Monday, June 16, 2008

Carter's diplomacy with Hamas: a one-shot PR stunt?

This piece by Steve Clemons in The Washington Note caught my eye: A Note to Jimmy Carter:

Yesterday, I met with some Americans who have just returned from traveling to Syria, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Libya. They met a number of high ranking state officials in these governments but also met with representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah.

What they report back about the Carter mission to meet with Hamas is that there has been no follow up, no communications or ongoing dialogue since the high profile meeting.

I'm only hearing from Americans who were reporting what they heard -- and am not stating definitively that Carter and his Center have not followed up. But it is interesting that Hamas had hopes for an ongoing discussion -- which they are seemingly not getting.

This certainly raises some questions. For one, does this reflect a lack of depth on Carter's part? Was he interested only in getting some publicity as a "peacemaker" and legitimizing negotiating with Hamas, as opposed to actually following through with a diplomatic effort? Is such an effort simply out of his capabilities and that of the Carter Center?

Or perhaps, just perhaps, in the real world, outside the boardrooms of well-intentioned NGOs, negotiating with Hamas doesn't go quite as smoothly as a well-intentioned "peace-maker" might hope. Maybe they have a lot less to offer in terms of compromise or even in terms of basic, reasonable dialogue than Jimmy Carter expected. Maybe Hamas liked the idea of seeming reasonable more than actually being reasonable.

Did I say "maybe"?

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