Tellurian

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Hillary Clinton and the Limits of Power

In Draft Hillary, foreign policy, Global News, Iran, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, Smart Power, the Taliban and al Qaeda on October 28, 2011 at 7:56 am

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton records interviews for American TV shows in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Oct. 23, 2011.

By Massimo Calabresi | October 27, 2011

Hillary Clinton argues in our cover story this week, now available online to subscribers, that America is not so much in decline as adjusting to a world of increasingly diffuse power, where like-minded networked individuals, non-governmental organizations and other non-traditional global actors may steer events as much as great power capitals. Clinton lays out “smart power” strategies for protecting and advancing U.S. interests in that new non-polar world.


We argue that Clinton is something of an expert at coming up with strategies for maximizing limited power given her life experiences, including being a First Lady with high visibility but little official swat, and a Secretary of State in the administration of her former rival, President Obama, who makes the final call on most major foreign policy and national security decisions with a small group of aides at the White House—and without Clinton.

The story is told largely through the lens of the very limited war in Libya, which is in many ways Clinton’s war, thanks to her efforts lining up the Arab and European coalitions that fought it. We have some good reporting on her trip there last week, as well as on the internal and external challenges she faced in advancing the cause of intervention. We also lay out the ways in which Libya remains dangerously unpredictable, and underscore areas where her new strategies are more talk than action.

Lastly, we polled her against Romney and Perry, and found that she does better, by far, than Obama, leading Romney by 17 points and Perry by 26*. Her closest aides strongly dismiss any 2012 ambitions and say 2016 is very unlikely: she’d be 69 the day of the vote that year. We don’t speculate on the source of her popularity.

One item that came up in research but didn’t fit with the piece. Clinton has been talking about the limits of power from her first moment on the public stage–her rambling, idealistic speech to the graduating class of 1969 at Wellesley. In it, she refers to her favorite passage from T.S. Eliot’s “East Coker” about trying again and again in the face of resistance. It’s not my favorite poem—I like my inter-war humanism without the religious overlay. But it gives a sense of just how long Clinton has been thinking about power and how to leverage it:

…What there is to conquer

By strength and submission, has already been discovered

Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope

To emulate—but there is no competition—

There is only the fight to recover what has been lost

And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions

That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.

For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

*A national poll conducted for TIME on Oct. 9 and 10 found that if Clinton were the Democratic nominee for President in 2012, she would best Mitt Romney 55% to 38%, Rick Perry 58% to 32% and Herman Cain 56% to 34% among likely voters in a general election. The same poll found that President Obama would edge Romney by just 46% to 43%, Perry by 50% to 38% and Cain by 49% to 37% among likely voters.

link

________________

U.S. plans “virtual embassy” for Iran: Clinton

By Andrew Quinn

WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 26, 2011

(Reuters) – The United States plans to open a “virtual embassy” for Iran that will give Iranians online information about visas and student exchange programs despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.

Clinton, in interviews with the Persian language services of the BBC and Voice of America, defended U.S. sanctions against Iran and said Washington had a strong criminal case linking Tehran to a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Clinton used both interviews to stress that the United States hoped to broaden contacts with regular Iranians despite tensions with the Tehran government, which she said was being transformed into a military dictatorship.

“My goal in speaking to you today is to clearly communicate to the people of Iran, particularly the very large population of young people, that the United States has no argument with you. We want to support your aspirations.

“We would be thrilled if tomorrow the regime in Iran had a change of mind,” she told the Voice of America.

Clinton said the “virtual embassy” web site would be open by the end of the year and it would provide Iranians with information on visas and other programs.

The United States broke formal diplomatic relations with Tehran in 1980 following the Iran hostage crisis, and ties have remained tense amid disputes over Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. charges that Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism around the world.

In his waning months in office, President George W. Bush weighed opening a U.S. Interests Section, which could issue visas, in Tehran, but ultimately decided against it.

Clinton said the United States was providing both technology and training to help Iranians circumvent government limits on the Internet and other forms of communication while seeking to expand sanctions on Tehran.

