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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

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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.”

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“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 visits statue of husband Bill in Kosovo

In Afghanistan, HILLARY 2012, Pakistan, Politics, PRESIDENT HILLARY, Smart Power, the Taliban and al Qaeda on October 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

Secretary Clinton is in Kosovo today, and many people there love the Clintons. In the capital, Pristina, Clinton visited an 11-foot statue of her husband Bill, who as U.S. president backed the 1999 NATO air campaign that stopped a crackdown by Serbian forces on Kosovo’s ethnically Albanian majority. When he attended the unveiling of the statue last year, he was greeted with a giant cake bearing his portrait. And, both Hillary and Bill have been lauded on billboards in Pristina.

Update, 5:09 p.m.: At a “townterview” today, Clinton said the statue’s bronze hair reminds her of how Bill Clinton looked when she first met him, back in the 1970s:

I have to say it’s quite a statue. And my husband — it still looks like he has bronze-colored hair, which I like. Because when I met him — you know we’ve been married as of Monday 35 years — so when I met him when we were in law school, he had very brownish, reddish hair. And the statue reminds me of that, so of course I like the statue. Nobody should paint it white. Don’t paint it white. Keep it that color.

Secretary Clinton visits Kosovar clothing boutique named ‘Hillary’

Clinton: It’s ‘unacceptable’ that Pakistani elites aren’t paying more taxes


Secretary Clinton blasted Pakistan’s government today for not taxing its rich more, yet expecting developed countries to aid the country. She declared, “It is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while the taxpayers of Europe, the United States, and other contributing countries are all chipping in to do our part.”

Clinton made the remarks at a news conference in Brussels with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton (seen above) in which they discussed flood-recovery efforts in Pakistan. Clinton mentioned that a stable Pakistan is essential to the fight against terrorism, which is when she started on her pet peeve: poor countries that don’t tax their elite. Here are her demands of the Pakistani government, which you can also listen to in the video below at link:

http://hillary.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/10/14/clinton_its_unacceptable_that_pakistani_elites_arent_paying_more_taxes

“We also believe that stability in Pakistan is essential to our shared fight against terrorism and to protect the security of the people of our country and friends and allies like those in Europe. Now, of course, the international community can only do so much. Pakistan itself must take immediate and substantial action to mobilize its own resources, and in particular to reform its economy.”

The most important step that Pakistan can take is to pass meaningful reforms that will expand its tax base. The government must require that the economically affluent and elite in Pakistan support the government and people of Pakistan. We have been very clear on that, and I am pleased that the government is responding. I know how difficult this is, but it is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while the taxpayers of Europe, the United States, and other contributing countries are all chipping in to do our part. The government must also take steps to alleviate the crippling power shortages that stifle economic growth while making life difficult for the Pakistani people.

If U.S. President Barack Obama is having such a hard time repealing the Bush tax cuts on America’s rich, his administration is going to have an even harder time getting another country’s government to increase taxes on its rich (or begin collecting taxes from the rich in the first place). Clinton is certainly right that Pakistan’s elite should pay its fair share of taxes — the rich there pay laughably small amounts or none at all, Clinton pointed out last month. But, the United States has limited influence on the country’s government. Just two weeks ago, Pakistan closed the Torkham Gate crossing into Afghanistan after U.S. forces accidentally killed several Pakistani border guards. The crossing has since been reopened, but the multiday closure held up trucks that supply international forces in Afghanistan. So, who’s really in a position to be calling the shots?

Clinton supports making peace with Taliban who meet clear conditions

Secretary Clinton said today that she and the U.S. government support reintegration and reconciliation with Taliban members who meet specific criteria. We are “willing to support what’s called reintegration — namely, people on the battlefield coming off and going back into their society — and reconciliation, which is a much more political process to work out terms of peace with people who [have] led the Taliban, but only on very clear conditions,” she told ABC’s Robin Roberts during an interview in Brussels, where she attended a NATO ministerial meeting.

Those “clear conditions” are:

* Renouncing violence and laying down arms.
* Renouncing al Qaeda.
* Abiding by Afghan laws and the Afghan Constitution.

Clinton was cautious with her remarks and said she’s unsure how many Taliban leaders would agree to these conditions. In fact she said, “I think it’s highly unlikely that the leadership of the Taliban that refused to turn over bin Laden in 2001 will ever reconcile. But stranger things have happened in the history of war, but it can only happen if they [are] willing to abide by the red lines that we and the Afghan government have established.”

Other the other hand, Clinton sounded somewhat optimistic about lower-level Taliban members who likely joined in the first place just to get a paycheck. “I am increasingly convinced that many of the lower-level Taliban, young men who frankly went to fight for the Taliban because they got paid more than they could make anywhere else — I believe that they are, in increasing numbers, laying down their arms and coming back into society.”

