In his piece, "What did Karzai say to Clinton?" yesterday, FP's Josh Rogin notes that regarding the ongoing friction between the U.S. administration and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in light of recent remarks he made, it was Secretary Clinton who was specially selected to deal with the issue:
Clinton, who feels she has a rapport that allows her to speak candidly with the Afghan leader, was chosen to handle the issue. She told him to concentrate on the upcoming "peace jirga," the reconciliation conference Karzai is organizing for early May.
More about the 25-minute phone call Karzai made to Clinton last Friday is over at the Washington Post.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
On the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, celebrated by Iranians, Afghans, Kurds, Azeris, and other people across Central Asia and the rest of the world, Secretary Clinton delivered a message, which included these remarks:
The spring equinox is a time of reflection and renewal across cultures and continents -- signifying the hope of rebirth, health, and prosperity. This is an opportunity to remember how much we have in common -- the aspirations we all share for a peaceful and prosperous future -- and to reaffirm the human rights and fundamental freedoms that are our universal birthright. As the Iranian poet Simin Behbahani writes, "we are all parts of the same body, similar in essence." On this Nowruz, we honor those common bonds.
President Obama also once again delivered a Nowruz message. For what Obama should have ideally said to the people of Iran in his Nowruz message, check out Karim Sadjadpour's FP piece, "The Message Obama Should Send to Iran."
In the photo above: Goldfish swim in bowls at a market in Tehran on March 20 as Iranians shop for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Traditionally, goldfish are among the items that Iranians buy during Nowruz celebrations.
ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images
Just what did Secretary Clinton ask from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during her stern, 43-minute phone call with him last Friday, in the wake of the East Jerusalem housing-project* announcement that Clinton described as "insulting"?
For the answer, check out this report from FP staff writer Josh Rogin over The Cable.
Update, March 23: The phrase "East Jerusalem housing-project announcement" corrects the original phrase, "settlements announcement."
After attending yesterday's inauguration of new Uruguayan President José Mujica (seen below shortly before his inauguration), Clinton went on to Argentina, where she met with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (seen above, appearing to share a laugh).
Clinton said yesterday that she was willing to assist Argentina and Britain in resolving their dispute over the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. Kirchner asked Clinton to be a mediator on the issue, but it appears Clinton doesn't want to take her involvement that far. Instead, she said she would be publicly urging the two countries to talk and said, "We would like to see Argentina and the U.K. sit down and resolve the issues between them in a peaceful and productive way."
The Associated Press reported that direct U.S. intervention might miff Britain, one of the United States' closest allies. (Britain is against third-party mediation.)
On another note, yesterday FP Editor in Chief Moisés Naím spoke about Clinton's trip on National Public Radio's Tell Me More.
Photos, top to bottom: ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP/Getty Images, PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton arrived in Uruguay today for her weeklong visit to South America and Central America.
Uruguay: Today, Clinton will attend the inauguration of José Mujica, Latin America's newest leftist leader.
Argentina: Later today in Buenos Aires, she'll meet with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Earlier, Clinton said she's willing to assist Argentina and Britain resolve their dispute over the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.
Chile: On Tuesday morning, Clinton is bringing communications equipment for the quake-hit country.
Brazil: Next she heads to Brazil, which presently has a rotating seat on the U.N. Security Council. She's going to use her diplomacy skills to try to persuade the Brazilian government to support tougher sanctions against Iran in order to check its nuclear ambitions. Brazil currently opposes further sanctions.
Costa Rica: Clinton will move on to Central America on Thursday, where she'll attend the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas ministerial meeting, a gathering of the region's foreign ministers that will center on improving the hemisphere's economy.
Guatemala: On Friday, Clinton will conclude her trip by meeting a group of regional leaders, including Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, who became leader in January, succeeding an interim government that outsed former President Manuel Zelaya last June.
During a speech yesterday at the NATO Strategic Concept Seminar, Secretary Clinton said she wants "a cooperative NATO-Russia relationship that … draws NATO and Russia closer together."
Russia is worried that NATO is creeping eastward and that the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia might join. Thus, Russian leaders probably weren't too happy when Clinton said, "We were glad to see the Alliance welcome Albania and Croatia last year. And there can be no question that NATO will continue to keep its doors open to new members."
