It’s not that Clinton didn’t try to do big things, State Department watchers say. But Obama’s determination to avoid new foreign entanglements – and his insistence on tight control over diplomacy – dictated a narrower approach, focusing on women’s rights and smaller international initiatives, like re-establishing relations with Myanmar. – John Kerry: The un-Hillary Clinton, by Glenn Thrush
LET’S HOPE that Secretary John Kerry focuses on what moves him and what can be done in a second term of President Obama, when there’s not a political election in sight. We agree and I really dislike having to point these things out, but I’ve had a symbolic clock going to see how long it would take before women’s rights were downgraded on the diplomatic scale, and Politico, unfortunately, was the first to do just that. The American media establishment does not appreciate the power of women, but today Politico, sadly, also comes very close to mimicking the Republican Party, which I’m sure wasn’t their intent.
Glenn Thrush writes a piece that has very little foreign policy in it, while bringing up aspects of what could make Kerry’s State tenure different, but revolve all around him.
“Hillary had to travel, she made a virtue out of necessity. The president was not going to let her dominate on foreign policy… he’s the most domineering president on foreign policy we’ve had since Nixon,” [Former State Department official Aaron David Miller] said. “In a way history is going to be crueler to Kerry, if he can’t figure out a way to be a more conventional secretary of state. He doesn’t have Clinton’s ascendant arc. The bar for Kerry in the job is much higher because this is his last act, and he knows it. He’s going to want to have a more meaningful role.”
What is not only wrong with the Politico report, but continues the elite media conventional wisdom myopia, is that women’s rights should be tied to the description of “smaller international initiatives.” This has been proven false in reports that have shown that cutting off women from the political and economic engine of a country guarantees that country will be less stable and have a smaller chance of joining the world where economic progress is destiny.
In 2006, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development devised the Gender, Institutions and Development Database, which measures the economic and political power of women in 162 countries. With few exceptions, the greater the power of women, the greater the country’s economic success. Aid agencies have started to recognize this relationship and have pushed to institute political quotas in about 100 countries, essentially forcing women into power in an effort to improve those countries’ fortunes. In some war-torn states, women are stepping in as a sort of maternal rescue team. Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, portrayed her country as a sick child in need of her care during her campaign five years ago. Postgenocide Rwanda elected to heal itself by becoming the first country with a majority of women in parliament. – The End of Men, by Hanna Rosin [The Atlantic]
Politico doesn’t cover foreign policy. I really don’t mean to be harsh, but they have forced my hand, because this piece by Glenn Thrush proves why they shouldn’t.
Continuing to cover women’s rights in a 20th century fashion, as Politico does today, is as counterproductive to our diplomatic efforts as it is short-sided on what women’s rights mean to emerging nations. By insisting that it is of lesser importance and one of the “smaller international initiatives” is ignoring what happens when the other 50% of the population in countries is empowered economically and through the political process.
Secretary Hillary Clinton isn’t out a month and the very competent male editors in the D.C. elite media, this time represented by Politico, have already decided that women’s rights should be reduced to the description of “smaller international initiatives.” That didn’t take long at all, now did it?
In the end the Politico piece reveals what foreign policy coverage in the Beltway represents. It’s all about ego and legacy, the main subjects of interest where foreign policy is concerned.
Former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who worked under Clinton, thinks Kerry will benefit from a second-term convergence of motive with Obama – as both men seek to cement their global legacies. “I do think that the president’s legacy will be on the domestic side, and he’s laid out a very ambitious domestic agenda,” Crowley said. “But at some point, his attention will come back to foreign policy… That gives Kerry a great deal of room to maneuver on some issues. Take Middle East peace: I’m sure Kerry would want to test those issues. [Obama and Clinton] tried in the first term, but did not get anything from those investments. It’s interesting, and correct for Kerry to go over there on his first trip to listen… That could set something up later. If Kerry can come up with something in the middle innings, the president might be able to come in and close.”
Women can change the world. In fact, we are and we deserve all media to treat women’s rights as if they matter to a country’s stability and economic viability, because they do.