Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hillary Clinton and the Gaza Cease-Fire


As she was  completing her first year of service at the State Department, a senior official expressed surprise that Mme. Secretary had not adopted a signature issue.  Many of us, observing from a distance as opposed to within the pea soup of Foggy Bottom, were surprised that a senior staffer could not see what was so eminently clear to us:  That women and girls, their safety, education, place in society and in the economy were her central  issue.  Over the past nearly four years her persistence on these issues and her inclusion of the LGBT community under the umbrella could not possibly be missed.

Why is it that the officials who work closely with her do not trust or "get" what faithful Hillary followers immediately grasp?

An unidentified official told CNN's Jill Dougherty of the behind-the-scenes doings during last week's Middle East shuttle mission in this excellent article: Behind the scenes of Clinton’s “shuttle diplomacy”.

Most Hillary loyalists will not be surprised to read that the deal was far from wrapped up by the time the wheels of her "Big Blue Bird" hit the tarmac in Israel.  We didn't think it was.   It was hands-on and very specific work.
“You could not have a more textbook case of on-the-ground diplomacy, where she is literally word-smithing the final cease-fire documents with both the prime minister of Israel and the president of Egypt,” the State Department official says.
She was “sitting there with the paper, with a pen in her hand, making small edits, underlining things, passing words back and forth, debating phrases. And all the while, also stepping back and saying ‘What’s the larger strategic picture here? Why is it so important for you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, to close this out? Why is it important for you, President Morsy, to close this out?’”
By the same token I expect many will, like me, be shaking their heads that her senior officials still do not have faith in her resolve when she is meticulously negotiating the verbiage between the parties.
“We were taking a risk in doing this,” this official says. “We were putting both her credibility on the line and the United States’ credibility on the line, and ultimately we decided the stakes were too high not to do it, but there was a very real risk that this would not succeed.”
Amid the nail-biting by her staff, Clinton was “resolute,” the  official says. “She thought this was the right course of action for Israel’s interest, for regional stability. She felt at the end of the day that would shine through if you could get people focused on the big picture, and that’s what she was trying to do.”
That she managed, at  the end of the day, to accomplish  what she had set out to do may have surprised some,  but for those of us accustomed to seeing Hillary Clinton with a look of determination on her pretty face and a pen in her hand, it came as no surprise.   We knew she would do it.  We had faith.