Clinton also said that Russia has nothing to worry about. She declared: "Let me state this clearly and unambiguously: While Russia faces challenges to its security, NATO is not among them."
She also said:
And we intend to use the NATO-Russia Council as a forum for frank discussions about areas where we disagree.… We will use it to challenge the assertion put forward in Russia's new military doctrine that NATO's enlargement and its global actions constitute a military danger to Russia."
On a more humorous note, when asked whether she could imagine Russia ever being a NATO member, she generated laughter from the audience when she replied, "Well, I can imagine it. I'm not sure the Russians can imagine it."
Below, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright greets Clinton as she steps to the stage to give her speech.
Photos: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
FP's The Cable is reporting that the U.S. ambassador to Qatar, Joseph LeBaron, became angry and threw some sort of temper tantrum two weekends ago when Secretary Clinton was meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during her visit to Qatar. (In the file photo above, the two meet in Turkey on March 7, 2009.)
The meeting was only supposed to be 20 minutes, but it had gone on for more than an hour, delaying Clinton's subsequent meeting with Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The details are fuzzy because different witnesses are saying different things, but it appears that LeBaron got into a yelling match with Turkish Ambassador Fuat Tanlay, who wanted to let Clinton and Erdogan continue their meeting. LeBaron then banged loudly on the door leading to where Clinton and Erdogan were meeting.
Here's where witnesses' accounts get really disputed:
Yeaks! Sounds at least like the yelling and door-banging parts are true. Not very diplomatic.
Clinton is a smart and conscientious woman. If she went over her 20 minutes, it's undoubtedly because she was discussing topics of crucial importance and knew that any delay was well worth it. In fact, The Cable reports that Clinton and Erdogan were discussing "substantial" issues, such as sanctions against Iran, a topic on which the United States and Turkey view things very differently.
People should not yell and bang on doors when Clinton is using her star power to engage in high-level diplomacy.
BURHAN OZBILICI/AFP/Getty Images
Here are a couple of photos from the U.S. State Department's website of Secretary Clinton's meeting with the Dalai Lama last Thursday, Feb. 18. China expressed its disagreement with the meeting, saying it was U.S. interference in the country's internal domestic affairs. At Friday's press briefing, Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley said, "I think on this issue, obviously, we just agree to disagree on this subject."
U.S. State Department
As you all probably know, Secretary Clinton recently answered, "No, I really can't," when asked by PBS's Tavis Smiley Reports whether she'll serve a second term as U.S. secretary of state. In life after being America's top diplomat, Clinton said she'd like to read, write, and maybe even teach. Of course, she said she'll always remain a steadfast advocate for women and girls.
So, if Clinton won't be secretary of state from 2013 through 2016, and if Obama is re-elected for a second term, then who'll be the next secretary of state? Well, FP's The Cable compiled a shortlist that includes:
•Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
•Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
•James Steinberg, U.S. deputy secretary of state
•Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
•Richard Holbrooke, special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan (and a former managing editor of FP!)
•George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace
•Chuck Hagel, former U.S. Republican senator, now chairman of the Atlantic Council
•Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command
Photo: SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images
What a crazy week it was for Secretary Clinton last week. She was supposed to complete a Pacific trip that included Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia -- a trip that was supposed to have ended today. Instead, she ended up having to cut her trip short in Hawaii and return to Washington to deal with relief for Haiti in the aftermath of its devastating earthquake. Here, though, is a photo summary of her interrupted trip.
Above, Clinton steps out of her vehicle before boarding her plane on Jan. 11 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Heading to the Pacific, Haiti was probably far from her mind.
With a lei around her neck, Clinton chats with base personnel on Jan. 11 after arriving at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu.
Clinton greets Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada as he arrives for a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Honolulu on Jan. 12.
Clinton, with a fruity-looking beverage, sits across from Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada during their bilateral meeting.
Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada speaks during a joint news conference with Clinton following their meeting. They made these remarks.