She also told Roberts, “What we are seeing is a move by the lower-level fighters, many of them, to leave the battlefield, which is all to the good because they are being convinced that this fight is no longer one they want to be part of.”

Anything about the Taliban joining peace talks or becoming part of the Afghan government will make most Americans nervous. Anyone can pay mere lip service to meeting the three “red line” conditions listed above; how do you tell whether someone isn’t surreptitiously supporting violence and al Qaeda on the side? I also wish Clinton had reiterated that no political reconciliation should come at the price of Afghanistan’s women — which is one of the scariest things about involving the Taliban in peace talks and the government. Back in July during her visit to Kabul, Clinton made it starkly clear that Afghan women can’t be marginalized in the reconciliation process, saying:

” I don’t think there is such a political solution that would be a lasting, sustainable one that would turn the clock back on women. That is a recipe for a return to the kind of Afghanistan — if not in the entire country, in significant parts of the country — that would once again be a breeding ground for terrorism. So we’ve got our red lines, and they are very clear: Any reconciliation process that the United States supports, recognizing that this is an Afghan-led process, must require that anyone who wishes to rejoin society and the political system must lay down their weapons and end violence, renounce al Qaeda, and be committed to the Constitution and laws of Afghanistan, which guarantee the rights of women.


Clinton to Ahmadinejad: ‘We reject any efforts to destabilize’ Lebanon

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was greeted with rose petals in Lebanon today, but Secretary Clinton has a message that the Iranian president might find less rosy:

The United States supports the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon. We reject any efforts to destabilize or inflame tensions within Lebanon.
Clinton made the remarks, reported by AFP, while in Kosovo. The U.S. government is concerned that Iran is trying to draw Lebanon closer into its orbit and that Iranian support for Hezbollah militants in Lebanon weakens Lebanese sovereignty.

Update, 2:05 p.m.: Here is Clinton’s complete remark on Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon:
With respect to President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon, the United States supports the integrity and sovereignty of Lebanon. We reject any efforts to destabilize or inflame tensions within Lebanon. We are very committed to supporting the Lebanese Government as it deals with a number of challenges in its region. And we would hope that no visitor would do anything or say anything that would give cause to greater tension or instability in that country.

And I don’t know whether anything I might say would have any influence; I highly doubt it. But I believe that it’s a message that the world needs to convey to the Iranians because of the balance within Lebanon that needs to be maintained.

http://hillary.foreignpolicy.com

Secretary Clinton in the Balkans

Clinton reprimands Pakistan over lack of action finding al-Qaida leaders…

In bombing, Global News, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, Politics, the Taliban and al Qaeda, United States on October 29, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Hillary risks her life for us visiting terrorists countries and all the media can come with is reporting how blunt she is with her criticism, taking the side of leaders hostile to our Foreign Policy representative speaking TRUTH to hypocrisy..I ask you, is msnbc any better than al-Qaida?

Says she finds it ‘hard to believe’ that government can’t find terrorists.

The Peshawar bombing in a market crowded with women and children appeared timed to overshadow her arrival. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since 2007.

Hill in Pac

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is escorted by Pakistani Rangers at the Iqbal Memorial in Lahore, Pakistan, on Thursday during a three-day state visit to Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton chided Pakistani officials Thursday for failing to press the hunt for al-Qaida inside their borders, suggesting they know where the terrorist leaders are hiding.

American officials have long said that al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden and senior lieutenants of the network accused in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks operate out of the rugged terrain along the border with Afghanistan.

But Clinton’s unusually blunt comments went further in asserting that Pakistan’s government has done too little about it.

“I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,” Clinton said in an interview with Pakistani journalists in Lahore. “Maybe that’s the case. Maybe they’re not gettable. I don’t know.”

There was no immediate reaction from Pakistani officials, but the thrust of Clinton’s comments were startling, coming after months of lavish public comments from her and other American officials portraying Pakistan’s leaders as finally receptive to the war against militants inside their own country.

As a political spouse, career public official and recently as a diplomat, Clinton has long showed a tendency toward bluntness, sometimes followed by a softening of her comments. But her remarks about Pakistan’s lack of action against al-Qaida comes at a particularly sensitive moment — amid a major Pakistani offensive against militants and a deadly spate of insurgent violence.

Hill in Pak 2

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses a news conference at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009. Offering sympathy for victims of Wednesday's terrorist bombing, Clinton praised Pakistan's offensive against extremists and pledged U.S. support at a critical point in the country's history.

