It's been an exciting year blogging about Secretary Clinton. In this busy year, she promoted Internet freedom, faced rumors that she'll replace either Joe Biden or Robert Gates, became a mother-in-law, launched Mideast peace talks, declared a new "American moment," alerted the world to the transformational power of clean cookstoves, was ranked as FP's No. 13 Global Thinker, suffered the loss of special envoy Richard Holbrooke, and ended the year with Senate approval of the New START treaty.
Nearly two years into Clinton's post as America's top diplomat, we've decided that this blog has run its course, and now I'll be concentrating my efforts on other editorial tasks here at FP, though I'll still tweet and write occasional posts for Passport. Thanks to everyone who visited this blog. To continue following the twists and turns of Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, I recommend the following sites:
Have a happy end of 2010, everyone, and let's hope for the best, diplomacy-wise for Clinton, in 2011!
Secretary Clinton hailed the Senate's repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military as a "historic step forward for all Americans, a step toward a more perfect union and a more perfect reflection of our core values." She made the remarks in a statement issued today in which she also said, "we are committed to universal standards abroad and here at home. Our progress on equality here strengthens our advocacy for human dignity everywhere."
Today the Senate voted 65 to 31 to repeal the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy that came about during the administration of Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton. The House passed a repeal bill 250 to 175 on Dec. 15. Now the bill goes to President Obama, who supports a repeal.
Secretary Clinton has long supported gay rights, remarking in June that she was the first First Lady to march in a pride parade. In October, in the wake of several suicides by American gay teens, she issued a heartfelt message to gay adolescents, reminding them that their lives are valuable and urging them to hang in there, seek help, and reject suicide.
The senators who voted against the repeal today are going to end up on the wrong side of history, as the tide worlwide is turning in favor of acceptance of gays and lesbians. Obviously, there are still many areas of the globe where people are strongly opposed to gay rights. For example, read about how Turkey's military deals with gays in the recent FP article, "Do Ask, Must Tell." Nevertheless, the march of history teaches us that the circle of human inclusiveness continues to grow wider, slowly but surely.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
This week Secretary Clinton congratulated two countries, Qatar and Kazakhstan, on their important anniversaries. Today, Dec. 18, is Qatar's National Day, marking the anniversary of when Jassim bin Mohammed al-Thani came to power in 1878 and founded what ended up being the modern state of Qatar. Two days ago, Dec. 16, was the 19th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence from the Soviet Union. To mark both occasions, Clinton released the following statements earlier this week.
For Qatar (which earlier this month was celebrating its designation as host of the 2022 World Cup, as seen in the photo above):
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Qatar on your National Day this December 18.
The relationship between our nations has grown stronger and more dynamic over the past few years as Qatar and the United States work together to build a future that is more peaceful, more prosperous, and more secure for all our people. As partners, we have increased trade, promoted educational and cultural exchanges, and enhanced scientific and technological cooperation between our countries. I was honored to visit Doha earlier this year for the U.S.-Islamic World Forum to deepen the understanding between the United States and Muslim-majority nations, and to witness Qatar's rising presence on the global stage.
Under the leadership of His Highness Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar has become an international leader in areas from investing in educational infrastructure to increasing agricultural productivity in arid regions. Your successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup is a further testament to Qatar's bright future.
I wish all the people of Qatar a joyous National Day celebration, and I look forward to finding new ways to strengthen the vibrant relationship between Qatar and the United States.
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the Republic of Kazakhstan as you celebrate your independence on December 16.
The United States was honored to be the first nation to recognize an independent Kazakhstan and welcome you into the community of nations 19 years ago. Recently, I witnessed the great progress Kazakhstan has made during my visit to Astana for the first summit of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe in 11 years. Chairing the OSCE and hosting this summit are important milestones in Kazakhstan's ongoing development as a regional and world leader.
Kazakhstan has accomplished a great deal since independence. Our people have worked together to improve economic ties, chart a responsible and reliable energy future, ensure regional security, and reduce the threat of nuclear weapons. The United States also is proud to work with Kazakh civil society and private sector leaders as well as government officials to improve human rights and help build a more stable, secure, democratic, and prosperous world for all our citizens. The strategic partnership between our nations will continue to grow and deepen as we work together to fulfill the promise of a bright future for Kazakhstan and its people.