Clinton visits the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu on Jan. 12. The memorial marks the resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 men killed on the USS Arizona when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Clinton lays a wreath at the USS Arizona Memorial and quietly reflects on those who perished during the Pearl Harbor attack.
Clinton greets Pearl Harbor survivors at the USS Arizona Memorial.
Clinton speaks on the U.S. vision for Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement at the East-West Center in Honolulu on Jan. 12. Before beginning her speech, she made these remarks about the earthquake in Haiti. The full text of her speech is here.
In Honolulu on Jan. 13, a very concerned Clinton speaks on a cell phone in a hotel lobby before briefing reporters on the earthquake in Haiti. She was on the phone all morning long.
Clinton speaks about the Haitian earthquake during a news conference at U.S. Pacific Command on Jan. 13 in Honolulu. Clinton announced that she was canceling the rest of her Pacific trip and returning to Washington that afternoon.
After leaving warm Hawaii for chilly Washington, Clinton alights from her plane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland early in the morning on Jan. 14.
At the White House on Jan. 14, President Barack Obama speaks about relief efforts in Haiti while surrounded by, from left, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary Clinton, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Images, top to bottom: First 10 by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images, last photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images
On its front page yesterday, the Washington Post reported that there are 25 female ambassadors posted in Washington, the most ever. And some have attributed it to the "Hillary effect." Mozambique's female ambassador to the United States, Amelia Matos Sumbana, told the Post, "Hillary Clinton is so visible [as secretary of state].… She makes it easier for presidents to pick a woman for Washington."
Of course, it also also helps that three of the last four U.S. secretaries of state have been women: Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and Madeleine Albright. "The pictures of U.S. diplomacy have been strongly dominated by photos of women recently.… That helps to broaden the acceptance of women in the field of diplomacy," Meera Shankar, India's ambassador, told the Post.
But it's likely that Clinton in particular has had a strong effect on women's participation in diplomacy because she is very well-known and respected abroad from her eight years as first lady, her presidential campaign, her strenuous efforts to promote women's rights worldwide, and her globetrotting first year as secretary of state. Clinton is indeed transforming the face of diplomacy.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
The following is adapted from today's Morning Brief on FP's Passport:
Arriving in Honolulu yesterday wearing a lei (as seen above), Secretary Clinton is kicking off her tour of the Pacific region with a meeting in Hawaii with her Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. The meeting will likely focus on the relocation of the U.S. air base on Okinawa, which the United States wants to keep on the island but which the Japanese want moved elsewhere. More generally, the talks may be aimed at defusing tensions that have emerged since the election of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who is looking to make Japanese security policy less dependent on the United States. Clinton said she's hoping the talks will "reaffirm the centrality of our 50-year-old alliance."
En route to Hawaii, Clinton also discussed U.S. relations with China, denying that recent arms sales to Taiwan and President Obama's upcoming meeting with the Dalai Lama would damage the relationship. "What I'm expecting is that we actually are having a mature relationship," she said. "That means that it doesn't go off the rails when we have differences of opinion."
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton departed for her Pacific trip today. Her first stop is Hawaii, where she's supposed to meet the Japanese foreign minister to discuss the United States' controversial Futenma air base on Okinawa. She'll also give give a speech on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement and meet with U.S. Pacific Command before heading off to Papua New Guinea for the next leg of her trip.
In the photo above, Clinton gets out of her vehicle this morning before boarding her plane at Andrews Air Force Base. As you can see, her hands are already stuffed with foreign-policy memos that she will diligently study during her flight so that when she lands she'll be fully informed with the latest information. As Tina Brown wrote on the Daily Beast last summer:
On her State Department plane, Hillary is always eager to throw off her well-groomed public look and sit up front with no makeup, wearing sweats and her bookworm glasses, as she crunches her way through a big fat file of foreign-policy memos."
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
President Obama may have just returned from Hawaii (above is Waikiki beach) after some R&R there, but Clinton is headed to Hawaii -- and to other sites in the Pacific -- for official business from Jan. 11 to 19. Her itinerary:
Hawaii, Jan. 12: Policy speech on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement and meetings with U.S. Pacific Command.