With Pakistan reeling from Wednesday’s devastating bombing that killed more than 100 people in Peshawar, Clinton also engaged in an intense give-and-take with students at the Government College of Lahore. She insisted that inaction by the government would have ceded ground to terrorists.

“If you want to see your territory shrink, that’s your choice,” she said, adding that she believed it would be a bad choice.

Terrorist ‘masterminds’

Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters that Clinton planned to meet late Thursday with the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to get an update on the offensive that began Oct. 17 against Taliban forces in a portion of the tribal areas near the Afghan border.

“We want to encourage them,” Holbrooke said of the Pakistanis. “She wants During her exchange with the Pakistani journalists, one reporter asked Clinton why the fight against terrorism seemed to put Pakistan at the center and why other countries couldn’t do more. Clinton noted that al-Qaida has launched attacks on Indonesia, the Philippines and many other countries over the years.

“So the world has an interest in seeing the capture and killing of the people who are the masterminds of this terrorist syndicate. As far as we know, they are in Pakistan.”

On Clinton’s flight to Islamabad after the interview with Pakistani journalists, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson said Clinton’s remarks approximate what the Obama administration has told Pakistani officials in private.

“We often say, `Yes, there needs to be more focus on finding these leaders,'” Patterson said. “The other thing is, they lost control of much of this territory in recent years, and that’s why they’re in South Waziristan right now.”

Hill with Islamist pres

This handout picture released by Pakistan?s Press Information Department on October 28, 2009 shows Pakistan?s President Asif Ali Zardari (R) speaking with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (3L) during a meeting in Islamabad. A huge car bomb ripped through a crowded market in Pakistan on October 28 killing 92 people and underscoring the gravity of the extremist threat destabilising the nuclear-armed Muslim state. The explosion brought down buildings in the northwestern city of Peshawar just hours after US Secretary Hillary Clinton arrived in Pakistan to bolster the two countries' troubled alliance against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.

No guarantee

In Lahore, dozens of students rushed to line up for the microphone when the session with Clinton began. Their questions were not hostile, but showed a strong sense of doubt that the U.S. could be a reliable and trusted partner for Pakistan.

One woman asked whether the U.S. could be expected to commit long term in Afghanistan after abandoning the country after Russian occupiers retreated in 1989.

“What guarantee,” the woman asked, “can Americans give Pakistan that we can now trust you — not you but, like, the Americans this time — of your sincerity and that you guys are not going to betray us like the Americans did in the past when they wanted to destabilize the Russians?”

Clinton responded that the question was a “fair criticism” and that the U.S. did not follow through in the way it should have. “It’s difficult to go forward if we’re always looking in the rearview mirror,” said Clinton, on the second of a three-day visit, her first to Pakistan as secretary of state.

U.S. being ‘out-communicated,’ Clinton says. Information is key!

In foreign policy, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, Middle East, the Taliban and al Qaeda on May 23, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Hill in Blues

Secretary Clinton testified yesterday (as seen above) in front of a Senate subcommittee that the United States is “being out-communicated by the Taliban and al Qaeda” and that it needs a “new strategic communication strategy” in order to “do a better job of getting the story of the values, ideals, the results of democracy out to people who are now being fed a steady diet of the [worst] kind of disinformation.”

Al Qaeda’s propagandists produce high-quality videos and elaborate Web sites, which has led U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to often say, “We’re being out-communicated by a guy in a cave.”

Clinton didn’t provide details about what any “new strategic communication strategy” would involve, but whatever it is, let’s hope it follows sound media ethics. In the past, the United States secretly paid Iraqi newspapers to run articles written by U.S. troops. In 2006, the Defense Department’s inspector general discovered that the Lincoln Group, a private contractor, had paid Iraqi media outlets to run articles without attribution that were favorable to the U.S. military.

It’s doubtful, though, that Clinton would support such tactics. According to a 2008 Washington Post article, when then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld learned about the Lincoln Group’s “anonymous pay-to-publish program,” he told reporters, “Gee, that’s not what we ought to be doing.”

Clinton, the e-diplomat, has hinted a bit at what her communications strategy would involve. Tuesday, she mentioned reaching out directly to displaced Pakistanis on their cellphones.

In all fairness, FP — the print edition — runs multipage ads from various countries, which are clearly marked as “Special Advertising Supplement.” The May/June issue has supplements from the Dominican Republic, Angola, and Cabinda (an Angolan province).

And speaking of Angola, Clinton has that country on her schedule today:

11:00 a.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Ansuncao Afonso dos Anjos, Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Angola.

11:45 a.m. Meeting with Joint Summit Working Group.

2:00 p.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

4:15 p.m. Attend The President’s bilateral with Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Photo: TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images