Hillary Clinton At It Again in Africa…This Time, Talking about Elections…

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Can somebody explain all this action in Africa?

Since the Congo incident, the State Department has been scrambling around trying to put Hillary Clinton’s angry outburst to rest.  According to the Washington Post’s Washington Wire, the State Department has reversed itself on how to explain the incident away.  “Bad translation has now given way to the questionner’s “nerves.”

But now, there’s another incident.  As reported in The Times (UK):

August 13, 2009

Dodgy elections? We have them too, Hillary Clinton tells Nigerians

Hillary Clinton has risked provoking American conservatives by drawing a parallel between political corruption in Nigeria and George W Bush’s contested election win in Florida in 2000.

The US Secretary of State made the comparison while talking to an audience of activists in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, yesterday, during an 11-day tour of Africa.

Then, she went into more detail:

But she added: “Our democracy is still evolving. You know, we had all kinds of problems in some of our past elections, as you might remember.

“In 2000, our presidential elections came down to one state where the brother of the man running for president was the governor of the state. So we have our problems, too.”

The State Department went into scramble mode:

State Department officials defended Mrs Clinton’s remarks, saying that she had not been making a partisan point but one about the peaceful transfer of power in the US.

“The point she is making is that it’s about a disputed result and then the willingness of the candidates to accept a flawed result rather than, say resort to violence,” an official said.

Now, I don’t give two hoots about offending “conservatives,” but the crap coming out of State about a “peaceful transfer of power” bugs me. Yeah, those thugs sent down to Florida from D.C. were really inspiring, weren’t they? But, of course, thuggery in the current Chicago on the Potomac crowd is de rigeur these days, so I guess we can forget 2000…And calling 2000 a “flawed result” is so, so…civilized!!  Makes me want to wretch at the new myth making about 2000…

So our democracy is “evolving?”   To me, it seems more like it’s DEVOLVING…

Of course, what bugs me even more is that Clinton seems to be careful about avoiding any mention of  the Democrat’s own primaries last year and the problems with THAT whole process…Talk about IRONY!!!

I don’t know why Clinton is blabbing so much in Africa these days, but something must be going on in her psyche.  Hillary seems to have contracted the contagion of nonsense that prevails these days.

As  for MY psyche, at this point I’m so totally disgusted with everything about the Obama Administration that I want to bury myself in a carton of ice cream and stay in the house watching movies all day…anything to avoid what the media may say on this latest matter, which will be another source of diversion from critical issues if and when the chorus begins…

The Complicated Diplomatic Life of Hillary Clinton (UPDATE 1X: Clinton on the Defensive in Congo over Bill’s “Presence”; UPDATE 2X: Bill Off the Leash?; UPDATE 3X: Video of Clinton Congo Outburst, Glenn Beck Comments)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

UPDATE 1: 8/10/09 PM:

Apparently, Hillary Clinton IS getting touched by the recent focus on her husband–in Congo, no less!  This is SO NOT GOOD! And in so many ways…for women, for Clinton herself, for the country…is the final set-up in place for her to leave? A large part of her visit to Congo is going to focus on the mass rapes in the country and human rights issues, but by the time the following report gets to the U.S. that emphasis will probably be lost.

Note: I’ve deleted the original excerpt after seeing that it was from the AP….replaced by the story from the France24/AFP:

Clinton pushes rights issues in Congo, Angola

snip

Clinton faced a flurry of questions from the students, not all to her liking. At one point, she showed a rare flash of public anger as a young man asked for the views of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

“My husband is not the secretary of state, I am,” Clinton said forcefully.

The AP story also quoted her as saying she wouldn’t be “channeling” Bill Clinton and described her response as being “snapped.”

The Voice of America news omits the exchange and the BBC story only cites the last line/quotation (without the “she snapped” or the “forcefully.”)

UPDATE 2

Albert R. Hunt, Exec. Editor for Washington for Bloomberg News opined 8/10:

Big Dog May Not Return to Leash After Pyongyang

What will this Pandora’s Box yield?

