Friday, November 23, 2012

Hillary's Much-Praised Diplomatic Failure

Fresh from his victory in Gaza, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi quickly moved to consolidate his power.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, coming off a heady week of high-stakes diplomacy that thrust his government onto the international stage, pushed to consolidate his power at home with a set of decrees aimed at sidelining a judiciary that has been one of the last institutions challenging the Islamist government.

The declarations, which appeared to stun the Obama administration, brought into the open a long-simmering confrontation between Mr. Morsi's Islamist government and a judiciary that is populated with many secular-leaning judges appointed by the former regime of Hosni Mubarak.

U.S. officials on Thursday said there was no indication that Mr. Morsi was going to make this move when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Cairo Wednesday, and the administration widely praised the Egyptian president for brokering the cease-fire between the militant group Hamas and Israel that also involved the U.S. and a host of regional powers. The agreement ended more than a week of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and repeated bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli military.

Since Obama administration policy has wanted to enhance the power and prestige of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Egypt, one does not quite understand why it is surprised. Who did it think it was dealing with?

As for the overview of Hillary Clinton’s much-praised diplomatic failure, David Goldman offers the best analysis:

Hamas fires 275 rockets at Israel and is rewarded with de facto acceptance as a legitimate negotiating partner in the Middle East peace process, as well as with a relaxation of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza coast. Israel is prevented from exacting a price for Hamas’ actions sufficient to deter future attacks or degrade Hamas’ capabilities. In one stroke, the Obama administration has overturned thirty years of American policy, which rejected negotiations with Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Secretary of State Clinton, to be sure, did not negotiate directly with Hamas, but rather with Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, who supported Hamas unequivocally and encouraged its attacks on Israel. Morsi is the leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian chapter. It is astonishing that American officials and the world media have hailed Morsi simply because he first sicced his dog on his neighbor, and then called the dog off.

As readers of this blog know, Goldman has been among the best guides to current events in the Middle East. Again, I am happy to recommend his analysis. It’s well worth a read.

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