Let's concede for a moment that most of us don't believe the United States should be taking sides in conflicts abroad. Even so, most Americans would probably agree that at a minimum, our diplomatic efforts should not cause unnecessary harm. Which brings me to Secretary of State John Kerry's recent misadventure in the Middle East.
It seems like a rather big deal that Egypt, Israel, Fatah, Jordan, Saudi Arabia -- ostensibly all allies of ours -- agree on something. This development, one imagines, might be something the United States would be interested in fostering rather than destroying. Certainly, the idea that Hamas' power should be neutralized and the influence of the "moderate" Palestinian Authority expanded sounds like a plan worth pursuing.
Or so you would think. But instead, it looks as if Kerry ignored an Egyptian-led cease-fire effort and handed Israelis a document that offered them this:
--Rather than empower Fatah, it would have recognized Hamas as the legitimate authority in the Gaza Strip, although it's considered a terrorist organization by the Justice Department and an entity whose founding principle and driving purpose is to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.
--Rather than choke off this organization's lifeline, the agreement would have allowed it to collect billions in "charity," which it would have been able to use to rearm, retrench and re-engage in hostilities.
--All the while, it would have made no demands on Hamas to purge itself of rockets or tunnels or other weaponry that destabilizes the area. And at the same time, the agreement would have limited Israel's ability to take them out. (Update: This final point is disputed by U.S. officials.)
Hamas would have conceded nothing. No nation would have accepted such terms -- not after what's transpired -- and naturally, it was rejected unanimously by Israel's Cabinet, which includes the ideological left, center and right. The proposal not only irritated Israel -- a nation often accused of warmongering for kicks -- but also upset Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.