Hillary Clinton says Wrong Venue?

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hillary clinton twn agenda.jpgThe absence of results-producing American leadership in the Israel-Palestine mess has led both the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as stakeholders around the Middle East and world, to doubt the seriousness of the US effort. Why invest in something when the US seems so willing to fold on many of its own proposals?
There are two envoys — perhaps working at cross-purposes though it’s tough to tell — in the efforts of Dennis Ross who is now in Israel trying to move Netanyahu and George Mitchell who is now the Jim Jones of the administration with constant DC cocktail party chatter wondering when he is leaving his post.
Whether the portfolio was shoved her way by the President or she wanted it herself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now owns Israel/Palestine. It’s a defining challenge for her — and her only pathway at the moment to earning a Nobel Peace Prize, which she has never said she covets but probably wouldn’t mind receiving.
The bottom line is that Clinton has a mess on her hands. Dennis Ross, working out of the National Security Council office in the White House, has the most direct conduit to Bibi Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s decision to communicate delicate political issues and realities through Dennis Ross to the President, rather than using George Mitchell, got Dennis his NSC desk and immediately undermined Mitchell.
Now that Clinton is investing her political capital into the negotiations, what does she do about the competing Dennis Ross franchise?
And then Hillary Clinton has a problem in George Mitchell and how he is running the show. At Richard Holbrooke’s Memorial Service, I overheard one senior administration official comment, “With Mitchell talking about 41 years, I want to know if we are in year one or year 40. Sometimes when he talks, I just want to punch a pencil through my head.”
I have no idea what the 41 years refers to, but the frustration this official expressed was palpable — and it is telling that cocktail chatter in at least one part of the power crowd at Richard Holbrooke’s services was not about Af/Pak, China, not about Iran, not about North Korea, not about Wikileaks, but rather about the resolution on Israeli settlements then bubbling up at the UN Security Council.
Hillary Clinton can keep Mitchell to hold a scapegoat close if the Israel/Palestine franchise blows up in disaster. Or she can jettison him, own the whole franchise more directly, double down in attaching her own personal credibility to a positive outcome, and get a better franchise manager in place who will be her key overseer and implement her vision.
But the Israel/Palestine standoff is getting messy. The Palestinians have tabled a resolution at the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements, and the US is loathe to vote on it in fear of poking Bibi Netanyahu but also doesn’t want to backtrack on its own stated positions that the Israeli settlements in Occupied Territory are illegal.
Thus, the push back at the moment by the State Department — which has not said that the US will veto the pending resolution — is about the “venue” for this discussion. The US is trying to say it doesn’t believe the UN Security Council is the right spot to debate the matter.
This begs the question of what is the right spot — when clearly the Palestinians and Israelis are using every leverage point they can muster outside the neat but unproductive box that George Mitchell has put together to pursue their interests and claims.
When there is no American vision, no US leadership, no serious deep investment by the President and Hillary Clinton in making recalcitrants on both sides of the issue pay heavily for unconstructive positions, there will be “messiness” and those who want a deal on both the Palestine side — and also Israel’s (i.e., Livni) — will not stay inside the parameters Hillary Clinton wants.
(for those interested, here is link to an open letter from a variety of policy practitioners and commentators, former government officials and academics to President Obama asking him to support the pending UN Resolution mentioned above.)
– Steve Clemons

Comments

36 comments on “Hillary Clinton says Wrong Venue?

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This debate has become farcical. Are we supposed to ignore Clinton’s star celebrity status with AIPAC, and the fact that she was endorsed by the Iraeli firsters above all other candidates? Merely watching her body language when she meets with Netanyahu tells us volumes about Hillary’s biases, and her inability to mediate fairly. To offer an essay that opines that Hillary can, (or is willing to), breach the status quo, is ridiculous. One has to completely discard Hillary’s history to be optimistic that she will do anything positive for the Palestinian’s, except occassionally offer an insincere and tepid condemnation for Israel’s actions. When a Secretary of State is willing to ignore the Israeli targeting of American citizens, and American flagged vessels sailing in international waters, it is naive to think that she will show any more regard for the Palestinians than she does for the citizens of her own country.
    This thread is silly. The opening essay is asinine. It is disheartening seeing such overtly disingenuous “thought” offered as fodder for discussion. There is no doubt where Hillary’s loyalties lie. To opine otherwise, or offer the opinion that those loyalties can be shifted, is a departure from reality.
    Should the international discourse shift to the Palestinian’s favor, as it is seemingly doing, Israel and the United States will fabricate a horrendous terrorist act that can be attributed to Hamas. It is the way we do things with Israel. The whole ball of wax is one huge shitball of collusion and deception, and this duplicitous witch Hillary Clinton is right in the middle of it. Ask Tristan Anderson or Emily Henochowicz whose table Hillary dines at.

