Hillary’s Foreign Policy Vision Forgets Israel/Palestine


hillary clinton twn.jpg
Hillary Clinton gave a major foreign policy address yesterday that has some great strengths. I disagree with her take on Cuba and find it unfortunate that she can’t move to roughly the same position of managed cooperation and conflict with Cuba that she advocates with China.
But then I looked for references to Israel and Palestine — particularly given my presence this week in In the region and my upcoming meetings with lots of Israeli and Palestinian political and thought leaders about the state of the Annapolis Summit process. Condoleezza Rice, in fact, will be here on Monday doing the same.
But Hillary doesn’t say the words “Israel” or “Palestine” in the entire speech. I think that Hillary Clinton gets a lot right in her foreign policy commentary — particularly the sense she conveys that this is a “discontinuous” or “different” time in American history that requires a changed approach.
I very much liked most of her opening:

We are here at such an extraordinary moment in American history. The stakes have rarely been higher. I’ve had numerous historians tell me that America’s point in our arch of destiny, today is perhaps most similar to the situation confronting President Truman when he became our president and commander in chief.
Dramatic events during this past week have reminded us how volatile our world has become and how essential it is that we have sound strategy and strong leadership. From Kosovo to Cuba, from Iraq to Pakistan, to our embassy being burned in Belgrade, these are some of the most challenging spots on our global map. The world is being transformed with enormous risks and possibilities that we must meet with confidence, optimism, resolution and success.
The next president will inherit all of these global challenges and more from a president who failed to handle them well. A war in Afghanistan and a war in Iraq. America’s reputation at an all-time low. Countries rushing to acquire nuclear weapons. Crushing poverty that stymies economic and political progress in too many regions of the world. Global warming and global health pandemics. Genocide in Darfur. A rise of borderless, stateless criminal cartels. And the continuing real threat of terrorism here at home and abroad.
But while these stark realities carry dangers, they also bring unprecedented opportunities if we act wisely, if we have the right kind of leadership. There isn’t any doubt in my mind that we will not only navigate through these uncharted difficult waters but emerge stronger than ever, reasserting both our leadership and our moral authority.

I part company with Senator Clinton on the importance of “reasserting” leadership and moral authority. I think leadership in the years ahead will be earned and negotiated — leadership will be more done through seduction than assertion. And our moral authority will rise when we get back to getting the innards of our democratic practices back into shape — and stop engaging in very heavy-handed, neo-imperialist wars and occupations abroad.
I think that there are two places in the world in which America can “signal” a very quick sea change in the terms of its engagement in global affairs. One of these is ripping away the cocoon protecting the US-Cuba relationship from any change from the Cold War anachronism that it has become. And secondly, definitely laying out the comprehensive process for resolving Israel-Palestine peace. Cuba is easy. Israel/Palestine is tougher — but it’s still one of the most easy dilemmas to logistically solve — even if a political equilibrium seems very often to exist only in fantasy.
Here are comments of my own that were reported in the Financial Times today:

Steven Clemons, a foreign policy expert at the Washington-based New America Foundation, says loosening trade and travel restrictions with Cuba would be the most effective and low-cost means for the next US president to signal a new way of engaging with the world. He expects little resistance to a policy change among the broader US population as fear of communism fades. “The contradiction between trading with China and Vietnam on the one hand and maintaining the embargo with Cuba on the other is becoming more difficult to sustain,” he says.

But with all due respect to Senator Clinton — who does call for the establishment of serious priorities in her impressive remarks yesterday — I can’t quite believe that she left Israel/Palestine off of the roster.
I have friends in both the Obama and Clinton camps. Those on the Obama side could learn quite a bit from some of the issues Hillary Clinton stresses in this speech. Those in the Clinton camp could learn from Obama’s forthrightness in indicating a difference between being pro-Israel and pro-Likud.
I don’t believe that the Hillary Clinton camp is purposely ducking Israel-Palestine, at least I hope not — and I have reason to believe that she might even be a “Nixon Goes to China” type on finally resolving this epic dispute. I know I will hear protests about this, but I’ve talked about this issue with Bill Clinton at some length and more briefly Hillary Clinton and have been told that getting a real deal done quickly would be a high priority after election. I actually do believe this to be the case.
But still — was it an oversight not to even mention Israel/Palestine? Or on purpose?

