Heather Hurlburt is the executive director of the National Security Network. She was previously a Special Assistant and speechwriter to President Clinton, and has worked in the State Department and Congress.
The fighting in Gaza over the past week tees up some difficult choices for the Obama administration. But not the choices you might think. The pundit-verse wants to argue—as it always does—about who is at fault, whose civilians are more innocent, whose targeting is more wicked. This is tapped-out domestic politics, and it is tiresome. More to the point, it does not help; it encourages a short-term, tunnel-vision response that will wind up back in the same place—which is to say more deaths, more escalation, another Cast Lead, and loss of credibility and ability to make tough decisions stick.
Before a day had passed after the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya—in which four Americans were killed, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and as many as ten Libyans trying to protect them—some commenters declared an end to the Arab Spring. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to use the Libya attack and attempted attack on the U.S. embassy in Egypt, both reportedly sparked by an American-made anti-Muslim video, to score political points. His statement darkly warned that the protests could represent the end of a trajectory away from authoritarianism and instead a turn toward an "Arab winter."
Even those who weren’t as ready as Romney to declare the Arab Spring over were worried. Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch suggested that the fate of democracy hangs in the balance in the aftermath of the violence, which continues as rioters attack the U.S. embassy in Yemen. Not the events themselves, but how governments and peoples react in the days to follow, he writes, will decide.
Last week, the authorities here at the Prospect were calling me the substitute teacher. I got grumpy about that at first (all kinds of anti-woman and bad childhood associations). But I’ve decided to embrace it. Rachel Maddow, here’s your homework.
Over at the competition (am I in trouble, editors?), E.J.’s close-up look at the challenge facing Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts provides a deeper and more thoughtful, not to mention professionally-reported, rumination on the redness of a true-blue state than my blog post of yesterday. You’ll want to read it for a fix while she is lounging poolside, and also to sound smart the next time someone takes the Bay State for granted.
There’s nothing like a double-barreled Holy Week/Passover to send media flacks leaping for “hooks” of relevance. Here’s my nominee for Most Dubious Holy Week Tie-in—an article from the august Council on Foreign Relations which documents, the email release promises me, how:
[W]hile Obama is by all accounts religious, that faith has not resulted in real foreign policy gains. "Rhetoric is important, but direct action grounds real diplomacy. And on that front, the White House has not kept up with the issue," Preston writes.