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  2. Dan Kervick says:

    “Political backlash is ugly.”
    So is what is happening already. We are knee-deep in the Big Ugly. It’s going to be ugly whichever way we turn. We have to pick the least ugly way out.

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  3. Dan Kervick says:

    questions, I don’t know what kind of internal time frame you are employing, but the conflict is just about over, and Israel is close to cementing in place territorial acquisitions that will produce decades of civil conflict, apartheid politics, disorder, violence and the increasing brownshirting of the Israeli political culture into a fanatical thugocracy. This strife will continue to spill over into the surrounding region and destabilize it. We cannot wait for the kinds of slow evolutionary changes you are envisioning.

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  4. nadine says:

    “I don’t think the rocketing helps anyone’s case, either, nor the Hamas Fatah fights.”
    You keep assuming the Palestinians “case” is peace, questions. Change your assumption — assume their case is total victory, no matter if it takes a 100 years, and their actions suddenly become a whole lot more explicable.

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  5. questions says:

    No, I don’t think of it that way at all.
    I’m not politically passive, I deeply appreciate the work of activists who try to push the Overton Window over a ton, AND I see the results of pushing people too far past their comfort zones.
    Political backlash is ugly. It’s problematic. It has how many states is it now with constitutional bans on gay marriage? To undo all of that is Herculean. And if the Supreme Court does indeed side with gay marriage, and the country isn’t ready for it, all the worse. At this point, though, maybe there won’t be as much backlash. The military has led the way, the civil unions have helped. But hardening the right might still cause problems in other realms.
    I don’t advocate sitting around and waiting for a bunch of former Soviet Jews in Israel to get used to Palestine as a concept. And I don’t advocate shoving Palestine as a concept at people in the middle of a rocket barrage from that very Palestine.
    I think there are ameliorative steps that can be taken, I think that quiet pushbacks might be helpful, I think that there might be some rational international steps of support for the Palestinians, but there is also concern anywhere that has factions who might want independence….
    The issues surrounding Palestine are wide, deep, laden with practical and symbolic concerns for a lot of nations. If not, it would have been dealt with ages ago.
    I don’t think the rocketing helps anyone’s case, either, nor the Hamas Fatah fights.
    In the end, what will help is a long period of non-violence, time for people to get out of rage-mode, revolution-mode, and re-enter something like normal life. Normal life is a lot of fun and people generally like it when they have a taste of it. The international community should maybe focus on normalizing as many family existences as possible.
    It might be possible to tie certain things for Israel to some kind of non-concrete building materials in Gaza — the risk of bunkers is a security problem
    It might be possible to make other one-to-one deals such that Israel benefits whenever Gaza or the WB benefits. Since I’m not there, on the ground, nor an expert in these kinds of trades, I’d leave it to people who know better to see if there really are such things.
    So, no, not passive. Rather, pick your spots, pick with wisdom, and don’t wake sleeping monsters.

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  6. Dan Kervick says:

    questions, your position boils down to the idea that the only solution to continued aggression is continued appeasement and passivity. There are other ways.
    People respond to carrots and sticks, and they are also willing to exchange things they don’t want to give up for something they perceive to be of even greater value. We don’t have just to stand by, let nature take its course and hope for better days.

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  7. questions says:

    Of course democratic electorates can fuck up the entire universe. And if we stop democratic electorates from fucking up the universe, stop them in a way that is conducive to a backlash, then those democratic electorates will vote out the bums in total rage, empower the people I dislike, and turn the backlash into a generation’s worth of misery.
    It’s not that I like the settlements, or that I’m single-mindedly devoted to Israeli expansion. It’s more that if you push people in directions they don’t like, they fight back, with resentment and revenge in mind, and the monster is ever worse.
    So if we overpush the Israeli political system, we create ever more problems for the people we’d actually like to protect.
    I honestly don’t know how to make crazed populaces less crazed. The US is crazed about Mexicans, anyone with brown skin, gays and lesbians, and all sorts of other groups. The US electorate is freaked about money issues, sexuality issues, crime issues, on and on. Most of these don’t really cause problems that are at all aligned with the anxiety, but it doesn’t really matter. Elected politicians have to deal with the anxieties or they just don’t get re-elected and what come in instead is way worse.
    So when Obama courts business, like, what else could he possibly do? The Forbes dudes along with their Forbes-ette wannabe little sibs are all money panicked. You have to make them feel safe, or what they do to our political system is worse than what they’ve already done.
    The best hope is for amelioration, slow social change, and the demise of a generation or two or three of troglodytes. Of course, there are plenty of people waiting for me to go the way of the trogs! Democratic/popular electoral politics is kind of like that. We’re all necrophilic, apocalyptic, certain that we alone have the truth!
    If I were to take yet another stab at the ME mess, maybe I’d try some kind of wide support for building w/in the occupied territories. Of course, who knows what to do with Gaza while Hamas is in power….. Hold another election? bribe the current leaders with pleasant retirements in Hawaii? It’s at an impasse for some pretty good reasons, and some crazee ones, too.