— Steve Clemons


35 comments on “Hillary’s Foreign Policy Vision Forgets Israel/Palestine

  1. jw says:

    my sense based on a short but intense engagement with parties in the ME is that what is important for the next president of the US is not simply having some lofty comprehensive vision of a settlement, or final state settlement plan. there already are plenty of plans on which to build. Instead, what needs to be different is the US President’s political commitment and moxy to hold both sides equally accountable to show outcomes to their commitments. He/She needs to make clear to both sides that progress must come in parallel, not sequentially.
    That means, in short, yes we must hold Palestinians responsible for immediate and continuing security improvements, as well as building sustainable political institutions (much as we like Abu Mazzan and Fayyad, they’re just two individuals…they are not enough on which to build a state). At the same time, we must hold Israel accountable for the various commitments it made and is making, e.g., on halting settlement construction, removing illegal outposts, and improving the quality of life for the Palestinians by dismantling major internal travel restrictions.
    Unless we are prepared to take these prickly issues in hand tightly, even if it’s painful, our engagement will do little good, and could actually do harm.


  2. J. Singh says:

    Steve, thanks for the post. But how much “forthrightness” is Obama REALLY displaying in public, if he has to explicitly distance himself from Zbig’ Brzezinski?
    In that speech in Ohio, Obama directly implied that Brzezinski is anti-Israel (by contrasting Zbig with Tony Lake and Susan Rice, who are “pro-Israel”), thus refusing to entertain ANY of the merits of Brzezinski’s mutli-facted position on Israel. This is distressing — especially coming from the candidate who is willing to “sit down in a room and talk to people he disagrees with” (like Chavez and Ahmadenijad). Obama’s compartmentalization of Brzezinski’s counsel (he apparently only listens to his advice on Iraq) will not serve him in the long-run, because he is simply feeding the narrow interests of a political lobby that is largely responsible for sub-optimal political situation in Israel and the broader Middle East that we face today, which the next President will have to dramatically untangle.
    Perhaps I’m expecting too much from Obama (and maybe he’ll have a mandate to accomplish some loftier diplomatic goals in 2009 that will allow him to take a much tougher line than he can communicate now), but simply distinguishing between Israeli political actors in a speech, for sound bite purposes, is not going to get us towards a recalibration of the political situation there, especially when there are so many intransigent actors in the US who not only got us to this point in the first place, but are determined to sustain the status quo, as Daniel Levy points out here: http://www.prospectsforpeace.com/2008/02/hope_for_the_best_prepare_for.html )


  3. p.lukasiak says:

    re: the use of the word “reassert” — that was obviously for domestic political audiences, and I think will be interpreted as such within the diplomatic community.


  4. p.lukasiak says:

    I think it was on purpose, because she recognizes that while Iraq is the US’s biggest problem right now, resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict is the root of the problems throughout the middle east — and she plans to get a lot tougher with Israel, and talk to Hamas and Hezbollah. And she plans to send Bill there to work on the resolution.
    By not mentioning it, by not engaging in the normal platitudes that candidates hide behind, she was sending the message that US policy was going to undergo a huge shift — platitudes about the Israel/Palestine conflict are business-as-usual, and by not saying a word about it, she’s telling the word that it won’t be business-as-usual.


  5. downtown says:

    Carroll at 1:53PM
    …of a time when _Israel_ was flat _wrong_…
    To too many people in this country, the above statement contains an oxymoron.


  6. Carroll says:

    Steve didn’t say either Clinton indicated which way the Isr-Pal problem would be solved.
    Would they just give Isr everything they have already stolen and confiscated or seek a just deal?
    I have no faith in Hillary giving a damn about a “fair” settlement based on all her craven pandering to the Lukids.


  7. Carroll says:

    Weiss also notes this about Obama and Israel and how Obama handles attacks like the ones about his association with various people while still making a real point.
    “It is true that my pastor, Jeremiah Wright… is somebody who on occasion can say controversial things…. He was very active in the South Africa divestment movement, and you will recall that there was a tension that arose between the African American and the Jewish communities during that period when we were dealing with apartheid in South Africa, because Israel and South Africa had a relationship at that time. And that cause — that was a source of tension. So there have been a couple of occasions where he made comments with relation, rooted in that. Not necessarily ones that I share. But that is the context within which he has made those comments.”
    This is a significant comment. It is reminding Jews of a time when Israel was flat wrong, when it sought to prop up apartheid South Africa. Obama’s being tactful as all get-out, but he knows his leftwing history. And you know what side he was on.
    P.S. Oh and which way did history go on apartheid South Africa?


