Clinton to State? Is Mid-East Peace Back On The Table?

There has been a lot of chatter the last 48 hours or so about Obama considering Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. The chatter practically exploded this afternoon with the report that the President-Elect had formally offered the job to her and she was considering the offer.

Most all of the discussion to date as to why Barack Obama might be so motivated has centered on the "Team of Rivals" aspect and the general cache of the Clinton name internationally and diplomatically.

Perhaps the best take in this regard was stated by Ian Welsh at FDL:

Clinton does offer one big advantage as Secretary of State: the Clinton name. The Clintons are loved overseas, and there is no one else in America (other than her husband, who will presumably be by her side in any case) who would demonstrate more clout than having Hilary Clinton arrive in your country. Likewise she already has relationships with many world leaders and doesn’t have to build up that trust from scratch. Clinton can hit the ground running, and assuming Obama makes it clear that he’s backing her, she can speak with more authority than perhaps anyone else could, on his behalf.

Indeed. But what strikes me is that, if Obama really has made the offer to Clinton, he may have in mind not just the obvious skills (and potential detriments) that Hillary Clinton could bring to the job, but also making a bold play for mid-east peace and specifically the Israeli/Palestinian component of it.

George Bush has never paid more than lip service to honest brokerage of real peace and rapprochement between Israel and the Palestinians. Even the supposedly vaunted "Roadmap" was nothing but rhetorical roadkill on delivery, and his efforts have gone downhill since then. Condi Rice has been useless at best on the issue, and Dick Cheney, well, enough said there.

But Bill Clinton came as close as anybody in recent memory, actually decades, to actually getting a deal done. Bill Clinton was actively engaged in trying to foster a "final settlement" to the I/P problem his entire presidency, but took a crippling hit when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. The initial promise of the Oslo Accords went unfulfilled, and the final settlement that had been contemplated, unrealized. President Clinton made one last push for the elusive "final settlement" right before leaving office with the Camp David Summit.

For a variety of reasons, most notably the last second reticence, after initial acquiescence, of Yassar Arafat if reports are to be believed, Camp David went to dust. Perhaps sand. The key here is that, to both sides of the equation, Clinton was seen as an "honest broker". The simple logistical fact is that there will be no I/P peace without the sincere and active participation by the United States Government via its Executive.

If Barack Obama is indeed going to make an early and strong play on the I/P issue, it is hard to imagine who could bring more cache and weight to the attempt than Hillary Clinton. And make no mistake about it, if Obama wants to truly make his "change" global, there is no bigger key than the Palestinian problem. So much really is predicated on it and flows from it. Want to really change the world? Man, is that the prime festering sore to start with. If there is any line of dominoes, that is the initiator.

Halfway through writing this piece, I came across an article from last Monday by Georgie Anne Geyer, that lays out the argument for Clinton on the potential I/P effort by Obama perfectly.

But missed in the avalanche is the fact that we face a moment of unique hope. Where? Strangely enough, in that ever "hopeless" morass of the Middle East. In fact, when you put all the dominant factors in the region together and look carefully at the intersections of interests, we might be on the brink of the best chance for a real Israeli-Palestinian peace since the Jimmy Carter administration.

Despite these very real factors, deep changes are occurring inside Israel itself. Little-reported, for some reason, were the outgoing words of former Likudnik Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, long of the Israeli hard right, when he went against all of his past and stated that Israel would eventually have to give up almost all the lands it conquered in 1967, including the Arab parts of Jerusalem.

Also this fall, the Israeli government announced it would cut off funding for illegal settlement outposts and crack down on extremist squatters (thus acknowledging Israel’s complicity in their formation), after its domestic security service director, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, told a cabinet meeting that he is "very concerned" that Jewish extremists were going to attempt to assassinate moderate Israeli leaders.

Indeed, outgoing Prime Minister Olmert also warned at the meeting, showing the degree of concern that is growing even among former members of the anti-peace right: "There is a group, that is not small, of wild people who behave in a way that threatens proper law and governance. … This is unacceptable and we cannot countenance it."

At the same time, profound changes are taking place within Israel. The fate of Jerusalem, one of the world’s most exquisite cities — and the historic site of the birth and development of the three great religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam — lies in careless hands. Not a single Israeli of national stature has stepped forward to run for mayor of the city, a post that always offered immense stature. The formerly glimmering Near Eastern capital is now the poorest town in Israel, with a third of families and more than half of the children living below the official poverty line.

Meron Benvenisti, the respected former deputy mayor and a great historian of the city, was quoted recently as saying, "This city is a conundrum without a solution."

As to the Palestinians, it is surely true that one cannot expect great and mature moves from them — but what has been lost in most of the U.S.-Israeli discussions is that that is essentially unimportant. The United States and Israel are the dominant players in this unfortunate game. They can still do what both have refused to do for at least the last eight years, which is to set up a just and reasonable peace process. If it is imposed and fairly carried through by the two major players, there is every reason to believe that the Palestinians will follow, if only because they would have to."

Now the fascinating thing here is that Geyer had the wrong Clinton; she was suggesting naming Bill Clinton as American Middle East envoy.

I think Barack Obama may be a step ahead of Georgie Anne Geyer, and the rest of us too. Obama may be thinking bigger and bolder than any of us have given him credit for. A real, and audacious, move on "final settlement" of the I/P problem may be up his sleeve, and that may just be a good chunk of his motive in considering Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State; and, if that is the case, Clinton starts to make a whole lot of sense.

UPDATE: One more point I intended to put in the post, but neglected to include before I posted, is the roster of calls that Vice-President Elect Joe Biden made Monday and Tuesday of this week (h/t Marcy). Take a look at the list:

· Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
· Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
· Israeli Likud Leader Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu
· Polish President Lech Kaczynski
· British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
· Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
· Afghan President Hamid Karzai
· King Abdullah of Jordan

Only Karzai and Kaczynski are not directly related to the I/P issue; the former, Karzai, has an abiding interest in it, and the latter, Kaczynski, was a call Biden made to straighten out some confusion on missile defense that exists from Bush/Cheney belligerence on the issue. If one is thinking the incoming Obama Administration has an I/P peace push up its sleeve, this certainly supports the thought.

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107 replies
  1. WilliamOckham says:

    Hmmm… I’m still not buying it. I don’t think Obama offered her the job. I think who ever leaked that was trying to nip the job offer in the bud.

  2. EdwardTeller says:

    I’m a back-to-the-Green-Line guy. And just reparations to Palestinians who lost everything in the Nabka.

    The original post-mandate vision for Jerusalem was as an internationally-administered city. Had Muslims, Jews and Christians been mature enough back in 1946-49 to create an international Jerusalem that worked, the history of the past 60 years would be far different.

    Olmert’s exit statements are from a man who is truly giving up politics.

  3. masaccio says:

    This is an interesting take: we know we need something new to deal with the Middle East, and I see why you think this might be it. At the very least, you remind us that we aren’t dealing with that dumkopf current president, but someone who thinks way ahead. We can’t continue to use a own one-step analysis, knowing that the current inhabitant will always start in the wrong direction. Instead, we have to remember we have a smart president who thinks several steps at a time, and start doing the same thing ourselves, or we’ll be as irrelevant as David BroderBrooks.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah. Exactly. Picture a “Shock Doctrine” for the good. I vacillate on what exactly Obama is and wants to do. But if he wants to be a game changer right off the bat, not just domestically, but globally; nothing, and I mean nothing, would be more significant than bringing a solution to the I/P issue. Just think of the way the effects would radiate out in a positive way for Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc. How much financial treasure does the US and Western Europe see go down the hole because of this festering sore every year? Tons.

