Waging Peace in the Middle East
Washington, D.C. now has a new presidential memorial. On September 17, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States, joined the ranks of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in having a major site in the nation’s capital dedicated to his memory.
While Eisenhower first rose to prominence as a general in World War II, his two terms in office were devoted to what he called “waging peace.” Knowing the costs of war firsthand pushed him to dedicate his administration to pursuing the goal of peace around the world. For this achievement among his many others, our country now memorializes him.
There are few places on Earth that would benefit more from a policy of waging peace than the Middle East. Over the span of its life as a modern nation-state, our staunch ally Israel has repeatedly been forced to fight for its life and faced hostility from nearby Arab countries, and our own country has engaged in military conflict in the region. Peace in the Middle East has been important but elusive, and substantial progress toward it is always noteworthy.
I believe this is the case with the recently agreed Abraham Accords between Israel and Arab states the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain. The agreement, signed at the White House on September 15, should be considered a historic breakthrough for peace in the region.
The agreement establishes diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties where previously there had been mistrust, suspicion, and estrangement.
The UAE and Bahrain will each recognize Israel, leading to the exchange of ambassadors and the opening of embassies.
Cooperation in a variety of economic areas will be promoted. The UAE ended its 48-year boycott of Israel. Between the time the agreement between those two countries was announced in August and formally signed on September 15, direct flights from Israel to the UAE occurred for the first time. Talks are already underway on investment and business opportunities.
In a region too often characterized by religious hatred, the normalization of relations between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain will allow Muslims to visit some of the faith’s holiest sites located in Jerusalem.
When the UAE took the step of recognizing Israel, it followed only two other Arab states: Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. Both of those events are regarded as diplomatic milestones. This one should be, too, especially since Bahrain followed so quickly and other Arab states may as well.
The Abraham Accords are a triumph for the peace and prosperity of the people of Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain. They are also a triumph for the diplomacy of President Trump and his administration.
His team brokered the agreement, forging a compact which once seemed unlikely. Former Secretary of State John Kerry in 2016 declared, “There will be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world,” but the Trump Administration is helping to build that peace right now.
The approach of Secretary Kerry and the Obama Administration in which he served often seemed to prefer appeasing our opponents, such as Iran, and chastising our friends, such as Israel.
In contrast, President Trump has been a committed friend to Israel, as displayed when he took the long-overdue action of recognized Jerusalem as its capital and moving the U.S. embassy to that city. The Abraham Accords nevertheless benefit all the countries involved, including ours, and leave Iran, our chief opponent in the region, increasingly isolated.
A more peaceful Middle East obviously benefits our partners in that region, but it also reduces the need for active American military involvement.
In the same week our country honored Dwight D. Eisenhower, the practitioner of “waging peace” as president, President Trump and the leaders of Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain showed what waging peace can mean for our time. People in the Middle East, now and in generations to come, will reap the blessings of their commitment to cooperation and concord.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.