Papua New Guinea, Jan. 14: Bilateral meetings with officials and discussions with civil society leaders on environmental protection and women's empowerment.
New Zealand, Jan. 15: Meetings with senior New Zealand officials, including Prime Minister John Key, discussions with New Zealand citizens, and a meeting with U.S. and New Zealand veterans at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Australia, Jan. 17: In Canberra, Clinton will participate in the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to discuss global and regional security challenges. She'll also visit Melbourne.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
In a recent Time magazine article, journalist Joe Klein lists three qualities that could make Clinton "a memorable Secretary of State":
1. "She brings a vision of departmental reform -- the need to elevate foreign aid programs to the same status and rigorous scrutiny as diplomacy -- that could change striped pants into chinos in the developing world."
2. She is also the first elected politician to hold the office since Edmund Muskie briefly did during the Carter Administration, which has enabled her to better understand and interact with the politicians who run places like Afghanistan and Pakistan."
3. "But most important, she is an international celebrity with a much higher profile than any of her recent predecessors and the ability -- second only to the President's -- to change negative attitudes about the U.S. abroad."
And change negative attitudes she has. During her recent visit to Pakistan, she visited a Sufi mosque that been attacked by Sunni extremists. It made quite an impression on many moderate Pakistani Muslims, including one who told Klein, "We saw her praying there, and, for the first time, I'm thinking, 'The Americans have hearts.'"
Clinton also made herself available for students, talk-show hosts, and Pashtun elders, who asked her all sorts of difficult questions, and as Klein puts it, "her candor, her willingness to listen to and acknowledge criticism, had begun to undermine the prevailing Pakistani image of the U.S. as arrogant and bossy." A government spokeswoman and member of Parliament told Klein:
In the past, when the Americans came, they would talk to the generals and go home. … Clinton's willingness to meet with everyone, hostile or not, has made a big impression -- and because she's Hillary Clinton, with a real history of affinity for this country, it means so much more."
Although Klein offers constructive criticism for Clinton (saying that the controversy she sparked about settlements shows she needs "a few lessons in Middle East Haggling 101"), he does praise her as "the second most popular American in the world, an eternally compelling and supremely talented character, … a walking headline."
Klein writes that with her "three qualities," Clinton could become a memorable secretary of state. But for her fans worldwide, she already has become one.
Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton was supposed to just witness the signing of a Turkish-Armenian accord in Switzerland this weekend, but she ended up having to do frantic, high-level diplomacy to save the day when the agreement appeared on the verge of unraveling at the last minute.
The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers --whose countries have a long history of enmity for reasons described in this recent FP article -- got in a dispute over the final statements they would make after the signing. That's where Clinton stepped in to save the day. In frantic, last-minute diplomacy, she spoke by phone from her sedan in the hotel parking lot, talking with the Armenian side three times and the Turkish side four times. After two hours of phone calls, she met with the Armenian foreign minister in the hotel. She also contacted President Obama several times from the hotel and the University of Zurich, the venue for the signing ceremony. [Update, Oct. 13: For a photo of Clinton working the photos in the back of the vehicle, click here.]
In the end, as a result of Clinton's astute diplomatic skills, the signing of the historic accord took place only three hours late (vs. not at all), and no spoken statements were made. The agreement is expected to be ratified by Turkey's and Armenia's parliaments, and the border between the two countries -- which has been closed for 16 years -- could reopen within two months.
For Clinton, it was all just part of another day's work. "It's just what you sign up for," she told reporters later in the day.
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is in diplomat overdrive at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Yesterday, she announced a new way forward with Burma: engagement. Speaking to the U.N. Group of Friends on Burma, she said:
To help achieve democratic reform, we will be engaging directly with Burmese authorities. … We believe that sanctions remain important as part of our policy, but by themselves, they have not produced the results that had been hoped for on behalf of the people of Burma."
Clinton said that if Burma's military rulers started behaving better, it could lead to a lifting of sanctions:
We will be willing to discuss the easing of sanctions in response to significant actions on the part of Burma's generals that address the core human rights and democracy issues that are inhibiting Burma's progress."