      It really is exciting to ponder a real effort and potential success here. As Louis Armstrong crooned, “What a wonderful world this could be.”

  4. obsessed says:

    Great post – I especially like your image of I/P as the initiating domino.

    One nitpick – “it’s” means “it is” – the possessive is “its” as in “up its sleeve”. Such an important post should not have that type of error twice.

    • greenharper says:

      As long as we’re obsessing: it’s ‘cachet,’ rather than ‘cache.’ Apologies if someone else caught this.

      I don’t forget Clinton’s campaign lies about her foreign policy achievements. Both the Irish, and officials of a Balkan nation whose name might recur to my synapses, issued public statements refuting Clinton’s claims of peacemaking in their respective bailiwicks. This was absolutely astounding. I have to wonder how much Clinton thereby damaged herself internationally.

      But you (and Georgie Anne Geyer) might be right about Clinton and I/P. If Obama has indeed offered State to Clinton, I fervently hope that you are.

  5. bobschacht says:

    I really like the concept of this thread: Putting priority on the I/P peace process. That really would be a game changer all the way around.

    I know the Clintons have the connections to pull it off, but does Hillary have the *skills*? Does she really have any clue of how the Palestinian side thinks?

    And I think you are wrong, in spades, if you suppose that peace can be imposed on the Palestinians without their fair and full participation. One piece of the early process is to work out a rapprochement between Hamas and Al Fatah.

    A brilliant move that could be a game changer within the I/P peace process would be the release of Marwan Barghouti. I think that he alone has the stature within the Palestinian community to appeal to both Al Fatah and Hamas, and broker a deal. Israel knows that in him, it is holding a trump card, but if the Clintons made his release a key feature of their initiative, it could be done– and then a lot of things would change, very quickly.

    Bob in HI

  6. bmaz says:

    And I think you are wrong, in spades, if you suppose that peace can be imposed on the Palestinians without their fair and full participation.

    That was Geyer’s bit, not mine. Not at all my concept. However, the Palestinians were in dire straits before the rest of the world headed down the dumper; if it is going bad for us, it is even worse for them. Getting the two factions together in Palestine might actually be facilitated by a viable peace proposal signed off on by Israel. You can’t force them, but Geyer is right that set up right, it will drag them in. It will not be easy over there to get it done, but yes, I think it can be done. And strangely enough, I think Clinton probably has the juice to do, if anybody does. It will not be her alone, she will have, you know, a State Department with her and behind her. And Obama. But as a ball carrier, who is going to carry more weight and credibility for us right now? I had never in the world thought about this aspect, or even Clinton for State until all the chatter broke out this a couple of days ago; and it was not until early this evening that the depth of what Obama might be up to here dawned on me. But it all fits; if he really wants her at State, this has to be part of the reason.

  7. BooRadley says:

    A really terrific post, as per usual. Thanks very much.

    Hugh brought this up on Ian’s thread:

    “The Clintons are tied to the idiot Dennis Ross so I would not expect to see a resolution on Israel-Palestine.”

    I agree that Dennis Ross is an idiot, but I am hoping the Clinton’s are not tied to him as closely as Hugh fears.

  8. JThomason says:

    May I register my gratitude that the election is over? Thanks for a good, forward looking, thought provoking post. The notion of Jerusalem as an international city is interesting. It may be dated and impractical but I wonder how much audacity will be spent on the issue of an Israeli/Palestinian reconciliation and the concomitant prospects of a Mid Eastern peace? Wouldn’t that be a wonder?

  9. JThomason says:

    On the other hand, as I awaken a bit. Why Hillary?

    Oh my! Obama met “secretly” with Bill Richardson today in Chicago…

    But you don’t see his spin machine out there like Carville and Begala this afternoon, nor unnamed sources “close to Richardson” telling reporters what supposedly happened.

    Maybe this is a “who can keep a secret” test?

    Daily Kos.

  10. radiofreewill says:

    I’m guessing, but believe it, or not, I think this is a play by Joe Fucking Lieberman, who is offering his ’support’ for this, if:

    – Hillary takes SoS, and
    – He gets to keep his Homeland Security Chair

    This way, Obama will have the legacy of bringing Peace to the Middle East, Hillary will be perfectly positioned for the 2016 Presidency, and the Traitorous Weasel gets to stay a Player.

    It also keeps Hillary out of the Senate Majority Leader position, where her involvement in any BushCo Investigations would be problematic, given her husband’s Impeachment at the hands of the of the very same Goopers.

  11. kspena says:

    bmaz, do you think Condi, by admitting no settlement is possible under bush, has signaled to Obama that he can pick-up the problem now? That would enable Biden’s calls without bush criticism.

    “The White House acknowledged for the first time Thursday that Bush’s goal of a deal on Palestinian statehood before he leaves office in January was “unlikely” to be achieved.”

    http://www.iht.com/articles/re…..L-RICE.php

    I’m also wondering is lower oil prices put added pressure on Israel’s neighbors to accept a deal…

    • bmaz says:

      Dunno about the easing of process for Obama/Biden to start calling; they have the cover of returning congratulatory calls on their victory anyway. It is the tight grouping that got me as much as the fact the calls occurred; that looked purposeful, not random. Peace sure couldn’t hurt the oil producers about now, although they mostly are not the direct neighbors.

    • Leen says:

      From the beginning of the Bush administration 43 has said that the continued expansion of the settlements is a real problem. 43 has also come out in some ways more than any other President with the exception of Carter and said he is committed to a Palestinian state. The problem no action to back up those words.

      One think I was shocked to read in Former President Jimmy Carter’s book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” was that James Baker had gone to an Aipac conference and said the settlements are illegal and need to stop and that the plan for a greater Israel was a real problem. That took some chutzpah
      http://www.muzzlewatch.com/?p=217

      http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/jun/30/00018/ (this is an insightful article)
      The soul of the conference for me was Tal Becker, the highly personable Israeli negotiator. “I see [Palestinian negotiator] Saeb Erekat a lot more than I see my wife and kids,” he said, promising that if he and Palestinian moderates fail to reach an agreement, their goal is “to keep talking and keep talking and keep talking.”

      Yet before you get out your handkerchief, reflect that AIPAC has for more than 30 years promoted the colonization process. In 1975, when President Ford wanted to reassess Mideast policy over Israeli intransigence, he was cut off at the knees by an AIPAC letter signed by 76 senators. Then in 1989, when James Baker went before AIPAC and told them to give up their idea of a Greater Israel including the West Bank, George H.W. Bush received a letter of anger signed by 94 senators. In both instances, AIPAC was hewing to the Israeli government line and nullifying American policymaking.

      ————————————————————————
      What Olmert has had the balls to come out and say even after he has little power and influence has been amazing.
      http://www.france24.com/en/200…..ians-syria

  12. Leen says:

    After the Oslo Agreement illegal settlements continued to be built. No stop no hesitation to continue expanding. This was a huge thorn in the side of the Oslo Agreement. Our media (with Dennis Ross at the helm of influence) spun the breakdown in Clinton’s efforts as Arafat’s doing…all Arafat’s fault. From what I have read one of the biggest breakdowns during those negotiations was distribution and control of water resources.