I wish the people of Kazakhstan a safe and happy Independence Day celebration.
MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images
If Congress doesn't pass an omnibus appropriation bill, the resulting funding cuts will "seriously impede our efforts to meet unanticipated national security needs," Secretary Clinton said yesterday in a statement.
Without an omnibus bill, the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would be subject to a yearlong continuing resolution that "would sharply cut our funding and severely weaken the [State] Department and USAID's ability to execute our critical civilian missions, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq," Clinton stated.
She also said, "We need these resources now more than ever to support national security priorities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan where we are helping secure gains made by our military and preventing the spread of violent extremism."
Clinton and other government officials have repeatedly said that U.S. foreign policy rests on three pillars: defense, diplomacy, and development. Weaken the pillars of diplomacy and development, and the edifice of U.S. foreign policy collapses. Leaders such as Gen. David Petraeus have said that there is "no military solution" to Iraq (and the same can be said of Afghanistan). The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review -- released yesterday and titled "Leading Through Civilian Power," asks, "How can we do better?" It answers, "we will build up our civilian power: the combined force of civilians working together across the U.S. government to practice diplomacy, carry out development projects, and prevent and respond to crises."
Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), wish to cut the State Department and foreign-aid budgets. Guess she's not into the three-pillars thing.
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
When it comes to the Afghanistan war, Secretary Clinton says that U.S. leaders are making crucial life-and-death decisions based on what's best for national security, not based on results of public-opinion polls. She made the remark at yesterday's news conference on the Afghanistan war review after being asked whether the Obama administration could continue the war if high levels of American public support could not be maintained. (A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 60 percent of Americans surveyed -- a record high -- do not think the Afghanistan war has been worth it.)
Clinton had this response (my emphasis in bold):
It is our assessment, backed up by 49 other nations that are also committing their troops, their civilians, their taxpayer dollars, that this [war] is critical to our national security.
Obviously, if we had concluded otherwise, we would have made different decisions.…
I'm well aware of the popular concern and I understand it.… Leaders, and certainly this president, will not make decisions that are matters of life and death and the future security of our nation based on polling.…
So I think it's understandable and I'm very respectful of the feelings of the American people. But the question I would ask is, how do you feel about a continuing American commitment that is aimed at protecting you and your family now and into the future? Because that's the question that we've asked, and this is how we'd answer it.
Certainly, crucial security decisions shouldn't be made based on whatever public opinion happens to be at the moment, but over the long term, you can't sustain a war without a critical mass of public support. A full-blown, counterinsurgency, nation-building strategy will take decades to succeed, if it can even succeed at all. Most Americans are unlikely to have the stamina for such a long-haul approach, given the dire unemployment and fiscal problems at home. For now, it looks like the United States will pull out when Afghanistan reaches some minimally acceptable state that some administration officials have been calling "Afghan good enough."
Video of yesterday's news conference (the exchange about opinion polls begins at about 17:20):
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Today Secretary Clinton released the State Department's first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which as my colleague Josh Rogin over at The Cable notes, is "meant to chart a way forward for the diplomatic corps to play a greater role in U.S. foreign policy in a world of shrinking budgets and resources."
Here are a couple of Clinton quotes from Rogin's report:
"As you dig in to this report, you'll see it's driven by two overarching factors, first is president Obama's focus on fiscal responsibility and efficiency throughout the federal government," Clinton said. "Through the QDDR, we have tried to minimize costs, maximize impacts, avoid overlap and duplication and focus on delivering results."
"Across our programs we are redefining success based on results achieved rather than dollars spent," she said. "This will help us make the case that bolstering U.S. civilian power is a wise investment for American taxpayers that will pay off by averting conflicts, opening markets, and reducing threats."
The video of Clinton's speech is below. The transcript is here.
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
I strongly condemn today's terrorist attacks, claimed by Jundallah, that targeted Iranian men, women, and children worshipping at a mosque in Chabahar, Iran. On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend condolences to the families and loved ones of all those injured and killed as they marked the eve of the last day of Ashura. This is yet another example of terrorists using cowardly methods to inflict pain and fear on innocent civilians. The perpetrators of this attack must be held to account for their actions.
