Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to newly democratic Egypt was met by some protesters throwing tomatoes, but her stop in Israel, which included no overt signs of dissension, may have had more turmoil just below the surface, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
By Paul R. Pillar
There is nothing new, of course, in disconnects between a polite veneer of international diplomacy and significant conflicts of interest between governments. Nor is there anything new in a lack of correlation between happenings on the surface and the extent to which an underlying relationship is cooperative or conflictual.
But on Secretary of State Clinton’s just-completed Middle East trip, the lack of correlation was especially marked.
In Egypt, the secretary’s motorcade was pelted with shoes and tomatoes. Although it was not entirely clear what the anger encompassed, the protesters evidently were a combination of Christians wary of anyone having dealings with an Islamist government and some die-hard supporters of the deposed Hosni Mubarak. Clinton responded with aplomb, later expressing as her only regret that the protest was a waste of good tomatoes.
Despite anger in the street, current bilateral frictions between the United States and Egypt do not extend much beyond consequences of the Egyptians’ sharp differences among themselves, making it difficult for any outsider to do business with any one Egyptian element without offending other Egyptians. ...................(more)