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  8. Bill Pearlman says:

    Come on Dan, give me one thing the palestinians have done wrong, one gesture that they might make. You can do it man, come on.

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  9. Dan Kervick says:

    We are not dealing, questions, with a minority pocket of crazies, and we cannot wait for the Israeli electorate or liberal Israeli politicians to figure out how to out-fox or persuade over those crazies, because the crazies in question consist of the majority of the Israeli electorate.
    The occupation and colonization of the territories taken in the six-day war has been going on now for close to 44 years. 5 thousand settlers, 50 thousand settlers, 100 thousand settlers; 200 thousand, 300, 400, nearing half a million. I think the evidence is in by now, and we can conclude that this is something Israel, as a country, is doing on purpose, and for which there is strong electoral support. The Israelis keep electing governments which are determined to continue the colonization.
    You don’t seem to countenance the possibility that a democratic electorate can choose wrongly; choose aggression; choose illegality. We are not bound to accept or patiently endure the actions of a foreign country simply because those actions were a democratic decision. Democracies can choose to break the law as well as autocracies. The vox populi has been heard, and it is a vox malefactoris.
    Israel will continue to take the land of the West Bank because the people of Israel are generally eager to take it, and they have no external incentive not to take it. If we want it to stop, we will have to provide that external incentive.

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  10. questions says:

    Dan,
    I think I spin it all a different direction. We, in the US, have done many very liberal things over the years, from Civil Rights to Roe v. Wade to huge social programs, public schooling, desegregation, urban investment, public health clinics, sex education in the schools, gun control, on and on. All very liberal, social contract-y, we owe one another, public good, encroaching on “freedom” kinds of things that have made us better and stronger and more able to function together as a society.
    And each one of these has been met with electoral backlashes in corners of the US, or sometimes in broad swaths of the US.
    The goal of a popularly elected legislature is that it reacts to citizen pressure rather than dictating by fiat what the policies of the nation should be. The goal of the Constitution here is to limit how far the popular backlash can go, but it seems to give a fair amount of space to temporal and electoral concerns.
    It’s a good idea, then, for elected officials to figure out gentle ways to intervene in our crazee, and indeed they try to do this for the most part.
    It’s not fear of teh crazees with teh gunz that movitvates politicians, it’s fear of not being re-elected. And let’s face it, many of teh crazees are actually just people with very strong beliefs in “freedom”. They are part of the electorate and they have enough of a voice, enough intensity, to drive the political discourse.
    The issue of intensity vs. numbers is fascinating in policy studies. My current favorite example is the mohair subsidy. It’s absolutely wonderful how a small and intense group can suck down a subsidy from the rest of us, just by being small, intense, focused laser-like on the goal of a subsidy. Ethanol works pretty much the same way, on a slightly larger scale. (Credit Wheelan for these examples.)
    In the end, then, the rightwing backlash is really an electoral backlash, and if you think through 3 moves or 4 moves ahead, you can see why it has to be taken account of rather than challenged. If do-gooder liberals (I’m one!) do their good thing, that’s wonderful! Til they get unelected and the more intense, more focused, more passionate crowd takes over and undoes the do-gooding lib stuff. The libs, suddenly, are out of work, unable to formulate policy, and are stuck watching their good get unwound at night, never to be re-knit in the morning. (oblique reference to Penelope, might not make much sense here!)
    We have to pick political tactics that take account of the electoral concerns, then, or we simply undo what we’ve done every generation until there’s some real cultural change that makes it impossible to undo.
    Working in ways that are likely to create rightwing backlashes, then, is profoundly self-defeating, even if these working ways feel good to do occasionally.
    Smaller steps towards justice, unfun and unfulfilling and unjust as they seem, are less likely to court teh crazee electoral response. Makes good sense to me.
    ****
    And on the SotU address, here’s hoping Obama’s courting of teh rich will lead to some kind of investment bank thing in which they can take some their ill-gotten gains and do some good for the rest of us for a change.
    Do Oligarchs Dream of Electronic Transfers? (Phillip K. Dick allusion.)

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  11. Bill Pearlman says:

    Sure they had elections in hamas. btw I notice they had ONE election. Hasn’tt been another has there. But anyway lets go with the oncept that it was an honest elction. The people chose hamas. I think you can safely call them the war party. Their charter is pretty explicit. “Palestine from the river to the sea”. Ok so Israel should what, lay down its arms and sing kumbaya. Ship guns in. Tell me. what would any country do when a hostile entity on their border takes power that is explicitly dedicated ti its destruction. You would say talk, negotiate. I ask with who, about what. You think hamas is the oxford union. The local PTA. Come on.

