“We must use what has been called smart power, the full range of tools at our disposal… With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy.” – Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton
The word was “we.” It remains to be seen if the skeptics will be mollified, but Clinton presented her case, fully prepared and deeply knowledgeable, with President-elect Obama’s plans present in her statements. There was no daylight. The smiling, jovial, partisan Hillary Clinton took a back seat to the serious foreign policy professional today. Her respect for the Senate’s role evident. Cooperation between all the players up front.
The State Department is back. Clear that President-elect Obama intends to give the State department new teeth through Clinton, taking some of the work from the Defense department, giving new respect for what State can do. Fistfuls of cash in the hands of the military on the ground, no matter how well meaning the “warrior,” cannot replace the role of a State Department professional on the ground, who knows the language and culture, with that same cash, said Clinton. Defense has their role. State has their role. The two are not the same. The Obama administration’s State department under Clinton will reinstate those defining missions, changing course from Bush-Cheney. It’s the most welcome sign to date.
“… One very important aspect of the decisions we make is that we engage in consultation with our friends in the region and beyond. We don’t want anything I say today or the president-elect says to take our friends and allies by surprise. .. But I think it’s fair to say that the president-elect as recently as this weekend said we’re going to be trying new approaches, because what we’ve tried has not worked.” – Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton
“We will move in concert” whenever possible, a policy president-elect Obama insists upon, with our allies and friends.
Unfortunately, in the middle of Senator Boxer’s statement on the treatment of women that included brutal pictures, Chris Matthews and MSNBC decided it was too awful to see (video). He broke in, interrupting the reality so that Hillary Clinton’s passion on the subject of women’s rights was missed. But Matthews made a point to emphasize Clinton’s passion and commitment, also saying her statements would ricochet around the world. What Hillary Clinton can do for women around the world is no small issue, impacting a country’s stability. What many women face around the world is not cultural, it is “criminal,” as Clinton stated today.
Will we put an ambassador back in Syria?, asked Senator Kerry. Specificity will have to wait, but understanding of what’s needed acknowledged.
“The president-elect has said repeatedly it’s unacceptable. It is going to be United States policy to pursue diplomacy with all its multitudinous tools to do everything we can to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state. As I also said, no option is off the table. But the president-elect has been very clear that it is unacceptable and that is our premise and that is what we’re going to be basing our actions on.” – Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton
On Afghanistan: “It is the highest priority of the President-elect. … We have to look at Afghanistan and Pakistan together. … It is imperative that we work with our friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan. …it is about persuading those two countries that their security.. is at risk. …”
The details remain and cannot be filled in until President-elect Obama takes office. But make no mistake about it, the person he has chosen to lead State is prepared for what they will face together. There has never been a doubt that Clinton would be confirmed. However, her performance today was likely beyond the expectations of even her colleagues, and should leave honest critics mute.