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CLINTON CONFIRMATION: HRC’s Opening Statement

Clinton, in her own words. Let’s do this liveblog-style.

On Sen. John Kerry: “I join in offering my congratulations… You have traveled quite a distance [since] your testimony as a young Vietnam veteran. You have never faltered in your care and your concern for our nation… America is in good hands with you leading this committee.” She’s also sad to leave the Senate and New York state. So sincerrrrrrrrre.

“Consultation is not a catchword, it is a commitment.” She and President-elect Barack Obama implicitly repudiate President George W. Bush’s high-handed approach to the Senate. Rhetorically, at least, so far.

Emerging since Obama’s election, new challenges: “New conflict in Gaza, terrorist attacks in Mumbai,” crises in Congo and Zimbabwe and even piracy” Time to “expand the progress and prosperity of people on the margins” of globalization. Indeed, on globalization, since the 1990s: “Both the promise and the peril of the 21st century could not be contained … a coalition of nations stopped ethnic cleansing in the Balkans but conflict in the Middle East spread from Africa to Asia… The clear lesson of the last 20 years is we must combat the threats and seize the opportunities… To do so, we must build a world of [more] allies and fewer adversaries.” The money line: the world can’t do it without America, either. “This is not a philosophical point, but rather our new reality.”

She endorses “smart power” — the “vanguard of our foreign policy. This is not a new idea.” But it does dip a toe into Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen’s waters. “The State Department will be firing on all cylinders… applying pressure wherever needed, but providing opportunities… partnering with non-governmental organizations… empowering negotiators who can protect our interests while understanding those of our negotiating partners.” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates “has been particularly eloquent in articulating [the need] for diplomacy…. [He is] more concerned about having an effective, integrated and agile U.S. strategy… than [fighting] petty turf wars.” Obama says “the State Dept. must be fully empowered… we must also use the United Nations whenever appropriate…. When they don’t work well… we should work with like-minded friends to make them more effective.”

Military force “will sometime be necessary… when and where needed as a last resort.” To promote interests around the world, “America must be an exemplar of our values.” Our “power and status have conferred upon us a tremendous responsibility.” Be realistic: “we don’t have unlimited time, treasure… to solve every problem… So we have to establish priorities.” Such as? “Insisting on measured results” and assessing the likelihood of success. Not spelling out those priorities so far, just a metric. This statement is somewhat high-altitude so far.

Wait, here she goes: “President-elect Obama is committed to ending the war in Iraq” and in Afghanistan, working toward “peace and security.” Security for Israel and “the just aspirations” of the Palestinians. Persuade Iran and Syria “to become responsible regional actors.” As intractible as the Middle East seems, “we cannot give up on peace.” “Deeply sympathetic” to Israel’s desire to be secure “however we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian cost in the Middle East and pained by the suffering of civilians,” so that must strengthen the resolve to bring peace. “Every effort” to support the work of Israelis and Palestinians “to undermine the forces of extremism around the world.”

“Defeat Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups” by rooting them out and their root causes as well. “Curb the spread and use of these weapons: nuclear, biological, chemical and cyber.” So will “seize the parallel opportunity … to [compel other nations] to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.” Seeking further reductions from Russia. “At the same time, we will continue to work to prevent proliferation in North Korea and Iran… and shut down the market for selling [loose nuclear material].” She doesn’t say anything about reducing the U.S.’s nuclear stockpile, which is a sticking point for nonproliferation.

Outreach to traditional Asian and European partners. “Reach out” to Russia “while standing strong for international norms.” China? “We want a positive and cooperative relationship… but this is not a one-way effort. Much of what we do depends on the choices China makes at home and abroad.” Should work with China and Russia on “terrorism, climate change, and reforming financial markets.”

Response to the crisis: “Here again, as we work to repair the damage, we can find new ways to work together.” It’s time to reengage emerging economic powers. Why not mention India here? Ah there she goes: “China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia are feeling the effects of the current crisis” and can be part of the solution. Big shouts to Canada, “our biggest supplier of imported energy,” and Mexico. “We share common political, economic and… ancestral and cultural legacies” with Latin and South America. So we won’t just hector them on their leftism?

Africa. “Combatting Al Qaeda’s efforts to seek safe havens in the horn of Africa… stopping human devastation in Darfur.” Supporting African democracies and development goals. Obama’s foreign-policy campaign team was heavy on Africa experts like Scott Gration and Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador-designee, but .

“Climate change is an unambigous security threat.” Prevent these looming resource wars. “We will participate in the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen.” Post-Kyoto, a return to the fold?

Whoa, praise for Bush on combatting AIDS in Africa. “America is seen as a leader in Africa on AIDS, Malaria and TB.” I withdraw the remark about Africa seeming like an afterthought. (See above.) “Investing in our common humanity is not marginal but essential to our goals… We have to expand civil and political rights… but our pleas will fall on deaf ears unless democracy improves people’s lives.” Why, that’s the Obama Doctrine right there! “The United States must be an unequivocal and unwavering voice in support of women’s rights worldwide.” There can be no doubt about that with Clinton at Foggy Bottom.

Nice words for Obama’s late mother. Really ending on a classy note. “Ensuring that our State Department is functioning at its best is essential for America’s success … The entire State Department bureaucracy in Thomas Jefferson’s day” was minimal. “Now the department consists of Foreign Service Officers, Civil Service officers and local staffs … and USAID carries out its critical development missions in some of the most dangerous places on earth.” Some have “lost their lives” in their mission “and need the resources and support to do … the work of the American people.” Not “the placid, idle bureaucracy that some have suggested.” Time to fund the State Department. She’s not talking about an expeditionary State Department or outgoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s “transformational diplomacy,” interestingly.

Is it “the end of the American moment in world history? I disagree.” American power “has always been rooted and inspired by our values.” Because “we are guided by unchanging truths … and in these truths, we will find … the courage and the discipline and the creativity to meet the challenges of this changing world.” And that could make for a fine line in an inaugural address.

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