UPDATE 3   8/11/09   AM

From the AP story at FOX News, the video…and, as predicted, this is going viral. Glenn Beck was razzing Clinton about this on his AM radio show just now and will sending it in his newsletter.  He did make one comment that makes a lot of sense: that Clinton must really regret that she took the job.  Whatever it is, she’s cleary frustrated as hell.  Beck also played a tape of her during the campaign in which she shouts about how “Amercans have a right to debate” and how “debate is patriotic” (in reference to the Bush Administration). Beck mocked her “gentle” style and compared it to her outburst in Congo.  He also commented on her absence from the trip to Russia and the N. Korean business.  He was implying that she was being cut out of the loop.   He was caustic, of course, but an awful lot of it was spot on.  Especially when he finished up by saying that the Obama/ACORN machine had taken down the Clinton machine–that’s how scary these people (Obama people)  are.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “untitled“, posted with vodpod

***

ORIGINAL POST BEGINS HERE (Touching on what’s been brewing and finally came out today, as reported above.)”

This is a complicated post that has evolved over several days observation…

To start,  back on Tuesday, 8/4/09,  I posted a little comment over at the TD Blog’s open thread on Bill Clinton’s mission to N. Korea to free Al Gore’s journalists/reporters  from Current TV (or whatever they are).  I commented:

I expect to hear at some point that Bill’s success shows that Hillary sucks at being SOS…

So, lo and behold, I listened to the report on the “rescue” the next  morning on the BBC World Service news bulletin (at 1400 UTC)  and at the very end, the throwaway comment by a reporter on the phone (a British reporter, not an American) was (sic) “What’s interesting is that SOS Hill Clinton is married to Bill Cinton and he accomplished what she couldn’t.”  The AP on Thursday (8/6) in an analysis piece (can’t quote them) and the L.A. Times in a news story that, of course, includes “analysis” used the word “overshadow” in their post-mission coverage.

Meanwhile, over at the BBC’s “Have Your Say” page, the teaser is “Should Africa Listen to Hillary Clinton?”

Should Africa listen to Hillary Clinton?

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun a tour of Africa, saying improving democracy is the key to boosting trade and development. But should Africa follow her advice? (more)

Gee, I thought she was representing the Obama Administration/the United States–why the “personalization” of her foreign policy trip?

Well, I guess it’s understandable, since Clinton has personalized some of her rhetoric, notably her comments in late July regarding North Korea. From the detailed coverage of the spat at India’s IBNLive:

“Maybe it’s the mother in me, the experience I’ve had with small children and teenagers and people who are demanding attention, Don’t give it to them,” she said in the interview.

She also said the North Koreans were like “little children” who “had no friends left.”

I have no no problem to the reference to motherhood, in general, but …did Clinton’s acid comments really help the situation?

North Korea’s Foreign Minister issued a scathing response. From the KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY of DPRK(Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)

She said during her recent trip to India that “north Korea should not receive the attention it is seeking through behavior like missile launches,” likening Pyongyang’s behavior to that of unruly children. Her words suggest that she is by no means intelligent.

The DPRK has taken necessary measures to protect the nation’s sovereignty and right to existence to cope with the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat, not to attract anyone’s attention.

snip

We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community.

Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.

Anyone making misstatements has to pay for them.

While some stories in the Western press called N. Korea’s personal attack “bizarre”  (See: the Agence France-Press report at News.com.au titled  North Korea in bizarre Hillary Clinton attack ),  over at IBNLive there’s a vote up on Clinton, up or down which is basically tied, and also a place where, among several choices,  you can give her flowers or throw tomatoes, complete with a “live action” tomato throw at Clinton.  Currently the tomatoes are the most popular choice.

The result of this spat was that the 6-party talks were declared “dead”….but the rhetoric was toned down and backchannel work to reset the playing field  was undertaken and then, enter Bill Clinton and the freeing of the Current TV writers.

Early on,  Asia Times Online, the “private” nature of Bill’s N. Korean rescue mission was nabbed as a “fantasy”: See Dear Leader stars in Bill and Hillary show for a good read.

Clinton was just the high-profile visitor North Korea hoped to entice from Washington in return for handing over the journalists.