  8. susan says:

    Wednesday February 27, 2008 09:53 EST
    Majority of Israelis want to negotiate with Hamas
    (updated below – Update II)
    “Last Sunday, Barack Obama gave a speech to a group of Jewish leaders in Cleveland, rejected the manipulative claim that one must “adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach” or else be deemed “soft or anti-Israel,” and then (delicately) made this critical point regarding the range of acceptable debate in the U.S. with regard to Israel:
    There was a very honest, thoughtful debate taking place inside Israel. All of you, I’m sure, have experienced this when you travel there. Understandably, because of the pressure that Israel is under, I think the U.S. pro-Israel community is sometimes a little more protective or concerned about opening up that conversation. But all I’m saying though is that actually ultimately should be our goal, to have that same clear-eyed view about how we approach these issues.
    On virtually every issue concerning Israel, views that are held by substantial minorities or even majorities of Israelis themselves are deemed prohibited in the U.S., ones that inevitably subject the advocate to accusations of animus towards Israel or even anti-Semitism. There are very few issues in mainstream American political discourse with a narrower range of mandated orthodoxies than those which relate to Israel.
    Underscoring that point rather vividly is the issue of negotiations with Hamas. Needless to say, isolating the democratically elected Hamas government and childishly pretending that they don’t exist is a central prong of the Bush administration’s policy, and few American politicians could ever get away with advocating that Israel attempt diplomatically to negotiate its conflicts with Hamas. Cascades of “anti-Israel,” “soft-on-Terrorists” and other related accusations would pour down on any person suggesting such a thing.
    But a new poll of actual Israelis — the people who have to live with the consequences of their choices as opposed to those who can beat their neoconservative, protected chests from a safe distance — reveals:
    Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Less than one-third (28 percent) still opposes such talks.
    The figures were obtained in a Haaretz-Dialog poll conducted Tuesday under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University.
    According to the findings, Israelis are fed up with seven years of Qassam rockets falling on Sderot and the communities near Gaza, as well as the fact that Shalit has been held captive for more than a year and a half. An increasing number of public figures, including senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces’ reserves, have expressed similar positions on talks with Hamas.
    It now appears that this opinion is gaining traction in the wider public, which until recently vehemently rejected such negotiations.
    The survey also showed that Likud voters are much more moderate than their Knesset representatives. About half (48 percent) support talks with Hamas…”


  9. Carroll says:

    Posted by Cee at February 27, 2008 01:12 PM
    Oh yes now I remember that.
    I think this lady could have phrased it a lot less crudely but there is no denying that Jews and Others who are supporting Israel’s actions in Plaestine have descended into moral no man’s land.
    “The controversy stems from remarks attributed to Dr. Fulani nearly two decades ago, in which she said Jews ”had to sell their souls to acquire Israel” and had to ”function as mass murderers of people of color” to keep it. The Anti-Defamation League said in a 1995 report ”