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  12. Dan Kervick says:

    Questions,
    I think we can take for granted that there is going to be a rightwing backlash in Israel no matter what. When Rabin tried to make peace they killed him. The entire settlement movement is one big right wing backlash. There is no way forward that is in even approximate conformity to law and decency that will not incur the wild wrath of the right wing. Let

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  13. nadine says:

    jd, you disprove your own arguments even as you make them.
    Anyone who looks at Lebanon 2006 and thinks that’s an example of how Israel is ALLOWED to defend itself is not in touch with reality – or did you miss the propaganda machine in full tilt, the dead baby parades, the accusations of murder of civilians, the faked pictures, the total silence on Hizbullah’s use of civilians as shields? Did you also miss UN Res 1701, where the vaunted “international community” did its usual job of helping and shielding Hizbullah as it rearmed with an estimated 60,000 missiles? Now Hizbullah has brought down the Lebanese govt, and may either start a civil war or attack Israel. Care to bet how much Israel will be allowed to defend itself if it does?
    Israel controls the egress from Gaza, therefore it still occupies it, you say. By this logic, the US occupies Mexico, since it controls the egress from that state also. Surely this logic will apply to the West Bank with double force, since Israel has no intention of giving the PA carte blanche to import Iranian Revolutionary Guards or long-range missiles. Hey, presto, Israel will still occupy the West Bank no matter how hard it tries not to. Heads I win, tails you lose, and get ready for Goldstone II, III, IV if Israel ever has to go into Jenin and Qalqilya again. Goldstone wasn’t an exception – it was a precedent. The Palestinian liked it so much they will do their best to repeat it as often as possible.
    If withdrawing completely from a territory does not revoke your occupation of it, then obviously you should keep occupying it, where at least you can keep some control over events! What’s the sense of giving up all control but retaining all the blame? The nonsense proposed as serious foreign policy wrt Israel is just incredible.
    “Just imagine if some country occupied Israel but they said we’ll let Haifa be free of us, but not the rest of the country. Do you think Jews would rejoice and stop fighting for the freedom of their fellow Jews? ”
    So what the hell makes you think that the Palestinians will be content with only part of Palestine? All of Palestine is a Muslim waqf, says Hamas. Let your ears hear what your mouth is saying, and let Israel look to its defenses.
    “I have supported Likud in the past with money and service but obviously not recently. I’ve never really been a fan of Labor so I would guess Kadima comes closest to a natural home – even though I have problems with Livni. ”
    You sound more like Meretz, frankly.

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  14. jdledell says:

    Nadine – Is it possible for you to make your points without resorting to name calling? Without trying to defend Hamas actions in Gaza, the truth is Gaza is part of the overall Palestinian conflict. Hamas won the elections and Fatah would not give up the reins of security forces. Israel and the US refused to accept Hamas victory and encouraged Dahlan to take his men into Gaza and throw out Hamas. Well Fatah got it’s head handed to it.
    The withdrawal of Israel’s military and settlers from Gaza in no way revoked the occupation. Israel still controls egress and ingress to Gaza of people and goods. Furthermore, reducing the occupation of one part of a population does not make the occupation null and void. Just imagine if some country occupied Israel but they said we’ll let Haifa be free of us, but not the rest of the country. Do you think Jews would rejoice and stop fighting for the freedom of their fellow Jews?
    As to the point of the world doesn’t allow Israel to fight back – that is nonsense. Gaza and the Goldstone Report is an exception. Notice there was no such report after the 2006 Lebanon war. Sure there was criticism of Israel in it’s conduct just as there is criticism of the US when it kills civilians in war. Lebanon is a state and a states can conduct wars. Gaza is a stateless entity that has no formal government and is indirectly controlled by Israel. This is more akin to a civil war than a war between states.
    By the way, I do not consider myself a leftist but a Republican and a fiscal conservative. I have supported Likud in the past with money and service but obviously not recently. I’ve never really been a fan of Labor so I would guess Kadima comes closest to a natural home – even though I have problems with Livni.

