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Tom Friedman: It's The Wrong Peace Process

"After Cairo, It's Clinton time," reads the headline on Tom Friedman's Sunday New York Times column. I suppose that many people assumed that "after Cairo" meant he was assigning our secretary of state to shuttling back and forth between Jerusalem and Ramallah. No, he has pity on Mrs. Clinton. Yes, he wants her to concentrate "on the peace process."

But "not that peace process." "That one is probably beyond diplomacy," and the fact is that Tom knows this area better than most and certainly better than poor Hillary and her assigned runner George Mitchell who thinks that the Palestine problem is like the Irish problem.

Surely, he believes, we have a better chance in Iraq where where Shi'a, Sunni and Kurdish political parties seem to have been given (mostly by American troops, let's not forget) the opportunity to make something of a civil society. Of course, the social contract is shaky.  But at least the elites are talking with each other and actually legislating with each other. Yet it not hunky-dory. The ultimate end depends "on whether (Iraq's) elites decide to loot their country or rebuild it."

In his address to the faithful last Thursday, President Obama exhorted that "fault lines must be closed among Muslims," and he especially noted fault lines between the Shi'a and Sunni. This is an immensely deep chasm and even a presidential invocation will not do anything much to bridge it. Maybe, however, it will happen somewhat in precisely where anybody and almost everybody, including the president, despaired of anything good resulting the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.