  10. Carroll says:

    Yes Steve if you can arrange it you should talk to Hamas..but you might have a problem getting back in the states if you do…you might have to sneak back in by way of Mexico. LOL
    Interesting part of interview with Former Israeli intelligence chief Efraim Halevy by Laura Rozen for Mother Jones explaining why he advocates talks with Hamas.
    Efraim Halevy:
    Hamas is not al Qaeda and, indeed, al Qaeda has condemned them time and time again. Hamas may from time to time have tactical, temporary contact with al Qaeda, but in essence they are deadly adversaries. The same goes for Iran. Hamas receives funds, support, equipment, and training from Iran, but is not subservient to Tehran. A serious effort to dialogue indirectly with them could ultimately drive a wedge between them.
    MJ: Why do you think Israel and Washington should talk with Hamas?
    Hamas has, unfortunately, demonstrated that they are more credible and effective as a political force inside Palestinian society than Fatah, the movement founded by [former Palestinian Authority president] Yassir Arafat, which is now more than ever discredited as weak, enormously corrupt and politically inept.
    [Hamas has] pulled off three “feats” in recent years in conditions of great adversity. They won the general elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006; they preempted a Fatah design to wrest control of Gaza from them in 2007; and they broke out of a virtual siege that Israel imposed upon them in January 2008. In each case, they affected a strategic surprise upon all other players in the region and upon the United States, and in each case, no effective counter strategy mounted by the US and Israel proved effective.
    Security in the West Bank is assured not by the fledgling and ineffective security forces of Abu Mazen now undergoing training once again by American-led instructors. It is the nightly incursions of the Israeli Defense Forces into the West Bank, their superior intelligence, together with that of the Israel Security Agency that does the job.
    Current strategy in the West Bank to forge a credible Palestinian security capacity is floundering; indeed, several of the deaths of Israelis at the hands of West Bank terrorists were perpetrated by none other than members of the units under the command of Abu Mazen.
    It makes sense to approach a possible initial understanding including Hamas—but not exclusively Hamas—at a time when they are still asking for one. No side will gain from a flare up leading to Israel re-entering the Gaza strip in strength to undo the ill-fated unilateral disengagement of 2005.
    MJ: Should Hamas be required to recognize Israel’s right to exist before Israel would talk with it?
    Israel has been successful in inflicting very serious losses upon Hamas in both Gaza and the West Bank and this has certainly had an effect on Hamas, who are now trying to get a “cease fire.” But this has not cowed them into submission and into accepting the three-point diktat that the international community has presented to them: to recognize Israel’s right to exist; to honor all previous commitments of the Palestinian Authority; and to prevent all acts of violence against Israel and Israelis. The last two conditions are, without doubt, sine qua non. The first demands an a priori renunciation of ideology before contact is made. Such a demand has never been made before either to an Arab state or to the Palestinian Liberation Organization/Fatah. There is logic in the Hamas’ position that ideological “conversion” is the endgame and not the first move in a negotiation.
    MJ: How should such talks be conducted?
    Hamas shuns direct contact and negotiations with Israel and this actually meets Israel’s reciprocal attitude to them. The same is true of the United States. But Hamas is eager to “engage” the two indirectly and reach a verifiable cease fire, and understands that could lead to more “down the road.”
    The largest part of the Israel problem is US zionist like AIPAC and our own congress, I don’t know how it could be any plainer. They absolutely have to go if the US is ever going to get back a sensible foreign policy or even a glimmer of a decent reputation in the universe. There is another recent survey in the Israeli papers showing that even 48% of the Lukid party (not the politicans but party voters) favor talking to Hamas.
    So what does this say? That the problem in settling this conflict is right here in the US, with the US Lukid, the Lobby and their ownership of US politicans..including Hillary.
    Here is Richard Silverstein’s comment on Halevy interview over at Washington Babylon:
    “Can you imagine any American presidential candidate uttering such words? He or she would be crucified for such a display of common sense (and undoubtedly branded as anti-Semitic as well). Even expressing a word of sympathy for the Palestinians is strictly forbidden in American political culture–as Barack Obama has learned. That the views of an Israeli spy chief are radically pro-Arab, within the context of American politics, is a depressing reflection on the state of our debate on the Middle East. ”
    It’s about time Americans started crucifying our corrupt AIPAC politicans on the Israel disaster for a change. There are 3030 million of us and only 500 of them. I think we could win.


  11. downtown says:

    Hillary realizes that most likely she’ll return to Wshington as the junior Senator from NY. She’s too dependent on political support (cash) from people in NYC with a very different perspective on what an equitable, viable two state solution would consist of.


  12. pauline says:

    Just about one year ago, the wicked witch of the west uttered these warmongering words to her buddies at AIPAC:
    “U.S. policy must be clear and unequivocal,” Clinton told the crowd. “We cannot, we should not, we must not, permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons, and in dealing with this threat, as I have said for a very long time, no option can be taken off the table.”
    Some say Truman dropped the bomb to show he wasn’t a weak-kneed democrat. What would this witch do to show her defense contractor contributors and her AIPAC buddies no option is off her table?
    see —