The United States condemns all forms of terrorism and sectarian-driven violence, wherever it occurs, and we stand with the victims of these abhorrent and reprehensible acts. The global community must remain vigilant in combating terrorist organizations and individuals that threaten lives in every part of the world.
Stopping the scourge of rape, domestic violence, acid attacks, and honor killings perpetrated against women internationally has been an important priority for Secretary Clinton, an unflagging advocate for women and girls. And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took an important step toward advancing that priority yesterday when it approved the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).
IVAWA, drafted after consultations with more than 40 women's groups in developing countries and more than 100 experts and other organizations, will support local NGOs addressing the problem of violence against women and girls. The problem will be tackled through various means, such as services for survivors, economic-empowerment programs, girls' education, and legal and judicial training programs.
The act targets countries where violence against women and girls is rampant, but where three things are going for them, according to an op-ed by Ritu Sharma of Women Thrive Worlwide: The national government is receptive (or at least not opposed) to anti-violence efforts, local women's groups are active and ready to expand, and the United States has a positive relationship with the country.
As Clinton said last week at the TEDWomen conference, women's issues are a security issue. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, an original co-sponsor of IVAWA, referred to that rationale when hailing the bill in a statement yesterday, stating:
The Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that one of the most effective forces for defeating extremism is female safety and education. Violence against women undermines the effectiveness of existing U.S. investments in global development and stability, whether fighting HIV/AIDS, increasing basic education, or creating stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The bill was approved with an amendment that constrains the funding the act would receive if passed. A news release from the Foreign Relations Committee states: "Chairman [John] Kerry offered an amendment in response to concerns raised by Republicans and some faith-based groups. Among other things, the amendment reduces authorization levels to 'such sums' in order to focus on existing resources. While the use of new funds is possible, the focus is on transparency, accountability, inclusion, and longevity."
Sadly, too many lawmakers seem to have difficulty coughing up funds to help marginalized women in developing countries, while spending billions on pork-barrel projects. But supporting women benefits us all. As Clinton said at TEDWomen last week:
Give women equal rights, and entire nations are more stable and secure. Deny women equal rights, and the instability of nations is almost certain. The subjugation of women is, therefore, a threat to the common security of our world and to the national security of our country.
Next step for the bill: Get passed by the Senate and House by the end of the year.
Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images
A giant, 800-pound bronze plaque that the Washington Post's Al Kamen says was once the centerpiece of a "shrine" to Hillary Clinton is returning to the Ronald Reagan Building after having been removed during George W. Bush's administration.
The plaque -- 9 feet tall by 6 feet wide -- was installed on a marble wall 12 years ago in the lobby of the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Reagan Building. The engravings on it include an excerpt from a Clinton speech about "expanding the circle of human dignity" and this over-the-top remark from the USAID administrator at the time: "May all who pass through these portals recognize the invaluable contribution to worldwide development made by the First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton."
During the Bush administration, the plaque was sent to a warehouse and was eventually replaced with a memorial to USAID workers who died in the line of duty. Early last year, Clinton joked about reinstalling the plaque. She later told the Washington Post that she wanted no public funds to go toward reinstallation. Today Kamen writes, "But now they've apparently raised the money (not clear from whom), because workers have been on scaffolding preparing the wall to hold the plaque."
Thank goodness private -- not public -- funds are apparently being used to rehang the plaque (on another wall in the lobby, so as not to disturb the memorial). And nothing personal against Clinton, but no living person should be glorified in this manner. (As for someone who's deceased and whose legacy has stood the test of time, that's another matter.)
FYI: Secretary Clinton will be hosting a town-hall meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 11:15 a.m. (U.S. Eastern time) on the release of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), themed "Leading Through Civilian Power." At the start of the meeting, to be held with State Department employees, the QDDR will be made available for downloading at www.state.gov.
This afternoon, Secretary Clinton and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa's minister for international relations and cooperation, signed a PEPFAR partnership framework agreement, a five-year plan of cooperation for fighting HIV/AIDS in South Africa. PEPFAR (the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) is a U.S. government initiative, begun under George W. Bush's administration, to work with other countries to combat HIV/AIDS worldwide.