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  15. questions says:

    jdledell,
    Fear is not rational. Racial and border fears, economic fears, all the things that go bump in the middle of the night — these are not rational fears.
    Further, there’s just enough ground in reality (rockets’ red glare, people bursting in open air plazas) that the unreal fear has something real to feed off of.
    Further, lulls in hostilities between distrusting parties give lots of time for re-arming in major ways.
    Further, a Palestine with allies who ship weapons legitimately probably is a problem for Israel unless the peace is genuine.
    How does anyone guarantee genuine peace as opposed to a temporary truce?
    It sounds like it should be so easy, but in reality, when real people have to deal with each other under circumstances of distrust, lack of communication and coercion, with some incentive to defect, we do really get defections.
    So there’s the rational core to an irrational insanity that is supported by and supports in turn an entire political and regional mess. There are money implications, ideology implications, ducking blame and face-saving issues, world interests, domestic political interests… all piled on.
    As I’ve said before around here, satisfy nadine’s hang ups and you might have something that could fly in Israel. She sounds so familiar to me, I can’t tell you….

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  16. DonS says:

    ” . . .then you are a fool”
    I’m sorry, this obnoxious (ad hominem), arrogant (ad hominem), crude (ad hominem) individual called nadine, run wild on this blog, is over the line. Perhaps she feels particular freedom to slander jdledell because he cuts so close to the bone.
    Whatever. Where is a POA when you need one?
    Nadine is toxic, destructive. Really, were she an Israeli she might have an excuse, as most the Israelis left are cut from the same mold. The sensible ones have left.

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  17. nadine says:

    “If, after a Palestinian state comes into being then such action between states would be recognized universally as war.”
    If you believe that in the wake of the Goldstone Report, then you are a fool. Isn’t Hamas an openly declared enemy, a client of Iran? Aren’t the borders with Gaza those same “internationally recognized borders” Dan Kervick is always going on about? Did any of that give Israel the right to defend itself from 10,000 rockets aimed at its civilians?
    Besides, the Palestinians won’t take the risk of becoming an actual state, which they don’t want anyway. Being the world’s worthiest victim group is far more lucrative, and doesn’t require any breaks with the radicals.

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  18. jdledell says:

    “Why Palestinians want to be Israeli citizens”
    Nadine – If you ever talked with some East Jerusalem Palestinians you would understand that it is no surprise that 30% of them want Israeli citizenship. The key word is citizenship, something Israel denies the East Jerusalem Palestinians. Only a few thousand were accepted for citizenship many years ago and none for a long time. It’s a natural human desire to be a citizen rather than stateless. Besides, If Israel offered these people citizenship, they would be stupid not to take advantage of Israel’s welfare and health care benefits.
    As I’m sure you are aware Netanyahu and his band of brothers really believe they have the world and Palestinians on the run and they will eventually be able to annex Area C and leave the Palestinians on “reservations” to call themselves anything they want.
    You complain about the desire of the Palestinians thinking that the settlments should be dismantled. Lets say that a peace agreement lets the settlers stay as part of the country of Palestine. How do you think that would work? The majority of these people are extremists and would immediately cause trouble. Would Israel stand back and let Palestinian police arrest and imprison fellow Jews?
    I simply do not understand this great fear of military aggression on the part of West Bank Palestinians with or without Iran’s help. If, after a Palestinian state comes into being then such action between states would be recognized universally as war. As a pactical matter Israel would not need 6 days to win such a war, it would be over in 6 hours. The IAF would make mincemeat of such a military move. Israel overcame MUCH, MUCH, MUCH worse threats from multiple amies in the past and had no trouble at all winning. The disparity in armed forces id 100 times more in Israel’s favor than in the past.
    The fatal flaw in the analysis Peter Berkowitz makes of International law, is it allows a state to do anything it wants as long as their government approves it. I suspect that had formal democratic elections had taken place in 1940 in Germany, Hitler would have won in a landslide. That would make the Holocaust acceptable in Berkowitz eyes. Hmm!

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  19. questions says:

    Dan,
    I’m unconvinced. Things change based on incentives, for sure. But certain kinds of incentives breed rage, a desire for revenge, deep resentment or whatever. If you push that direction, you don’t get want you want for long. Rather, you build up the backlash and when it pops, it really pops (to mix metaphors yet again. Sorry. It happens.)
    I know I’ve posted here over the years that pushing the Israelis too hard would likely cause a rightwing backlash. I think that’s basically correct.
    The world both has and doesn’t have time to let people work things out in their psyches. It took a long long time for the US to get slavery and women’s rights dealt with. We’re not really entirely done with either even now. It took longer to get gay rights moving. We’re not done with that. There will for ever be groups who are treated as lesser and we cannot mandate their better treatment. We have to wait til enough of us recognize that action needs to be taken. It super sucks to be on the wrong end of history on these kinds of issues. It also super sucks to be on the pushing end only to see a backlash 20 or 30 years later.
    Abortion is hitting a massive backlash. Race issues? Just look at this country. There is much that hasn’t worked out quite right because broad social agreement is hard to come by, and the backlash can be pretty horrific.
    So, yeah, it’s definitely humane to *MAKE* Israel behave better, but it’s also going to backfire to *MAKE* them do it. So we need to find other ways to suggest some better policies for now while a generation dies off. Maybe 2 generations, come to think of it.
    But honestly, if you’re Israeli, what makes more sense to you? Walls and raids, or disarming? Wrong way to put the question? Well, how does it feel in Israel if you talk about no more walls and raids?
    As I said above, “security” has to be defined in the Israeli street, probably in Sderot. I get the feeling from news stories and occasional conversations, though no visits ever to Israel, that “security” for them isn’t what it is for, say, a resident of the US. Security gains, then, aren’t going to come about from NATO, or from “peace”.
    All “peace” for now will feel like a brief truce, not an actual perpetual peace. Neither side is done with grudges, neither side will lay down arms, disband the military, stop building bombs, or set up deep trade relations such that they can no longer afford the wars.
    If I could hope for anything, as I’ve said before, it’d be for the acceptance of a “status” in the WB, a series of elections in Gaza, and some good behavior on both sides for long enough that culture shifts have a chance. Barring this, peace could come in the WigWag-noted old fashioned way — total military destruction and capitulation by one side without any concomitant resentment that leads to a new war…. This version doesn’t sound so nice, though. And I hope it never comes to it.

