The streetwise say “trade takes talent;” academics say “politics is the art of the possible;” experts say “the history of international relations is a history of balance of power;” reality says “you are only worth what’s in your pocket;” Menachem Begin said “A good Arab is a dead Arab;” Gamal Abdel-Nasser said “what was taken by force can only be returned by force;” Sadat said, “the October War is the last war;” a Palestinian woman screamed as an Israeli bulldozer destroyed her home in front of her eyes, “Save us, Arabs!”
Each of the above quotes could take an entire article, or several, or a book, or several, to explain and discuss what is a Herculean task. It would be foolish to dive into this raging sea which will only likely calm down on the Day of Judgment. There are, however, some scattered islands where one can rest and contemplate, as long as you don't become too optimistic and believe there is a magic potion to treat all the ailments of humanity.
There is, however, a guaranteed recipe to heal the people of the Middle East from all of their ailments. Namely, to continue in their mad actions that are evolving into sectarian wars of total destruction, or that the region is struck with enough nuclear bombs to annihilate every person and rock like the peoples of Aad and Thamud.
It is ironic that the nuclear club is lobbying against the spread of nuclear weapons because they know that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is essentially an agreement of subjugation by the First Party, the nuclear countries, of the Second Party, the rest of world who are outside the club. Articles 2 and 3 of the NPT state that non-nuclear countries are obligated to abandon their sovereign right to manufacture nuclear weapons, and allow inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In return, nuclear club members are bound by three obligations: first, assist non-nuclear countries to develop the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including providing technical information (articles 4 and 5); second, continuing to negotiate in good faith to end the nuclear race (Article 6); third, not assist any country (outside the club) to manufacture or acquire nuclear weapons (Article 1).
Israel did not sign the NPT, although there is no doubt that it is currently an associate member of the nuclear club. There is also no doubt that it received assistance to achieve this from nuclear countries, most notably France, in violation of Article 1 of the NPT and despite its fluid and incomprehensible motto that it "will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East.” This may not confirm that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, but it also does not deny it possesses them.
Perhaps the direct meaning of this motto is that Israel will not use this weapon unless it is threatened with a nuclear weapon. That could not be so if it did not possess it. And thus, the matter appears farcical, even though it touches the destiny of millions in the Middle East.
It is an ironic marvel that the leaders of Israel travel to world capitals to talk about absent “security” and the need for “steps to build trust” in order for Israel to feel secure about its existence.
Security is not a cake that exclusively belongs to one party and not others, because this would mean “imposing security by force.” This can never mean security or stability, whether for Israel or anyone else.
Regional security is impossible without a balanced contractual relationship that will never be achieved through an agreement, where one side receives full guarantees and has the right to possess tools that threaten its neighbour’s security at any time.
One of the most important steps of confidence building in the peace process is to “breakdown the barrier of fear and doubt,” and this will not happen without Israel signing the NPT and allowing inspections of nuclear facilities. It must also pledge to dispose of its stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, cut down its military spending and remove all its colonies in the West Bank.
If politics is the art of the possible, it is also “the will and determination to make changes.” If the history of international relations is one of balance of power, then balance of power is not a fixed rigid formula and all relevant parties must understand that nothing stays the same. If force alone does not guarantee legitimacy, then those who have the right will not benefit from its legitimacy if this right is not protected by force.
Finally, if a good Arab is a dead Arab, as Begin said, there are millions of Arabs who refuse to die while they are alive or live as if they were dead. As for Sadat’s motto that the October War is the last, Israel has proven that this is nothing more than empty words.
The war in the region has not stopped since that date. And if the Palestinian woman who beseeched Arabs goes unanswered, then coming generations will seek to possess the necessary power, including a nuclear bomb, to force Israel to give back the right of the people, irrespective of the consequences. The worst-case scenario is in fact the one that will make everyone rest in eternal peace.
The writer is former assistant to Egypt's foreign minister.