Friday, July 2, 2010

Throwing cold water on Thomas Friedman's glowing reports from Fayyad HQ

"A little rain on the Palestinian parade," Nathan Brown. Foreign Policy. July 1, 2010.

Nathan Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, and fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, argues that reports of the scale and success of Fayyad's "state-building program" are greatly overstated.

I, for one, would be happy if Thomas Friedman, Hussein Ibish, and other Fayyad promoters were right in their assessment of the Palestinian Authority's Prime Minister.  For the PA to make headway in establishing rule of law and other basic functions of governance would represent a rare "postive-sum" gain in the region.  It may even be rhetorically prudent to play up Fayyad's success, at least in some quarters. Surely, it would be better for everyone involved if those who claim to support the Palestinians were to put their energies into the kind of work Fayyad is said to be doing, instead of the counterproductive and hateful anti-Israel mobilization that seems to dominate their agenda. 

However, there are also dangers in putting too much stock in Fayyad's efforts. In particular, as Brown suggests, hyping Fayyadism can make one discount the importance of the diplomatic plane, and generally to reduce the political to the economic.