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  20. Bill Pearlman says:

    Wow Dan, those pesky Jews sure can be irritating I guess.
    Moslems, all sweetness and light. Come on give just one thing you ask of the lads from hamas. Just one

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  21. Dan Kervick says:

    “If there is an electorate screaming out for the end of the settlements programs and the dismantling of the current settlements and the removal of households full of people, then it’ll happen.”
    The international community can’t wait for the Israeli public to call out for the dismantling of settlements, which will never happen on its own, or to reach a domestic consensus solution in their own good leisurely time. Left to their own, they will never adopt a solution that satisfies broad international interests.
    People often respond to externally applied incentives and disincentives. If the Israeli electorate’s head isn’t in the place we need it to be, then we need to do more to give them a reason to change their minds.

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  22. Dan Kervick says:

    “I have no idea what the 41 years refers to …”
    I imagine that is a reference to the length of Mitchell’s’ Senate career.

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  23. nadine says:

    One of the other realities on the ground that Grand Bargains ignore is that if you actually poll the Arabs of East Jerusalem, they’d rather stay in Israel than become part of Palestine, the opposite to what the negotiators assume:
    Why Palestinians want to be Israeli citizens
    By Jackson Diehl
    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2011/01/_one_of_the_givens.html

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  24. nadine says:

    “Getting Israel out of the West Bank and East Jerusalem will be extremely hard, involving the very expensive and politically fraught relocation of hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers. Israeli politicians have to be able to prove to their public that they are getting something extremely valuable in return. American politicians need the same thing.” (Dan Kervick)
    Ah, a glimmer of reality, thank you very much. Now, what is the proposed “extremely valuable” thing that is supposed to be worth such extreme pain, not to mention the risk of Iranian warheads raining down on Tel Aviv from the Judean hills?
    What’s that you say? NATO membership? Ah yes, didn’t NATO do such a SPLENDID job of protecting the Bosnians on their very own doorstep, yes, that track record must certainly recommend them for the job. After all the Europeans are well known to be neutral and even-handed when it comes to judgments about the Mideast. And their fighting forces are so…well, maybe better not to go there.
    This is not a proposal, Dan. It’s a bad joke. A very bad joke, in questionable taste.

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  25. nadine says:

    Steve, you urge a Grand Bargain in the name of internationlism, and cite the names of FDR and Truman as precedent.
    Peter Berkowitz has a new article “The Goldstone Report and International Law” explaining how the Goldstone Report works to subvert international law, as traditionally understood, and those who, like you, use it to call for international adjudication of conflicts are not following in the tradition of FDR and Truman at all, but are standing the traditional understanding of “international law” on its head:
    “In the end, whether nation-states or international authorities should have primary responsibility for enforcing the lawful conduct of war turns on conflicting opinions about armed conflict, politics, and justice. Even those many conservatives and progressives who share a commitment to the freedom and dignity of the individual may come to different conclusions grounded in conflicting opinions about the best means for securing individual rights while maintaining international order.
    Authoritative sources in international law assign primary responsibility for judgments about whether war has been conducted in accordance with the law of armed conflict to the judicial and other relevant organs of nation-states. That assignment is rooted in the larger liberal tradition

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  26. questions says:

