If the domestic political scene is a mix of hopelessness (the budget) and potential deal-making (most especially on immigration reform), there is virtually no good news on the international scene.
In fact, things are so bad that. . . .
The United Nations is lecturing the United States about its impotence on Syria. (If Secretary General Ban Ki-moon tells President Obama not to go “wobbly,” we’ll know we’re in a different dimension.)
And when the State Department says that Obama promises to get right on that investigation of chemical weapon use in Syria that means it is up to the United Nations. (The State Department spokesman on Wednesday said: “Just to recall where we are is that the U.N. is investigating. As we’ve said, we support an investigation that pursues any and all credible allegations of possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. We’ve been equally clear in demanding the full cooperation of the Assad regime, including full and unfettered access for the investigation. So I refer you to the U.N. for more details, but that’s the course right now.”) To their credit, the Foggy Bottom press corps roughed him up over that lame response.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s resignation may be accepted this time. Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams writes:
Fayyad has offered to resign before, but there is reason to think that President Abbas will accept the offer this time. There is no love lost between Abbas’s Fatah Party and Salam Fayyad, and what aid donors appreciate most–the fight against corruption, the effort to build efficient and effective government institutions, the desire to insulate Palestinian security forces from Fatah politics–are just the things about Fayyad that Fatah pols appreciate least.
Nor is there a replacement available who has Fayyad’s stature and integrity. This will affect aid donors, who will wonder just what will become of their money if Fayyad is not there to watch over the PA budget. . . . His departure would be a major event in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
A former Obama official says the president’s drone policy is a mess and has set up a sort of suggestion box for how to fix it. (If we could replace the entire State Department with a Web site — something like “Foreign Policy R Us” — we might get somewhere.)
Couple that with an Iran policy that has run out of steam, an incoherent Pentagon budget and the revelation that North Korea pretty much does have the bomb, and you see that Hillary Clinton left right in the nick of time. Had she stayed around to watch the calamities pile up, she might be held accountable for a complete policy failure on numerous fronts — instead, you know, of being the smartest, best to-do list maker and frequent-flyer champ in State Department history.