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A different side of the Camp David story

Posted by Lissa on February 13, 2009

Interesting:

Camp David was indeed Mr. Carter’s one major foreign policy accomplishment amid a string of disasters including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the rise of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and Ayatollah Khomeini’s ascent in Iran.

But the truth about Camp David belies this myth. The truth is that Mr. Carter never wanted an Egyptian-Israeli agreement, fought hard against it, and only agreed to go along with the process when it became clear that the rest of his foreign policy was in a shambles and he desperately needed to log a success. [snip]

Mr. Carter and his advisers all assumed that the key to peace in the region was to make Israel pull back to its pre-1967 borders and accept the principle of Palestinian self-determination in exchange for a guarantee of Israel’s security. Nothing less than a comprehensive settlement, it was argued, could ward off future wars — and there could be no agreement without the Soviets at the bargaining table. This was a policy that, if implemented, would have thrust the Cold War directly into the heart of Middle East politics. Nixon and Mr. Kissinger had strained to achieve the opposite.

Interestingly, the man who ultimately prevented this Carter-led calamity from unfolding was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Sadat decided that Egypt needed to start from scratch in its relationship with Israel. Sadat found natural allies in Nixon and Mr. Kissinger after throwing out his Soviet patrons in 1972. With American support, he came to a disengagement agreement with Israel in 1973, and again in 1975. The culmination of this process was Sadat’s historic trip to Jerusalem in November 1977, where he discussed a separate peace between Egypt and Israel, and forestalled Mr. Carter’s plan for a Geneva peace conference.

It was this trip — not Camp David — that marked the true seismic shift in Middle East relations since Israel’s founding. It came as an unwelcome surprise to the Carter foreign policy team, who still wanted their grandiose Geneva conference. In fact, for the better part of 1977, as Israel and Egypt negotiated, the White House persisted in acting as if nothing had happened. Even after Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem, Mr. Carter announced that “a separate peace agreement between Egypt and Israel is not desirable.”

RTWT

(h/t to Mike)

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One Response to “A different side of the Camp David story”

  1. Robert said

    *nods* It’s as I’ve suspected for years; Anwar Sadat was almost single-handedly responsible for the peace accord between Egypt and Israel. Israel has often shown its willingness to meet its Arab neighbors more than halfway, but none of them except for Sadat have ever made even the feeblest gesture toward friendship, not even the Jordanians.

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