Scowcroft, Brzezinski, Hamilton, Kassebaum Baker, Hills & Others Call for Syria and Hamas to Be Engaged in Israel-Palestine Effort


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Later today (Wednesday), an interesting letter that I will post at 2 pm will be sent to President Bush outlining key requirements necessary to secure any real success in the November Israel-Palestine Peace Summit that President Bush and Condoleezza Rice will orchestrate in Annapolis.
The signers of the letter are diverse and will send a powerful, provocative message to President Bush.
Signers include former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US Trade Representative Carla Hills, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and US Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering, former Senator Nancy Kassebaum Baker, former House International Relations Committee Chiarman Lee Hamilton, former Counselor to President Kennedy Theodore Sorensen, and former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker.
The letter essentially makes the point that America — in addition to the Israelis and Palestinians — can ill afford yet another staged “epic effort designed to fail’. In the past, America could earnestly attempt to negotiate solutions in this unresolved Middle East mess but still could ‘afford to fail’.
Today, when as Zbigniew Brzezinski has said, America’s engagement in the Middle East is the defining challenge it faces in this era — another failure will come at the very high cost of further eroding American credibility internationally.
What may be the most remarkable thing about this bipartisan statement is not only who is saying it but what they are prepared to say.
In the letter to Bush, beyond calling on the US and the parties to focus on the outlines of a final status settlement, the co-signatories defy the administration’s views by calling for an end to the policy of isolating Hamas and for a shift in policy toward Syria — including both US/Syria engagement and renewal of Syrian/Israeli negotiations.
Colin Powell — who is not (yet) a signatory — has also called for communication with Hamas, and the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group called for engaging Syria. This letter makes the point even more strongly.
Journalists and bloggers interested in participating on the conference call can contact me before 1:30 pm Eastern time — and I will have my colleagues get you information to listen in to a call with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, and Lee Hamilton.
The conference call will take place at 2 p.m. — when I will post their letter to President Bush.
This effort has been jointly organized by the US/Middle East Project Inc., the International Crisis Group, and the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program. (My pal and colleague Daniel Levy has been the lead on pulling this together for the New America Foundation.)
— Steve Clemons


11 comments on “Scowcroft, Brzezinski, Hamilton, Kassebaum Baker, Hills & Others Call for Syria and Hamas to Be Engaged in Israel-Palestine Effort

  1. Matthew says:

    Steve: What is the game plan? If Bush wanted this conference to fail, like the Iraq War UN track, it would be understandable to omit the “heavy lifting.”
    How does a failed Israel-Palestine summit help America?


  2. Wendell says:

    Once upon a time, something like this would have been a real game-changer–and a red flag that the concern of the letter was going very badly.
    Now, if it even gets by Josh Bolton to GWB–which I doubt it will–we all know that it will be greeted as just another “flaming turd”, and entirely disregarded.
    Your post above, about Ushakov, proves that this will be another “epic effort designed to fail”.


  3. Ric says:

    easy e has it exactly right. Bush will pay as much attention to this as he did to the Iraq Survey Group.
    The definition of insanity is expecting a different reaction to the same stimulus.


  4. EA says:

    The sooner we reach the end of 2008, the better. Things with Bush, et al, are so beyond remedy it is probably better for them do NOTHING than to do anything. Enough harm has been done for a few generations. This latest statement from another group of intelligent beings reflects the true Sisyphean nature of dealing with the current administration. What residue they leave wherever they tread!


  5. Carroll says:

    Regarding Daniel Levy, I have been reading his blog and although he is firmly attached to Israel and doesn’t want to see Israel lose US favor, he does have the correct view that Israel cannot continue it’s outlaw behavior or occupation wihout eventually going down. But until congress starts paying attention to the Levy’s and not AIPAC he’s swimming upstream.


  6. JOSH says:

    What about Bin Ladin and Nazrallah? And what’s the dif? Shame, shame, shame on those signatories – they will shame Bush more than anything yet.


  7. Carroll says:

    I applaud their effort.
    Will be interesting to see the letter, which I am sure will be denounced by the usual suspects in congress.
    I don’t see a lot of hope for any settlement though because no one has the political balls to to withhold the carrots and apply the necessary sticks to Israel. In Israel’s 50 year history it has never abided by or carried out even the very few requirements the US has made on ceasing the expansion of illegal settlements. They have either defied those requirements or out right lied about their compliance.
    The only bright light I see is that the US public is becoming educated on and disgusted with both the Israel=Palestine conflict and the US political corruption on this issue.
    I have been following the public’s reaction W&M’s “Israel Lobby” and saw their book interview at Politics and Prose in DC. It was crammed so full it’s wasn’t even standing room only. During the q&a one man stood and started spouting the usual poor Israel is just defending itself and he got loudly “booed” by the entire room.
    I don’t think anything about Israel will change until the US public starts punishing the politicans for their part in this never ending hypocritical horror.


  8. ManagedChaos says:

    Hmmm, I thought the road to Jerusalem went through Baghdad….or was it Tehran…or Damascus? We’re manly macho Americans, we don’t ask for directions; nor do we admit our failings. Stay the course I say. Oooh, goodie goodie, my AIPAC check just came in the mail.


  9. Druthers says:

    When an administration is following a rigid ideological path as the present one does and thus far has shown no inclination whatsoever to heed or even listen to outside advice, enclosed as they are in their secrecy and power dominating universe, hope seems a dim light at the very far end of the tunnel.
    So far nothing indicates that the administration is concerned with anything other than their cataclysmic and almost suicidal flight forward. They never solicit advice from others, with the exception of Kissinger who is unwelcome, and that is an understatement, in most parts of the world…
    This said, if anything can be accomplished to avoid a total disaster, the signatories of the letter referenced here do well to try since Congress which should be the counter-balance to this unbridled executive has proved itself utterly incompetent to fulfil the role ascribed to it in the Constitution and refuses to act…refuses even to try.
    Thanks for this most interesting post.
    Daniel Levy’s article on the Israel Lobby on his blog “Prospects for Peace” is a must read!


  10. Steve Clemons says:

    easy e — you seem to be on a cynical edge tonight. I think that any letter featuring Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Scowcroft, Carla Hills, Pickering, Volker and others that says we must engage Hamas is not flogging a dead horse. But thanks for your thoughts,
    Steve Clemons


  11. easy e says:

    Think Baker-Hamilton. Any reason why Shrubby and his neocon handlers would respond to this “provocative message” any more than others? You’re beating a dead horse or insulting the intelligence of the TWN community.


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