I suppose if sanctions haven't worked all these years, then it's time to add something new. The plan -- which got a thumbs-up from pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi -- emerges from an almost-complete policy review started in January, so there must be something to it. (And by the way, Clinton has also suggested kicking Burma out of ASEAN if it doesn't release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.)
Photo: Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton had another busy day in New York. Above, she listens attentively during a bilateral meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (in purple tie) at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
A couple of amusing tidbits about Clinton in the news:
•In the just-published book, Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage, author Christopher Andersen claims that Michelle Obama was crucial in Barack Obama's decision not to select Clinton as his running mate during last year's presidential election. Michelle reportedly told Barack, "Do you really want Bill and Hillary just down the hall from you in the White House? … Could you live with that?"
•In the soon-to-be-published book The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch discusses how late Russian President Boris Yeltsin was found drunk and in search of a pizza on Pennsylvania Avenue during a 1995 visit to Washington. Yeltsin's former head of security says the alleged incident is a lie and blamed it on Clinton: "I think this book was written with the participation of Hillary Clinton who never had much sympathy for Yeltsin."
Photo: Olivier Doulier-Pool/Getty Images
It looks like Secretary Clinton will finally be back in the office tomorrow, after her well-deserved vacation. Topping her agenda is an important meeting: a discussion of the Honduras situation with Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted from the Honduran presidency on June 28.
The State Department has already stopped most visa services in Honduras, and $135 million in U.S. aid for Honduras is in jeopardy.
Secretary Clinton has been making "minor gaffes" recently by wandering off her scripted talking points and speaking off the cuff, the Washington Times reports.
You Hillary fans aren't going to like the article, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention. A flavor of it:
[Administration officials] explained that it is [Clinton's] genuine desire to give real answers to questions, rather than stick to scripted talking points -- the practice of her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice.
Thomas R. Pickering, former undersecretary of state for political affairs in the [Bill] Clinton administration and a retired career diplomat, said that the desire described by Mrs. Clinton's aides sometimes clashes with her limited diplomatic experience in previous jobs.
"Her talking points might have assumed she knew more than she did, and she added on to buttress her credentials," Mr. Pickering said.
In her superb foreign-policy speech today at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Secretary Clinton (with her right arm free from a sling) presented an "ambitious agenda" that included the call for a different "global architecture" and announced that the United States was ready for engagement with Iran, though only for a limited window of time.
Hopefully now, all the talk of Clinton in the shadows has been put to rest.
Paraphrasing from my notes:
On global governance: No nation can solve the world's problems on its own. Most countries worry about the same threats. These two facts demand a different global architecture -- an architecture of cooperation. Not only are multilateral institutions important, but so are partnerships with people, including outreach through educational and entrepreneurial programs and connecting through technology.
On the new approach: The "you're with us or against us" approach is "global malpractice."
On Iran's election: Clinton said she was "appalled" by the way in which the Iranian government responded to protesters after June 12's disputed election.
On engaging Iran: Clinton said direct talks were the best way to get through to Iran on nuclear arms. However, she said the opportunity for talks would not remain open indefinitely. (Clinton did not say when that window of opportunity would close, though.)
On foreign aid: In keeping with the idea of "smart power," foreign assistance should be provided in an efficient manner to implement country-driven solutions. Development must focus on women as drivers of economic growth and a key to stability.
On the Taliban: Clinton talked about accepting members of the Taliban who reject al Qaeda and lay down their arms. (Perhaps this came from the lessons learned from de-Baathification in Iraq?)
Perhaps alluding to a "reset" in how the United States does foreign policy, Clinton quoted Thomas Paine: "We have it in our power to start the world again."
As a side note, when introducing her, CFR President Richard Haass noted that six other secretaries of state have gone on to become U.S. presidents. Clinton smiled and shook her head at him while the audience laughed.
Two points I'd like to know more about:
•When does the opportunity for dialogue with Iran, which Clinton warned was not "indefinite," close exactly?
•What prompted her to talk of accepting Taliban members who reject al Qaeda and lay down their arms? In the question-and-answer session, she even said it could apply to other organizations.
