Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama Names George Mitchell Special Mideast Envoy

Former Sen. George Mitchell was named President Obama's special envoy to the Middle East earlier today, as the new president moves quickly to make that region of the world a high priority of his administration's from day one.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have both been criticized for taking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict late in their terms in office, when even a full-court press often failed to produce results that could survive the entrenched security concerns of the participants. Obama's moves are a marked contrast. Yesterday, on his first full day in office, Obama called four Middle Eastern leaders.

Mitchell, who served as special envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process starting in 1995, will now take his considerable experience and contacts from a life in diplomacy, legislative bodies, and private business to his newest posting. You can get a sense of his approach to the world (and his theories about how America should engage the world) in his October 22, 2008, appearance at The Commonwealth Club, in which he and Club President/CEO Dr. Gloria Duffy discussed the U.S. role in the world [see video player above].

Can George Mitchell achieve in the Middle East what has eluded previous American peace efforts? What will challenge him the most? Post a comment and join the discussion!


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