She acknowledged economic sanctions sometimes caused difficulties for average Iranians, but said they were the best tool to pressure Iran’s leaders.

POWER STRUGGLE?

“We see disturbing trends and actions having to do with the continuing covert effort to build a nuclear weapons program … with a lot of deception, a lot of lying to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the rest of the international community,” Clinton told the BBC.

“We see aggressive behavior toward neighbors in the region, we see efforts to try to hijack and undermine the so-called Arab Spring awakening,” She said. “We do not want a conflict with Iran but we do want to see the rulers of Iran change their outlook and their behavior.”

Clinton said the door remained opened to talks with Tehran on its nuclear program, although she suggested the outlook was complicated by political divisions within the Iranian government itself.

“I believe there’s a power struggle going on inside the regime and they can’t sort out what they really are willing to do until they sort out who’s going to do what,” she said.

Clinton said she was aware that many people around the world were skeptical about U.S. charges this month that Iran was tied to a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador, but said she believed Washington had a strong case.

“I taught criminal law some years ago. It’s a very strong case. It certainly raises the right questions and I think it will be a successful case,” she told the BBC.

Iran has rejected the U.S. accusation as a fabrication designed to sow discord in the oil-rich Gulf.

Clinton said details of the case, in which two Iranians with security links are accused of seeking to kill the Saudi ambassador with help from members of a Mexican drug cartel, reflected a broader pattern of dangerous behavior by the Quds Force, the covert operations arm of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

“I understand people questioning it because it was such a shocking plot. It was shocking to us when we uncovered it,” Clinton told Voice of America.

“They’ve gotten more reckless,” Clinton told the BBC, saying the alleged plot was an attempt by the Quds Force “to thumb their nose at the Americans.”

_____________

“TIME Managing Editor Richard Stengel accompanied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her recent trip to Libya, Oman, Afghanistan and Pakistan. On Oct. 19, in the course of reporting for TIME’s cover story, which is now available online to subscribers, he conducted a wide-ranging interview with her, discussing among other things, the Middle East, China and American exceptionalism. A transcript of most of that conversation follows.

Read more:
http://swampland.time.com/2011/10/27/qa-hillary-clinton-on-libya-china-the-middle-east-and-barack-obama/#ixzz1c5n46wwb

Hillary Clinton: If we want to give peace a chance, we have some work to do-

In Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, Middle East, Pakistan, Smart Power, United States on October 22, 2011 at 8:42 am


Pakistan put on notice

 


An exclusive session: Hillary Clinton with Pakistani civil society

Even Hillary Clinton doesn’t get to see President Obama…

In Barack Obama, economy on October 9, 2011 at 11:18 am

by Michael Goodwin

The reports are not good, disturbing even. I have heard basically the same story four times in the last 10 days, and the people doing the talking are in New York and Washington and are spread across the political spectrum.


The gist is this: President Obama has become a lone wolf, a stranger to his own government.

He talks mostly, and sometimes only, to friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett and to David Axelrod, his political strategist.

Everybody else, including members of his Cabinet, have little face time with him except for brief meetings that serve as photo ops. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner both have complained, according to people who have talked to them, that they are shut out of important decisions.

The president’s workdays are said to end early, often at 4 p.m. He usually has dinner in the family residence with his wife and daughters, then retreats to a private office. One person said he takes a stack of briefing books. Others aren’t sure what he does.

If the reports are accurate, and I believe they are, they paint a picture of an isolated man trapped in a collapsing presidency. While there is no indication Obama is walking the halls of the White House late at night, talking to the portraits of former presidents, as Richard Nixon did during Watergate, the reports help explain his odd public remarks.

Obama conceded in one television interview recently that Americans are not “better off than they were four years ago” and said in another that the nation had “gotten a little soft.” Both smacked of a man who feels discouraged and alienated and sparked comparisons to Jimmy Carter, never a good sign.

Blaming the country is political heresy, of course, yet Obama is running out of scapegoats. His allies rarely make affirmative arguments on his behalf anymore, limiting themselves to making excuses for his failure. He and they attack Republicans, George W. Bush, European leaders and Chinese currency manipulation — and that was just last week.