At the signing ceremony, Clinton said, "We are here at a moment when South Africa is turning the tide against HIV/AIDS.… And what South Africa has done is to make a tremendous commitment by doubling its investment, now covering 60 percent of the total spending. There is so much that's being done at the grassroots level on prevention, efforts against discrimination, treating people with HIV, and doing so much more to put together a comprehensive strategy."
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Here's an amusing anecdote that Secretary Clinton told during her speech last week at the TEDWomen conference. It illustrates how education and economic empowerment can slowly, but surely advance the well-being of women and girls:
I love this story about a teenage girl and a cow, which drives home the challenge but also the opportunity that we face today. This teenage girl's father expected to force her into an early marriage, but she had been to school and she received a cow, perhaps through the Heifer Project, designed to encourage her to stay in school. When her father demanded that she drop out of school and get married, she said no. When he insisted, she insisted right back. And finally, she pulled out her trump card -- "If I leave and get married, I'm taking my cow." (Laughter.) "That cow belongs to me." So, guess what? She stayed in school. She was spared an early marriage all because her father couldn't bear to part with the cow. (Laughter.)
But the lesson goes beyond the human nature of the story. Even a small intervention can change a girl's life.
Clinton didn't say what country the girl was in, but the give-a-girl-a-cow program appears to at least exist in Bangladesh. The information provided with the 2008 Getty photo above of a teenage girl in rural Bangladesh says that she acquired her cows through a program that provides financial investment for adolescent girls and is funded by the Bangladeshi NGO BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) and the Nike Foundation.
Brent Stirton/Getty Images
When asked about the firing of Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki yesterday (and whether it was because he snubbed her recently), Secretary Clinton responded, "Whether one person or another is foreign minister is not as important as to what the policy of the Iranian government is in dealing with the international community on [its nuclear program]." She also said, "Our relationship toward Iran is not toward any individual. It is toward the country, the government.… So I don't really have any insight or comment."
Regarding policy, it appears that Iran has no intention of changing its policies, including those pertaining to nuclear talks, with the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman telling reporters at a news conference, "With the change, we will not see any alteration of Iran's basic policies."
Clinton make her remarks during a news conference yesterday while in Canada for the North American Foreign Ministers Meeting. On Iran, she also said, "The recent meeting in Geneva of the P5+1 was a good start. It was just that. It wasn't more than that, but it was a good start to a return to a serious negotiations between Iran and the international community. And they agreed on a second meeting in January. We remain committed to pursuing every diplomatic avenue available to us and our international partners to persuade Iran to forgo a nuclear weapons program."
The video of the exchange starts at 29:00 in this video:
Speaking a short time before she learned of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke's death yesterday evening, Secretary Clinton recalled him as a "giant of the diplomatic corps for almost 50 years" and said he was "practically synonymous with American foreign policy of that time period." She joked, "He's a fierce negotiator. I'm sure there are some shoulders here tonight that are still a little bit sore from his arm-twisting." Clinton made the remarks (in their entirety below) while greeting a holiday reception for chiefs of diplomatic missions to the United States.
Upon learning of Holbrooke's death later in the evening, Clinton gathered at George Washington University Hospital with dozens of other State Department officials as well as current and former Holbrooke aides, according to Laura Rozen over at Politico. Rozen wrote late yesterday night:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and about forty senior State Department officials, and Holbrooke aides past and present spontaneously gathered at George Washington Hospital tonight when they heard the news that the veteran diplomat had died, and later shut down a nearby hotel reminiscing about him.
Secretary Clinton "was incredible," the official continued. "She pulled everyone together."
Clinton's complete remarks about Holbrooke from yesterday's reception, made before learning of his death:
He is practically synonymous with American foreign policy of that time period. He's taken on the hardest assignments, from Vietnam to the Balkans to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And this week, his doctors are learning what diplomats and dictators around the world have long known: There's nobody tougher than Richard Holbrooke. He's a fierce negotiator. I'm sure there are some shoulders here tonight that are still a little bit sore from his arm-twisting.