    Hillary has never stood on the side or even in the middle on legislation that has served to isolate the Palestinians she has always voted with the I lobby

  13. bmaz says:

    You know I hear so much claptrapping about Dennis Ross This and Dennis Ross that. He is not some kind of god that is going to singlehandedly overrun Obama’s policy. Ross is not the issue. What counts is what Obama wants and intends to do, and how that is carried out prospectively. And every politician in America has voted the way you describe or worse; you have to to stay elected pretty much. You going to disqualify them all? Every now and then you really do have to kind of move forward (Lieberman isn’t one of those though).

    • Leen says:

      I have heard many middle east leaders bring up Dennis Ross as an “alleged” fair negotiator as a problem including Queen Naor of Jordan.(she brought up Ross and so have other middle east leaders) I was able to ask her a question when she was on C-span.

      Bmaz you may not see Ross as a problem and as having huge influence on Obama but people in the middle east do.(and that is what counts on this issue not how you interpret Dennis Ross’s actions)
      http://thesaifhouse.wordpress……nnis-ross/

      http://www.normanfinkelstein.c…..038;ar=989
      Ross as Witness

      Before scrutinizing Ross’s influential thesis on why Camp David failed, it bears pausing for a moment on his reliability as a witness to these negotiations. Although acknowledging that he was publicly the whipping-boy for the Palestinians, Ross is emphatic that in reality they “respected me” (p. 608). He reports telling Palestinian negotiators, “You know that I understand your problems, your needs, and your aspirations very well. You know that I often explain them better than any of you do” (p. 755). Yet, the evidence suggests that, whether deservedly or not, Ross’s Arab interlocutors “couldn’t stand” him and believed he was “in league with the Israelis.”[9]

      Moreover, where Ross’s allegedly verbatim account of the actual negotiations can be crosschecked, it proves misleading. Consider the volatile exchange between U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Palestinian delegation on day five of the summit. The Palestinians apparently insisted that before bargaining over land swaps, Israel had to accept the June 1967 borders as a baseline: whatever land Palestinians conceded on these borders would have to be compensated. Clinton, however, demanded that Palestinians exchange maps with Israel without Israel committing itself to the June borders as the baseline. Here is Ross’s rendering of what ensued:

      • bmaz says:

        This is not about freaking Dennis Ross and the past. Please don not yammer at me about Dennis Ross any more; that is NOT the gist of the post.

        • Leen says:

          What is with the insults? Read about Dennis Ross and how those in the middle east look at the situation before you come back with claiming people are “yammering” . Read about the situation from another perspective. Is that too much to ask?

        • Leen says:

          the Oslo Accords are the past, Camp David is the past. If Obama wants to come at this with a fresh approach including the hard facts of the past then throw in some other perspectives, other negotiators, other historians.

        • selise says:

          This is not about freaking Dennis Ross and the past.

          i agree with leen, that dennis ross is an important figure in your post – if for no other reason than this statement:

          For a variety of reasons, most notably the last second reticence, after initial acquiescence, of Yassar Arafat if reports are to be believed, Camp David went to dust.

          were not those “reports” blaming arafat for the failure of negotiations reports that ross pushed? at least that is, i think, widely believed among israeli and palestinian peace activists.

          but if you don’t want ross discussed on the thread, i will honor that request and this will be my final comment mentioning him.

          • bmaz says:

            I believe the past mistakes are to be learned from in order to shape future success; just not to be harped on to destroy hope for action. We cannot change the past; we can change the future. I don’t know how exactly he will approach the I/P issue; my only point in this post is that the events of the last few days may portend that Obama is going to try. To me, that is positive.

  14. eCAHNomics says:

    Haven’t read the comments yet, but I noticed NO Palestinian names on the list of people who were called. Mideast peace indeed.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        How in the hell do you expect to have ME peace if you won’t friggin include the Palestinians instead of U.S. puppets who serve as “gobetweens.” On a second scrutiny of the list, it consists of neocons & US puppets. Period. Don’t see any “change” on that list.

        • bmaz says:

          Call them what you want, they are the people there that must be dealt with whether we like them or not. And to blast what is, at best an initial start of a tremendously hard and complex process (if it is even that; I am merely reading tea leaves as to this possibly being a sign of what may be to come) seems harsh and non-productive. Obama is not even in office; this is not a rejection of any side or a refusal to deal with any party. It is simply an audacious hope. For change. That we can believe in. But if the sole reaction is to rip to shreds that which cannot even start in earnest until January 20, then it sure militates against much hope….

    • bmaz says:

      This will be your last warning not to hijack this thread with the same relentless carping that resulted in you being banned from FDL. I sincerely hope you understand the next will be your very last.

      • T-Bear says:

        This will be your last warning not to hijack this thread with the same relentless carping that resulted in you being banned from FDL. I sincerely hope you understand the next will be your very last.

        Bmaz, your comment is entirely uncalled for. It is offensive to this reader. Leen’s always linked to her sources, mostly unavailable to the general readership without specialized interests. Those links are always informative even though they seldom support the propaganda and lies currently in vogue in the party line.

        Should your comments loose this readership access provided by Leen, all will be the lesser for it. Leen’s is a voice that must not be silenced as it was over at FDL. Since that silence was imposed, FDL has been much the lesser for it. If you are comfortable with your lies and propaganda and cannot withstand exposure to whatever daylight Leen brings, do not explore those links, do not find countering facts, do not respond if it is so troubling. But do not threaten to silence Leen out of your beliefs.

        I live abroad, and almost all of Leen’s positions are widely held in most countries having a truly free and productive press. The aberration of politics occurs only on the Washington_Tel Aviv axis (of evil propaganda). Leen’s service has been to shed light upon those lies, where they came from, and how they are used. If you do not wish to broaden your sphere of historical knowledge, you are not going to be able to effect solutions other than at the end of a gun barrel. Those schemes are still not working, and you will never know why.

        I expect this comment to be obliterated by the mods, apparently to protect ignorance. You owe Leen a huge apology.

  15. selise says:

    Bill Clinton was actively engaged in trying to foster a “final settlement” to the I/P problem his entire presidency, but took a crippling hit when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. The initial promise of the Oslo Accords went unfulfilled, and the final settlement that had been contemplated, unrealized. President Clinton made one last push for the elusive “final settlement” right before leaving office with the Camp David Summit.

    my take on the clinton “peace” initiative is almost the exact opposite of this post. the oslo accords were initially seen with great hope by palestinians, but later seen for what they were – or at least what they were used for – to break the back of the first intifada with false promises. it was during clinton’s time that the number of israeli settlers doubled on palestinian occupied land – and it was these settlements and the matrix of control (to use jeff halper’s term) that they depended on that made clinton’s last minute attempt, not for a just peace, but for a lasting legacy for himself, so difficult. putting dennis ross in charge just turned the difficult into the impossible.

    my take is that a the train has long ago left the station on a viable two state solution – and that was, more than anyone’s, clinton’s doing. my impression also, is that this is how the clinton era is now seen by many palestinians who were initially so hopeful (although my impression is so far from authoritive, i recommend it be disregarded. i offer it only to explain where my thinking is on this issue). but certainly all the false claims of the “generous” offer were known to be just that – false and worse, a malicious lie. the taba negotiations that followed showed much more hope.

    also, as eCAHN points out, that there are no palestinian names on the list is just further evidence, imo, that the palestinians have every reason to be extremely wary of any so-called “peace process” and therefore, sadly, so do israelis.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, if there is no hope then what? And you deny that King Abdullah is a conduit? Should we all just throw up our hands over flaws 15-20 years ago? Is there no reason to make positive efforts? Do you deny that the more critical side of the equation at this point is Israel because they have the military power and ability to aggressively project it?

