Never fear, George Mitchell is here!

Several people notified me of the following development yesterday:

President Obama moved swiftly to engage on the Middle East on Wednesday, calling Israeli and Arab leaders on his first morning in office and preparing to appoint a seasoned peace negotiator and former senator, George J. Mitchell, as his special emissary to the region . . .

. . . Mr. Mitchell’s appointment, which could be announced as soon as Thursday, underscores the central role that the Middle East has assumed in the Obama administration.

A former Senate majority leader who helped broker a peace deal in Northern Ireland, Mr. Mitchell also led a commission searching for ways to stop violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

He is viewed as a diplomatic heavyweight who may bring more balance to Washington’s relationships in the region.

“He’s neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel and an adviser to the Clinton administration. “He’s, in a sense, neutral.”

Yes, Mr. Mitchell served with distinction in the Senate and did wonderful work in Northern Ireland. Those of us who ply our trade in the world of baseball, however, have more recent data points with respect to the good Senator’s work. If his work for Major League Baseball is any indication of how he’ll handle Mideast diplomacy, be on the lookout for the following developments in his new position:

  • Despite pronouncements of his neutrality, soon after he begins work, it will be reported that he is a board member of Hamas;
  • Ignoring decades if not centuries of political and social conflict in the region, Mitchell will approach his work with the assumption that all of the trouble began with Arafat, because a lot of people hated him to begin with;
  • Rather than work on the root causes of strife in the region, Mitchell will simply publish a list of 80 or 90 guys he is told have fired rockets or built illegal settlements and hope that speaks for itself;
  • Mitchell will defend his work by saying that he had little buy-in from either the Israelis or the Palestinians. He will not mention, however, that before meeting with them, he explained to them that if their participation in talks was later deemed unsatisfactory, their countries would be bombed into oblivion by the United States;
  • Finally, after 18 months of work, Mitchell will return to the United States, declare that a lasting peace has been achieved in the Middle East, and be hailed as a hero. While people in the Middle East will continue to die and institutions will continue to grow unstable, the world will no longer blame the United States for its role in the region. Beyond a couple of show trials, no one will expect the United States to concern itself with the matter any longer.
  • I don’t know about you, but I feel safer already.

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    1. MooseinOhio said...

      Don’t forget that his law firm (i.e. underpaid and overworked law clerks) will do the vast majority of the heavy lifting and he’ll meet with just a few folks, edit the final draft of the executive summary to assure his role is prominent and then stage the classic handshake photo in such a manner that the smoke of the smoldering city that lay in ruins cannot be seen.

    2. Craig Calcaterra said...

      Moose:  that pretty much describes any big case in a law firm.  Only difference is that unlike major litigation, if we fail to achieve peace in the Middle East, Mitchell’s associates won’t be blamed for their lack of effort and attention to detail.

    3. MooseinOhio said...

      @Craig – Really?  Television shows about law firms present an image of young, attractive, hyper-sexual associates that work hard but play even harder and enjoy the fruit of their labors with fine wine, designer suits and silk sheets.  Don’t tell me that the single malt scotches and cigars on the balcony are not a common practice for all firms.

    4. Sabertooth said...

      Mitchell was a big-spending hack as a Senator.  Since he didn’t get the Supreme Court appointment he wanted from Clinton, which is plus-plus for the country, we have to endure him meddling hither and yon, botching one situation after another.  AS retired politicians go, Mitchell’s less bad as Jimmy Carter, but only because he’s less ambitious.

    5. Sara K said...

      This was fun. Cynical, but fun. Thanks, CC!

      And of course, we will be tromping on the developing nations where the terror groups operate while ignoring the countries that pocket the dollars from the sale of arms. Next year, we’ll be imposing trade sanctions on countries who harbored terrorist organizations despite their defense that they didn’t know the groups contained terrorists (“None of their names were on the list!”).

    6. Brandon Isleib said...

      It’s at least better than having George Michael doing it.  Mitchell’s a much better “Father Figure.”

    7. Rob in CT said...

      “While people in the Middle East will continue to die and institutions will continue to grow unstable, the world will no longer blame the United States for its role in the region”

      Since it’s Monday and I’m feeling particularly cynical (and maybe a touch misathropic), I might just take that result, thank you very much…

    8. Craig Calcaterra said...

      Maybe so, Rob, but just like baseball management and steroids, under my fanciful scenario, we’d still be responsible, even if no one said so in public.

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