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Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Skills Rival Those Of John Bolton’s

by on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 8:12 pm EDT in Middle East, Politics, World

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israel PM Benjamin NetanyahuNice work Hillary!  The fallout from her most recent world tour continues to materialize.

First our nation’s chief diplomat completely offended the country of Pakistan.  Here’s how the Pakistan Daily appraised her visit with their officials and press:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went on the offensive during her three-day visit to Pakistan that was concluded yesterday. Her comments were blunt and combative, and the Pakistani press labeled her approach as “aggressive diplomacy.”

The intended purpose of Clinton’s visit was to drum up support for the ongoing war against al Qaeda and to pressure the Pakistani government to do more in fighting insurgents. Apparently she checked whatever diplomatic skills she might have at the door and her remarks to her hosts were anything but diplomatic.

She at one point hinted that Pakistani officials are reluctant to pursue al Qaeda. “I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,” Clinton told her Pakistani interlocutors during an interview with journalists in Lahore.

Clinton’s comments were on the wrong track as they were made at time when the Pakistan’s army was busy fighting tribal insurgents in Waziristan on the heels of its two-month offensive in the Swat valley in Northeast Pakistan. Pakistan has also single-handedly captured the largest number of al Qaeda operatives since 2002. The military involvement in the war on terrorism has started to take a heavy toll on the Pakistani population and threatens to destabilize the country if insurgents continue to bring the fight to Pakistan’s major cities. […]

Next, on to Israel, where she decided to inflict some irreparable damage to the Middle East Peace Process.  First she stands with one of the most right-winged Israeli leaders of our lifetime, Benjamin Netanyahu, and sings him praises for basically telling the United States to go ‘fuck itself’ on its demands that Israel cease its illegal settlement activity.  She gloated about how his agreement to slow down the illegal settlements was ‘unprecedented’.

I blogged earlier on the outcry at the time in the Arab world — a dramatic display of utter shock and bereavement at this sudden shift in policy by the Obama Administration.  So, the following day, in Marrakech, Hillary tried to tamper down the damage by clarifying her statement:

‘This offer falls far short of what our preference would be, but if it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth.

Then in yet another about face (as reported by The Palestinian Chronicle):

… the next day [after Hillary’s clarification] she deployed [yet] another character, mixing a take-it-or-leave-it approach to the Palestinians with praise for the White House.  She told Al Jazeera, ‘I think it is important for your viewers to say to themselves, ‘well, we can continue with what we have now ‘which is a halt to nothing’ or we can halt all new settlement activity’.

The purpose of her mission had been to kick-start the Middle East peace talks, and by the time she left for Cairo, she’d single-handedly sabotaged them for good.  Now The New York Times is reporting that Palestinian President Abbas announced he will not seek re-election:

[Abbas’s] announcement, coming immediately after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s visit to kick start talks between Israel and the Palestinians, illustrated the rising tensions over the Obama administration’s failure to produce an Israeli settlement freeze or any concessions from Arab leaders.

Mrs. Clinton’s visit to the region, which she characterized as a success, sowed anger and confusion among Palestinians and other Arabs after she praised as “unprecedented” Israel’s compromise offer to slow down, but not stop, construction of settlements. […]

A top aide to Mr. Abbas said a large part of the “despondency and frustration” felt by Mr. Abbas and the entire Palestinian leadership was due to President Obama’s unrealized promises to the region. He said he feared that without a stop to settlements, Islamist rivals in Hamas could triumph and violence could break out.

“There was high expectation when he arrived on the scene,” the aide, Nabil Shaath, who heads the Fatah party’s foreign affairs department, said of Mr. Obama, at a briefing. “He said he would work to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that it would play a major role in improving the American and Western relationship with the Muslim world. Now there is a total retreat, which has destroyed trust instead of building trust.”

Mr. Shaath added that if the United States vetoed sending a United Nations report critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Security Council, “It really is like telling the Palestinians to go back to violence.”

President Abbas was probably the most peaceful, pro-western leader the Palestinians had ever had.

Talk about a “bull in a china shop,” could Obama have picked a more confrontational and destructive personality to serve as our nation’s ‘chief Diplomat’?  And I had assumed the days of John Bolton were finally behind us.  Apparently not …


Juan Cole (sourcing the BBC) reveals that chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization Steering Committee, Saeb Erekat is calling it a moment of truth for President Abbas.  Erekat goes on to say:

Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas should be frank with the Palestinian people and admit to them that there is no possibility of a two-state solution given continued Israeli colonization of the West Bank.

It is morally and ethically unconscionable to leave millions of Palestinians in a condition of statelessness, in which they have no rights. Therefore, if there isn’t going to be a two-state solution, there will have to be a one-state solution, in which Israel gives citizenship to the Palestinians.

It’s a fascinating, and long overdue realization.  You can read more about it at Salon …