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Remembering the section of Clinton’s memoir about IP talks, in retrospect (given what I’ve learned since I listened to the book) it seems like a lot of whining & excuses. Everybody has known for 60 years what a permanent solution would be and everything that has happened inbetween is just a holding action to allow Israel to keep all the land as long as possible.

        • bmaz says:

          And I agree with the take that there was some whining and excuses; but there were some building blocks to be salvaged from Oslo and Camp David. Personally I always favored a grand plan instead of the nickel and dime back and forth that was destined to blow up. You are right that the basics are painfully obvious as to the elements of what should result; the thing is to get er done. Personally, I hope that the signal sent out by Obama here indicate a desire and dedication to do just that.

      • californiarealitycheck says:

        and the “flaws” are 70 tears old. no one in that area is ever going to forget. understand ever?

        • bmaz says:

          Great, so what are you suggesting then? Just sit by and let it rip the fabric of humanity until it kills us all? Is there truly nothing? I don’t accept that.

          • californiarealitycheck says:

            i am for doing something constructive. start with a GIANT reversal. pal claim is corrrect. then figure out what to do with it.

      • selise says:

        Well, if there is no hope then what?

        of course there is hope – but not, i think, in the path you have outlined.

        And you deny that King Abdullah is a conduit?

        abdullah is a US puppet.

        Should we all just throw up our hands over flaws 15-20 years ago?

        of course not. i advocate no such thing. i advocate, as the first step, that we try to have a clear understanding of what has been happening (vs the conventional wisdom and clinton era propaganda).

        Is there no reason to make positive efforts?

        my objection to your post is not that i don’t think there is reason to make positive efforts (i do) – my objection is that what you outline does not look like a positive direction to me.

        Do you deny that the more critical side of the equation at this point is Israel because they have the military power and ability to aggressively project it?

        no.

        • bmaz says:

          Saying that I have outlined some path is a false premise. I have not. All I have outlined is the thought that Obama may be considering bold action on I/P from his apparent interest in Clinton. I have made no outline in direction whatsoever. None. This is such a touch subject that a lot gets read into little. My little is simply that a legitimate effort of some sort (which we certainly have not seen under Bush) may be afoot. Nothing more; however just the thought of a legitimate effort is thrilling to me.

          • selise says:

            Saying that I have outlined some path is a false premise. I have not. All I have outlined is the thought that Obama may be considering bold action on I/P from his apparent interest in Clinton.

            fair criticism.

            i read into your post, but you did not state, that bold action via senator clinton would be an extension of president clinton’s policies – which i see as profoundly wrong headed. but that was going beyond the content of your post.

          • RevBev says:

            I hope your instincts are correct…for a major Obama step forward. He certainly knows nothing has been accomplished in the last 8 years.

            • californiarealitycheck says:

              my quess is he will both surprise us and piss us off. some say he is the antichrist. not tryin to stir the pot, ya know.

      • Sara says:

        “Well, if there is no hope then what? And you deny that King Abdullah is a conduit? Should we all just throw up our hands over flaws 15-20 years ago? Is there no reason to make positive efforts? Do you deny that the more critical side of the equation at this point is Israel because they have the military power and ability to aggressively project it?”

        I am just in the midst of reading Avi Shlaim’s new biography of King Hussein, “Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace” — and I would strongly question the characterization of any king of Jordan as just a conduit. There is nearly 40 years of Jordan’s national interest policy wrapped up in anything the King of Jordan does — be it Hussein or Abdullah. Avi Shlaim — for those who have not read him, is an Iranian Born Israeli Historian now a Fellow at Oxford. I strongly recommend his earlier book, “The Iron Wall” for relevant Israeli History up to and including 1967. He is frequently published in the New York Review of Books. At any rate, because Jordan is now a majority Palestinian State in demographic terms, (and this has been understood for decades) it has always been Jordan’s national policy NOT to have an independent Palestine as its near neighbor. Shlaim does an excellent job tracking this national interest policy through years of Jordanian diplomacy vis a vis some sort of settlement. (hate to complicate things).

        Anyhow — since Camp David in the last summer of the Clinton Years, there was the final conference at Taba, where certain agreements were initialed by Arafat and Israeli negotiators. Once the “Quartet” and the “Roadmap” all went for naught during the Bush years, some of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have continued to work on a private basis — and there are Geneva Proposals for a new start, based on the Taba concepts. Taba proposals are for the 67 borders, with the possibility of mutually agreeable swaps of equal territory equaling 5% or less with some sort of joint condominum over Jerusalem. I would suggest that any drawing in of Palestinians at least has to recognize that over the last 8 years there have been continuous private and informal meetings and joint agreements that have been the basis for discussion in the Arab and European world. They also run parallel with proposals made by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

        Taba is a Bill Clinton (2001) proposal that was immediately renounced as a point of departure by the Bush Administration. I have never been clear that it was something Hillary identified with during her Senate Years.

        • bmaz says:

          Have not read the book, but do understand the Jordanian history and position. is Abdullah the best or ultimate conduit; of course not. But the point being made by the detractors was that I was describing some process underway without any Palestinians. As I explained above, that was not the premise; the premise was to find an explanation for the somewhat surprising serious consideration of Hillary Clinton for State. This is what resulted, and I think it makes sense and is a hopeful sign of some bold thinking by Obama about engagement in the process. But the whole thought was denigrated and sneered at for the fact that Biden May not have talked to anyone on the Palestinian side. Well, imperfect as he may be, Abdullah still counts for a little on that end. No one said he would lead the position on the issue in substantive negotiation. But he has served as a conduit in the recent past; you can quibble about how good of one (and I may join you in that) but to say that there has been nothing in that regard is false. That whole area of discussion has been hijacked from the limited premise of the post and wildly distorted as to what was being suggested in the post.

          I agree completely about the efficacy of the semi-private Geneva Proposals.

          • selise says:

            But the whole thought was denigrated and sneered at for the fact that Biden May not have talked to anyone on the Palestinian side.

            That whole area of discussion has been hijacked from the limited premise of the post and wildly distorted as to what was being suggested in the post.

            my, and i think other’s, objection to your post was the narrative it was based on is flawed. pointing out the various elements of that disagreement is neither sneering nor a hijacking.

            • bmaz says:

              As we discussed in 47 and 54, the only narrative this post was based on was that there may be hope that Obama intends significant engagement, and that Clinton’s consideration for State may be evidence of it. I thought we had agreed to that. Further narratives may or may not be valid, but were NOT the basis of the post; rather were the basis of what several others ginned into my post.

              • ralphbon says:

                As we discussed in 47 and 54, the only narrative this post was based on was that there may be hope that Obama intends significant engagement, and that Clinton’s consideration for State may be evidence of it. I thought we had agreed to that. Further narratives may or may not be valid, but were NOT the basis of the post; rather were the basis of what several others ginned into my post.