  13. Carroll says:

    I do think Hillary deliberately ignores the Isr-Pal issue in her foreign policy statements except when is speaking to jewish audiences and then she is pure Lukid all the way.
    When Israel was mentioned last night she sounded like that crazy ADL Foxman pushing Obama to “denounce and reject” something or other having to do with anti Israel statements. She was ridicuous in belaboring the point and that hints that the attacks on Obama’s “Mulsim” connections is part the Hillary camp smear machine.
    She also said she turned down the support of the Independent party in NY when she was running for senator because it was headed by “people” who said terrible things about Israel. As far as I find she was referring to Pat Buchanan who was on the ticket at that time. I don’t know what Buchanan has said but there are plenty of terrible things that need to be said about what Irs’merica is doing with their occupation and collective punishment of Palestine and I have said plenty of them so according to Hillary I guess I am an anti-semite.
    Despite all the other things I like about Hillary, her attitude on this tells me she is dishonest and a hypocritic and will continue the same old lopsided ruinous foreign policy. When she brought up her not accepting the independent party support in NY because they were anti-semitic it occured to me maybe she was doing some forward pandering to her NY Jewish backers to keep her senate seat in case she didn’t make the cut for President.
    Of all the candidates Obama is the only one who has even approached the Israel/Lukid problem. My hope is when the real smear machine cranks up against Obama the public will have had enough of the Hillary and McWar mentality and reject them loudly. I read something on Phil Weiss’s site recently about a survey the ADL did that said one third of Americans thought US Jews were more loyal to Israel than to the US. One never knows how the ADL does their survery and whether they are really accurate or not but Foxman was usually honest in saying he didn’t think the survey indicated anit-semitism but more a growing rejection of US support for Israel among the American public.
    So maybe Obama is ahead of the Orwellington, DC curve is sensing where the public is headed on Israel and the ME and our policy in general.


  14. JohnH says:

    As I’ve said before, Hillary will be a Hawk if elected. Like Truman, who dropped nukes on a beaten Japan to show he was not the weakling many perceived him to be at the time, Hillary will feel enormous pressure to prove that a woman are up to the task of Commander in Chief. If I were Iranian, I tremble at the thought of her becoming President.
    Instead of pandering to the foreign policy/national security mob that got us where we are today, she should really try to prove that a woman can exercise power more wisely and judiciously. To do that she would have to break with tradition (America’s and Bill’s) and her set of foreign policy advisors: most unlikely to happen. Hillary is not about change.


  15. Cee says:

    Perhaps Hillary was beaten into submission after her Suha Arafat moment.


  16. DonS says:

    jon, my lack of clarity backfires! There has been no political price domestically. Internationally of course it has be enormous.
    Americans have [at least two] streaks when it comes to foreign policy: one neo-isolationist, the other interventionist (as an extension of manifest destiny??) Politicians alternately play these strings. Rarely do they base policy on solid analyses, but mere posturing for you-know-who’s perceived benefit.
    OT, recently I caught a clip of some govt functionary moaning about Israel expanding some settlement or other. Thus has it been for 50 years: calls for a “freeze” on settlements, and Israel ignoring the call. If I am right, perhaps the last President ever to act was the elder Bush freezing some loan guarantees (read grants) to attempt some leverage over some policy or other.


  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Every day a new revelation surfaces about how far this administration takes us away from everything we stand for. Here we have a Bush bootlicker, in a position of high power, ignoring justice to further political ends….
    “We can’t have acquittals, we have to have convictions.” According to Davis, Haynes said, “if we’ve been holding these people for so long, how can we explain letting them get off?”
    Yet, we have three “presidential hopefuls” that have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to hold this Administration accountable, to hold them to the letter of the law, or to even give daylight to the criminal, prosecutable, and impeachable offenses of this President and his sick and satanic murderous Vice President.
    We have now had eight years of absolute Executive lawlessness, abetted by the EXTREME COWARDICE and TREASON of our Congressional body, that even today will do little as these bastards ignore subpoenas, scoff at the checks and balances, politicize the Justice Department, the EPA, and the DOD.
    None of these cowardly and complicit candidates are worthy of the office. They have stood meekly by as GWB has shit upon everything this nation once stood for.
    And Steve. Get real. Do you really think Hillary just “forgot” to address Isr/Pal??? Come on, man. Instead of advancing such fantasies, maybe you ought to get on the horn and ask some of your freinds in the Hillary camp just WTF is going on, and who the hell Hillary thinks she’s fooling. Perhaps she realizes that a growing number of voters are sick of subsidizing Israel’s crimes against humanity, but she can’t give voice to our concerns because she is too far into the AIPAC pockets. So, in character with the pathetic coward she has shown herself to be these last eight years, she chooses to say nothing.