But he is a fiercer friend and a beloved mentor and an invaluable counselor. He has been a friend of mine for many years and I am deeply grateful for his presence and support. When I came to the State Department, I was delighted to be able to bring Richard in and give him one of the most difficult challenges that any diplomat can face. And he immediately put together an absolutely world class staff. It represents what we believe should be the organizational model for the future - people not only from throughout our own government, but even representatives from other governments all working together. And we know that with Richard, loyalty runs deep and it runs both ways. So tonight, our thoughts and prayers are with Ambassador Holbrooke, his wife Kati, their family, who are here with us as well.
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
Upon the passing yesterday of Richard Holbrooke -- U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Foreign Policy editor from 1972 to 1977, and chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Accords -- Secretary Clinton mourned him as one of America's "fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants." In a statement, she described him as a "consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America's interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances."
It's so hard to believe he's no longer here. Just two weeks ago, on Nov. 30 at our Global Thinkers gala, FP paid a special tribute to Holbrooke for his many contributions to foreign policy -- and Foreign Policy. (The video of his remarks is below, followed by Clinton's complete statement upon his passing.)
Holbrooke's death leaves a huge hole in the United States' strategy regarding the Afghanistan war. A Washington Post article today reports:
Holbrooke's death is the latest complication in an effort plagued by unreliable partners, reluctant allies and an increasingly skeptical American public.… As the glue that held the enterprise together, his absence is likely to increase the already formidable challenge the administration faces.
Clinton's complete statement:
Tonight America has lost one of its fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants. Richard Holbrooke served the country he loved for nearly half a century, representing the United States in far-flung war-zones and high-level peace talks, always with distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination. He was one of a kind -- a true statesman -- and that makes his passing all the more painful.
From his early days in Vietnam to his historic role bringing peace to the Balkans to his last mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard helped shape our history, manage our perilous present, and secure our future. He was the consummate diplomat, able to stare down dictators and stand up for America's interests and values even under the most difficult circumstances. He served at every level of the Foreign Service and beyond, helping mentor generations of talented officers and future ambassadors. Few people have ever left a larger mark on the State Department or our country. From Southeast Asia to post-Cold War Europe and around the globe, people have a better chance of a peaceful future because of Richard's lifetime of service.
I had the privilege to know Richard for many years and to call him a friend, colleague and confidante. As Secretary of State, I have counted on his advice and relied on his leadership. This is a sad day for me, for the State Department and for the United States of America.
True to form, Richard was a fighter to the end. His doctors marveled at his strength and his willpower, but to his friends, that was just Richard being Richard. I am grateful for the tireless efforts of all the medical staff, and to everyone who sat by his side or wished him well in these final days.
Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with Richard's beloved wife Kati, his sons David and Anthony, his step-children Elizabeth and Chris Jennings, his daughter-in-law Sarah, and all of his countless friends and colleagues.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Today is a shameful day for China, which refused to allow imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo to receive his award in Oslo, Norway. The ceremony went on, but with Liu's absence marked by an empty chair, on which was set his Nobel Peace Prize diploma and medal, as seen in the photo above.
Liu Xiaobo, this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, helped author Charter '08 calling for peaceful political reform in China and lost his freedom for the cause. On this Human Rights Day, I reiterate our call for his immediate release.
Clinton also hailed the world's "citizen heroes," from Cuba to Zimbabwe, and said "their courage to persist is a testament to all that is good in the human spirit." Click below to read Clinton's complete statement.
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton will be giving a speech on Middle East policy at 8 p.m. this evening at the Brookings Institution here in D.C. The speech will be part of the forum on "U.S.-Israeli Relations: Facing Hard Choices," to be put on by the think tank's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
The State Department's news release states that the fourm "will focus on the critical decisions that American and Israeli leaders will confront in the coming year to move the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward, as well as deal with Iran's nuclear challenge."
Sadly, the Middle East peace process is deadlocked, though Clinton met with chief Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molho yesterday to get "a perspective on the Israeli side of how to move forward," according to State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.
It'll be interesting to see what she says after this rough week for the peace process.
Update, Dec. 14, 2010, 4:40 p.m.: The video of Clinton's speech is below. Overall, it was a lot of the bland same-old, same-old. Clinton used the word "unwavering" twice to describe the United States' commitment to Israel. She reiterated that the United States "[does] not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity." Nothing new.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
•9:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Chief Israeli Negotiator Yitzhak Molho, at the Department of State.