                Sorry, but you’re ignoring your own writing. You went on to assert that Clinton would be a bold and innovative choice as SoS because of her credibility with respect to Israel/Palestine. That’s what some of us have taken issue with, and now you’re trying very hard to deny the very existence of that problematic component of your argument.

              • selise says:

                i agreed that you had not described an outline for what future direction obama’s actions would take (my unwarranted reading was that it would be an extension of president clinton’s policies). i still disagree most strongly with this statement:

                If Barack Obama is indeed going to make an early and strong play on the I/P issue, it is hard to imagine who could bring more cache and weight to the attempt than Hillary Clinton

                i also disagree with the narrative you offer in partial support (in the paragraphs that begin “But Bill Clinton…” and “For a variety of reasons…”)

                futhermore, i think georgie anne geyer reveals a profound and dangerous racism that undermines her entire statement and that the list of who biden has called does not support the thesis (although it does not contradict it either) that obama has some bold new peace process up his sleeve.

          • Sara says:

            “As I explained above, that was not the premise; the premise was to find an explanation for the somewhat surprising serious consideration of Hillary Clinton for State. This is what resulted, and I think it makes sense and is a hopeful sign of some bold thinking by Obama about engagement in the process. But the whole thought was denigrated and sneered at for the fact that Biden May not have talked to anyone on the Palestinian side.”

            Well, we certainly don’t have a full list of all Biden’s phone calls over a couple of days, so perhaps he would have additional lists that would involve talking to Palestinians. We just don’t know.

            Personally, I haven’t really sorted out precisely how I feel about HRC at State. I can see the advantage of the Clinton Couple at State in some situations, I suppose they know how to play good and bad cop, and there are many world circumstances where that could be most useful. On the other hand, I’d like to know the rest of the team — some of the deputy secretaries, National Security Advisor, — in otherwords where is the Obama in this, and where is the Clinton Drama? Look at it in the context of other areas — India-Pakistan-Afghanistan for instance, or parts of Africa. What if he wants to bring in Bill Richardson as UnderSecretary for Latin America — and apparently the Clinton’s are not on speakers with the Richardson faction since the Primary. I know a goodly chunk of the Mondale people would have problems with it — though on the surface they will seem OK. You just have to ask whether you want to import into the new Obama situation some of that old baggage.

  16. Knut says:

    The idea of putting her in State for this purpose strikes me as sound. I had thought Obama might have recruited the Big Dawg as special representative with power to negotiate a deal, but there is probably too much baggage there. In any event, if the rumour is true, we get another glimpse of Obama’s (and Michelle’s) strategic thinking. Just as sorting out the medical care mess is the key to American budget stability, so an I/P peace agreement is the key to the biggest piece of our foreign policy dilemma. An agreement that Palestianians perceive as fair would take the Iran issue with respect to Isreal off the table. It would probably create some new problems in the Arab states that use Israel as a means of keeping their citizens’ emotions high and their brains addled, but that kind of problem is containable. I think it would open the way to a settlement with Iran on Iran’s role in Iraq, which is going to be large no matter what happens. If Iran could be made a partner rather than an opponent, I think we are home free for the mid-term. Most of the opposition to Iran other than from those who can’t get the stick of the hostage-taking incident out of their craw, concerns Iran’s stance towards Isreal, which is a product of the Palestinian situation.

    Obama seems to be a person who gets his priorities sorted out before he makes a move. This is going to disappoint a lot of people whose priorities are different from his, but that’s why we have one President and not 300 million of them.

  17. Hugh says:

    Ross is important because he is Obama’s Middle East advisor and was Bill Clinton’s Middle East negotiator. That Clinton was seen as being evenhanded is an American myth. Ross is a Jewish-American with strong ties both to AIPAC and Israel. Only in our country and with our media would this not be seen as biased.

    Think about it. What would have been the reaction if say Clinton had chosen Rashid Khalidi instead? Imagine the uproar. And yet between the two, Khalidi has always been a lot more balanced than Ross ever was.

    There is also the revisionist history about Clinton and the Middle East peace process. The truth is that he only made a major push on it as a legacy thing at the end of his Presidency. And when Arafat refused to be steamrolled in large part fearing a fate similar to Sadat’s and Rabin’s if he caved, Clinton and Ross excoriated him. I know there is the story that the deal was 95% done and if Arafat had only agreed . . . But again the truth is that it was nothing like 95% except in Ross’s imagination and if they were that close then why did Clinton and Ross fail to make another push to finish it?

    Nor have I heard any new ideas from Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Ross that lead me to think that there is something new on the table.

    As for Biden calling Israeli leaders, well duh, American leaders have been doing this kind of kowtowing for decades. As eCahn points out, no Arab leaders on the list or Palestinians.

    Finally could Georgie Anne Geyer be any more condescending?

    As to the Palestinians, it is surely true that one cannot expect great and mature moves from them

    She just gets through how we and the Israelis have done squat for the peace process for the last 8 years but it is the Palestinians who lack maturity. It is this unconscious and unquestioned racism which permeates the American narrative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that allows us to maintain the laughable fiction that we are evenhanded even though our leaders show at every opportunity just how in the pocket of Israel they are, how committed they are to the defense of a country with advanced armed forces and 200 nuclear weapons, and how in general we are its bestest buddies.

    • bmaz says:

      I don’t disagree about Ross personally, but Obama is the President to be, not Ross. And, as Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, “Nothing great was achieved without enthusiasm”. Pardon me for allowing Barack Obama to give me just a little.

      • californiarealitycheck says:

        there is room for hope for maybe 6 mo unless the rest of the country buys into bama. 47% did not vote fer him and would just as soon see him out. reality.

    • DonS says:

      well said, Hugh.

      Is Obama, if inclined to attempt to reinvigorate a “process”, willing to reverse the growing Israeli centric assumptions that permeate the political spectrum? Senators, reps, the whole bunch. And the AIPAC juggernaut behind it?

      Hope, yes? But not built on a denial that the US has been willing to kick Palestinian ass but not kick Israeli ass. Since we are anything but an honest broker, we have only what muscle is possible to move both sides. Or else we get an Israeli solution to a multi party issue. Won’t fly.

      A question might be whether Obama, who did his share of AIPAC kowtowing, can be viewed as a new breath even so. In which case, he would be well advised to be very creative in who he enlists to carry the message; not the same old dead hands.

    • selise says:

      It is this unconscious and unquestioned racism which permeates the American narrative on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

      i could not agree more.

      we see the racism of the neo-nazis and right wing radio and we warn of the its dangers. i wish we could see as clearly the racism you describe.

    • Leen says:

      The “revisionist history” around those negotiations were endlessly repeated and pervasive in our media. According to our media the failure of those negotiations all “Arafat’s fault” Former President Jimmy Carter and others have written that Barak had not signed the agreement either and then Arafat was hung with the failure. The team that pushed that myth dominated the MSM

      “There is also the revisionist history about Clinton and the Middle East peace process. The truth is that he only made a major push on it as a legacy thing at the end of his Presidency. And when Arafat refused to be steamrolled in large part fearing a fate similar to Sadat’s and Rabin’s if he caved, Clinton and Ross excoriated him. I know there is the story that the deal was 95% done and if Arafat had only agreed . . . But again the truth is that it was nothing like 95% except in Ross’s imagination and if they were that close then why did Clinton and Ross fail to make another push to finish it?”

