Paying for Peace: The Oslo Process and the Limits of American Foreign Aid

By Lasensky, Scott | The Middle East Journal, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

Paying for Peace: The Oslo Process and the Limits of American Foreign Aid


Lasensky, Scott, The Middle East Journal


American foreign aid has been essential for both cementing and sustaining efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict since the 1970s. During the Oslo process, aid was designed primarily to build public constituencies to support the negotiations. However, aid quickly became a bandage for a deteriorating Palestinian economy weighed down by corruption, damaged by violence, and stifled by Israeli closures. Rather than serve its original purpose, aid became a crutch for an unsteady process that collapsed following the 2000 Camp David summit. Unlike in other Arab-Israeli negotiations, where aid has been more effective, the Oslo process highlights the limits of foreign aid as an instrument of statecraft.

As Israeli-Palestinian violence continues to shake the Middle East and complicate America's war on terrorism, it is an opportune time to ask what is gained from the more than five billion dollars Washington provides annually to Israel and its Arab neighbors - a subject long understudied in both the academic and policy literature.1 Although foreign aid has been essential for both cementing and sustaining efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict since the 1970s, it is a limited tool. During the Oslo process (1993-2001), foreign aid and other positive inducements provided momentum to the peace process, underwrote practicalities, and smoothed over periodic crises in the negotiations. But ultimately, as evidenced at Camp David in 2000, despite unprecedented promises of American aid, a final peace deal remained out of reach.

With the US having already provided more than $200 billion in aid to the Middle East since 1970, and with nearly half of the current foreign aid budget going to the region, it is essential to know what foreign aid can and cannot accomplish. Moreover, understanding the utility of foreign aid (and the role of positive inducements more generally) is critical to the success of future American interventions in the ArabIsraeli arena and in managing other regional conflicts.

This article will evaluate the use and effectiveness of American foreign aid in managing the Arab-Israeli conflict. Specifically, the paper examines the role of this diplomatic instrument in Israeli-Palestinian relations since Oslo. The focus is on foreign aid for political purposes, as distinct from development or humanitarian aid.2 The following five arguments are made:

* Foreign aid was a necessary, but not sufficient, factor in sustaining the Oslo process from 1993-2001. Aid was effective once the parties demonstrated the political will necessary to reach negotiated agreements. Economic inducements did not bring either side to the table, but aid was necessary to consummate and implement peace accords and to maintain momentum in the negotiating process. The Oslo accords would not have endured as long as they did if aid had not been used. But foreign aid alone, including President Clinton's $35 billion offer at Camp David in 2000, was insufficient to save the process from collapse.

* Aid has been most effective as part of long-term strategies of engagement that combine political, economic, and security assurances. It was a strategy first developed by President Richard Nixon and his National security Advisor/Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. But during the Oslo years, the US did not provide Palestinians with sufficient political and security inducements to maximize aid effectiveness. In fact, at the Camp David summit, rather than use aid as part of an integrated strategy for underwriting peace, President Clinton attempted to use economic inducements to compensate for fundamental deficits in the negotiations.

* Foreign aid also has "expressive value." During the Oslo process, aid provided political cover for policymakers who faced domestic discontent over peace deals. This was true for both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. At times, Washington also used aid to express displeasure with the sides.

* As with other step-by-step peace settlements, Oslo aid was designed to build public constituencies to support the negotiations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Paying for Peace: The Oslo Process and the Limits of American Foreign Aid
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.