The Clinton Wonks Forging a Plan for Israel’s Security

In about two weeks, the Center for a New American Security will be unveiling its report 'A Security System for the Two State Solution.' Watch that space.

Amir Oren
Amir Oren
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U.S. Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy, prepares for a meeting in Beijing, China, Wednesday, December 7, 2011.
U.S. Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy, prepares for a meeting in Beijing, China, Wednesday, December 7, 2011.Credit: Andy Wong, AP
Amir Oren
Amir Oren

Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is an American translation of the slogan of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party – a “return to the splendor of old.” Continuing his line of foolishness, he might as well propose the re-establishnent of slavery and revoking women's suffrage.

Yes, he’s an excellent candidate to succeed Jefferson Davis as the second president of the Confederate States. How shameful that out of 320 million Americans, the person who reached the national finish line is an ignorant buffoon who can’t distinguish between Fifth Avenue and the Sixth Fleet.

Only the collapse of Trump Tower in Manhattan when Hillary Clinton happens to be walking below could deny her the presidency. So the people and issues for the next administration have to be prepared.

The think tanks in Washington are refuges for displaced persons from previous administrations girding to become part of future administrations. In election years, the first to pull out position papers are the ones who improve their chances to influence the president and see their plans realized.

That was the case, for example, 40 years ago in a Brookings Institute document on the Middle East, basically adopted by President Jimmy Carter, and written by National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Middle East expert William Quandt. The current version of that institute and document is apparently the Center for a New American Security, which in about two weeks will be unveiling its report “A Security System for the Two State Solution.”

The chief executive and cofounder of CNAS is Michele Flournoy, a former deputy secretary of defense in the Obama administration who contributed to the report. She’s a candidate for national security adviser or secretary of defense in a Hillary Clinton administration.

A coordinator of the teams contributing to the study an American despite his Israeli-sounding name is Ilan Goldenberg, who was on Secretary of State John Kerry’s team in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and during Kerry’s mission in the Middle East. Goldenberg could be Flournoy’s Quandt.

The team of experts includes people with rich experience in security and policy, from the Kirya defense headquarters in Tel Aviv to the Pentagon. At the event launching the report will be retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, who worked for Kerry on a security plan for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, as well as reserve generals in the Israel Defense Forces, Amnon Reshef and Gadi Shamni.

Allen tried to propose a bundle of alternatives to the IDF’s presence in the West Bank in the event of an agreement, but he was stymied by politicians in the Netanyahu government. They wouldn’t cooperate with him on either the theoretical or practical level. Among these alternatives was increased monitoring of foreign and local forces by electronic means.

The planning and operational wings of the IDF General Staff and Central Command were very much in favor of this channel. U.S. President Barack Obama decided to devote his main efforts to the Iranian nuclear program and was sucked into the dual problem of the Syrian civil war and the battle against the Islamic State.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was left for later; it has no expiration date. If Clinton wants to deal with it, she’ll have a draft available of the security appendix to the agreement – an appendix no less important than the document itself, according to the precedent of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

Reshef’s participation in Flournoy’s event reflects a relationship between the Center for a New American Security’s report and the “security first” plan of Commanders for Israel’s Security, a movement Reshef helps lead. The commanders’ plan will be presented this month separately.

The commanders’ plan also deals with the interim situation until an agreement is reached, and is something of a surrender to the settlers, 80 percent of whom will be left where they are now, will be allowed to expand there and will of course be protected. But the plan’s essential starting point recognizes the necessity of an Israeli security, diplomatic and economic initiative.

Most importantly, the center’s report presents a sober, expert approach that sees to Israel’s security and challenges the increasing despair over reaching an agreement – the notion that even if formulas for Jerusalem and the refugees are found, security will not be addressed. There is a fair and appropriate answer, peace will be more secure and the opponents of the agreement won’t be able to hide behind the scarecrow of saying there’s no security.

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