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!
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
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.
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
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
Ever wonder about the complex logistics involved in coordinating an overseas trip by the U.S. secretary of state? If so, check out the National Geographic special, Inside the State Department, to air on Monday, Nov. 8, at 9 p.m. U.S. Eastern and Pacific times. The National Geographic Channel followed Secretary Clinton for 20,000 miles as she traveled around the world, from New York to Pakistan, and places in between such as Morocco and Jerusalem. You'll see all sorts of behind-the-scenes stuff, such as bomb-sniffing dogs hard at work and the State Department's "gift vault."
A news release states, "The State Department's role on the world stage has never been more important and the stakes have never been higher. Its leader is arguably the most famous woman in the world, with a traveling staff providing 24/7 support. Now, the National Geographic Channel goes Inside the State Department to open a window into the efforts of the men and women representing critical U.S. interests abroad."
Clinton tells National Geographic, "This job is both a great privilege and an extraordinary challenge. We live on the balance beam of war and peace, of terrorism and stability, of poverty and prosperity."
Steve Hoggard, who filmed Clinton during her travels overseas, states in the news release, "It is astounding to witness the brutal 16- to 20-hour days worked by Secretary Clinton and her team.… They only get a few hours of sleep and are constantly working at a rapid pace traveling from one destination to the next. I have truly been in awe of what they do to represent our county across the globe."
Clinton will be delivering remarks at 7:30 p.m. today at the film's world premier at National Geographic's headquarters. Below are a couple of clips from the special:
Screen shot from National Geographic Channel, "Inside the State Department"
Secretary Clinton has a new head of speechwriting, Josh Daniel, reports FP's The Cable. From 1999 to 2003, he was managing editor of Slate, now FP's sister publication. He arrives at the State Department from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he wrote speeches for Bill and Melinda.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
This weekend, Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush, offered three pieces of advice to Secretary Clinton -- OK, actually the U.S. government, but Clinton is the one facilitating the project -- on Middle East peace negotiations. The three pieces of advice, published in the Washington Post, are:
1. Stand back. Don't intrude excessively into what should be a two-party negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
2. Care about the West Bank. If conditions deteriorate there, then Palestinians aren't going to be supportive of the talks and the Palestinian Authority will have difficulty enforcing any agreement.
3. Don't pursue a "framework agreement." Getting the two sides to declare their "fundamental compromises" -- as U.S. Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell phrased it -- amounts to revealing their bottom lines prematurely and committing "political suicide."
Well, on the first piece of advice, Clinton has no intention of being intrusive. She's just going to be facilitator in chief. As she said to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in her opening remarks on Sept. 2 (with my emphasis in italics):
For our part, the United States has pledged its full support for these talks, and we will be an active and sustained partner.… But we cannot and we will not impose a solution. Only you can make the decisions necessary to reach an agreement and secure a peaceful future for the Israeli and Palestinian people.
And though there will be some trilateral meetings with the Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. sides all present, there will be plenty of direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinians with the United States out of the room and not breathing down their necks. Already on Sept. 2, Netanyahu and Abbas had a private meeting, and more will take place, about every two weeks.
On the second piece of advice, Clinton is definitely concerned about the financial crisis with the Palestinian Authority. In a Sept. 3 interview with Palestine TV and Israel's Channel 2, she said:
And the United States, as you, I'm sure, know, has increased dramatically our direct support for the Palestinian Authority. And I have encouraged and urged all the donors to do that and more. Last year was a good year. We got a very robust amount of contributions. This year, we are upping our request to all of the donors to support the peace process by supporting the Palestinian Authority.
Abrams makes a good point that oil-rich Arab countries could be contributing much more, and it appears that Clinton will be ceaseless with her phone calls to get them to pony up. A Sept. 5 New York Times article reports that she made "relentless phone calls" to get Arab support for the talks and that two-thirds of her phone calls to foreign officials since March have been about the Middle East. Clinton will surely be working the phones (3 a.m. and otherwise), cajoling and browbeating Arab countries to step up aid so the Palestinian Authority doesn't have a meltdown.
As for not having a "framework agreement" -- which Mitchell said during Sept. 2's briefing is intended to "establish the fundamental compromises necessary to enable the parties to then flesh out and complete a comprehensive agreement that will end the conflict and establish a lasting peace" -- the Israeli and Palestinian sides both say they want one. And if that's what they both want, then Clinton should not be intrusive (see Advice No. 1) and not discourage it. Mitchell said during the briefing, "And the parties themselves have suggested and agreed that the logical way to proceed, to tackle them [the core issues] is to try to reach a framework agreement first."
