A group of U.S. foreign affairs mandarins have urged President Obama to engage with Hamas in talks to bring them into the Palestinian political fold:
Nine former senior US officials and one current adviser are urging the Obama administration to talk with leaders of Hamas to determine whether the militant group can be persuaded to disarm and join a peaceful Palestinian government, a major departure from current US policy.
The bipartisan group, which includes economic recovery adviser Paul A. Volcker and former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, made the recommendation in a letter handed to Obama days before he took office…
The group is preparing…to release a report outlining a proposed US agenda for talks aimed at bringing all Palestinian factions into the Mid east peace process, according to Henry Siegman, the president of the US/Middle East Project, who brought the former officials together and said the White House promised the group an opportunity to make its case in person to Obama.
…Signatories included former House International Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat; former United Nations ambassador Thomas Pickering from the first Bush administration; former World Bank president James Wolfensohn; former US trade representative in the Ford administration Carla Hills; Theodore Sorensen, former special counsel to President John F. Kennedy; and former Republican senators Chuck Hagel and Nancy Kassebaum Baker.
This, in case any of you have forgotten, is why we elected this guy; and why he scares the living daylights out of the Israel lobby. Imagine a president willing to reopen the terribly sensitive and almost taboo subject of whether we should give Hamas the cold shoulder. Perhaps, just perhaps Obama is willing to question support of a policy to stifle Hamas and Gaza which has proven an abject failure. That takes guts and let me tell you he’s gonna need ’em to solve this sucker.
This is a perfect example of the type of self-defeating sentiment that got us into the fix we’ve been in for the past eight years:
Chuck Freilich, Israel’s former deputy national security adviser, said in a recent interview that talks with Hamas would be a waste of time. “I think they [the Obama administration] are going to find very quickly that the reason the Bush administration didn’t do anything for seven years was there wasn’t anything to do.”
God help us, this guy better be wrong or we’re in for a long, hard four years.
I find the thinking behind the letter to be quite compelling:
Siegman said the letter, which was handed to Obama by Volcker…said the administration should “at least explore the possibility” that Hamas, which took control of the Palestinian territory of Gaza after elections in 2006, might be willing to transition into a purely political party…
Thank heaven for realists and pragmatists.