Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveling to the Middle East today

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to the Middle East

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 20, 2012

Secretary Clinton will depart today on travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She will meet with regional leaders, starting with our Israeli partners, to consult on the situation in Gaza.

Her visits will build on American engagement with regional leaders over the past days – including intensive engagement by President Obama with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi – to support de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns and restores a broader calm. As President Obama noted in his conversations with President Morsi, we commend Egypt’s efforts to de-escalate the situation and are hopeful that these efforts will be successful.

She will emphasize the United States’ interest in a peaceful outcome that protects and enhances Israel’s security and regional stability; that can lead to improved conditions for the civilian residents of Gaza; and that can reopen the path to fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for two states living in peace and security. She will continue to express U.S. concern for the loss of civilian life on both sides.

Source: state.gov

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Mother Jones: UPDATE 11, 7:00 a.m. PST, Tuesday, November 20: The United States is no longer standing on the sidelines of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Today, President Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to assist with negotiations. The United Nations secretary general is also expected to arrive today. According to The New York Times: “Mrs. Clinton will not meet with Hamas representatives on her trip, but with the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, which is at odds with the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip. “We do not engage directly with Hamas” White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben] Rhodes said.”

Mitt Romney: the GOP’s very own geopolitical disaster

Nicholas Kristof: “DIPLOMACY is a minefield, and Mitt Romney spent the last week blowing up his foreign policy credentials to be president. He raised doubts about his capacity to deal with global crises, and we were left hoping that if that 3 a.m. call ever went to him, he’d have set up call forwarding.

“The essential problem is that every time Romney touches foreign policy, he breaks things. He went on a friendly trip to Britain — the easiest possible test for a candidate, akin to rolling off a log — and endeared himself by questioning London’s readiness to host the Olympic Games. In the resulting firestorm, one newspaper, The Sun, denounced “Mitt the Twit.”

“[...] Then there was the Romney trip to Israel, where he insulted Palestinians and left some Jews uncomfortable with stereotyping by praising Jewish culture in the context of making money. Hmm.

“[...] Yet with the Middle East exploding in recent days because of a video insulting the Prophet Muhammad, Romney dived in with a statement that hit a trifecta: it was erroneous, inflammatory and offensive.”

And let’s not forget how Romney recently broke things with Vladimir Putin and Russia…

The Associated Press joins Team Romney: cleaning up Mitt’s messes

Josh Marshall takes the AP to task for either lying for Mitt Romney or for not challenging Romney’s obvious lies about the actual timeline of events regarding his criticisms of President Obama and the embassy attacks:

“…a new AP report suggests that the reason the Romney campaign repeatedly lied about the order of events in Egypt and Libya Tuesday night (US time) was because he wasn’t yet getting those briefings.

“…Romney came out late Tuesday evening with a scathing press release accusing the administration of offering sympathy to the attacks as its initial response to the attacks on US diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya. Of course, the statement referenced was issued by the Cairo Embassy before the attacks started. So the whole thing was a falsehood from the git-go — not even getting into the preposterous claim that the embassy’s press release constituted an apology.”

Marshall points out two items that prove Romney knew exactly what was happening prior to his statement released on Tuesday night:

  • No one needed a security briefing to know what had happened here. All the contemporaneous press reports (some noted here), which preceded Romney’s statement, noted that the statement came before the attacks.
  • Initial press reports can turn out to be wrong, of course. But you can’t claim that you were misinformed by press reports that didn’t exist.  

The AP report:

If foreign relations are “a distraction,” why’s Mitt always trying to insert himself into them?

Huffington Post: [Libyan and Egyptian] diplomatic outposts had been the site of violent protests on Tuesday evening, as fundamentalist mobs swarmed in rage over rumors about an unreleased American film — promoted in part by the Koran-burning preacher Terry Jones – that supposedly projected the Prophet Muhammad in a harshly critical light.

The violence took a domestic political turn, in part thanks to a statement released early Tuesday by the staff of the Cairo embassy, which condemned the film and the “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

So here comes Romney Shambles:

“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney said in the statement. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

[...] The Romney campaign’s statement seemed to be an attempt to capitalize on the appearance that the Obama administration… was capitulating to the sensitivities of an unruly Muslim crowd, rather than backing the right of an American citizen to release a disrespectful film.

But the statement criticized by the Romney campaign came early in the day, before the attacks on the two embassies, and was put out not by the White House, but by the Cairo embassy itself.

The White House later disavowed the statement as not approved by Washington, according to a senior administration official speaking to PoliticoObama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt also commented on the statement from the Romney campaign. “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack,” LaBolt said in a statement.

In a statement released late Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attack on the mission in Benghazi “in the strongest” terms, and added that while the U.S. “deplores” the denigration of religion depicted in the film, it would not countenance such violent responses.

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Clinton said. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

The Libyan government also released a statement condemning the attack on the American Consulate, calling it a “cowardly act.” And the Muslim Brotherhood, the ruling Islamist party in Egypt, said on its Twitter page that that it “regret the attacks on [the U.S. Embassy] by angry protesters, and we urge citizens to express their opinion peacefully.”

We don’t know much about Mitt and his specific foreign policies–or specifics on any other of other his plans and policies for that matter–but here’s one thing we do know: he’ll say anything to score political points with the extremists on the right, even if what he says is half-assed and ill-timed.

I wonder if that asshole Terry Jones feels at all responsible for the violence and the death of an American consulate worker? Does Romney wonder about that too, or is this kind of violence what they both privately hope for?

Meanwhile at the G8 in France…

Obama, Medvedev and Sarkozy join hands when they first arrive at the G8 Summit in Deauville, France The G8 has  pledged £12bn/$20bn to the Arab SpringThis money will come in the form of aid, loans, and debt relief for countries like Egypt and Tunisia transitioning to democratic rule in order to ensure that the processes aren’t held back by flagging economies. Photo Credit:  Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Read more at the Guardian.

via thepoliticalnotebook

Obama’s Egypt Strategy

The Vindication Of Obama’s Egypt Strategy? Andrew Sullivan notes:

While Marc Lynch emphasizes that there “is no question that the first, second and third drivers of this Egyptian revolution were the Egyptian people,” he still praises Obama’s handling of the situation:

The Obama administration … deserves a great deal of credit, which it probably won’t receive.  It understood immediately and intuitively that it should not attempt to lead a protest movement which had mobilized itself without American guidance, and consistently deferred to the Egyptian people.   Despite the avalanche of criticism from protestors and pundits, in fact Obama and his key aides — including Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power and many others — backed the Egyptian protest movement far more quickly than anyone should have expected.

Their steadily mounting pressure on the Mubarak regime took time to succeed, causing enormous heartburn along the way, but now can claim vindication.  By working carefully and closely with the Egyptian military, it helped restrain the worst violence and prevent Tiananmen on the Tahrir — which, it is easy to forget today, could very easily have happened.   No bombs, no shock and awe, no soaring declarations of American exceptionalism, and no taking credit for a tidal wave which was entirely of the making of the Egyptian people — just the steadily mounting public and private pressure on the top of the regime  which was necessary for the protestors to succeed.

And Bush’s violent means of spreading Democracy may have helped in a roundabout way too.