So, it appears Clinton is following Abrams's first two pieces of advice and intelligently disregarding the third. As pessimistic as most people seem to be, these talks could be a success. Stephen J. Hadley, who was national security advisor to Bush, told the New York Times, "One of the best indications that this could succeed is that Hillary Clinton is willing to get involved.… Because that makes me think two things: She thinks it's possible and, because she is as skilled as she is, it increases the likelihood of success."
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton's political experience could be a plus for her as America's diplomat-in-chief during Middle East peace negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not only have to agree on smart policies, but they have to go with policies that are palatable to their people. These leaders aren't tackling negotiations purely from the perspective of what is good policy in itself, but what will be politically acceptable with their people.
As a former senator and presidential candidate, Clinton has plenty of experience with having to come up with good policy that's also good politics and approaching policy debates with an eye for what's politically sellable. In that sense, she has an asset that many of her predecessors -- Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Madeleine Albright -- don't. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, now a representative of the Middle East "Quartet," told ABC News, as seen in the video below, that Clinton has the "best type of political mind" because it "knows where you meet the point of principle and knows where you need the subtlety and the compromise."
Of course, this is the first time Clinton has been a mediator in such a formidable challenge, so you never know how it'll go. "I think she has credibility. Now whether that translates into diplomatic skills, I don't know. Frankly, she's untested as a mediator," Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor who recently wrote a piece for FP, told ABC News, as seen in the video below.
Still, Clinton's political experience counts for something. Plus, she has this relationship with this fellow who has engaged in Mideast peace talks -- maybe she has learned some lessons from his experience.
Jason Reed-Pool/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton relaunched direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians this morning with opening remarks in which she said to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, "I fervently believe that the two men sitting on either side of me, that you are the leaders who can make this long-cherished dream a reality, and we will do everything possible to help you."*
After Clinton spoke, Netanyahu and Abbas also made opening remarks. Presently, they should be in a trilateral meeting in Clinton's outer office.
As seen above, Netanyahu and Abbas shook hands during the relaunch. So, Clinton has something started. It would be especially great if after a year of negotiations, we see a handshake that's September 1993-esque.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
To watch a live broadcast of Secretary Clinton's relaunch of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, visit the U.S. State Department's website at 10 a.m. (U.S. Eastern time) this Thursday, Sept. 2. Clinton will make opening remarks, along with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Afterward, the three will proceed to Clinton's outer office for a private trilateral meeting.
During the negotiations, Clinton might be channeling some of the experience of her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. When asked by a journalist today whether the secretary has been reaching out to her predecessors who've worked on bringing the Israeli and Palestinian sides together, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley replied:
Well, she's had the opportunity to interact directly with a number of veterans. Some of them are still on the team or -- and some of them are on the other teams. So for example, she has this relationship with this fellow who has spent some time talking to leaders, President Clinton, and she has benefited from his direct experience.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
America's top diplomat, Secretary Clinton, made sure Tuesday that everyone's clear on what the expectations are for Mideast peace negotiations later this week. She held preparatory meetings with several parties that'll be involved in the direct negotiations, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (as seen above), the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers, "Quartet" representative Tony Blair, and finally at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley put it at Tuesday's press briefing, it was a way of helping to "tee up" meetings with the presidents and prime ministers. He said:
It is not unusual when you have a meeting of presidents and prime ministers that the secretary of state will help to tee up those meetings and make sure that we have the same expectations about -- on both sides -- about what will constitute a successful meeting. So the secretary is following up on the work that George Mitchell, Dennis Ross, Dan Shapiro, David Hale, and others have had in recent days and weeks, all to make sure that the relaunch of negotiations get off on the right foot.
If I have time Wednesday, I'll post photos from the other preparatory meetings Clinton held, including those with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Quartet representative Tony Blair, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (I can't post them now due to technical difficulties.)
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton returned to Washington yesterday evening after six weekdays with no public appointments on her schedule. Back from her work-from-home vacation, she has a big day today, meeting with some high-profile people from the Middle East:
12:30 p.m.: Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
2 p.m.: Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.
3 p.m.: Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
4 p.m.: Clinton meets with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and John Hardman, CEO of the Carter Center.
6:15 p.m.: Clinton meets with Quartet representative Tony Blair.
