Secretary of State John Kerry, on his tenth visit to the Middle East in a quixotic attempt to urge a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, cited the Vietnam War as an example of how old foes can reconcile. “The transformation in our [U.S.-Vietnam] relationship is proof that as painful as the past can be, through hard work of diplomacy history’s adversaries can actually become partners for a new day and history’s challenges can become opportunities for a new age,” Kerry said, in his characteristic, sanctimonious style.
There is, however, one glaring problem with the analogy. Vietnam was a defeat for the U.S. The diplomacy that ended the war ultimately failed to protect South Vietnam from being conquered by communist forces. It was a “one-state solution” of the most brutal sort, one that had deadly repercussions for the region. Vietnam also remains a repressive communist state, despite recent moves toward the market. If that is the model that guides Kerry’s thinking about the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel has reason indeed to be worried.