an “honest broker.” But since then, the United States has vetoed 12 Security Council resolutions expressing criticisms of Israel — so much for neutrality.
Read the full piece in The New York Times.