The blame game isn’t much of a defense for Solyndra and “Fast and Furious,” the emerging twin scandals that paint a picture of incompetence at best.

Obama himself is spending his public time pushing a $450 billion “jobs” bill — really another stimulus in disguise — that even Senate Democrats won’t support. He grimly flogged it repeatedly at his Thursday press conference, even though snowballs in hell have a better chance of survival.

If he cracked a single smile at the hour-plus event, I missed it. He seems happy only on the campaign trail, where the adoration of the crowd lifts his spirits.

When it comes to getting America back on track to economic growth, he is running on vapors. Yet he shows no inclination to adopt any ideas other than his own Big Government grab. His itch for higher taxes verges on a fetish.

Harvey Golub, former chairman of American Express, called the “jobs” bill an incoherent mess. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, he said that among other flaws, the bill includes an unheard of retroactive tax hike on the holders of municipal bonds.

“Many of us have suspected that economic illiterates were setting the economic policy of this administration,” Golub wrote, adding that the bill “reveals a depth of cluelessness that boggles the mind.”

The public increasingly shares the sentiment. A new Quinnipiac polls finds that 55 percent now disapprove of Obama’s job performance, with only 41 percent approving. A mere 29 percent say the economy will improve if the president gets four more years.

The election, unfortunately, is nearly 13 months away.

The way Obama’s behaving, by then we’ll all be talking to portraits of past presidents, asking why this one turned out to be such a flop.

They doth protest too much

Even as desperate Pander-crats, including the president, continue to baby-talk the Wall Street hooligans, some of whom have violently attacked police, Mayor Bloomberg gets the point and tone just right.

“What they’re trying to do is take the jobs away from people working in this city,” the mayor told radio man John Gambling Friday. “And some of the labor unions, the municipal unions that are participating, their salaries come from the taxes paid by the people they are trying to vilify.”

Sanity also comes from readers. Sheri Rosen said she works downtown, at 111 Broadway, and is sick of the filth and mayhem.

“We work very hard every day for not that much money,” she writes. “We don’t camp out at a park and act like animals by urinating and stealing milk from the coffee vendors that are also trying to make a living.”

She blasted Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Comptroller John Liu for supporting the demonstrators, saying, “True New Yorkers who work hard for their money won’t forget this on Election Day.”

Reader Harold Theurer sees another angle. Noting the passing of Steve Jobs, he wonders how many protesters carrying Apple products understand how those gadgets came to exist.

“What started out as two men in a garage with ideas and passion would have been nothing more than two guys in a garage with ideas and passion had it not been for an IPO on Dec. 12, 1980, when Apple went public at $22 per share,” he writes.

“Big Bad Wall Street raised $101 million for Mr. Jobs to expand his ideas, create jobs and change the landscape of technology. The next time any of the Wall Street occupiers makes an iTune purchase, it can be traced back to some Big Bad Banker’s belief in Mr. Jobs and his company.”

Class dismissed.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/aimless_obama_walks_alone_OUgoMTkORRJioLl7B6ZYmN#ixzz1aIkgCJlP

The Clinton doctrine on economic statecraft: Clinton to urge U.S. diplomats to put economics at top of foreign policy agenda

In China, Global Economy, Global News, HILLARY 2012, HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT, HILLARY in 2012, Presidential Election on October 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi Sept. 26, 2011. (David Karp/AP)

There is no shortage of players jostling for turf on the complex matter of Chinese currency valuations. Witness Senate Democrats’ vow to take up legislation this week that could sanction China for allegedly undervaluing the yuan–at the cost, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), of American jobs.

As a practical matter, the delicate work of managing relations with China–the leading creditor of the United States–falls only in part to America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But if she has her way, she’d have more of a say.

If the fight against terrorism dominated American foreign policy in the decade after 9/11, the decade ahead could well be defined by efforts to manage the U.S. role in the global economy.