      32.. “last minute attempt” As the settlements kept expanding

      33.. If the main negotiator on the I/P issue has spun the past negotiations and the leaders and people in the middle east look at this individual as a big negative not sure how the situation will change.

      Not clear on how leaders in the middle east would look at Hillary being in charge of these negotiations? Can’t imagine her voting record on this issue would give them must hope.

      Just hope Obama mixes up the opinions and perspective of his advisers and negotiators on this critical issue.

  18. selise says:

    bmaz @ 36 and 40 –

    i do not believe that hope for action requires relying on a common but, imo, profoundly inaccurate narrative (about oslo, the clinton era and clinton’s final negotiations) that leads to a misreading of both the past and the current situation. my hope relies on first challenging that narrative. i’d love to argue about that narrative, but i have no interest in making it an argument about hope.

    once again, i am not arguing against hope. indeed, i think there are solutions to be found (but like many other problems we face, we seem unable to address).

  19. Hugh says:

    A more practical obstacle to a peace settlement beyond each side getting control of their crazies is that it would cost tens of billions to essentially bribe Israeli settlers to relocate and address security, economic, and resource issues. There would also be billions needed to develop the Palestinian Territories, build or rebuild their infrastructure, and fund their nascent government. It is hard to imagine a worse time for this. We don’t have the money for our end and the Saudis and Gulf states who might be expected to contribute to the Palestinian side are strapped for cash as they see the price of oil tumble.

    • selise says:

      that’s a two state peace settlement – what about something along the lines of what halper or abunimah have advocated (some kind of bi-national state)?

  20. Petedownunder says:

    So far as I know the only report of HRC being considered for SOS is on Huffpost from two “unnamed Democratic officials”. Has there been any more confirmmation? The Obama team is famously leak proof, so unless this was a deliberate trial balloon, why should it be credited? Anyone have more info?

  21. ralphbon says:

    Bmaz, I strongly advise that you reconsider your subscription to the myth of Clinton’s “honest broker” reputation.

    I recall very well being aghast at Clinton’s selection of former AIPAC lobbyist Martin Indyk, first as NSC Middle East adviser and subsequently (once Indyk acquired US citizenship) as ambassador to Israel. Indyk and his colleague Dennis Ross honed lip service to evenhandedness to a fine obstructionist art.

    When Bush II was appointed to the White House in 2000, I told friends that the one possible silver lining was that he was likely to resume the comparatively tougher stance toward Israeli intransigence exhibited by James Baker and Bush the First. I was unaware of just how cowed and snookered Bush II would be by some of the hardest-line neocons ever to skulk in the shadows of power.

    Jimmy Carter, pretty much the only president to accomplish anything substantive for Middle East peace, makes it clear in this lecture how underwhelmed he was by Clinton’s wan exertions in that arena.

    • Eddie says:

      Indyk is about to release a book that drops a bunch of bombs on the “blame Arafat” concensus currently adhered to about Camp David. His thinking has evolved, Ross hasn’t.

      I have no idea what Clinton would be like as SecState, and I don’t know if she would fight with Obama if gave her orders or not. Her Senate input regarding Palestinians and most other things Arab sounded like a deranged commenter from LGF. That’s just what the NY Senator does apparently, I have no idea how sincere any of it was.

      The problem is you have things completely ass-backwards if you think the Clinton brand has *any* credibility in Palestinian polity. Americans don’t know what happened through the course of those negotiations but Palestinians do and they would view her walking in the door as a nightmare.

      • ralphbon says:

        Thanks, Eddie. I agree with your comments completely and so assume you didn’t mean me specifically in the “you” referred to in the last paragraph.

  22. DWBartoo says:

    Good afternoon, everyone.

    This is certainly a most interesting post …

    In more ways than one.

    It is my sincere hope that peace, understanding AND tolerance are about to blossom everywhere.

    All who contribute to that effort are to be commended and appreciated.

    I do not think it unreasonable to assume that there will, of necessity, be a number of ‘paths’ which will lead to the same ‘destination’.

    Is it important to consider that ‘discussions’ which concern the ‘need’ of everyone to ‘accept’ the same ‘definition’ of what is the ‘best’ (usually meaning, in human-speak, “the only!”) ‘pathway’ are distractions and ‘opportunities’ for mis-understanding and in-tolerance?

    Peace

    • bmaz says:

      Right. And you need the desire before any path can work. Just contemplating a President actually desiring engagement was a positive thought for me. I see no reason to demean and rule out the effort, and saddle it with past failures, before the man is even sworn into office. Give peace a chance before shooting it in the face.

      • DWBartoo says:

        bmaz;

        Thank you for responding.

        As you may know (I hope), I have tremendous respect for you as a person and for your deep wisdom in a number of areas.

        Equally, I possess similar respect and regard for Leen, selise, and Hugh and, frankly, for everyone else who evidences wit, wisdom, courage, understanding and tolerance (the ‘list’ of those possessing said attributes, happily, from my ‘perspective’ is extensive, actually all-inclusive, here at the lake and its subsidiary ‘ponds’.)

        I should like to presume upon your tolerance and understanding if I might, and ask you several questions.

        1. How is your sense of positivity lessened or diminished if others see things differently?

        2. How, realistically, may the opinions of ANYONE here at FDL, “demean or rule out” whatever Obama chooses to do? (No one here that I’m aware off has that amount of power …)

        3.If some among us are concerned with past failures, how may such concern scuttle Obama’s ‘initiatives’? (Again, who here in attendance, waving tattered histories, has the power of affecting whatever Obama would do?)

        Now, I know full well how moments, too-brief and fleeting, of positivity are precious, especially in their rarity these last, interminable years.

        Yet, is it not the building, step by step, of sustained positivity (in the face of madness and inhumanity), leading to the manifestation of ‘change’, precisely what we ALL have sought to accomplish and continue to seek to accomplish?

        There is aprehension and fear, which we all must contend with, that, once again, the true desire for PEACE shall be thwarted … by any of a legion of pit-falls; some accidental and unintended and others, calculated with the deliberate intent of failure.

        Skepticism remains …

        However, Obama will take office and his policies will have their chance.

        As, it is hoped, by all of us, that PEACE shall have its chance.

        Ultimately, PEACE is out best ‘hope’ for the future.

        Until such a time, we are dependent upon courage, tolerance and understanding.

        Should we all be fortunate enough to discover and appreciate the PEACE we all seek, we shall continue to have need of those three things.

        I am certain, bmaz, that you agree.

        David

        • bmaz says:

          That is easy. I agree with most everything you say, actually agree with more than most realize with some of what the people you listed say. What I disagree vehemently with is that I was suggesting or believe all the ten tons of things that were falsely and sloppily read into my limited post, or that were expanded from the ether from innocuous statements in the post. If people want to argue these points, I applaud that; but there is no cause to make me the straw man for said arguments.

          • T-Bear says:

            but there is no cause to make me the straw man for said arguments.

            Your statement @ 31 made you a straw dog, then defensive, then belligerent.

            In response to Leen @ 30 (show text)
            This will be your last warning not to hijack this thread with the same relentless carping that resulted in you being banned from FDL. I sincerely hope you understand the next will be your very last.