Why bother to pretend otherwise, after wife Hillary, as secretary of state, had laid the groundwork by saying that maybe Ling and Lee had made a mistake and strayed across the Tumen River border with China when North Korean soldiers picked them up on March 17? And hadn’t Hillary already expressed an apology for the mishap after having said earlier the two had done nothing wrong?

The Independent Opinion Page seemed to think everything is OK for Hillary:

Yet one perk now stands out. How many other jobs would enable a woman to send her philandering husband to North Korea? Many women have fantasised about it. Mrs Clinton has actually done it. Take note Harriet Harman. Some sisters, at least, are letting their menfolk know who wears the (pantsuit) trousers.

Well, that BBC reporter quoted up top doesn’t seem to echo this shallow assessment. Neither did the AP or the L. A. Times and other media outlets. From the  above L.A. Times story,

It once again led to him overshadowing his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, even as she is on her own diplomatic trip to Africa.

snip

At the same time, the trip left some uncertainty about how Clinton’s new diplomatic career is fitting in with that of his wife, America’s chief diplomat. While Bill Clinton was in a worldwide spotlight, the debut of Hillary Clinton’s 11-day trip to Africa received scant attention. She has been trying to raise her visibility in an administration stocked full of capable diplomats and influential White House foreign policy aides. The Africa trip, including stops in Kenya — Obama’s father’s homeland — and several longtime hot spots, was meant to help her raise her own profile.

In an NBC interview Wednesday, the secretary of State said that though she had originally favored Gore for the North Korea assignment, she was “very much in favor” of sending her husband once the North Koreans requested it.

And, here’s something else, also from the L.A. Times story:

“This is really going to help consolidate his role as an elder statesman,” said Ross Baker, a political analyst at Rutgers University. “It almost gave him a kind of heroic tint.”

So Bill is the hero of the story; Hillary, not so much. Heck, by the end of the week on the McLaughlin Group, Hillary Clinton’s name didn’t even come up in the discussion of Bill’s trip to N. Korea and its potential implications at all!

Back to that BBC news bulletin I mentioned right up at the top…

A short bit later in the same news bulletin, I heard the report on Hillary Clinton’s umbrage at the Kenyan government…their corruption, impunity, and failure to correct the problems that resulted in the post-election violence back in December 2007.

The BBC story below has a video of  Clinton Speaking at the 8th AGOA Conference.

Kenya impunity ‘disappoints US’

snip

Addressing the press following a meeting with the Kenya’s president and prime minister, Mrs Clinton strongly criticised Kenya’s political leadership.

She said the absence of strong and effective institutions had permitted ongoing corruption, impunity and human rights violations.

And she noted that these conditions had helped fuel the violence that engulfed the country in early 2008.

“We’ve been very clear in our disappointment that action has not been taken [over the violence],” she said.

“It is far preferable that it be done in the regular course of business, that prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials step up to their responsibilities and remove the question of impunity.”

The violence broke out after supporters of Raila Odinga – the main opposition leader at the time – said he had been cheated of victory in the December 2007 polls.

Clinton adds:

“I want you to know President Obama feels a personal connection and commitment to the future of Kenya.”

If you listen to her speak this line, she enunciates every word very carefully, as if she wants to make sure everyone listening gets it.  It’s overkill, of course.  Perhaps over-compensating for Obama’s ties to Odinga and the same old, same old foreign policy that’s chugging along. Or some reflexive sense that she has to make sure any hint of “not being fully on board” is dispelled.  Whatever.  It seems to happen fairly often.

A little bit below this video there’s an audio clip which discusses the main concern of the U.S. regarding  Africa, namely, OIL, since 24% of our imports come from Africa and catching up with China, Russia, and India.

Emira Woods, Liberian-American  journalist and an “expert on U.S. foreign policy in Africa”  comments, that  despite the ” lofty rhetoric” of Obama’s Inaugural Address, U.S. foreign policy is “still focused on a  narrow definition of U.S  interests” with regard to “extractive industries”…oil, gas, and mining.  Then there’s the “land grab” which is going on across the African continent.  According to Woods, large “tracks of lands” are being turned over to the production of biofuels to fuel cars around the world, but there’s really very little concern about feeding starving children.  Woods also relays concerns about the militarization of Africa. (Note: Both the Clinton video and the Woods audio are here on one page:   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8185626.stm).

