Oslo was not a bad idea. Clearly, there was no one else to talk to but the PLO. In the long run, the attempt proved futile.

Jordan looked like a decent partner: a fearful monarch whose only friend was Israel. Leaning toward Jordan didn’t work, either: Jordan drifted toward the Muslims bloc, and in any case will eventually be taken over by its Palestinian majority.

Israel aligned herself with Arab dictators: Gemayel in Lebanon, Mubarak in Egypt, and the Saudis. They need Israel to vent the radical feelings of their mobs, to help them fight the Islamists who challenge their regimes, and to establish a rapport with America. From a vent, Israel became a source of inspiration for Arab mobs. America, ever-wavering with presidential mood, proved an unreliable partner. Politically correct Israel does not fight Islamists as well as the Arab dictators had hoped, and in fact does not do so as well as they do themselves. Islamists are poised to take over the inner circles of the Arab countries that border Israel.

Artificial alliances require Bismarck’s flexibility and reliability.