Hardball | November 20, 2012
>>> to "hardball."
>>> back to "hardball." secretary of state hillary clinton landed on choppy diplomatic waters today when she peeled off from the trip to asia with the president to wade into the growing conflict between israel and hamas. shortly after landing in israel today , she met with prime minister benjamin netanyahu . let's watch.
>> president obama asked me to come to israel with a very clear message . america's commitment to israel 's security is rock solid and unwavering. the rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside gaza on israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored.
>> with her time as secretary of state coming to an end, clinton's diplomatic push will likely be one of her most climatic acts in this business, very much near the end of the term. it could help define her legacy. we're joined by robin wright and steve clemens, washington editor-at-large for the atlantic. great to have you both experts on. what i'm fascinated by has always been the relationship starting at the time he named her secretary of state, and she agreed to take it. this was a mutual agreement. she could have said no and stayed as a very important senator from new york. this relationship, is it a familiar one like a president and his -- like kennedy and dean rusk or truman and dean acheson ? is it like that? we have a big president and a somewhat smaller cabinet ministers or are they like equals?
>> i think they're closer to equals but this is not kissinger/nixon. hillary came in as the far more experienced person when it came to knowing the world. her husband had been president. she'd toured the world. he had been.
>> she was an international figure.
>> she was an international figure. obama was the ingenue. i think obama has become a stronger president on foreign policy . i know there were a couple situations where she's come through with proposals that he's challenged do shall.
>> quickly, when -- i always like the way these communiques go out. this report the other night was hillary clinton is going like chinese gordon to solve a big dispute, one of those wonderful moments when charles chinese gordon comes in and tries to deal with the situation in cartoon. it was the president's dispatching her. i thought that was an interesting way of saying it. it wasn't like i'm going to go. is that interesting to you?
>> no. look, she's not going to say i decided on my own i should come here.
>> but she broke off from a diplomatic effort over in the far east .
>> he was coming home . this was an initiative that she -- that the administration wanted to say comes from the president. it has the white house 's initiative and so that's important to the process that unfolds.
>> okay. you're over there and you're netanyahu, no friend of the president, they have a cold peace at best. she's going there -- does israel want this conflict to end or do they want to use it to clear the missile sites out of gaza ?
>> i think it wants security for israelis and it will do whatever it takes.
>> does it mean continuing the conflict or ending it.
>> if hamas doesn't stop that means --
>> i think they're going to clear the missile sites and then go to iran if they had to.
>> i don't think the conflicts are necessarily related.
>> steve, how do you see it? you go see it as part of an incipient conflict with iran that's coming. we all know it's going to be coming in some form or or is it the usual problem israel has a difficult, in fact, violent neighbor that wants to keep bothering them with missile.
>> blooiottom line, there's an election coming up in israel and there's a strange correlation between elections and this kind of violence. i think the cabinet in israel wants to sow how strong it is but the bigger problem beyond iran , and robin knows this so well, they're sort of a tsunami in the region. you have a rise of political islamic movements that been democratically elected and empowered, and they are furious and upset and bonded and reaching out to those who feel under stress in gaza . the u.s./ israel relationship is sort of like a new orleans levee. it's working until a big storm comes and israel has been unable or unwilling to change the terms of its security in its neighborhood when i think it's had ample opportunity to try and do so.
>> how does it work on the ground between the secretary and president. are they back and forth on how they deal with it or does she have a free hand?
>> i think she talks to the white house quite often, will brief him on any -- what bibi says to her about what israel 's goals are and again when she goes to cairo and meets with president morsi which is arguably the most important stop on this trip.
>> because he's the mediator.
>> and president obama has developed a very interesting relationship over the past --
>> i think we have to hold onto morsi.
>> with the president of egypt .
>> don't you?
>> how important --
>> let's be clear --
>> always had the deal between israel and egypt in the interest of both countries and our country. can we keep that deal? there are some architecture for peace there?
>> we're going to try to keep that deal absolutely, but, remember, we're complicit in part of what happened. obama when he took george michel's resignation and basically moved dennis ross out of the white house , he doesn't put a new program on the table. and when america walks away from this peace process or an effort to bring the two sides together and really lay out a plan, violence kicks up. so we have a bit of complicity and you you are seeing right now not a strategic presidency from obama but a reactive presidency and that doesn't bode well for this.
>> do you agree with that? if you're not moving forward you're moving backwards on the peace process ?
>> i think you plod forward or stay -- i'm not sure it's unraveling. i still think the amazing thing about all of the changes in the middle east is that you still have a commitment of all the key players to the peace process .
>> i know. it's not as bad as w where he just did nothing thp thanks my opinion. thank you both. i want to see peace over there but i want to have a long term problem of iran dealt with. we have a lighter note coming up who do a great impression of president obama that we see and his secret luther who is out there voicing and dramatizing his real feelings. it's very interesting. stay with us. it's very political. comedy central joins us next. this is "hardball," the