Very little “hope and change” over there, just like there’s very little here at home…

And in Angola, Clinton pushed for  “credible elections”…you know, the kind the Democrats gave us last year during the primaries.  Eek!

Of course, the topic turned to oil. From the BBC:

In Luanda, Mrs Clinton is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with American oil giant Chevron and the US Agency for International Development (USAid) to promote investment in Angola’s agricultural sectors like coffee and bananas.

Asked about China’s growing influence in Angola, Mrs Clinton said she was not interested in what other people were doing in Angola because her focus was on what the US was doing.

Last year, Angola overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s leading source of crude oil.

She’s not interested in what China is doing?  Really?  Oh, please.  It sounds sort of glib, doesn’t it? And completely disingenuous…

So, basically, all the trumpeting of a new foreign policy seems to be a lot of hot air and not much different than anything that’s come before. The U.S.’s self-interest is still all wrapped up in oil.

Remember how during the Bush years we got all sorts of big talk?  Remember the infamous “axis of evil” reference in his 2002 State of the Union address (axis = North Korea, Iran & Iraq)?  Well, there are times when Clinton sounds just like George W. with her sometimes very harsh or very glib statements.

Now, I really deplore the snark from that BBC reporter aimed at  Hillary Clinton about Bill coming to the rescue.  She seems to absorb al this without batting an eye. Then again, Hillary got the “street finger” from the Obama crew during the primaries. And she chose to leave the Senate and sign on with the Obama crowd.  It’s nice that she’s adding some comments about women in her speeches, but in real life, she’s being slimed by a reporter for the BBC and undercut in her desired appointments to positions by the Obama team.  It’s been reported that HIS  people are in under her, not her first choices for key jobs.  And now, Bill has re-entered and is the new hero of the N. Korea situation.

But she’s apparently OK with all this. (?)

So, the upshot of how this makes me feel is that 1) She’s getting shafted or undercut too often and 2) Sometimes she speaks in ways that makes me scratch my head. But most of the time, I just wonder what will happen next. What does Bill do next?  Madeline Albright sure didn’t have to deal with this sort of thing. I can’t figure it out, unless Clinton is used to the soft form of “battered wife” syndrome.  Then there’s the dealings with Obama, the guy who cheated and muscled himself into the nomination.  Here she is, right on board the train with the usual U.S. foreign policy, surrounded by Obama loyalists, while he keeps his nose clean. I guess she’s OK with this and how she must defer to his lead, but it I don’t feel OK watching it all happen.

So, while others cling to Hillary Clinton as their personal inspiration, I can only say that I’m left with very mixed feelings at this point. I sort of shake my head and say ” Too bad”  about Clinton’s odd position at State, along with everything else that is “too bad” these days…

Empowered or Powerless? Hillary in the Box…

~~By kenosha Marge

Being a Hillary Clinton supporter I was not happy about Senator Clinton taking the position as Secretary of State. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe she would do the job well. Hillary Clinton is a competent and smart woman who works hard and would do any job well. But this was a position where she would be subordinate to a man I dislike and distrust. I thought she should stay in the Senate where she would be a free agent and able to pursue the things she found important.

An article in the New York Times on January 31st entitled “And Now Let the Jockeying Begin” confirmed all my worst fears. I expected any NYT article to portray Hillary Clinton as a power grasping harridan. What I didn’t expect was for it to point out quite so clearly how she has been boxed in.

She is Secretary of State. And for all the silliness of some of her supporters suggesting that she will do all the work and Obama will take all the credit that isn’t how it works. High-profile Secretary’s of State, especially those hyped by the media as successful,  get credit for what they do. They also take the blame for what goes wrong. That will be especially true for Secretary of State Clinton because the media hates her and never holds Obama to account for anything.

