President Obama designated George Mitchell his special envoy to the Jews and the Arabs because he had experience with them. Of course, Mitchell's familiarity with the Middle East was the familiarity of utter failure. No matter. Obama couldn't have sent George Tenet again ... or, God forbid, Anthony Zinni.
With apologies to Winston Churchill, President Obama may not have presided over the beginning of the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last week in New York, but he seems finally to have marked the end of an embarrassing beginning to his Middle East diplomacy. The president and his senior advisors came to office nine months ago eager to say and do what George W. Bush didn’t.
Looks like this week's climate banter wasn't totally substance-free. Earlier today, G20 governments finally agreed to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, which jack up demand for oil, gas, and coal by artificially lowering prices. The phase-out would happen in the "medium term," with no specific timetables (countries like India want a slow transition so poor people don't get hit with a swift price spike). Still, it's a decent first step.
I spent a decent chunk of my morning navigating the U.N.'s press credential system and, after filling out the same computerized form for the fourth or fifth time in the past three days (which I fear sheds some light on U.N. peacekeeping operations), and later seeing a Japanese reporter rush out of a bathroom stall with his pants at his knees, for reasons unclear, I made it inside to hear Barack Obama speak. It was an elegant speech, as always, if not a terribly profound or historic-seeming one.
In 1949, a year after the state of Israel was created, its Chief Rabbi visited President Harry Truman in Washington. Isaac Halevi Herzog told Truman that his role in helping the Jewish state achieve its independence was not just a matter of politics and diplomacy; it was a divine mission.
The city of Cambridge announces a 12-member national panel to study the Harvard professor's arrest. One member notable to readers of this website: oft-quoted former Clinton Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller. No doubt Miller will find that the Arab-Israeli conflict was child's play compared to race and class politics in Cambridge.
One remarkable thing about watching the Middle East is how what’s celebrated as brilliant in Europe or America is errant nonsense. Writing such stuff makes people successful and gives them an audience of millions.
He's tall, trim, with shaved head, a confident demeanor, wearing a dark turtleneck, kind 'a funny and Yale Law School. Cool. Co-o-o-l. Or maybe even wow! He's Van Jones, and he resigned on Saturday as what the White House called its "czar" for the environment. There are actually many czars at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in this administration, and I wonder why the historical resonance of the word doesn't just give the Obama crowd the creeps. Unless, of course, they want to govern like czars ... and czarinas. To be sure, Mr.