  18. al75 says:

    The silence on Israel/Palestine by Clinton AND Obama (whom I support) is staggering.
    My assessment: it’s obvious that US blind support for the Israeli right is hurting US interests and the prospects for peace. Illegal settlements, routine harassment, land seizure, even murder, are not uncommon fates for Palestinians in the West Bank. Israeli policy is either dangerously near apartheid, or way over the line – depending on your point of view.
    But none of this is say-able in the US, no more than the folly of our Cuba policy is say-able – because to do so will draw the rage and wrath of a powerful political organization.
    Politicians as diverse as Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon payed a price for attempting to seriously broker peace in the middle east. Clinton was successful only when he had Rabin to lead the way — and Rabin of course was murdered by a rightest fanatic who is acclaimed as a national hero by 30% of the Israeli population.
    We’re trapped in a dangerous delusion, and confronting it — thus far — is an act of political suicide.
    P.S. Advance response, based on comments I have received when I have posted on this in the past. I don’t support Hitler. I am not an anti-semite. No, I REALLY do not support Hitler. I desire peace and security for Israeli citizens. No — I promise you — I don’t support Hitler.


  19. jon says:

    I think the commenters above have it largely correct. Hillary has acted very hawkish in most situations and positioned to be very close to Israel. Maybe that’s just her political calculus and she will govern differently. I doubt that.
    I think the pairing of Cuba and Israel/Palestine muddies the issue here. They are very different situations, with vastly different significance, difficulties and opportunities. I agree with your approach to Cuba, Steve. It is entirely within the gift of the US to begin to rectify the situation, and no reason we should not. We’ve been more proactive with Iran, Libya and North Korea than we have with Cuba. There’s just no excuse, and we’ve lost any leverage we might have had.
    However, Cuba really offers us far less in the way of opportunities than many other foreign policy initiatives might. We would be well advised to mend fences elsewhere in Central and South America to shore up our relations with trading partners. But there’s no reason we can’t do both and reap greater benefits.
    Israel/Palestine is a larger, more intractable problem with far larger and more complicated geopolitical considerations. Bill Clinton worked the problem far harder and more seriously than Bush has, and got close to a breakthrough. But the US has consistently put its thumb on the scale, which allowed Israel to take a harder and more extreme line, and showed them no downside to not reaching a workable agreement with the Palestinians. This appears to be starting to backfire on the Israelis.
    The US can try to guide the parties to agreements and resolution of their differences. Certainly, there are many areas where a start could be made, and progress made where there is common ground (semi-intentional non-pun). But success has been elusive for more than fifty years, and it may be a bit much to expect anyone to find the magic words in the next four years.
    I disagree with DonS here. The US has paid a substantial price, and will continue to, for appearing to be too closely aligned with Israel, in our relations with the Islamic world and in our access to middle eastern oil. There is enormous hostility towards the US for the widespread perception that it continues to do Israel’s bidding at the expense of the Palestinians, to the detriment of Islam, and for the threat it poses to other Islamic countries. Do you recall how the Prince went to Crawford, we had a hand holding photo op, Bush said how he would talk to our BFF Saudis to convince them to pump more oil and bring the price down? Do you remember what happened? Right, nothing at all.
    The US can reap benefits if it can be seen as an honest broker who is working for mutual benefit. But we are a very long way from that.


  20. Bartolo says:

    See DonS’ last graf. Voters in South Florida and supporters of Israel should not be aroused in a close election.


  21. DonS says:

    I particularly agree with Steve’s objection to Hillary’s use of the word “reassert” as inappropriate for the real world challenges.
    We have come to associate the themes of “muscular foreign policy” and “swaggering” with conservatives, neocons and Bush, but in truth it is a habit of most politicians. It is out of step with the world today. Hillary implies and endorsement rather than a critique.
    On Israel/Palestine, and on Cuba, there is no price to be paid for appearing tough. And I understand Hillary’s special need as a woman to fill that gap but she has done it and overdone it.
    This “toughness” is out of step with reality and I believe increasingly out of step with the American people who see through the charade of diverting our attention from the mess at home, increasingly hard on the average person, by stirring the foreign boogeyman scenario. (I might add, while the rich get richer)
    But I don’t expect to see any hint of genuine flexibility on either Cuba or Israel/Palestine until after the election. To repeat, there is no political price for beating these drums when both parties are essentially playing the same tune. And after the election? The same need exists for politicians to divert attention, and to swagger and look tough: it seems they think it’s their job description.


  22. steven w says:

    by all means meet with Hamas leaders, but i’d suggest that you don’t do so in gaza.
    …unless you have a death wish.