However, before she has done much of anything other than settle in and get her staff ready she’s had much of her turf taken away to re-sod someone else’s place.

“In her first days as America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton found the Middle East portfolio handed off to a special envoy.”

Is not the most important issue the Secretary of State expected to deal with the Middle East? Isn’t this diluting her power a great deal before she’s even begun? But wait, that’s not all.

Afghanistan and Pakistan were assigned to a special representative. And administration officials expect another special envoy to be tapped soon to deal with Iran.

When I was uneasy with Hillary Clinton giving up her Senate seat and becoming a part of the Obama Administration I was told by some of her supporters that I was wrong. She was smart enough and knew politics well enough not to get bamboozled by Obama. She knew what she was doing and that meant that she would have more power as Secretary of State. Some even suggested that she taking the position to protect the world from Obama’s lack of experience. “Drivel,” I said, “She’s making the best career choice for herself she can at this point in time. And, I repeated, I think she’s wrong! So there”

However I thought that she must have had some kind of assurances before she swung her support to his Oliness. “She’s too canny a politician not to do that,”  I told myself. Hillary Clinton has been around politics most of her life and thus knows that it’s about as smart to pet a cobra as it is to trust another politician. She’s got the knife scars in her back to prove it.

The NYT acticle continues with more good news. Good news if you have CDS (Clinton Derangement Syndrome) or are a member of our Misogynistic Media.

So with much of her turf already parceled off, Mrs. Clinton made a bid to take over the China file, which in recent years has been primarily the responsibility of the Treasury Department since the major issues with Beijing tend to be economic. Mrs. Clinton said the administration needed “a more comprehensive approach.” The only trick is Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has no intention of giving that up.

So where, I am asking myself, does that leave Secretary of State Clinton? Who will deal with all the problems around the world? Will she have to be content with just being a high-profile “figure head? The Secretary of State to Europe?

I confess that I don’t know. All I know is that her “job” is suddenly much smaller than her predecessor’s. Special this and special that jobs are being created faster than you can say “gotcha.”

Obama seems to have a fondness for creating “Czar” positions to take over the jobs of people who would normally be doing the job (See the full article for the details on all the “czars” now in D.C.)

More than any president in years, Mr. Obama came into office creating new White House czars and special envoys to supervise various hot-button issues at home and abroad, overlaying an additional set of actors upon a bureaucracy already scratchy about “who’s in charge”.

Mr. Obama concluded that new high-powered figures were needed to force change but they pose a delicate management challenge for a president with no real management experience beyond his presidential campaign.

Personally I was always for shrinking the bureaucracy not expanding it. I think too many cooks do spoil the broth.

I also believe that maybe, just maybe, in this instance, Hillary Clinton, for all her intelligence was hoodwinked. Even smart people get deceived if they allow themselves to believe that the deceiver will negotiate in good faith.

We don’t know, and probably never will know exactly what the Clinton/Obama deal was. We don’t know if he kept his word while playing her for a sucker with an intent to handcuff her to an empty position.

Politics is a dirty, nasty game to these folks. That’s why they can call each other names, impugn each other’s character, intellect and intent and then hug each other and work together. Some say it’s necessary to get the country’s work done that they be that type. Some people who certainly have a lack of character themselves excuse this behavior as politicians being politicians as if having people with a lack of integrity running our country is an acceptable thing.

What is acceptable to these people, this subset of humanity,  is not always tolerable to the rest of us. Those of us that think that integrity and honesty are kinda good things to have in our leaders. Not pie-in-the-sky phony-baloney rhetoric like most of them treat us to so often. The kind of rock-bottom honesty we once honored and respected in this country. The kind of rock-bottom honesty we now only give lip-service.

I think Hillary Clinton got duped. Or she deluded herself into believing that either A. She could trust Obama. Or B. That she could handle Obama. Either way, to me it looks as if she was wrong.

I think she’s been effectively boxed in and will have very little power or say in what does on. That’s a loss for all of us. A smart man would have used her considerable talents for the benefit of all. A petty little man like Obama boxes her in and makes her powerless.

I really hope I’m wrong. I really hope I’m only reading the situation through my dislike and distrust of his Oliness.

