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.
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In the Rolling Stone article that resulted in Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation today, Secretary Clinton is apparently the only nonmilitary person who gets McChrystal's respect. The Washington Post stated today:
Clinton comes off well in the article as the only non-military person who earns McChrystal's respect.
Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal's inner circle. "Hillary had Stan's back during the strategic review," says an adviser. "She said, 'If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.' "
At yesterday's State Department press briefing, spokesman P.J. Crowley said Clinton has read the Rolling Stone article but not made any comment:
QUESTION: What does the Secretary make, if anything, of the fact that she appears to be the only one of the - in the senior national security team who comes out looking good, at least in McChrystal's view?
MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, she's - as did every member of the national security team during the course of the fall, she presented the President with her best advice on the strategy options. So did Ambassador Eikenberry. And she has read the article. Beyond that, she has not offered any particular comment.
QUESTION: She hasn't said anything to any of her staff that you're aware of?
MR. CROWLEY: No, she has not spoken to me about it.
Given how much civilian-military cooperation is needed for nation-building in Afghanistan, let's hope Clinton gets along well with Petraeus. Her position on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is summarized by the Washington Post as such:
An active participant in the internal debates, Clinton worried about Pakistan remaining a haven for terrorism no matter how many troops were sent, but eventually joined with Gates and Mullen to push for a more robust force. In doing so, she bucked the advice of the U.S. ambassador, who reports to her.
For more about how Clinton was the only person singled out for praise in the Rolling Stone article, check out yesterday's post on this topic.
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Only Secretary Clinton is singled out for praise by Gen. Stanley McChrystal's officials in the Rolling Stone profile on the U.S. commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan. In the article, McChrystal's aides call James L. Jones, the national security advisor, a "clown" who is "stuck in 1985" and refer to Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, as a "wounded animal." McChrystal, seen in the background of the Nov. 19, 2009, photo above, has apologized for the dismissive remarks about senior Obama administration officials.
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog states:
Only Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is portrayed as having strongly backed McChrystal's plan for Afghanistan, is singled out for praise by the anonymous McChrystal aides.
The Guardian states:
The article lists administration figures said to back McChrystal, including defence secretary Robert Gates and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Only Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets good reviews from McChrystal's staff.
Seems like McChrystal's team is like the general American public in giving Clinton the highest rating among senior U.S. leaders.
Just last Friday, Clinton, in a news conference with the Danish foreign minister, made positive comments about progress in Afghanistan:
So we think that we're making progress. We know how hard it is. The Afghan military and police are improving, and we are working hard to provide the trainers and mentoring that they need. We are looking to see more results from some of the governmental reforms that we're expecting. But it is just not true that we haven't seen positive accomplishments. If you look at a lot of the indicators on education, on health, on government capacity, on agricultural output, on economic growth, on a revenue base for the country to function, there's a lot of positive indicators.
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Stephen Glain, writing in U.S. News & World Report today, seems to think so. Hillary is already making moves to increase the authority of the State Department, which has fallen into the shadow of the Pentagon in foreign relations. Given that Gates has warned against the "creeping militarization" of U.S. foreign policy, you'd think they'd be in agreement. Not so, says Glain.
[Gates] has defined Pentagon authority more broadly and more aggressively than any of his predecessors. While warning against the militarization of U.S. foreign policy, as he did in a noteworthy July speech, Gates has done less to empower the State Department and more to entrench the concept of civilian-military partnerships in "stability operations"—Pentagon jargon for the rebuilding of failed states before they become incubators of radical Islam. If neglected civilian agencies cannot keep up with the abundantly resourced military, Gates has implied, the Pentagon will take the lead, and often in areas where it was once prohibited from going.
Glain's critique got me thinking about a smart passage in Sarah Sewall's introduction to the Counterinsurgency Field Manual. She points out that in counterinsurgency doctrine, the military must recognize (and in fact, strives to recognize) that civilians are the best ones suited to perform civilian tasks. That means the military admits its own limitations, especially the fact that it lacks the same kind of legitimacy in building lasting institutions (or even lasting services) than civilian agencies like State or USAID. It's certainly something Petraeus believes in, and I think you can see that sentiment in Gates's remarks.
Glain is of course right that civilian agencies lack the necessary resources (and, let's be honest, very often the know how) to assume the responsibilities they should. According to COIN, writes Sewall in the manual's intro, the military must therefore "assume the roles of mayor, trash collector, and public works employer," especially in violent insurgencies. That's not a choice; it's a necessity, with the explicit aim of passing responsibility as soon as possible. That's what counterinsurgency experts mean when they say "some of the best weapons do not shoot."
Where I disagree with Glain is that Gates has "implied" that this means the military should unilaterally take the lead, as if there is no potential for consultation between the military and civilian agencies. Sure, there has been a woeful lack of talking between the two in the past, and a particular disdain for State under Rumsfeld and Cheney. But I think Gates and Hillary would actually agree on the score that State can and should get up to speed fast on asserting its important role in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
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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.