Tuesday, September 14, 2010

RAND Corporation tries to make some money from peace talks

There's a relatively new web page called "Friends of the ARC" that tries to recruit people to support an expansive idea for a rail and highway link between cities in the West Bank and to Gaza to encourage economic and population growth. The site has videos and papers about the plan.

The website is even sponsoring an essay contest for college students to prepare a "policy brief" to President Obama as to why he should be pushing the concept of the "ARC" in the current round of negotiations.

The ARC concept was created by the RAND Corporation together with an urban design company. Its implementation is estimated by RAND to be some $9 billion. While the Friends of the ARC website doesn't explicitly say that they are associated with RAND, it hardly looks like a grassroots organization.

The ARC itself sounds really great for "Palestine." It has a small problem that it cuts an existing nation in half, but that is clearly not an obstacle to peace according to RAND.

Besides that, it was first proposed back in 2005. The initial recommendations of creating transit hubs within existing cities are relatively inexpensive and not dependent on a final peace agreement - yet the PA has done nothing over these years to implement any of these ideas.

On the flip aide, RAND is not pushing for rich Gulf states to finance this vision - it is lobbying the US.

It looks like some major players are smelling where Western money is going to be going, hell-bent on pushing a "peace process" whether it actually makes sense or not. So besides the known incentives of Israelis and Palestinian Arabs in supporting or changing the "peace process" agenda, we also have major corporations salivating over getting some of the inevitable Western money that will pour into trying to give incentive for Arabs not to wage more terror wars.

This additional factor in pushing the "peace" agenda forward might be worthwhile to watch.