***

Related post from December 6, 2008 by IA-GRL discussing MESH — Middle East Study at Harvard:

Will Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State Be Undermined by the Appointment of a Middle East Envoy? See What MESH Thinks…


Will Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State Be Undermined by the Appointment of a Middle East Envoy? See What MESH Thinks…

Reverend Amy from Rabble Rouser Ruminations posted a piece yesterday (12/5/08) (cross-posted at No Quarter)  in which she expressed her concerns about the way things are going with regard to the nomination of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. I agree completely with her comment and it piqued my interest.  Here’s what Reverend Amy wrote:

Well, you know I am not all that crazy about Hillary Clinton being the Secretary of State for Barack Obama because I do not trust him. As it is, he is already complicating her job by appointing a special Middle East Envoy who will report directly to HIM as opposed to the Secretary of State, as well as by elevating the position of UN Ambassador, to which he appointed Dr. Susan Rice, to a Cabinet Level position, already makes Clinton’s job more difficult. Oh, and Dr. Rice’s position is particularly galling because she claimed Colin Powell proved Iraq had WMD.

According to the Haaretz article Reverend Amy links to, the name being floated by Israeli sources for the envoy slot is one Daniel Kurtzer, a former American Ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) and Israel (2001-2005)–a diplomat who worked under both Bill Clinton and George Bush.

Obama’s decision to appoint a special envoy reporting to him directly, rather than to the secretary of state, indicates that the president-elect attaches special importance to the regional peace process. Reportedly, several of Obama’s advisers recommended the appointment.

The special envoy job could infringe on the prestige of Hillary Clinton, who was appointed secretary of state on Monday. On the other hand, it could ease any apparent conflict because of Bill Clinton’s close ties with the Gulf States.

Kurtzer, 59, joined Obama’s primary and presidential campaigns as a senior member of the president-elect’s foreign advisers. He also helped prepare Obama’s visit to the region and was among the main writers of Obama’s address on the Middle East to AIPAC in June 2008, which was seen as one the candidate’s most important speeches on international affairs.

What’s really interesting is that back on November 20, the topic of whether or not a Middle East envoy should even be appointed was discussed at MESH–Middle East Strategy at Harvard.  According to the MESH site:

Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH) is a project of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. The Olin Institute is part of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

MESH is a community of scholars and practitioners who are interested in the formulation of U.S. strategic options for the Middle East. Since 9/11 and the Iraq war, the Middle East has occupied a place of primacy in debates over U.S. global aims and strategies. MESH brings together some of the most original thinkers in academe, research centers, and government, in a web-based forum for exchanging and disseminating ideas.

In the post entitled  A Middle East Envoy? the results of a poll conducted among MESH members were reported.  On the list, but near the bottom,  was the name of Hillary Clinton.

From MESH Admin

Over the past week, MESHNet, the closed-forum companion to MESH, conducted a poll of MESHNet members, asking them who would make the best Middle East envoy of the Obama administration (if it is decided to appoint one). The structure of the poll emulated an earlier poll administered to a panel of Israeli experts, taking the same nine candidates and the same scoring system. MESHNet members (persons with a professional interest in the Middle East, 179 in number) were asked to rate the candidates, from “most suitable” for the job (a score of 5) to “least suitable” (a score of 1). Sixty-three MESHNet members responded to the poll question. Here are the results, comprised of the average score for each candidate:

Dennis Ross 3.350
Bill Clinton 2.904
Richard Holbrooke... 2.904
Colin Powell 2.747
Daniel Kurtzer 2.619
Condoleezza Rice 2.458
Bill Richardson 2.394
Hillary Clinton 2.336
James Baker 2.222

In parallel, MESH asked a number of its members to assess whether the appointment of a special envoy is advisable. Their nine responses appear below. (Respondents did not have prior knowledge of the poll results.)

