MAKING OF AN OBJECTIVE
. . . boundaries cannot and should not reflect the weight of military conquest.
Lyndon B. Johnson
The American search for Mideast peace dates from 1967. In that year, Israel's resounding victory over its bordering Arab enemies seemed to offer Washington an opportunity to push strongly for a final resolution of the conflict that for decades had complicated, and which threatened eventually to undermine, the U.S. position in the Middle East.
It fell to the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson to settle on a new U.S. stategy for dealing with the Arab-Israeli problem. While the Johnson administration initially underestimated the major difficulties that would be encountered, it quickly enough discerned their broad outlines. Over the next two decades, all administrations would find that approaches glowing with pristine abstract logic were in practice roughly treated by the the hard reality of the needs and ambitions of other actors in the Middle East. By the time Johnson left office in early 1969, Washington had already significantly modified its original peacemaking efforts.
However, it is impossible to understand developments in U.S. policy under Johnson and subsequent presidents without first looking at two earlier phases in Washington's handling of the Arab-Israeli issue. For in the Middle East the past seems indeed to be the prelude to the future.