Israel and the Middle East will continue to command the attention of United States policymakers into the twenty-first century, despite the end of the Cold War and the current introspective focus on domestic matters. Before the creation of the Soviet Union, the region was important because of its connection to Western civilization, its geostrategic location, and its natural resources; it retains that significance after the end of the USSR. Israel is not "like any other country," and the particulars of its history that earned it a special place in the American consciousness continue to resonate in the American mind.
The end of the Cold War and the adversarial superpower relationship have left the United States without a compelling national security threat and clearly identified purpose. The Middle East benefits, in the short term, from the outcome of the Cold War and the fact that it is no longer a focal point of East-West conflict, as well as from the outcome of the Gulf War. Nevertheless, a peaceful Middle East is unlikely in the 1990s. The dominant regional conflict between Israel and the Arabs has taken a positive turn with the Madrid-inaugurated peace process, and especially the Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Declaration of Principles (DOP), the Washington Declaration, the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty, and attendant negotiations, but short-term comprehensive solutions remain elusive. Even if this conflict is resolved, implementing the solution will take years, and the region has numerous other disputes, along with problems of internal turmoil, that pose dilemmas for regional leaders as well as challenges for the United States.