Will Mideast talks be Clinton’s diplomatic version of the health-care fiasco?

The Mideast peace talks this week in Washington are a high-risk, high-reward endeavor for Secretary Clinton. Should the direct negotiations eventually culminate in a historic agreement, it would be a defining moment for Clinton, especially if topped with a public signing ceremony such as the Sept. 13, 1993, one for the Oslo Accords that husband/President ...

By , copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009-2016 and was an assistant editor from 2007-2009.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

The Mideast peace talks this week in Washington are a high-risk, high-reward endeavor for Secretary Clinton. Should the direct negotiations eventually culminate in a historic agreement, it would be a defining moment for Clinton, especially if topped with a public signing ceremony such as the Sept. 13, 1993, one for the Oslo Accords that husband/President Bill Clinton presided over with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat.

The Mideast peace talks this week in Washington are a high-risk, high-reward endeavor for Secretary Clinton. Should the direct negotiations eventually culminate in a historic agreement, it would be a defining moment for Clinton, especially if topped with a public signing ceremony such as the Sept. 13, 1993, one for the Oslo Accords that husband/President Bill Clinton presided over with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat.

On the other hand, if the negotiations fail — and most people seem pessimistic — it could be disastrous. It might even dog her the way her failed 1990s attempt at health-care reform does. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette‘s Dan Simpson, a former U.S. ambassador, writes that if the talks don’t work out, Clinton could "suffer the diplomatic equivalent of her disastrous 1990s venture into health care reform." (And even if a historic agreement were hammered out, implementation — which could take as many as 10 years — could be derailed, as FP‘s Stephen Walt points out.)

I think it’s doubtful, though, that if the negotiations fall through, it would be as bad as Clinton’s fiasco with health-care reform. Most people are expecting the talks to fail because of the intransigence of the Mideast parties involved, and critics are more likely to pin a fiasco on President Obama, not Clinton, because, well, he’s the president.

Clinton has a lot of pushing, prodding, cajoling, and strong-arming to do this week. For the sake of world peace, let’s have the audacity to hope that progress, even a little bit, will be made. 

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009-2016 and was an assistant editor from 2007-2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

More from Foreign Policy

The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.
The USS Nimitz and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and South Korean Navy warships sail in formation during a joint naval exercise off the South Korean coast.

America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose

Global war is neither a theoretical contingency nor the fever dream of hawks and militarists.

A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. People sit and walk on the grass lawn in front of the protester and barricades.
A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. People sit and walk on the grass lawn in front of the protester and barricades.

The West’s Incoherent Critique of Israel’s Gaza Strategy

The reality of fighting Hamas in Gaza makes this war terrible one way or another.

Biden dressed in a dark blue suit walks with his head down past a row of alternating U.S. and Israeli flags.
Biden dressed in a dark blue suit walks with his head down past a row of alternating U.S. and Israeli flags.

Biden Owns the Israel-Palestine Conflict Now

In tying Washington to Israel’s war in Gaza, the U.S. president now shares responsibility for the broader conflict’s fate.

U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in profile as he greets Chinese President Xi Jinping with a handshake. Xi, a 70-year-old man in a dark blue suit, smiles as he takes the hand of Biden, an 80-year-old man who also wears a dark blue suit.
U.S. President Joe Biden is seen in profile as he greets Chinese President Xi Jinping with a handshake. Xi, a 70-year-old man in a dark blue suit, smiles as he takes the hand of Biden, an 80-year-old man who also wears a dark blue suit.

Taiwan’s Room to Maneuver Shrinks as Biden and Xi Meet

As the latest crisis in the straits wraps up, Taipei is on the back foot.