And in many ways, Hillary Clinton’s diplomatic portfolio is increasingly dominated by global economic challenges. Trade issues obviously have a direct impact on America’s efforts to emerge from the present economic downturn–from the battles over the national debt to the need to stimulate job growth. But economic issues also shape other less-noted features of the American foreign-policy agenda, be it the effort to contain fallout from Europe’s debt crisis, to managing the rise of G20 economic powers such as Brazil, Turkey and India—all of whom come bearing their own foreign policy ambitions. As a result, diplomats say, economic and foreign policy are growing ever more intertwined.

“The trading floor is increasingly replacing the battlefield as the forum for state contacts,” according to one of Clinton’s State Department advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as to describe the department’s economic plans more broadly.

So Hillary Clinton has been working hard to beef up the economic bench strength of the State Department, while also mounting a bid for State officials to play a more decisive role in determining U.S. global economics policy. Aides expect her to lay out what they are calling the “Clinton doctrine on economic statecraft” early this month, likely in a speech in New York. Timing and venue for the address are still being worked out, her aides say.

“This is coming from a sense that we are seeing the lines between national security and economic security blur as emerging powers are doing more to advance their economic power, and fitting their national security strategy more around economic interest,” the State Department adviser told The Envoy Friday.

A key precept in this effort is addressing a kind of cultural lag in the antiquated world of bureaucratic Washington. Lead policy makers may recognize the pivotal role that economics plays in global diplomacy–but in many ways, the diplomatic bureaucracy needs to catch up. Clinton’s planned speech is in large part a call to her own agency’s ambassadors, diplomatic staff and analysts to shift their thinking.

And as Secretary Clinton lays out that vision in more detail, she will stress two main bulwarks, aides say. First, she will highlight the need to advance relations with the wider world as part of the effort to revive the American domestic economic order. And second, she will stress that State Department diplomats and foreign policy thinkers need to work harder to understand how market forces are driving first-order national security challenges in hot spots such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

Clinton’s strong interest in global economics issues is hardly a secret. She has denied persistent rumors that she has her eye on the World Bank chief job when Robert Zoellick’s tenure ends next fall.

But such Beltway speculation aside, it’s hard not to notice the many ways that Clinton has started to sound like a World Bank or Treasury official as she holds down her present job at the State Department. And she’s managing the department with a clear eye toward bulking up its economics portfolio.

Clinton has made several recent hires in her corps of advisers, with backgrounds in economics and finance. She has launched a new energy security bureau–headed by special envoy/coordinator Carlos Pascual, the former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, aided by new deputy assistant secretary Amos Hochstein. She’s brought on a deputy secretary of state for management and budgets from Wall Street (Morgan Stanley’s Tom Nides). And she has been pushing for the State Department to work prominently in framing American economic policy objectives more broadly. That means, in part, elbowing State’s way into inter-agency discussions on U.S. international economic policy-making. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Clinton are at the heart of this scrum; Clinton’s aide won’t handicap her chance of winning–these are diplomats, remember?–but the aide stressed that she’s taking the long view.

In her in-house think tank, State Department policy planning chief Jake Sullivan, and senior adviser Jennifer Harris, a lawyer and economist who worked on the intelligence community’s Global Trends 2025 report (pdf), have been among the key thinkers helping Clinton flesh out her approach to economic statecraft. Sullivan and Harris arranged a “deep dive” on the issue for Clinton back in February.

Clinton explained the logic behind the new economic initiatives recently in Hong Kong.

“As we pursue recovery and growth, we are making economics a priority of our foreign policy,” Clinton said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Shangri La conference in Hong Kong in July. “Because increasingly, economic progress depends on strong diplomatic ties and diplomatic progress depends on strong economic ties. And so the United States is working to harness all aspects of our relationships with other countries to support our mutual growth.”

“All of us here today recognize that a strong economy at home is vital to America’s leadership in the world,” Clinton similarly told the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition conference in July, before sounding a retrospective note about her tenure at State. “After spending two and a half years as your Secretary of State, traveling nearly 600,000 miles, I have reached one overarching conclusion: Simply put, we need to up our game.”

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/envoy/clinton-doctrine-economic-statecraft-clinton-moves-put-economics-110046068.html