•10:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with the Assistant Secretaries
of the Regional Bureaus, at the Department of State.
•10:30 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Save the Children Board Chair Anne Mulcahy, at the Department of State.
•11:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Albanian Foreign Minister Edmond Haxhinasto, at the Department of State:
•1:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Nigerian Foreign Minister Henry Odein Ajumogobia, at the Department of State:
•3:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the 2010 Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Mid-Year Conference, at the Department of State.
•5:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with the Department of State's Employee Affinity Groups, at the Department of State.
Top to bottom: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images, TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton was a surprise speaker at the TEDWomen conference in D.C. yesterday. I haven't seen a transcript of her talk yet, but according to the @TEDWomen Twitter feed she said, "Give women equal rights, and an entire nation is more stable, more secure." Here are a couple of other Clinton-related tweets from @TEDWomen:
- Hillary Clinton: Women's issues are a vital interest of the US. It is a security issue, a prosperity issue, a peace issue
- In reviewing a key US defense & diplomacy policy, Hillary Clinton made sure women were represented throughout
Update, Dec. 14, 2010, 5:31 p.m.: Click here for an amusing anecdote Clinton told about how a cow can change a girl's life.
U.S. Department of State/Flickr
To mark "International Anti-Corruption Day" on Dec. 9, Secretary Clinton released a statement yesterday in which she said, "Corruption stunts economic growth, damages confidence in democracy, and fosters a culture of graft and impunity that undermines the ability to operate in our interconnected world. Every country has a role to play as we work to advance our collective anticorruption agenda and institutionalize the highest standards of transparency."
The complete statement:
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I join with our partners around the world to recognize December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day. As we continue our common fight against corruption and recommit ourselves to the work ahead, we also recognize the significant achievements of the past year.
Last month, G20 Leaders adopted a landmark Anti-Corruption Action Plan to promote an open, rules-based environment worldwide. Implementing this plan will require cooperative efforts among our G20 partners, the private sector, and civil society organizations. The participation of emerging G20 economies is particularly important as they lay the foundation for generations of sustainable growth and prosperity.
The United States has made unprecedented strides over the past year to enforce our anticorruption laws and ensure our companies do not practice bribery or unfair practices in countries where they operate. This year, the States Parties of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) also launched a process to review implementation of the treaty. The United States is proud to be among the first nations to undergo a peer review, and we look forward to working with our partners in the UNCAC process to translate this global commitment to root out corruption from promise to practice.
Corruption stunts economic growth, damages confidence in democracy, and fosters a culture of graft and impunity that undermines the ability to operate in our interconnected world. Every country has a role to play as we work to advance our collective anticorruption agenda and institutionalize the highest standards of transparency. Together, we can ensure the integrity of our markets, improve our government institutions, and increase opportunity and prosperity for all our citizens.
SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton has most likely just finished speaking (she was scheduled to speak at 12:30 p.m.) at the TEDWomen conference here in D.C., where according to the @TEDWomen Twitter feed, she said, "Give women equal rights, and an entire nation is more stable, more secure."
In recognition all the varying degress of challenges that women and girls across the world face, here are a few recent links pertaining to the subject:
•"Ending child marriage helps communities across the developing world" (Washington Post op-ed by Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinon)
•"'Second Shift' Pressure High on Indian Working Women" (Wall Street Journal)
•"Poll Shows Support for Afghan Women's Rights - But What Comes Next?" (Huffington Post)
•"Pakistan woman recounts ordeal under Taliban" (Associated Press)
•"Bruni gives hope to pregnant women with HIV" (Hindustan Times)
•"Iran president, clerics battle over women's sports" (Associated Press, on Washington Post website)
Secretary Clinton today expressed her sadness over the death of Elizabeth Edwards, a health-care advocate who supported her politician husband John Edwards in two attempts at the U.S. presidency. In a statement alluding to Edwards's death after a multiyear battle with cancer, Clinton described her as "a passionate advocate for building a more humane and just society, for reforming our health care system, and for finding a cure for cancer once and for all." Clinton also stated, "She made her mark on America, and she will not be forgotten."
