“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Memphis, Tennessee, April 3, 1968
“[T]oday, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I’m not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime.” President Obama speaking in Prague, April 5, 2009
“I do know also that the future holds the possibility of progress, if not in our lifetimes then certainly in our children’s.” Hillary Clinton addressing the American Task Force for Peace in Washington DC, October 20, 2010
Is this the star by which President Obama plots his course: the promise of destinations that others must reach? Realism that just looks like cynicism, or cynicism dressed up as realism?
Just over a year ago, he sounded quite emphatic on the issue of the Middle East conflict — the issue on which Clinton now hints that progress may have to wait a generation.
Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
I say sounded emphatic, but here’s the clue revealing Obama’s own lack of commitment: he leaves himself out. He is the observer rather than the agent. He doesn’t make demands.
What’s the use of an American president who can see the promised land but has no idea how to get there?
Less than two years after making Middle East peace central to his foreign policy agenda, Obama’s efforts have come to nothing.
The Washington Post reports:
In perhaps the shortest round of peace negotiations in the history of their conflict, talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have ground to a halt and show little sign of resuming.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas haven’t met since Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton brought the two together on Sept. 15 in Jerusalem, two weeks after President Obama launched the resumption of negotiations on Palestinian statehood in Washington with much fanfare, including the presence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II of Jordan.
Now, the nearly six-week pause threatens to become permanent.
Pressure to restart the talks eased after the Arab League said it would wait a month – until Nov. 8 – before ending Abbas’s mandate for negotiations, thus pushing the issue beyond the U.S. midterm elections. But if Republicans score big gains, some Israelis argue, that could limit Obama’s ability to pressure Israel to make concessions. U.S. peace envoy George J. Mitchell is supposed to return to the region, but no date has been set.
In a speech Wednesday to Palestinian peace activists, Clinton acknowledged that “I cannot stand here tonight and tell you there is some magic formula that I have discovered that will break through the current impasse.”
While the administration has set a goal of achieving an agreement less than 11 months from now, Clinton at one point suggested a much longer time frame: “The future holds the possibility of progress, if not in our lifetimes, then certainly in our children’s.”