Secretary of State Hilary Clinton doesn't worry anymore about whether Barack Obama is ready to take those 3:00 AM phone calls, and she's the one making them. Watch here as Rachel Maddow, in a segment done just before it became official, reports on the intensive diplomacy waged by the President and his Secretary of State in bringing about the Gaza Cease Fire.
Geography dictates that the locally interested parties in Gaza affairs must be Egypt, Israel, and Hamas, the elected government of Gaza. The problems confronting efforts to negotiate peaceful outcomes in this region of the World are many, not the least of which is that the U.S. won't talk to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization.
Despite these obstacles, because of the relentless and totally engaged efforts of our President and Secretary of State, this phase of the Gaza conflict ended with all three sides winning and the USA, too.
Israel got the rocket attacks to stop. Hamas got the Israeli headlock to ease off a bit and increased international stature.. Egypt got a strengthened relationship with the U.S. and backng for actions to reach a long term answer for Gaza. The USA got a foothold onto a possible new path for addressing a better solution for, at least, the Gaza piece of the Israel/Palestine impasse. I have wondered, for example, whether annexation of Gaza to Egypt has come under discussion. Regardless of what, if any, assurances changed hands, the Egyptian President has been emboldened to make a very substantial power grab, causing some to call him the new "pharaoh".
I have written before about my admiration for the foreign policy skills and accomplishments of the Obama Administration. Even though we are looking at a work in progress and the outcome remains fraught with peril, my admiration for the Administrations foreign policy still grows after seeing what has happened in this round in Gaza and Egypt.
Follow me out into the tall grass if you would like to dig a little deeper and talk about it a little more.
We don't really know much about just what sorts of assurances were exchanged between Secretary Clinton and her opposite, Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mohamed K. Amr, a very interesting guy whose diplomatic service includes many years in the United States, either at the United Nations or at the Egyptian Embassy during the Bush 41 Administration. Here is an excerpt from Secretary Clinton's official remarks at the announcement of the Gaza Cease Fire:
This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace. The United States welcomes the agreement today for a ceasefire in Gaza. For it to hold, the rocket attacks must end, a broader calm return.That is terribly vague, of course, but that's diplomacy for you. What really grabs my attention is what people do, in this case, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, himself a pretty interesting person, a former NASA rocket scientist and materials engineer. During the final ten years under Mubarek, preceding the January 25 Revolution, Dr. Morsi also led the Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary bloc.
The people of this region deserve the chance to live free from fear and violence, and today’s agreement is a step in the right direction that we should build on. Now we have to focus on reaching a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security, dignity, and legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike. President Morsi and I discussed how the United States and Egypt can work together to support the next steps in that process. In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners across the region to consolidate this progress, improve conditions for the people of Gaza, and provide security for the people of Israel. Ultimately, every step must move us toward a comprehensive peace for all the people of the region.
Dr. Morsi has just made an enormous power grab by throwing off judicial or parliamentary oversight of the actions of his government. He had previously sacked the top ranks of the Army, formerly the backbone of the state. He had campaigned for the Presidency on the slogan: "The feloul will not govern Egypt." "Feloul" means the remnants of the Mubarek regime.
Of course, a perfect outcome in matters as complex as these is not the same as a good one and there is a big imperfection here because Egyptian democracy still hangs in the balance. If Dr. Morsi uses his more or less unlimited powers as a temporary expedient the way that General Douglas Macarthur did during the U.S. occupation of Japan after World War II, in order to bring about the establishment of representative government, it will be good for Egyptian democracy in the long run. Otherwise, it could turn out to be just another case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss for the poor Egyptian people. Regardless of that, a lasting cease fire seems like an excellent thing for everyone involved and is a necessary step toward further progress. American leadership made the cease fire happen.