    All the grand bargains in the world do nothing if they don’t allow for the re-election of the politicians in charge of decision-making.
    Foreign policy is POLICY, and in a democratic/election-oriented polity, the policy part of foreign policy has to square with constituent demands.
    If there is an electorate screaming out for the end of the settlements programs and the dismantling of the current settlements and the removal of households full of people, then it’ll happen.
    If the US could help devise some program that would sit well with the Israeli electorate, well, then that would move the peace forward. If the US could do the same for the Palestinians, at the same time that something is being done for the Israelis, at the same time that Americans who care intensely about this issue get something out of it, then, indeed, something will happen.
    It’s a lot of stars and planets to line up.
    Security has to come first. So tell me, do Americans feel “secure” enough to have mosques going up? To have democrats running all three branches of the government? To trust that recent legislation is for the common good?
    Well…..
    Now, if we don’t feel secure enough to stay calm and keep in the current crop of pols, what could one even begin to say about the Israeli electorate?
    So when one says “security” is paramount, one needs to note that “security” has a lot of meanings on a lot of levels. What makes Hillary Clinton or Steve Clemons feel pretty peachy about the day isn’t what plays well to and Israeli voter in Sderot, for example. So the elite view of “security” isn’t at all matching up with the street view of security.
    This disconnect is huge, and hugely visible, when “grand bargains” or the like arise as talking points.
    If you want a solution, you have to work with the elements that go in to political solutions: time, cultural change, generational change, some incentives here and there to aid the process, a deep understanding of the structures of the status quo, an appreciation for the logic that led to the status quo over time. Any current situation is an evolved response to pressures, a response that seems to the practitioners to have made a lot of sense, a response that was rewarded, by,say, re-election.
    So if you want to change an entire system, you have to look at what made that system evolve.
    NATO or promises or declarations won’t change the gut feelings of Israelis that the wall, territorial pressure, segregation, blockades, interventions, spying, watching, border control, raids, aerial bombing runs and the like are all better strategies.
    Assuming this read is correct, we’re back to the old question of how you get a society to change, to rethink its habits, to ease up on pressures, to be a little less nasty, to minimize the crap? If they already think they’re doing well, it’s a little harder. If they have some doubts, there’s maybe some room for some gentle guilt-pressure.
    Find the cultural guilt points, find the places where a little less nastiness is still quite effective, and let time and tide do their work.
    ***
    As a side note, related in its own way, look at the current (NYT or WaPo) headline regarding states and abortion rights cutbacks. Declared by fiat and fought back day after day, year after year, election after election. The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade was cut back a bit by Casey, and is being nipped at a bit at a time. It’ll get more restrictive over the next 4 years or so.
    If we can’t declare that the US Constitution guarantees something, how do we expect some kind of Grand Bargain ™ to work in Israel?
    To change a culture, the culture has to change. (cue odd string music)

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  27. non-hater says:

    “When there is no American vision, no US leadership, no serious deep investment by the President and Hillary Clinton in making recalcitrants on both sides of the issue pay heavily for unconstructive positions”
    I think it’s a bit ridiculous to say, in effect, “if only they would try harder” without attempting to look at why Obama and Clinton aren’t trying harder. Io me, it’s pretty clear that there’s no big push to resolve the I/P conflict because domestic political considerations prevent it. And since there is little chance for it to be resolved, I think Clinton and Obama are actually wise to keep the issue at a distance.

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  28. non-hater says:

    Dan – That’s a thoughtful post, but extending NATO membership farther into the Middle East is not something that any European country would be willing to do (with the possible exception of Britain, which tends to follow the US’s lead on foolish ideas). Plus, the Israelis (and by that I mean a majority of Israeli Jews, of course) just aren’t rational actors, and they are not going to give up on what they see as their land.

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  29. nadine says:

    Steve, do you ever read Yaacov Lozowick’s blog? He has a long series of posts, with pictures on the ground, explaining why the attempt to divide Jerusalem (his home town) is the recipe for an instant Mideast war.
    http://yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com/
    Talk of Grand Bargains sounds so utterly divorced from reality. Is it even supposed to work, or is that not the purpose?

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  30. Dan Kervick says:

