DIFFUSION OF AN OBJECTIVE: 1969-1976
. . . somewhere along the line the question of what causes a Soviet move becomes irrelevant; American policy must deal with its consequences, not with its causes.
The Johnson administration failed to make substantial progress toward resolving the Arab-Israeli quarrel. However, it left office with four significant accomplishments in the search for peace to its credit. First, the administration had clearly established that Washington's goal was to see the conflict terminated within the confines of the existing regional state system through an exchange of territory and political concessions that would not reflect "the weight of conquest." Second, it had recognized that its chosen policy of keeping the regional power balance inclined in Israel's favor might promote an open-ended arms race that could further a U.S. decline, and a corresponding Soviet rise, in the Arab world. Third, the administration had absorbed the uncomfortable lesson that in the context of Superpower rivalry in the Middle East, the United States lacked an effective means of pressuring Israel into even preliminary indirect substantive negotiations with the Arabs. Finally, the administration had concluded that this dangerous dynamic might be reversed by exploring possibilities for a Middle East settlement jointly with the Soviet Union.
In the years that followed -- the years of the Nixon and Ford presidencies -- the concept of peace developed during Johnson's tenure was not formally abandoned. Nonetheless, it gradually lost its sharpness. By the end of 1976 many Americans -- as well as others -- questioned whether