The complete statement is below:
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. America has lost a passionate advocate for building a more humane and just society, for reforming our health care system, and for finding a cure for cancer once and for all. But the Edwards family and her legion of friends have lost so much more -- a loving mother, constant guardian, and wise counselor. Our thoughts are with the Edwards family at this time, and with all those people across the country who met Elizabeth over the years and found an instant friend--someone who shared their experiences and offered empathy, understanding and hope. She made her mark on America, and she will not be forgotten.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is meeting both individually and jointly with the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers today to devise a strategy to deal with increasingly hostile North Korea, which late last month killed two South Korean soldiers and two South Korean civilians in the first attack on a civilian area of South Korea since the end of the Korean War.
At the beginning of the trilateral meeting, Clinton said:
This is a landmark trilateral meeting between three strong partners. This meeting takes place at a time of grave concern in Northeast Asia amid the provocative attacks from North Korea.
She also requested a moment of silence for the victims of the shelling (see the video below starting at 1:11.)
(It remains to be seen whether a cable about the bilateral and trilateral meetings will be WikiLeaked.)
Update, 5:28 p.m., Dec. 6, 2010: The original photo was updated to a similar one, but of higher resolution.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton had some fun Saturday night, hosting a reception for the five recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, including Oprah and Paul McCartney. In her speech, the secretary of state even joked about WikiLeaks. After saying how extraordinary it was to meet such a breadth of talented artists, she said:
I am writing a cable about it, which I'm sure you'll find soon on your closest website.
In the photo above, Clinton poses with, from top left going clockwise: Michael M. Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; singer and songwriter Merle Haggard; dancer, choreographer, and director Bill T. Jones; songwriter and musician Paul McCartney; David M. Rubenstein, chairman of the Kennedy Center; George Stevens Jr., creator of the Kennedy Center Honors; producer, television host, and actress Oprah Winfrey; and composer and lyricist Jerry Herman.
Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is in Astana, Kazakhstan, today, attending the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where she has been doing a "reassurance tour" (read: awkward conversations!) after WikiLeaks' recent disclosure of candid State Department cables. In a news conference today with Kazakh Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev, she said that no country has decided not to work with the United States any longer or have discussions with it. Implying that her damage-control work is going well, Clinton said in her remarks:
I have had the opportunity to meet with many leaders here at the summit in Astana.… I have certainly raised the issue of the leaks in order to assure our colleagues that it will not in any way interfere with American diplomacy or our commitment to continuing important work that is ongoing. I have not had any concerns expressed about whether any nation will not continue to work with and discuss matters of importance to us both, going forward.…
And I anticipate that there will be a lot of questions that people have every right and reason to ask, and we stand ready to discuss them at any time with our counterparts around the world.
Of course, there's a big difference between not continuing to work with the United States at all and simply being more restrained and less forthcoming.
Meanwhile, Saudabayev seemed cool as a cucumber in his remarks and displayed an "it's no big deal" attitude toward the WikiLeaks revelations, even though some cables were not so flattering about Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (seen at left greeting Clinton). Saudabayev said:
I believe that what has happened is part of a normal cost, or a normal price, that one has occasionally to pay while we lead our work. That is why we will be able to live through this incident, as we have through others. And, as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in my country, now declare that this will have no effect for our strategic partnership between the United States and Kazakhstan.
Something tells me this nonchalant tone is all a facade. Everybody now has documentation of how diplomats really speak.
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images
In marking World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Secretary Clinton emphasized that the United States is taking important steps to fight HIV/AIDS. The United States "is committed to remaining a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS -- today, tomorrow, and every day until the disease is eradicated," she said in a statement, the full text of which follows below.
On World AIDS Day, we take time to remember those who have been lost to this devastating disease, and recommit ourselves to saving as many lives as we can, now and in the future. This December 1, World AIDS Day is also an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved. We have saved millions of lives from AIDS over the past decade. By investing in what we know works, we can save millions more in the future.
