Washington, Jan.23 (ANI): Confusion prevails in the Obama administration as to who is in charge of American foreign policy.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all announced Thursday that two high-profile diplomats will serve as envoys to volatile regions.
Obama and Clinton appeared Thursday at the State Department to formally announce Clinton's appointment and to roll out some of her senior staff and envoys. Among them was former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who, a source said, would report to both Obama and Secretary Clinton as Mid East envoy.
Richard Holbrooke, envoy to South Asia and Afghanistan, will have a similar arrangement.
According to Politico, the Mitchell appointment puts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the hands of an experienced power player and deal maker, but leaves unresolved some of the lines of command in the new administration.
Those familiar with the arrangement have a straightforward answer to that concern: Clinton has learned from her predecessor's mistakes.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the Middle East 17 times in her last two years, but saw even small, incremental steps toward peace wiped out by Israel's recent invasion of Gaza.
The heart of smart power are smart people," Clinton said, introducing Mitchell and Holbrooke.
"George is renowned, in this country and around the world, for his negotiating skill," Obama said.
"He will be fully empowered at the negotiating table and he will sustain our focus on the goal of peace." Obama added that he favored a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The appointments add more powerful figures to the crowded room of American Middle East diplomacy.
Along with Obama and Clinton, National Security Adviser James Jones has worked in the region, and a former envoy, Dennis Ross, is expected to take a senior State Department role. Holbrooke, a contender for Secretary of State himself, is a larger-than-life figure and major player.
And Vice President Joe Biden unexpectedly took the stage in Foggy Bottom yielding the podium back to Clinton, who in turn stressed that "the president and I" will be the key players.
Mitchell, in his own right, brings both dramatic change and a certain continuity. On the one hand, he's a relative outsider - "not one of the peace processers," Miller said.
But Mitchell does have his own deep experience in the region: President Bill Clinton appointed him in October of 2000 to head a commission to investigate the causes of what would become known as the Second Intifada - the renewed wave of violence at the end of his term that blossomed during
The Mitchell Report sharply criticized both sides, demanding that the Palestinian leadership disavow terrorism, and pressing Israel to put a halt to building and expanding "settlements" on disputed land.
The report was delivered to the new Bush administration, which essentially shelved it. But now Mitchell - a key player in negotiating a lasting peace in Northern Ireland - will have a chance to test his conclusions, and to pick up where the Clinton administration left off. (ANI)