Hillary Clinton will apply Irish lessons to Middle East peace talks

The prospects for the Middle East peace process seemed uniformly negative when President Obama announced their resumption a few weeks ago.

This is very typical of our media today, a tendency to admire a problem rather than see a way to solving it.

It was the very same with the Irish peace process for years, as a skeptical press highlighted every setback and disdained any chance at a successful outcome.

Much of the coverage was also skin deep as I suspect the Middle East process coverage is to date.

The fault lines underneath may be shifting but the media are often the last to know.

The presence of Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell in the U.S. delegation makes peace far more possible in my opinion.

Mitchell earned his spurs on the Northern Irish process and has performed miracles to get the sides to the table on this occasion.

Hillary also worked closely on the Northern process and cites it repeatedly when discussing the Middle East and the problems that they face there.

They both learned very important lessons from Northern Ireland.

Chief among them is that the human dynamic can often take over.

When leaders with opposite views finally engage it is vital to create a common bond of humanity among them.

Thus did Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein ended up discussing their families with leading unionists and realizing that many of the issues they faced day to day were the same.

Ian Paisley and Tony Blair discussed the role of religion in their lives. Paisley gave Blair a gift for his new born child.

Others on opposite sides discovered they were recent grandfathers and that they were terrified their grandchildren would grow up in a violent Northern Ireland

When you get opponents to move away from demonizing each other, that very particular human elements can bring about subtle and then real change.

I think there is a real possibility of that happening n the Middle East talks.

It is far too soon to write them off.


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