If Anyone Can Do It, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Can
It does without saying that Secretary Clinton has demonstrated keen diplomacy skills and a commitment to ending the Arab-Israeli conflict. That said, getting Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu to see eye-to-eye about anything will be not be easy, particularly given the political climate not only in the Palestinian Territories and Israel, but also here in the U.S. While many claim to support a two-state solution, they seem to do so in word only because as soon as an administration attempts to get the parties to make difficult concessions for peace, the push-back from powerful political interest groups begins. In addition, as I noted in my post below, people and groups on both sides will likely engage in activities (and rhetoric) which could serve to sabotage the peace effort.
I ran across this commentary from Dan Simpson which essentially states what I believe- Hillary Clinton is the right person at the right time to be Secretary of State during critical peace negotiations:
In any case, with the imminent commencement of Middle East peace talks, Mrs. Clinton is about to have the opportunity to construct an historic agreement, completing or at least moving forward toward an accord between the Israelis and Palestinians and the resolution of a dangerous problem that has tormented the world for more than six decades.
On the other hand, she has been most effective in getting around the world and establishing relationships with the main players in world politics, where she has been helped by her previous experiences as a senator and first lady. It was very important for her to do so.
Americans among themselves can usually get down to business quickly after meeting, even for the first time. People from other cultures, particularly in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and East Asia, sometimes take quite a while before feeling that they have a good enough understanding of someone to talk business seriously. Mrs. Clinton was wise to take some time and travel a lot during her first 20 months on the job before undertaking anything major.
Now, even if she would have preferred not to take on the difficult task of trying to bring peace to the Middle East as her first major foreign affairs undertaking, the talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will start tomorrow, preceded by a dinner tonight, and Mrs. Clinton will be ringmaster.
But Mrs. Clinton will be the one front-and-center, cajoling and twisting the arms of Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu. There will also be present at the beginning President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah II of Jordan, key neighbors of the Israelis and Palestinians, both of whose countries have a dog in the fight.
During these talks Mrs. Clinton will be able to draw on all of the experience she has gained in her first 20 months as secretary of state and in her previous career as Mr. Clinton’s campaign organizer in Arkansas, as a lawyer, as first lady and as senator from New York.
This can be her finest hour to date. It is also hazardous work, a chance for her — if things were to go wrong — to suffer the diplomatic equivalent of her disastrous 1990s venture into health care reform.
Everyone — we hope — wishes her well: the people of Israel and Palestine; their neighbors in the Middle East who don’t want more wars in the region; and, most of all, Americans, who would love to step back from two countries, Israel and Palestine, that are living in security and peace with each other and not constantly importuning the United States to meet their military, political and economic needs instead of our own.
It won’t be easy, but she can do it.