I went through the comments to this latter question and found that there was a wide range of opinion on the subject. One of the experts noted that Bill Clinton did have a special envoy (Dennis Ross, who topped the poll) while Bush did not.  But the most interesting aspects of the discussion were some of the observations about how an envoy would “mesh” with the Secretary of State and the President…the concerns that were expressed by Reverend Amy. It’s clear that there are a lot of “ifs” about how Clinton’s role will actually play out, but here are a few possible scenarios/considerations to mull over from the following experts (I’ve highlighted sections that were of particular interest):

Mark N. Katz (Mark N. Katz is a professor of government and politics at George Mason University. He writes on Russian foreign policy, the international relations of the Middle East, and transnational revolutionary movements.)

“Because of the time commitment needed for seriously trying to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian settlement, neither the president nor the secretary of state should get immersed in the nitty-gritty negotiations that will be required. There is simply too much other important business for both of them that will not receive sufficient attention if either (or even more unfortunately, both) become overly involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Nor is this a task that the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs should undertake either, as this would leave precious little time for him or her to deal with America’s many other important relationships in, as well as the other problems of, this region.

In short, for there to be any hope of an American-brokered Israeli-Palestinian settlement, it will have to be undertaken by someone whose sole task it is to try to achieve one. If this effort is successful, the president can—rightly—take the credit. But if it is unsuccessful, the blame can be assigned not so much to the president as to (yes, you guessed it) the Middle East envoy.”

Robert Satloff (Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a post he assumed in January 1993.)

“Candidate Obama promised he would appoint a special Middle East envoy. President Obama’s decision whether to fulfill that promise depends a) on the purpose of the appointment and b) on the personality of the envoy…the personality of a proposed envoy is important. The particular choice should be someone endowed with patience, persistence, and a willingness to pass the baton to someone else – perhaps the president, perhaps the secretary of state, perhaps another envoy – depending on circumstances. This is not the job for someone who believes that the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be achieved on his/her watch or someone who views this responsibility as the path to a Nobel Prize.”

Tamara Cofman Wittes (Tamara Cofman Wittes is Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution, where she focuses on U.S. efforts to promote democracy and the Arab-Israeli peace process.)

” Obama stated repeatedly during the campaign his intention to devote early and focused attention to the Middle East peace process. Since the transition period is mostly about structure and personnel, observers are naturally focused on the question of whether to appoint a special envoy for the peace process. But to my mind the question is misplaced.

In a bureaucracy, structure is power—but appointing an envoy does not necessarily convey much power or many resources to a diplomatic effort on behalf of Arab-Israeli peace. A special envoy without many staff, or one who is not situated at a senior level within (or above) the State Department bureaucracy, will not have the authority or capacity to mobilize efforts across the department, and will therefore not have as much impact as an envoy with his/her own office and a reporting line direct to the president or the secretary of state. So structure matters, and appointing an envoy does not alone produce the required structure.”

Raymond Tanter (Raymond Tanter is adjunct professor of political science at Georgetown University and an adjunct scholar of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, researching U.S. policy options toward Iran. He is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Michigan. From 1981 to 1982, Dr. Tanter served on the National Security Council staff and was personal representative of the secretary of defense to the 1983-1984 arms control talks held in Madrid, Helsinki, Stockholm, and Vienna. Currently, he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.)

” Whether it is wise to appoint an envoy for the Middle East depends on the president-elect’s planned focus of attention, whether he intends to have a White House-driven or cabinet-driven administration, and whether he would like to encourage or suppress differences in recommendations to the White House within and from the State Department.

If the president-elect wishes to focus on the economy from the White House, he should have a strong secretary of state, which would argue against having an envoy for the Middle East. However, if the secretary of state were to be given a substantial part of the action on international economy, a Middle East envoy would be desirable. Likewise, if it looks as if policy-driving national security events from the region merit an overarching strategy developed within the White House, he may wish to have a less prominent secretary of state, a strong national security advisor, and an envoy who reports to the White House and State. And if the president-elect wishes to encourage a process of  ‘multiple advocacy’ at State, then an envoy with direct reporting to the White House and to the secretary of state would be warranted.”

So, we’ll have to watch to see if Hillary Clinton becomes what Tanter calls a “strong” Secretary of State or a “less prominent” head of the State Department. Stay tuned…