Tuesday, November 20, 2012

the u.s. is not in a position to broker a solution

i'm all for the U.S. trying to secure a ceasefire in gaza. but i just don't see how this can work:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads to the Mideast Tuesday to help achieve a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Clinton will meet with regional leaders in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo. Clinton will be speaking with the Palestinian Authority rather than Hamas, which the United States does not recognize diplomatically.
the conflict is between israel and hamas, plus a variety of other palestinian factions that are independent with hamas but currently fighting along side hamas in gaza. however, those other factions do not include the ramallah-based palestinian authority. for there to be a ceasefire all of the entities that are firing must agree to cease. so if you want to broker a ceasefire, you need to talk to each firing entity to convince them to stop firing.

but clinton isn't planning to do that. instead she is only going to ask only one of the entities that is firing (i.e. israel) to cease, while also talking to other entities that are not firing (i.e. egypt and the palestinian authority) just to prove a point that the u.s. does not like to talk to those other icky groups.but those other icky groups happen to be the ones that are firing! you can't broker a ceasefire unless you at least ask them to stop. not talking to them may prove a point, but it doesn't serve the cause of getting a ceasefire.

maybe the u.s. has decided for policy reasons that isolating the icky groups by not talking to them is an important goal. but every policy decision has its advantages and disadvantages. among the disadvantages to refusing to talk to someone is it means you can't broker deals involving them anymore.

okay, so maybe i'm over-simplifying things a bit. egypt could be a conduit for passing on messages to the icky groups. no doubt, clinton hopes to use egypt as a stand-in for those icky groups, where she can indirectly communicate with them by having morsi pass messages back and forth between the u.s. and the factions in gaza. but isn't that a form of communication with the icky groups? what's the difference between talking through a go-between and talking directly, if your policy says no-talking?

and talking to the palestinian authority as part of a ceasefire discussions is just useless. the PA is not a party to the conflict and, unlike egypt, is not an effective go-between either.