  23. weldon berger says:

    Steve, if neglecting to address the central question of the past 40 years in the Middle East was an oversight, then Clinton is clearly unqualified to conduct US foreign policy. If it isn’t an oversight, then perhaps she’s only unwilling.


  24. Joe M. says:

    Dear Mr. Clemons,
    Please be bold enough to meet with Hamas leaders while in occupied Palestine. I find it very disheartening that so many policy people advocate direct talks with groups such as Hamas, yet they themselves are to cowardly to do so. I don’t know whether you advocate talking to Hamas in general, but you would make an important contribution to peace to meet with them formally.
    Best of luck,


  25. Mr.Murder says:

    Yes, it’s clearly Hillary’s fault that Arafat rejected the offer her husband made while Israeli interests backed a damned theme park around the Sea of Galilee and lobbied against any other agreement in its place.
    Perhaps the name Abramoff rings a bell, no?
    Maybe one day some former spooks will clue you in bit more.


  26. Laney says:

    DonS writes: I need to see a whole lot more daylight between Hillary and AIPAC
    Space between Hillary and AIPAC? Pigs will fly.


  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Her fealty to AIPAC and the arms industry is well known. Its not like she can get on stage and admit she intends to keep slaughtering Muslims, Steve.


  28. DonS says:

    Would Hillary be as invested in getting a “real deal” on Israel/Palestine done “quickly” after the election (as Steve ‘reveals’) if she found herself in the position of majority leader? If so, indeed, why would she not have mentioned word one in the speech. Is she and Bill just using Steve as a convenient conduit; for what purpose?
    Steve is right to put Hillary on the spot. She’s pussyfooted around with AIPAC too long and needs to be more accountable.
    Stated another way, I need to see a whole lot more daylight between Hillary and AIPAC before I am willing to consider being nearly as generous as Steve is in this piece.
    Actually, I am about sick of making this all about Hillary, or all about Barack, or all about McCain. All of these gigantic egos need to get over themselves. They need to get over their identification with themselves as politicians,and take a humble step backwards to recognize they are servants not masters.
    Israel/Palestine as the graveman of American politics. Ironic, but true.
    Politics. What is it good for? Don’t get me started.


  29. JohnH says:

    Guy Saperstein dissects Hillary and her foreign policy team. http://www.alternet.org/election08/77691/
    1) “It is not clear where Hillary derives the foreign policy “experience” advantage she claims.”
    2) “Since entering the U.S. Senate, Clinton has been one of the most hawkish of Democrats.”
    3) The problem of Clinton’s poor instincts on foreign policy is compounded by the hawkish foreign policy advisors she has surrounded herself with, the most important of which are Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Lee Feinstein and Sandy Berger. Former Secretary of State Albright is the person of whom Colin Powell’s chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, once said, “She never met a military option she didn’t like. When I worked at Defense, she used to scare us.” Holbrooke has been described by pundits as, “The raging bull of U.S. diplomacy.” Apparently John Bolton types are far from unique to Republicans.
    It’s a pretty devastating critique. Does Steve concur with it? And if so, why has he been touting Clinton’s “experience?”
    Saperstein concludes, “For those voters who want American foreign policy to continue to trend in the direction of muscularity and intervention, they have their candidate — Hillary Clinton. For those who want change in American foreign policy, who think American militarism and interventionism need to be scaled back, Obama, and his foreign policy advisors, appear ready to begin those changes.”


  30. SomeCallMeTim says:

    **I have reason to believe that she might even be a “Nixon Goes to China” type on finally resolving this epic dispute**
    Maybe she borrowed Nixon’s secret plan to end the war, too. Did she keep patting her jacket pocket?


  31. ... says:

    thanks also for the commentary steve.. i think she intentionally avoided the israel/palestine issue.. it is the 500 lb gorilla in the room no one wants to talk about…


  32. Jason says:

    Thanks for the excerpt and commentary.


  33. Mr.Murder says:

    Perhaps we could just run on the ‘bomb Pakistan’ ticket, much more diplomatic.
    McCain bombing Iran, Obama bombing Pakistan, win/win situation for the neocons.


  34. Mr.Murder says:

    The Clinton years tried to get some kind of resolve done on that issue, lobby interests from here and abroad put a stop to that.
    The track record alone speaks for itself, there’s no comparison.


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