The Obama administration has made the fight against AIDS central to the Global Health Initiative, our commitment to strengthening global health systems and implementing sustainable solutions to improve the health of entire communities. One major focus of the Global Health Initiative is strengthening our partnerships around the world so they reflect and reinforce the global effort needed to defeat AIDS. This year, the United States also made its first multi-year pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to further support this cooperative approach. Our metric for success is simple: lives saved.
Through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we are making smart investments that will ultimately help bring us closer to a world free of HIV/AIDS. We work with dedicated organizations and individuals every day to make this goal a reality. The struggle is far from over, but the United States is committed to remaining a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS -- today, tomorrow, and every day until the disease is eradicated. That is our obligation and our promise to the millions of souls around the planet living with HIV/AIDS.
In the photo above, AIDS activists in Zhengzhou, China, pose with a giant red ribbon to mark World AIDS Day. In the photo below, a red AIDS ribbon hangs in Clinton's neck of the woods at the White House in Washington.
Photos, top to bottom: AFP/AFP/Getty Images, MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, in praising WikiLeaks, said, "Clinton should resign; it's the least she can do with all of this spying and delinquency in the State Department."
He made the remarks on state television yesterday following the disclosure of State Department cables by WikiLeaks, including a Dec. 31, 2009, cable signed "CLINTON" that inquires into the mental health of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The disclosure comes at a particularly sensitive time because just last month Kirchner lost her husband, Néstor Kirchner, the former Argentine president. Excerpts with a big ouch! factor include:
It might all be part of normal analysis of a leader's personality, but it just sounds so bad when worded so bluntly and taken out of context.
Of course, Chávez continued with nasty remarks accusing Clinton of racism, saying, "Someone should study Mrs. Clinton's mental health.… She feels superior to Obama.… Because she is white, she feels superior to the black president."
As for whether Clinton will resign, that possibility seems so far-fetched at this point, but even a writer over at FP's sister publication Slate suggests that Clinton could be out by the end of the year, stating, "The time for her departure may come next week or next month, but sooner or later, the weakened and humiliated secretary of state will have to pay."
Maybe we should hold our horses, though, and let the dust settle. Who knows what'll happen during Clinton's week of damage control in Central Asia.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton forcefully condemned the "illegal disclosure of classified information" by WikiLeaks and declared, "This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community -- the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity."
Clinton made the remarks today at a news conference in which she also said the disclosure "puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems." As examples of jeopardizing individuals' safety, she mentioned anti-corruption activists who provide details about official misconduct and social workers who share documentation about sexual crimes. In those cases, revealing people's identities could result in their imprisonment, torture, or even death.
For those cheering on the people who disclosed the classified documents, Clinton said she wanted to "set the record straight":
There have been examples in history in which official conduct has been made public in the name of exposing wrongdoings or misdeeds. This is not one of those cases. In contrast, what is being put on display in this cache of documents is the fact that American diplomats are doing the work we expect them to do. They are helping identify and prevent conflicts before they start. They are working hard every day to solve serious practical problems.
Clinton has a strong point. It's one thing to disclose specific documents that reveal genuine misconduct; it's quite another to unleash thousands of files that disclose confidential communications that are part of the day-to-day reality of doing diplomacy.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Amid all the WikiLeaks uproar is the news that a July 2009 directive under Secretary Clinton's name ordered U.S. diplomats to spy on officials at the United Nations and gather information such as credit card numbers, frequent flier numbers, and "biometric information on U.N. Security Council permanent representatives." Biometric information would include fingerprints and iris recognition. Also on the list of whom to gather biometric information from include, "key UN officials, to include undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders," reports the Daily Telegraph.
The directive also requested passwords and encryption keys for communications systems used by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other high-level U.N. officials.
The Daily Telegraph reports, "The directive appears to push the boundary between diplomacy and espionage and could breach the 1946 UN convention on privileges and immunities which states that the 'premises of the United Nations shall be inviolable'."
The Daily Mail even states that the request for such information "is set to lead to international calls for Mrs Clinton to resign."
Clinton heads to Central Asia later today, where she might be in the hot seat, having to answer some tough questions about the directive. U.S. diplomats are frequently accused of secretly being spies, and the WikiLeaks news will likely only fuel those fears and possibly make it more difficult for U.S. diplomats to build trust. It'll be interesting to what Clinton has to say during this trip.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
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.