This morning on the Today Show, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow argued that “nobody has been more diplomatically active than we have” in the Middle East, citing all the phone calls White House officials have made in recent days:
Real diplomacy requires more than just phone calls. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger famously went to the region and used “shuttle diplomacy” — meeting repeatedly with each party — to negotiate “disengagement agreements between Israel, Syria, and Egypt” following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Similarly, in 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher spent “seven days shuttling between Damascus and Jerusalem” and successfully negotiated a “truce between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.” President Bill Clinton visited Israel in the midst of the 1996 terrorist attacks by Hamas to show U.S. support.
In contrast, the Bush administration has taken a “hands off approach,” and has derided diplomatic efforts as “naive and ineffectual.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will finally visit the region next week, but has rejected calls to press for a cease-fire.
Full transcript below:
MATT LAUER: Alright, let’s talk about the Secretary of State. She’s going to travel to the region next week. Critics say it’s too little too late, what’s your response?
TONY SNOW: The critics got it wrong. The United States has been very actively engaged on the diplomatic front ever since the beginning of this. Secretary Rice has spoken repeatedly with leaders throughout the region. The President has been picking leaders and speaking with leaders who are not only in the neighborhood, but in the position to provide leverage and influence over the governments who are chiefly responsible for supporting Hezbollah, that would be Iran and Syria. He’s spoken with the King of Saudi Arabia, he’s spoken with the King of Jordan, he’s spoken with the President of Egypt, he’s spoken with the prime minister of Turkey. Every day the departments of state and defense are on the phone with colleagues throughout the region, every day the national security advisor.
So what I’m saying here is that people are talking about too little too late in diplomacy, they may not be keeping the scorecard. But the fact is, nobody has been more diplomatically active than we have.