The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Hillary Clinton's trip to the Middle East

with 2 comments


Abu Dhabi-based paper The National has an interesting write-up by Dr. James Zogby on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent trip to the Middle East, an obviously important one for the fledgling Obama administration and their future efforts in the region.

Some choice quotes that I found to be of interest:

She was constructive on many fronts: chiding Israel for its failure to open the borders of Gaza enough to allow the transport of relief assistance and supplies; publicly criticising Israeli settlements as “unhelpful, and not in keeping with obligations entered into under the Roadmap”; and expressing concern with the Jerusalem municipality’s plans to demolish Palestinian homes, noting that “the ramifications” of this action go “far beyond the individuals and families affected”.

and some interesting remarks about the Gaza assault and Palestinian situation:

Mrs Clinton declared: “A child growing up in Gaza without shelter, healthcare or an education has the same right to go to school, see a doctor and live with a roof over her head as a child growing up in your country or mine. 

A mother and father in the West Bank struggling to fulfil their dreams for their children have the same right as parents anywhere else in the world to a good job, a decent home and the tools to achieve greater prosperity and peace. Progress towards the goals we seek here today is more likely to grow out of opportunity than futility; out of hope than out of misery.”

Dr. Zogby rounds out his article with the following words of, what I think is, wisdom:

Digging ourselves out of the deep hole dug during the past eight years will not be easy. Political realities in the US and on all sides in the Middle East will require that peacemakers confront real problems and ingrained bad behaviour. 

The process will be slow and, of necessity, require incremental movement and careful management. During this period, substantive and constructive criticism has a role in pushing the effort forward, but not uninformed grousing.

At the end of the day, i think Zogby is right. I’ve heard a lot of sniping from both sides about this issue, be it ultra-right wing Republican hand-wringing to the tune of “Obama has gone too soft on the Arabs, Israel’s destruction is now assured, he’s going to let the terrorists win, etc.” or similarly shrill yelling on the left about how Obama/Clinton are just echoing Bush/Rice policies in the MidEast, how nothing is going to change, etc.

The fact of the matter is, change in this region is going to be politically difficult for any US President and waiting for miracles to happen is counter-productive. This system of two party democracy means that any party in power will have to somehow ocus on consolidating power, budgets have to be approved by Congress, as do many other things, so the matter is not in Obama’s hands alone and he has to be politically clever about how he goes about it, as he was during the Gaza debacle.

I am still patient enough to give this Administration more time. Let’s continue to wait and see.


Written by alexlobov

March 9, 2009 at 6:25 am

2 Responses

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  1. Great post! I think Hillary Clinton is approaching this issue in the right way. Her comments show some constructive criticism of both sides and I think this is great, and what is absolutely necessary in our approach. However, I do wish Clinton would do something more about human rights in China, and also about the escalating conflict in Darfur regarding the ICC. The U.S. is not taking tough stances on these situations, and I wish Sec Clinton would do something about it and be more outspoken and proactive, putting human rights first on her agenda.


    March 11, 2009 at 9:10 am

  2. I agree with you, especially about Darfur. While I can understand the economy-related trepidation that is associated with getting tough on China, there is absolutely no reason that Sudan should not be chased. Perhaps the Administration has other things on it’s plate right now, especially in terms of foreign relations (trade issues related to the financial crisis, Israel-Palestine, Afpak, etc.) but what’s happening in Darfur, and indeed in much of Central Africa (Congo, anyone?) needs to be stopped. It’s a shame that globally we show a short-sightedness for human suffering whereby our care extends only to those in the spotlight on CNN, “white” people or nations where we have interests. A human life is equal to another, regardless if it’s a New Yorker in the Twin Towers, a child in Darfur, a Gazan or a Tibetan.


    March 11, 2009 at 11:05 am

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