Photo: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton has helped usher in a breakthrough on the crisis in Honduras. After meeting with ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya yesterday, Clinton announced that Costa Rican President Óscar Arias -- winner of the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for working on peace accords in Central America -- will mediate the conflict in Honduras.
When asked in a press briefing whether Zelaya should be restored to power, Clinton said:
Now that we have a mediation process that we hope can begin shortly, I don’t want to prejudge what the parties themselves will agree to. There are many different issues that will have to be discussed and resolved. But I think it’s fair to let the parties themselves, with President Arias’ assistance, sort out all of these issues.
Regarding nonhumanitarian U.S. aid that is conditioned on Honduras's remaining a democracy, Clinton said:
[W]e have paused in the aid that we think would be affected by the letter of the statute. There is humanitarian aid, and that is a concern for us – the well-being of the people of Honduras. But we’ve made the decision to basically pause on any further aid.
The breakthrough with bringing Arias in as mediator is a peacemaking achievement Clinton can add to her many accomplishments.
Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Thanks to all of you who voted about whether Secretary Clinton should be speaking out more about the Iranian election and its aftermath. To date, 54 percent of you said Clinton should be speaking out more, 35 percent said she shouldn't, and 10 percent were undecided. (Rounding makes the percentages not sum to 100, and no, this poll wasn't scientific.)
Well, it turns out that Clinton did "speak out" in a unique way on Wednesday when she ordered all U.S. embassies and consular missions to rescind July 4 Independence Day party invitations sent to Iranian diplomats. When it comes to Iran, Clinton is canceling the "hot dog" diplomacy. In a cable sent to U.S. diplomatic posts worldwide, Clinton said:
Unfortunately, circumstances have changed, and participation by Iranian diplomats would not be appropriate in light of the unjust actions that the President and I have condemned. For invitations which have been extended, posts should make clear that Iranian participation is no longer appropriate in the current circumstances.
No Iranian diplomats will be crying about having their hot dogs snatched away from them, though; none had RSVPed that they were coming.
By the way, I hope that none of those hot dogs that embassies planned to offer contained pork.
Back in early March, Secretary Clinton and President Obama jointly announced the creation of a new position: ambassador at large for global women's issues.
The move "reflects the elevated importance of global women's issues to the president and his entire administration," the White House said in a statement at the time.
Well last Friday, Clinton swore in the first-ever U.S. ambassador at large for global women's issues: Melanne Verveer.
Verveer is a cofounder and former chief of Vital Voices Global Partnership, the organization that gave Clinton its Global Trailblazer award in late March. She also served as chief of staff to Clinton when she was first lady. (Both links show how interconnected everything in the Beltway is, for better or for worse).
In her remarks at the swearing-in, Clinton said Verveer is famous for the more than 6,000 names in her Rolodex, which includes the names of the women leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists she has met in the more than 80 countries she has visited. Clinton also said:
Melanne is most famous for the unwavering passion she brings to her causes. And for the last 15 years, that cause has been women and girls; their rights, their opportunities, their central importan[ce] to the future of our world's progress and prosperity.
It's high time for the State Department to have such a position, given the second-class status of so many women worldwide.
Photo: Thumbnail from Vital Voices Global Partnership
Iranians flocked to the polls today to elect one of four men as their next president. Top advisors to one of the candidates, Mehdi Karroubi, a moderate, recently suggested that if he wins (which he likely won't), he should appoint a female foreign minister. Why? So she would be able to shake hands with Secretary Clinton, something that would be taboo for a man to do.
[Mehdi Karroubi] recently debated with his team the number of cabinet posts women should fill. Mr Karroubi's top advisers lobbied for the Foreign Ministry, speculating that when relations with the US normalise, the new foreign minister could shake hands with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Not all Muslims, though, think it's improper for people of the opposite sex to shake hands. Below, Secretary Clinton shakes hands with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, a Muslim, on Feb. 18.
Photo: ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Telegraph newspaper opines that the "good cop, bad cop" style of a "non-confrontational" Obama and "tough-talking" Clinton is sending out "dangerously ambiguous messages." While acknowledging that the style is risky, the Telegraph says the risk is "one many would see as worth taking if, in the long run, it delivers results."
