Special Envoy

Recently I had an opportunity to hear Senator George J. Mitchell speak at the Tanner Humanities Center World Leaders Forum at the University of Utah. I first became aware of the senator in 1995, when the former Senate Majority Leader finished his final term in office and donated his papers to his alma mater, Bowdoin College. I matriculated at Bowdoin in the fall of ’95 and worked in the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, where the collection was on display. I worked in Special Collections, which now bears the senator’s name. His name was next brought to my attention by U2, who publicly thanked the senator for his efforts in brokering the Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland. Mitchell was later appointed a Special Envoy to the Middle East by President Obama, and it was on this topic that he was invited to speak at the forum.

The key point of his talk was that Israel must resolve a two-state solution out of self-interest. Demographics indicate that a democratic Jewish state will not be viable in the near future, making a compromise necessary. This will require flexibility and leadership on all sides, as well as U.S. involvement. From the standpoint of writing Grandpa Art, that was the key point of Senator Mitchell’s speech. I had already considered the role of a U.S. Special Envoy (Sen. Mitchell is an archetype for Grandpa Art, in fact), but I will also have to bring courageous and flexible leaders to the bargaining table.



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