Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Peace is a deal

Jerry Stratton, August 25, 2021

Geographic map of the Middle East

On a simple map, Afghanistan just looks like a small country on the edge of the Middle East. In reality, it’s far different. Can you find Afghanistan on this NASA image?

Why did the Biden administration dump the deal we’d worked out to leave Afghanistan? Because disparagement of deals is not new for the left. Back in 2017 when President Trump first started addressing conflict in the Middle East, he said that “The United States will encourage peace and really a great peace deal.”

I immediately started seeing things like this from friends on the left on social media:

Oh. My. God. Peace is now a “deal.” And the work of presidents and peacemakers since 1976 is now deemed worthless because of one big fat orange deal-maker.

“Trump’s comments,” she said, “dismantled one of the key pillars of the US-led peace efforts since before the signing of the Oslo accords, which envisioned the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish one.”

The first Oslo accords were signed nearly a quarter of a century ago and the two-state solution has been the non-negotiable basis of negotiations since 1974. In all of those forty-seven years there has been no peace in the Middle East. Palestinian representatives broke the Oslo accords almost as soon as they were signed, while the Israelis continued to honor the accord under pressure from the West.

Because we made the two-state solution non-negotiable, Palestinian representatives didn’t have any need to compromise to achieve it, and instead used it as the starting point to push for their real, stated goal: a one-state solution where Israel is destroyed.

Not treating peace as a deal has produced nothing except more terrorism. It is crazy to make a “solution” that hasn’t worked since before Carter was president non-negotiable.

By putting everything on the table for negotiation, negotiations became more likely, which made peace—and even the two-state solution—more likely. It also made finding a different solution that would actually work more likely, such as the Abraham Accords that Trump’s team negotiated. The Abraham Accords are deals, and by all appearances, good ones.

The inability to understand that peace requires deals has been a long-standing problem on the left for as long as I’ve been alive. For as long as I can remember, the left’s understanding of peace has been a unilateral one. I believed it myself when I was younger and on the left. If we want peace on our streets, we disarm the police.1 If the United States wants peace in the world, we stop making nuclear weapons, we stop making defense systems.

If we stop fighting against crime, if we stop defending ourselves, there will be peace.

But unilateralism doesn’t work; it means less peace, because it means aggression goes unopposed. It means chaos that spreads from country to country as bad actors realize they don’t have to honor agreements or even public opinion. What’s happening in Afghanistan now is the left’s inability to understand that peace is a deal.

The Biden administration completely tossed the deal that President Trump’s administration had worked out, a deal that involved steps and conditions, that involved maintaining the ability to retaliate if the Taliban broke the deal. Instead, Biden abandoned not just our military bases but the weapons on those bases. The Biden administration’s non-plan to leave Afghanistan is a textbook case of why we must have enforceable deals to have peace.

Munich Agreement

Unilateral concessions rarely bring peace, not in our time, definitely not with honor.

Not recognizing that peace cannot be unilateral is why we still don’t have peace in the Middle East. It is why terrorism continues to grow there to threaten the rest of the world. It is why Afghanistan has fallen into chaos and why the United States has suddenly lost all credibility on the world stage.

Deals require both sides to honor them; deals require both sides to compromise. Deals require enforceable steps and enforceable actions. They require credible deterrence to not honoring the deal. By attempting to make peace unilaterally, with the United States simply assuming that everyone wants peace and all we have to do is leave, the left ensures that terrorists don’t have to honor any deal in order to get continued concessions and even payoffs.

The Biden administration’s jettisoning of the important parts of the deal the United States already had in place has ensured that the Taliban doesn’t have to honor any of it in order to confiscate military supplies, weapons and, probably soon, hostages.

If we want peace in the Middle East, we must recognize that we will only get peace if both sides treat it as a deal.

It reminds me of the people of Oric in Elliot S! Maggin’s wonderful Last Son of Krypton. They don’t make deals. They see deals as the “vulgarity” of other races.

Nothing, in fact, could be bought and sold. Gifts were exchanged a great deal—it was the primary occupation of most of the creatures on the planet.

The ability to make deals is one of the pre-requisites of civilization. Without an acknowledgment of deal-making, life is barbaric. Every exchange is likely to be rescinded as soon as one side feels like they can get away with it, which means most people’s “primary occupation” is, rather than building things or creating new industries, desperately trying not to lose ground.

The people of Oric made exchanges, but they didn’t make deals. Such non-deals are complicated, time-consuming, and easily broken. The result is not just that it takes far longer for civilization—and the peace that civilization brings—to advance2. The disparagement of deals is also part of what made Oric the best place for a galactic terrorist to begin his plans of ruling the small arm of the spiral galaxy we happen to live in. It’s what required a Superman to make things right when that terrorist expanded his operations to Earth.

It’s what is happening right now in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is what happens when you disparage deal-making, and its effects will continue threatening us long after the initial chaos ends. There is no Superman to intervene, and as long as the official U.S. position is to disparage deal-making, there is no real-world superpower either.

  1. “Defund the police” is not a new position for the left. They just used to word it less blatantly.

  2. From Superman and Luthor’s discussion of the differences between Earth’s deal-making civilization and other planets:

    • Luthor: What’s the intelligent population of the planet Regulus-6?
    • Superman: About 760 million.
    • Luthor: And at what stage of scientific development are they?
    • Superman: Last time I was there, someone had just figured out the steam turbine.
    • Luthor: And it’ll be centuries before anyone comes up with the idea of putting it to use in transportation or trade.
    • Superman: When were you on Regulus-6?
    • Luthor: Remember when I broke out of jail last year and nobody knew where I was for three weeks?
  1. <- 2020 in Photos