            It would be nice if you stopped blaming others for exercising their rights to free speech, but then that went with the Bill of Rights, my bad, only for some is it?. ;-(

  23. waynec says:

    OT Mostly
    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “the e-mail and phone lists the Obama campaign created during the campaign must be kept separate from White House operations…But transition officials have already begun a new digital outreach effort…a new Web site, http://www.change.gov…”

    I don’t know why the campaign list can’t be used in the new administration. Seems like we need to “reregister” with the Obama campaign to stay on their e_mail list. Can someone fill me in on this or better yet, write a post or diary about it?
    I tried writing a diary but was overwhelmed by it.
    The Chron Web site for the article is at

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/…..038;sc=568

    • cinnamonape says:

      “According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “the e-mail and phone lists the Obama campaign created during the campaign must be kept separate from White House operations…But transition officials have already begun a new digital outreach effort…a new Web site, http://www.change.gov…”

      I don’t know why the campaign list can’t be used in the new administration. Seems like we need to “reregister” with the Obama campaign to stay on their e_mail list. Can someone fill me in on this or better yet, write a post or diary about it?”

      I think it relates to the Hatch Act, which “prevents” (unsuccessfully in the case of Bush-Cheney-Rove) Federal Employees from engaging in political activities while receiving taxpayer money. The list could be given over to the DNC…or placed into an independent political committee staffed by non-Federal employees.

  24. Hugh says:

    that’s a two state peace settlement – what about something along the lines of what halper or abunimah have advocated (some kind of bi-national state)?

    A one state solution is the default and is driven by the demographics. The debate nowadays is not so much if the window for a two state solution is closing but whether it is already closed. This is another reason why a “new” American initiative may be problematic. It may be 10 years too late.

  25. sunshine says:

    Good article with a sign of hope.

    The influence of the Israel lobby in US in the religious and political world is astounding. That would be great to get them into peacemaking and saving huge dollars at the same time.



  26. sunshine says:

    What ever happened to this investigation and should there be more like them? The mega churches should be taxed because of the numerous goods they promote and sell. They are just a political arm with the name “church” attached. I also think all those non profit organizations that politicians/lobbyists start here and abroad, some after they leave office, should be investigated and taxed. Including the one rumsfelt started when he left.

    Morning Edition, December 4, 2007 · Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, expects responses this week from half a dozen of the country’s largest churches to questions about their finances.

    Grassley has taken on megachurches, where millions of dollars are raised with little oversight. In letters that Grassley sent to the churches last month, he wonders whether the lavish lifestyles of the ministers violate the churches’ tax-exempt status.

    The churches are huge, with congregations in the tens of thousands. The buildings are like magnificent stadiums, and the pastors are larger than life.

    Grassley said there have been complaints about the pastors’ extravagant lifestyles and questions about whether the churches’ tax-exempt status is being abused. That includes the personal use of Rolls Royce cars, private jets and multimillion-dollar homes. Grassley is also looking into exorbitant salaries, so called “love offerings” or cash payments to ministers; a justification for layovers in Hawaii and the Fiji Islands; and in one case, the purchase of a $23,000 commode with a marble top.

    … someone approached his staff with new information, that, “an individual always had to stay in a presidential suite when he traveled, and that the cost could be as high as $5,000,”

    Some ministers have questioned the investigation. Bishop Eddie Long called it unjust and an attack on religious freedom and property rights. Long declined to talk further.

    Ken Behr, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, says that most churches in the country do not file a financial statement and they don’t have the level of transparency Grassley is looking for.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/s…..d=16860611

    • T-Bear says:

      @ 81 – thanks.

      Not at all, the only missing pooh was the venerable “anti-semite”, my shoulders are broad, you don’t need painted with that brush.

      Your comments, Leen’s links, Ralphbon and now Eddie all reflect the real world much more accurately. All the Clintons did was set up Arafat for a fall. Even though eviscerated of power, Arafat would not walk into the US/Israeli trap to disenfranchise the Palestinian people of their human rights. So sad this has turned into fact vs. belief and propaganda spewing. Once I held some in higher esteem.

  27. T-Bear says:

    The fuse appears lit, report from the BBC. Have a Nice day. away.

    Questioning the ceasefire in Gaza

    The five-month ceasefire between Israeli and Palestinian forces is looking increasingly fragile. BBC correspondent Paul Martin says opinions about it in Gaza are divided and that some people have been keen for hostilities to resume.

    The men here say they are itching to attack the Israelis again.

    “The ceasefire won’t last much longer,” predicts Omar. “The enemy does not respect the truce. We cannot stay silent.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/pro…..727177.stm

  28. DianeMason says:

    I think the main point, about I/P peace being center-stage again, is correct. I don’t think there is any hope of an Obama administration rehabilitating America’s international image and safeguarding its interests esp in the Middle East, unless it first tackles the issue that is of visceral importance to people in the Middle East and beyond, and that is Palestine. And I think Obama understands that.

    But I would quibble with a couple of things. The first is that I think Americans overestimate how successful the Bill Clinton Administration was in the peace process. Clinton began by having the Oslo Accords dropped as a huge free gift in his lap, and after 8 years in office the accords were in ruins, the settlements had doubled, the credibility of negotiation had plummeted and the rejectionists were suddenly more popular than ever. That doesn’t say much for the quality of American “mediation” over those 8 years. Nor does the fact that if you look at the successful, or at least ground-breaking, talks that took place in the Clinton years – i.e. Oslo, the Israel-Jordan peace settlement, and the Taba Talks – precisely NONE of them were mediated directly by the US. The agreements that were directly mediated by the U.S. turned out to be not worth the paper they were written on (ie Wye River) or simply crashed and burned (Camp David). That too doesn’t say much for the ability of the Clinton Administration to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians.

    You can argue why US mediation wasn’t that effective. The first thing to say is that Clinton didn’t really engage the I/P conflict till very late in his Presidency. US Presidents are for internal political reasons scared of tackling anything to do with Israel, and Clinton was no different. His Clinton Parameters came woefully late in the day – as he had one foot out the door – and could have made a difference if he’d just presented them as little as six months earlier. From the Palestinian perspective, which is kind of lacking in yr post, Clinton’s mediators looked liked a who’s who of former AIPAC officials, who seemed sometimes more Israeli that the Israelis. One of Clinton’s own Mid East advisors says that in retrospect his team acted like “Israel’s lawyer” rather than as an honest broker, and Israel’s FM at Camp David has acknowledged that if he had been a Palestinian he wouldn’t have accepted what Barak offered Arafat either. Gilad Sher’s memoir (Sher was Barak’s chief negotiator at Camp David) describe one surreal scene where Dennis Ross – the “mediator” – got mad at Sher because the Israelis were offering more on Jerusalem than he (Ross) wanted them to offer! So maybe let’s not get carried away by what a respected honest broker Clinton’s team was, or what a good deal Arafat turned down at Camp David. Maybe Clinton’s era looks good because we’re comparing it to Bush II, but compared to what came before Clinton, we should acknowledge that it was under his Administration that US policy became overwhelmingly unbalanced towards Israel, and therefore lost the US its ability to be an effective mediator.

