Monday, November 8, 2010

The Individual is pretty Important

In today's class, we discussed whether the MEPP was reliant on the individuals involved, the processes happening in the states, or the international system in place. While all three are so intertwined that it would be ignorant of me to say one is more important than the other two, I do feel that individuals played a key role in the peace processes happening in the early 90's.

As we went over in class, Clinton was a figure who brought people together. He had a certain personality that many liked, and he was instrumental in bringing Israel and the PLO together at the table. Arafat, whose history in the conflict is long, may have been worn down from years of chaos and fighting. Yitzhak Rabin was a central figure in the process. He had broad support from the public, and with his foreign minister Shimon Peres, achieved great success. All these personalities came together under the right circumstances.

One can disagree, and say that the individuals didn't matter too much. International realists can further say it was the states, not the people.

Whether we want to believe it or not, individuals change a lot in this world. Individuals make history. Without certain people being where they were in the right place, certain events wouldn't have unfolded the way they did. For instance, Washington during the Revolutionary war, Napoleon in France, Lincoln during the Civil War.

To bring the issue closer to the region, if Gamal Nasser wasn't President of Egypt, would pan-Arabism been so big in the Middle East? If Mustafa Kemal didn't take charge, would there be a nation of Turkey? If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn't become president of Iran, would relations be so bad? So many 'ifs" made possibly by individuals.

Individuals often spur the creation of certain policy.  We can look at the international system and events scientifically and systematically, but often people overlook the power one person holds. That power can change the course of the world.

Now was Rabin nessesary to the peace process? Well it does seem so. When Benjamin Netanyahu became Prime Minister, most of the same characters were in power. I do admit, the aspects of the exact situation between Israel and Palestine were different, but they couldn't come to further agreement. If Rabin had been alive, would it had gone through? Maybe. However, it does serve to illustrate that an individual can change the world. Especially in the Middle East. Hopefully we'll get another Rabin and they'll make it happen.

Left to Right: Yassir Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin

1 comment:

  1. All good points, of course, and I do agree that individuals can make a difference (not the chief difference, perhaps, but a difference nonetheless). That is, I'm of the opinion that, were we to fall into the [rather lazy] belief that we as individuals can *not* make a difference, nothing would ever change. ...buck-passing on an individual scale. haha
    Your statement that "That power can change the course of the world," however, is overly optimistic for the cynic in me - I'd agree that individuals have potential to inspire a great deal of change, but it can't be done on their own; too many factors involved, I'd say.