Clinton Outlines Progressive Vision for Secretary of State

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 6:53 pm
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ascension to secretary of state was never really in doubt. Even the few Republican critics at her Tuesday confirmation hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee declined to say that they’d oppose her nomination, and a few of them said they’d support her when the committee votes at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday to send her nomination to the full Senate. And even though Clinton declined to give her specific thoughts on several controversial issues — Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Israel among them — the picture that emerged from her eight-hour hearing was that of an energetic and progressive secretary of state prepared to reassert her department’s role in U.S. foreign policy.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Taking a high-altitude overview of her approach to statecraft, Clinton pledged to be principled but not ideological. She reasserted progressive shibboleths familiar to students of her Senate tenure and presidential campaign: the strengthening of American alliances and a move to a world of “more partners and fewer adversaries.” She embraced the term “Smart Power” as a catchphrase for the Obama administration, referring to an approach integrating military, economic, diplomatic and cultural solutions in a pragmatic fashion.

Much of Clinton’s testimony reflected a recognition that the ongoing world financial crises and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would constrain the Obama administration in ways that neither the Bush or Clinton administrations had to contend with. The rhetoric employed by Clinton was far less triumphalist than that of her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, who described a diplomatic approach that “seeks to change the world itself” and even her husband’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, who called America “the indispensable nation.” More fulsomely than either, Clinton tethered America’s fortunes to the world’s, saying, “America cannot solve the most pressing problems [of the world] on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America.” Nor did she use the phrase “war on terrorism” during her testimony, preferring to talk more specifically about combatting “Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”

Senators asked Clinton for specifics on the Obama administration’s approach to a multitude of foreign policy crises, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Israel and Iran. On all, she said that the administration would put together strategy reviews to provide a more deliberate way forward, but she did give some indications of the administration’s inclinations. She described the overall scope of the administration’s thinking on Afghanistan as “more-for-more,” meaning that the administration would seek burden-sharing measures from both NATO allies and the Afghan government while it raised the number of U.S. troops. Withdrawal from Iraq would come in “the context of the Status of Forces Agreement” that envisions total U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011.

Clinton signaled departure from the Bush administration on a number of issues. On North Korea, she said she would be open to “bilateral talks” on nuclear disarmament that Bush has largely shunned. On Darfur, she opened the administration to the prospect of enforcing “no-fly zones” to repel Sudanese genocidaires. On nuclear proliferation, she embraced the prospect of reducing the U.S.’s own nuclear arsenal in order to pursue new global rules for nonproliferation. But she also appeared to back away from campaign promises made by Obama on the trail, declining to specify that she would enter into bilateral talks with the Iranians within the administration’s first year in office, despite Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the committee, pressing her. She also backed off one of her own campaign promises by indicating that the State Dept. wouldn’t ban private security contractors that protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If there was another theme that developed in the hearing, it was Clinton’s pledge — echoing those of her prospective Pentagon counterpart, Bob Gates; and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen — to reorient American foreign policy off its current military-dominant posture. She defined the task as not merely one of increasing the State Department’s budget, but “proving” that the department is up to the task of shouldering a greater burden by increasing its capacity for traditional development — she said USAID had been “decimated” by budget cuts — but for the new tasks of reconstruction and stability assistance to foreign countries. “It’s our job to prove that … in the 21st century, [we] can move with dispatch, be results-oriented,” she said, pledging to work closely with Gates. The counterinsurgency experts expected to follow Michele Flournoy into the Defense Dept.’s policy directorate will very likely welcome Clinton’s statements, which complement with many of their own critiques of the State Dept.

The hearing was not without controversy, all of which revolved around the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton, and the money it receives from foreign donors — which the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), warned could create the appearance of a conflict of interest, as foreign entities give the foundation money in an attempt to influence Secretary Clinton’s decision-making. Last month, the Obama transition sent a memorandum of understanding to the committee pledging annual disclosure of all contributors to the Foundation. Lugar urged Clinton to go further, with the Foundation “forswear[ing] new foreign contributions” in order to avoid the appearance of conflict. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual gathering of luminaries hosted by Bill Clinton to raise money and awareness for a host of global problems, ought to disclose its donors as well. Clinton replied that the Initiative does not receive donations itself — referring to it instead as a go-between connecting causes with donors — and said there was “no intention to amend” the memorandum of understanding.

Still, no senator voiced opposition to Clinton’s nomination to become the 67th secretary of state. Her task will now become the implementation of the approaches she laid out in her testimony; the further exploration of some of her inclinations; and the wisdom to change course if her desired policy choices fail.

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[...] Spencer Ackerman summarises Hillary Clinton’s Senate confirmation hearing [...]

Comment posted January 14, 2009 @ 7:06 pm

Still, no senator voiced opposition to Clinton’s nomination to become the 67th secretary of state. Her task will now become the implementation of the approaches she laid out in her testimony; the further exploration of some of her inclinations; and the wisdom to change course if her desired policy choices fail.Nike Men Air Force 1 High
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Ceasefire: Let Go - Clinton, Hillary (D, NY) | Hillary Clinton - Sharpy News
Pingback posted January 18, 2009 @ 2:21 pm

[...] factions will undoubtedly look to it for immediate signals for where to go next. Hillary Clinton indicated at her Senate confirmation hearing that moving from the Gaza crisis to some sort of productive way forward for Israel/Palestine will [...]