    My second quibble would be that even if Bill Clinton were God’s gift to mid east peace, why would that make Hillary Clinton an appropriate SoS? Hillary said some remarkably crapulous things about the I/P conflict during the last few years: you can rationalize them on the grounds that what do you expect a Senator from New York to say, but they hardly qualify her to be SoS. If the Clinton legacy is so compelling, why not make Bill Clinton your SoS? Or better still make someone with real diplomatic experience your SoS, and make Bill Clinton yr special envoy to the Middle East, a position which, if you’re really serious about Middle East peace, you could make Cabinet level? (The Clinton Administration’s achievements might not be considered by the people on the ground to be as good as you suggest, but he could still be an effective envoy as he personally was well liked, and his understanding of the issues and sincerity in wanting to resolve them was acknowledged even by those who thought his mediators were hopelessly pro-Israel).

    As for Geyer’s remarks, I agree that we might well be on the verge of an historic breakthrough. My disagreement with her would be two-fold: first, I think she gets the dynamic of the scenario a bit wrong when she suggests Israel and the US will do the right thing, and the Palestinians will be forced to follow. I think this terribly underestimates how badly the strategic balance is turning against the US and Israeli position in the Middle East. I think we might well see a breakthrough in the Mid East – but it will not come because the US and Israel desperately want to do the right thing and will be able to drag the recalcitrant Palestinians with them, but because the US and Israel are no longer strong enough to give the finger to the rest of the world and its preferred solution. Israel and the US are suddenly discovering the joys of the two state solution because US foreign policy in the region is in flames, Israel’s situation is untenable in the long-term and its only friend is rapidly entering an era of greatly diminished global importance, and the only way for these two countries to pull their respective asses out of the fire is for them to give up their policies of military dictation and reconcile themselves to a two state solution on the 1967 borders, which has been the position of international consensus for the rest of the world (including the Palestinians) for years. So I think it’s nuts to say the US and Israel are reluctantly dragging the Palestinians to a deal, when the outlines of that deal have been PLO policy for 20 years, and it has been the side with military dominance that has strived for all that time not to make the deal but to grab for itself something better by establishing unilaterally facts on the ground.

    My second quibble with her would be over the rather patronizing comment that the Palestinians can’t be expected to make ”great and mature moves”. The great and mature move was accepting that peace lies with two sovereign states on the 1967 borders – the Palestinians made that move 20 years ago; the US government finally gave written acknowledgment to those borders in a paper formulated only TWO MONTHS AGO as part of Condi Rice’s post-Annapolis efforts; and it was only in the last month that an Israeli PM – as he left office – managed to publicly accept that that is what it’s going to take to make peace. I think it’s very difficult for Americans to get away from the idea that the US has been an honest broker between an Israel that has been striving to end the occupation, and the Palestinians who are just a bunch of terrorists. I think from the perspective of much of the rest of the world, however, Israel looks as if it has been using the peace process to take by force what it can’t get through negotiations, and US has been giving it diplomatic cover to do this, because it mistakenly believed its global hegemony and Israel’s regional hegemony would carry the day. It is only now, as the limits of military dominance become clear, that Israel and the US are scrambling aboard the peace train, as they see that this as the only way for them to salvage any of their own strategic interests from a situation they once thought they dominated but which has rapidly gone pear-shaped.

    So overall, I agree with you and Geyer that there is a good prospect for a negotiated peace, but I think for different reasons – primarily, the dynamic is not that a “good” US Administration will lead everyone else to do the right thing, but that a ”smart” US Administration will finally identify a negotiated I/P settlement as being in its own national interest and will no longer obstruct or allow others to obstruct the two state solution on the 1967 borders.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Very well said, Diane.

      Thank you, for sharing such a carefully considered and deftly presented analysis.

      Please. Comment here often.

      Your insights and perspective are most welcome.

      David

    • bmaz says:

      I agree with Mr. Bartoo; welcome, please comment often, and that was a fine comment. I still take issue with so much being read and edited into my original post that was not explicitly stated nor intended to be implied. If that is what is required to give a template for thoughtful discussion I guess I will quit fighting it; irrespective of my original intent. So be it. Thank you again for what is an excellent comment, and one I agree with substantially, even if not fully.

    • Leen says:

      Thanks Diane
      “. I think it’s very difficult for Americans to get away from the idea that the US has been an honest broker between an Israel that has been striving to end the occupation, and the Palestinians who are just a bunch of terrorists. I think from the perspective of much of the rest of the world, however, Israel looks as if it has been using the peace process to take by force what it can’t get through negotiations, and US has been giving it diplomatic cover to do this, because it mistakenly believed its global hegemony and Israel’s regional hegemony would carry the day. It is only now, as the limits of military dominance become clear, that Israel and the US are scrambling aboard the peace train, as they see that this as the only way for them to salvage any of their own strategic interests from a situation they once thought they dominated but which has rapidly gone pear-shaped.”

      Americans need to read more about this issue. Especially from other perspectives not shared by our MSM

      ————————————————————————-

      Have asked many International students from that part of the world how quickly the anger and hatred towards the U.S. would be reduced if the U.S. really started acting as an honest broker in that conflict. The answer over and over again “immediately”

      I also ask these students which President is most respected in those parts of the world when it comes to resolving this conflict. A resounding response… Former President Jimmy Carter.

  29. Larue says:

    I keep repeating this.

    “Two senior Democrat officials” an Obama don’t make.

    Until I hear that Pres. Elect Obama made the overture, I remain skeptical.

    And time will tell, so I don’t really care.

    My personal opinion is we could use Clinton in the Senate for some hardball we’re gonna hafta play. And I don’t think the Clintons can pass the ‘vetting’ required for that position of Sec Of State.

    But again, I’ll just wait till Pres. Elect Obama and his team officially announce who their team IS. *G*

    The rest is gamesmenship and what’s happening back stage we might NEVER know, much less it would be reported in the MSM. *G*

  30. michaelh says:

    If Barack Obama is indeed going to make an early and strong play on the I/P issue, it is hard to imagine who could bring more cache and weight to the attempt than Hillary Clinton

    This is somewhat overstated.

    As Diane pointed out, there is little evidence to support this. Hilary may be well known , but this mistakes general “cache” for the specific “cache” on the issue. If anything, Hilary will have some negative “cache” given her very public credulity over the ‘Palestinian textbook’ faux-outrage that a certain pro-Israel group likes to drag out every so often.

    More seriously, this idea is flawed in that it rests its hope on a change of facade altering the current reality in the midle east. If the basics of the US aproach remain as they have been over past years, than it won’t matter if Hilary Clinton (or Dennis Ross for that matter) is SoS – nothing much will change. If Obama’s approach is different, if there is a true recognition of 2 states based on the ‘67 borders with the Palestinians viewed, and treated, as equals, then there may well be progress.

    Anyone who thinks that putting a new face out there in front of the same failed policy approach will solve the “Palestinain problem” must see them as ‘natives’ who will be taken in by a few mirrors and shiney beads.

    • bmaz says:

      Well, the real point of the post is that you cannot accomplish anything if there is no effort whatsoever, which has been the status for the last eight years. Just making a concerted effort would be a refreshing change. seems silly to me to shoot down that which we have not even seen yet, namely the specifics of an Obama approach. seems I am in a minority there though and killing that which has not been displayed is the brilliant move for most. I am somewhat chagrined by that, but have learned a great deal in the process. Cest la vie.

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