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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rushing to Middle East. Why now? (+video)

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(Read caption) US State Dept. spokeswoman Victoria Nuland briefs reporters on current US efforts at diplomacy between militants in Gaza Strip and Israel.
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On Tuesday President Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Middle East in an attempt to end the deadly fight between Israel and Hamas. Why now? After all, to this point US involvement in the escalating war of missiles and air strikes has seemed reticent, instead of forceful.

The short answer as to why Secretary Clinton is suddenly involved in shuttle diplomacy is that the conflict may have reached a moment when the presence of a high-ranking American official can do some good. In that sense Clinton’s trip may be a lagging indicator of a possible cease-fire, not a leading one.

Presidents don’t generally like to dispatch their secretaries of State to war zones unless they’re fairly sure something positive will occur during the trip. Otherwise, the US looks even weaker, as if they tried to influence events, but nobody would listen.

And indeed, following the announcement of Clinton’s visit, media reports are claiming that Hamas will cease firing rockets at Israel beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern time. These reports say Israel is asking for 24 hours of calm before it will accept a formal cease-fire.

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