Jaff Sassani
Comment posted January 24, 2009 @ 10:42 am


Listening to the President Obama’s speeches and no plans so far is showing that “lessen are not learned from this wars”. The President is going to work against the wishes of the American people too. He is talking about the residual forces in Iraq and increase of the forces in Afghanistan. The Wars without economic plans are going to fail no matter what the military does Mr. President.
Mr. President first you are going to review the wars expenditures carefully. And figure out that there are corruptions within the US Government officials in Afghanistan and Iraq. The state department and defense department are fighting each other to control the funds and ask them why?
We are going to give you an example. The state department has parallel Government officials to Iraqi Government called the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in every province in Iraq. They are working closely with the Iraqi officials.
We are one fourth of the populations in Kurdistan region of Iraq. We are contacted Mr. Haward Keegan, the team leader of PRT in Kirkuk, Iraq and informed him about our miserable life in our regions. He did not want to listen to our grievances because probably of the advice of the corrupt Iraqi officials in Kirkuk. We can prove to you that all the Kurdish officials are corrupt in Kurdistan regions of Iraq and the US officials are working with them closely without any regards to the people complains in the region.
The US contracting offices in Iraq are involved with the corruptions. And they are known to the public that the American’s are taking money to give you contract.
Mr. President why so many billion’s of dollars is disappeared in Iraq and Afghanistan reconstructions’ projects. But the Iraqi and Afghans people are in very bad shape and those projects are useless. You think Mr. President all the money is gone to Iraqi and Afghans officials or there are people from your country; God forbidden could take some of that money too. What mechanism state department has to control that!!!
Mr. President first put your country house in order. And then try to understand the failure of your own Government policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With regard of Iraq we are hoping that you take more time to understand Iraq first. President Bush did have plan in his mind but it come out to be useless plan. America lost lot of the people; their lives are not replaceable. The costs are too high for the USA to be the servant of the divided country which does not want to be united. Iraqis are more loyal to the regional powers; than this artificial country called Iraq and imposed by the UK imperialist to serve its oil interest. Iraq never has been stable since the day one. Iraq used to be three regional Governorship during the Iranian and Ottoman Empires depend on who was the ruler of the territory.
Here is what we are thinking should be done. Total withdrawals without any conditions are the best choice for time being. If Iraq are so important to the USA security then has few bases in the Kurdistan regions only. And replace the corrupt Barzani and Talabani family of mafia with the people who want to serve the Kurdish people and American people too. Barzani and Talabani are using the good nature of the American people to make more and more money and the Kurds are starving.
Both Arab communities in Iraq does not want USA so why you want to help them any way. Let them to settle their own differences first without your interference.
The Kurdish people are in need of the American protections. Arrest both corrupt Barzani and Talabani family members and let the Kurdish court decide their future. The Kurds love American laws and rule of laws. They are in love with the American culture and they do want to be like American. Let the UN to mark the boundaries between Arabs and Kurds using historical document and justice.
We are one fourth of the populations in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and we have very good relationship with Sourchi, Harkey, barware, and other large tribes in Kurdistan. We want to have free elections to form real parliament to watch the elected Government in the region. Barzani and Talabani are only few families. They are not that popular with their mafia political parties. You will be surprised how weak they are. We are going to punish them based on the verdict of the court. We promise you they are going to receive the punishment immediately based on the court orders. They are no body in Kurdistan. They are the creations of the Bush administrations.
The Kurds are real friend of the USA. We love your system of Government even collapsed because of the wrong doing of individuals not because the system are in fault.
Jaff sassani
From the SKDC

Jaff Sassani
Comment posted January 24, 2009 @ 10:45 am

Mr. President Obama Please treats us Iranian like European’s people

The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and the Al-Qaida terrorist organizations are challenging the US Government influence in the Muslim world. They are not going to negotiate with the US Government for any peaceful settlement. Their goals are clear. They are trying to bleed the US Government financially first and then militarily later.
The Bush administrations’ was very helpful to IRI and Al-Qaida because of their own wrong policy of helping corrupt politicians and dictators of Muslim world.
Mr. President Obama; we hope you are going to change your policy now before it is too late. You have golden opportunity to save the interest of American people in the Muslim world. We hope that you are going to treat us “the Eryan or Iranian or Aryan people” like the US government treated the people of the Western Europe after World War II.

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Comment posted February 24, 2009 @ 5:08 am

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Obama Transition Wrap | Obama team defends pick for treasury secretary |
Pingback posted July 21, 2009 @ 3:00 am

[...] The Washington Independent » Clinton Outlines Progressive Vision …Last month, the Obama transition sent a memorandum of understanding to the committee pledging annual disclosure of all contributors to the Foundation. Lugar urged Clinton to go further, with the Foundation “forswear[ing] new foreign ……[Read More] [...]

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