While Secretary Clinton has been busy receiving honorary degrees and extending benefits to same-sex partners, she hasn't been neglecting her diplomatic duties. She doesn't have any public appointments on her schedule today, but she's most likely busy working the phones in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test and missile firings.
The Associated Press reports that Clinton has spoken on the phone with foreign ministers in a number of countries, and the Washington Post reports that she is asking them for a "strong, unified" response. As Clinton proved last April, she knows how to handle those 3 a.m. phone calls.
Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Some comments of hers that have stirred debate:
Basically, Clinton has been boldly telling it like it is when normally in the diplomacy world unpleasant facts aren't addressed with such candor. "She's saying the emperor has no clothes," L. Gordon Flake of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation told the Tribune. "She's saying the things that nobody else would say, but that 99 percent of the people in Washington agree with."
Clinton might be stating her views "undiplomatically," but perhaps such tough talk gets results. Regarding her comments on the Pakistani government, an unnamed State Department official told the Tribune "They weren't doing anything before she said that. Then after she said it, they suddenly were taking it pretty seriously, and met with greater success. … I think she got their attention."
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
After a day heavy with bilaterals (including one with Israeli President Shimon Peres, above), Secretary Clinton has a crucially important day today. The presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan are in Washington. She has a bilateral with each and a trilateral with both together.
Some people, including Clinton, fear that Pakistan's Taliban insurgency threatens the government. Two weeks ago, with Islamist militants just 60 miles from Islamabad, the capital of nuclear-armed Pakistan, Clinton declared to the House Foreign Affairs Committee: "[We] cannot underscore [enough] the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by the continuing advances."
9:15 a.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
9:45 a.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Asif Ali Zardari, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
10:30 a.m. US-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Consultations II
Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images
The ill-informed partisan rantings of David Vitter probably made Sen. Lugar's more thoughtful (and helpful) criticisms of the gaps in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Clinton Foundation and the transition team seem less valid and more partisan than they were. The New York Times and Washington Post editorial pages were not, however, swayed by Vitter's failings or Clinton's defenses.
The Post says:
To his credit, Mr. Lugar released a list of improvements that former president Clinton could make to the disclosure agreement. These are eminently sensible: For example, instead of disclosing new foreign contributions only once a year, the foundation would immediately report all gifts of $50,000 or more, and all such donations from foreigners at the time they are pledged. Also, a State Department ethics review would cover all donations above $50,000 from foreign sources -- and not just foreign governments. Ms. Clinton would be doing herself, and Mr. Obama, a favor by pressing her husband to accept greater disclosure or, better yet, to suspend foreign fundraising. Otherwise, the questions raised by senators yesterday will haunt her, and her president, throughout their tenure.
[Senator Richard Lugar] rightly called for steps to make Mr. Clinton’s fund-raising activities more transparent and to strengthen the oversight process that the former president has agreed to. Mrs. Clinton said the current agreement is “probably as close as we can get.” We strongly endorse Mr. Lugar’s point that the Clintons must do everything possible to err on the side of caution. We urge them to take another look at tightening the oversight procedures.
The difficulty is that, with the Clintons, there never has been -- and never will be -- any benefit of the doubt given by their detractors. Although Clinton was right to point out that many other secretaries' spouses have (and are allowed to keep) their jobs, and that the disclosure to which Bill and the foundation have agreed goes above and beyond what is required by law, that doesn't matter in politics (and Hillary knows that).
Yes, there are loopholes to the current set-up between the foundation and the transition team, and those might well exist for good reasons. Her arguments that donations to the Global Initiative pass straight through to projects and don't go to the foundation, for instance, make sense to me. But at the end of the day, what matters is what they can attack her on, and, given those loopholes, she's giving her stateside detractors ammunition even as she is building her own popularity here and abroad.
Goodness knows that I understand feeling a bit defensive, and Bill and Hillary have every reason -- and then some -- to feel so. But the point of being a Cabinet secretary is to serve your country. If making things more of a pain for yourself or your spouse enables you to accomplish as much as Hillary has said she would like to accomplish, it is certainly worth considering the more-annoying disclosure requirements.
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Madam Secretary is an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America's top diplomat.