One Reason Hillary Could be Extraordinary at State

Her understanding of Middle East peacemaking is second-to-none, IMHO. Two years ago, I interviewed the front-runners for the Democratic nomination on a range of foreign policy issues. Obama was smart and savvy and reasonable and seemed to have, generally speaking, excellent judgment, but he was still unsteeped in some of the issues; Edwards was a dope; Clinton, however, was something of a wonder: her simultaneous mastery of the smallest details and of the biggest themes was beyond impressive. Her uncommon understanding of the Middle East could truly revive peacemaking. Here's a brief excerpt from the interview.  This answer came in response to the question, "Would you have a different approach to peacemaking in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and would you think it necessary to put some light between the U.S. and Israel?" Please, note, in particular, her acute understanding of what makes negotiations work, at the end of her answer:

"I reject that. It's fallacious logic. I don't think you reject the commitments and relationships that are rooted in common values. Israel is a democracy and it is an ally. It is a beacon of freedom and it is a historical necessity.  For me this is a given. But that doesn't mean you have to present solid support for Israel in a a way that alienates and rejects the feelings of other peoples in the world. And I thought my husband did a pretty good job of that. I thought he had a rock-solid commitment to Israel, a guarantee of Israel's security. The Israelis believed it. We were last there in November and people were saying to him, "Come and run for President here,' because he has such a deep connection and empathy, and I feel it and share it.

When he had a process going that kept Israelis and Palestinians talking to each other, people didn't die. There are those who say that that doesn't resolve the issue, so big deal, people didn't die, big deal that for a couple of years not a single Israeli was killed, big deal that the Palestinians were actually starting businesses. Well, I think it was a big deal.  A process is better than no process, as long as everybody knows going into it where you stand. We stand foursquare as a guarantor of Israel's security and in making common cause with Israeli democratic human values.

We would love to see a two-state solution where the Palestinians could actually be living and planning for a future in a way that would enhance their prospects. That would be great... I have said over and over that I support the decisions that are made by the government and the people of Israel who are on the front lines. I have said that during Labor governments, Likud governments, Kadima governments.  I think that's the level of commitment we need to show. You do not get people into a process or to the table to make any kind of tough decisions, including compromises, unless the other side knows that your commitment to Israel is unshakable.