    The US has a very big and historically momentous problem on its hands. It has allowed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to advance to the point where it has broken the international system. The conflict is a degenerative disease that is killing the work of three generations of statesmanship. And it is also killing the power and cohesion of the Western family of nations, whose governments and people are now deeply fragmented over this conflict.
    Israel seems inclined to accept and even promote this international fragmentation, and place its security bets on the US alone. But the fragmentation only accelerates the declining power of the US, and so the bet for Israel comes to look like a desperate one.
    If the US cannot vote in favor of a resolution that merely recapitulates positions that are supposed to be official US policy, and if the reason for declining to support this resolution is that the United Nations itself has now become the wrong venue for important international decisions on one of the most significant of global conflicts, then the existing international system is in dire peril.
    This is the challenge for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: These two leaders and the Democratic Party as a whole have to decide whether their party, whose historical legacy and traditions have been entrusted into their hands, is still the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. The cause of internationalism, and of an international order of law and right, hangs in the balance. At this very moment, the enemies of internationalism and of the legacy of Roosevelt and Truman are mobilizing a two-front assault in Washington on both the domestic and international elements of that legacy. They are sharpening the stakes that they plan to drive through two faintly beating hearts: one beats with what is left of the activist Rooseveltian and classically Democratic approach to our domestic economy, organized on New deal and Keynesian principles; the other beats over of the United Nations-based foundations of the international system inspired by Franklin Roosevelt, and put into effect by Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt and the other statesmen and stateswomen of that era.
    Obama and Clinton, and their allies, need to decide whether they plan to stand by and let these enemies of the Democratic heritage do the deed, or whether they plan to fight this twilight battle and both save and strengthen these noble elements of our heritage. I suggest Obama administration officials, and all other Americans for that matter, re-read the UN Charter and the history of its enactment, before taking the fatal errors of commission or omission that will consign those noble sentiments, and the real order and spirited global optimism they helped to build, to the dustbin of history.
    American Jews used to be among the strongest supporters of internationalism and international law. Now American Jews active on behalf of Israel are the chief enemies of internationalism and international law. The opinions of American Jews in liberal American politics matter, and they matter much more than the opinions of most other groups. Whether that

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  31. Steve Clemons says:

    Greetings Wig — yes, some confess their interest in winning the Nobel. I’ve heard these comments myself in the past. And of course with the late Armand Hammer — also Japanese industrialist Ryoichi Sasakawa — it was a quite public obsession. best, steve

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  32. Bill Pearlman says:

    Ok, I get it. EVERY other issue in the world is completely insignificant compared to letting Jews live in Jerusalem, or Efrat. That’s the linchpin. Until we can make the west bank “judenrhein” all other issue are piddling little pinpricks to our esteemed SOS.

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  33. Bill Pearlman says:

    Its kind of interesting that Sarah Palin got to where she is on her own. Hillary Clinton got to where she is by being married to the right guy. Who is more admirable?

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  34. nadine says:

    Speaking of the Nobel Peace Prize, Wigwag, Rush Limbaugh just noted that the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize just hosted a state dinner for the jailer of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
    Which is an interesting angle to view the matter from. Aside from being undeniably true.

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  35. nadine says:

    “Hillary Clinton can keep Mitchell to hold a scapegoat close if the Israel/Palestine franchise blows up in disaster. Or she can jettison him, own the whole franchise more directly, double down in attaching her own personal credibility to a positive outcome, and get a better franchise manager in place who will be her key overseer and implement her vision.” (Steve Clemons)
    IF it blows up in disaster? I have a news flash for you, it already has blown up in disaster. Obama confidently promised a Mideast settlement, instead, he destroyed negotiations, which had proceeded for 16 years before he entered the scene. How about Option Three: Hillary, understanding Mideast realities a WHOLE lot better than Obama (she has the benefit of Bill’s experience, after all) will quietly put the whole standoff on the back burner, knowing that for her it is all pain, no gain?
    “But the Israel/Palestine standoff is getting messy. The Palestinians have tabled a resolution at the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements, and the US is loathe to vote on it in fear of poking Bibi Netanyahu but also doesn’t want to backtrack on its own stated positions that the Israeli settlements in Occupied Territory are illegal.”
    a) The I/P standoff has always been messy, so what else is new? b) The Palestinians have been getting recognitions at the UN for 40 years. But everything tangible they ever gained has been through the US and the Oslo Accords, whose conditions (such as: the PA will not have a foreign diplomacy) they have long ignored, c) The US has no quandary vetoing the UNSC resolution – it can simply point to the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap, which it supports, which specify that settlements and borders are to be settled ONLY by direct negotiation between the parties. On that basis Obama will veto the resolution, if he can’t make the Palestinians see sense first.
    You are greatly exaggerating the supposed difficulty, Steve. It won’t carry water, particularly when set against Obama’s domestic political necessities.
    Barry Rubin explains why the Obama peace process will continue to be a total waste of time in 2011:
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-obama-administration-peace-process.html
    You really should read Barry Rubin. What he predicts will happen in the Mideast, does happen at least 90% of the time. What Obama predicts will happen, happens 0% of the time. Yet you keep listening to Obama. Why?

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  36. WigWag says:

    “It’s a defining challenge for her — and her only pathway at the moment to earning a Nobel Peace Prize, which she has never said she covets but probably wouldn’t mind receiving.” (Steve Clemons)
    While many people may lobby behind the scenes to receive a Nobel Prize nomination, does anyone actually announce publically that they “covet” the award? That would be in poor taste, wouldn’t it?
    Isn’t it fair to say that there is vitually no one on the planet who would “mind receiving” the Nobel Prize? It does, after all, come with a large cash prize.

    Reply

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