7:45 p.m.: Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
(Update, Aug. 31, 9:56 p.m.: Her meeting with Jimmy Carter today was about North Korea, not about Mideast peace, but who knows, he might have offered her some advice based on his experience with the Camp David talks.)
Message to Secretary Clinton: Please fix the United States' "incoherent, contradictory and apparently failing" Sudan policy, as the New York Times Nicholas Kristof described it on Aug. 29.
In a column on the Obama administration's "failure in Sudan," Kristof has this frightening warning:
"[I]n a place like Sudan, American diplomatic malpractice could lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths."
The country has a referendum coming up next year in which the oil-rich south will vote on whether to secede. The north doesn't want to lose all that oil, so if the south votes to secede (which it most likely will), that could spark a huge bloody war with mass killing. (The last north-south war killed 2 million people over 20 years.)
The United States needs an effective Sudan policy in place, one that will prevent mass death. Too bad, then, that there apparently isn't agreement at the State Department about what that policy should be. The U.S. envoy for Sudan, Maj. Gen. Scott Gration (seen in the photo above), favors a policy of engagement that focuses more on carrots than sticks. As reported on FP's The Cable, his plan "deemphasizes the ongoing crisis in Darfur" and "is devoid of any additional pressures on the government in Khartoum." Clinton supports this plan.
On the other hand, Susan Rice (seen in the photo above), the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and someone with more experience on Sudan, favors a stronger, tougher plan and was "furious" when Gration proposed his policy at a meeting earlier this month.
Kristof says that the United States needs to be more involved on the issue of Sudan and suggests supporting U.N. peacekeepers; coordinating with Britain, Egypt, and China to prevent war; and making Vice President Joe Biden the point person for Sudan for the following six months.
Whatever policy the United States decides to go with, let's hope Clinton will help steer it away from "diplomatic malpractice" and toward something that prevents another humanitarian tragedy.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
At the President's Forum with Young African Leaders this afternoon, Secretary Clinton told a group of successful young African entrepreneurs and civil society leaders that, ultimately, progress in Africa is is "up to you."
After saying, "I see Africa as a continent brimming with potential, a place that has so much just waiting to be grasped," she went on to say:
Across Africa, more citizens believe they now have the power and the duty to shape their own lives, to help their communities, to hold their governments accountable.… I want to focus on these gains because it is through this positive progress that we can motivate and incentivize even more to take place. And ultimately, it is up to you. The president and I very much believe in Africa's promise, and we can do what's possible from afar to assist and to be front-row cheerleaders, if you will. But ultimately, it is up to you, and to citizens like you, to make sure that we sustain and deepen the progress.
Clinton noted President Obama's remark last year in Ghana: "Africa's future is up to Africans." And she added that the United States "stand[s] ready to be your partners," working "in a spirit of mutual respect and accountability."
The impression is that the United States doesn't want to be paternalistic. Even if it tried calling the shots in Africa, it wouldn't work. Rather, development must come from within, with every child growing up to be able to use his or her "God-given talents and potential" to make the continent thrive. At most, the United States can be a "cheerleader" or a partner, an actor with solely an auxiliary role.
Ultimately, only the citizens within a country can build it and make it successful. Now, if only only there were more of this going on in Afghanistan.…
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is back in business after Chelsea's amazing wedding this weekend. Today she finally has public events on her schedule, for the first time since Monday, July 26. Clinton's schedule today is very Africa-focused:
12:15 p.m.: Clinton delivers remarks to the President's Forum with Young African Leaders.
3 p.m.: Clinton meets with members of the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program participating in the AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) Forum.
3:10 p.m.: Clinton delivers remarks at the AGOA Forum.
3:30 p.m.: Clinton attends a USAID senior staff retreat.5:15 p.m.: Clinton meets at the White House with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor Jim Jones.
In the photo above, tourists donning Hillary and Bill Clinton masks drive through the site of Chelsea's wedding, Rhinebeck, N.Y., on the big day, July 31.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
"Human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights," Secretary Clinton declared today at a State Department event celebrating LGBT pride month. In her remarks she mentioned that 10 years ago, she was the first First Lady to march in a pride parade, and she went on to say:
This is a human rights issue. Just as I was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in Beijing that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, well, let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights, once and for all.
Clinton also highlighted LGBT-friendly policies that have been enacted during her tenure:
Last year, I received a petition with more than 2,200 signatures supporting equal benefits to same-sex partners [of State Department employees]. And I was delighted that soon after, the President signed an executive order to that effect. This month, the Bureau of Consular Affairs issued new regulations making it easier for transgender Americans to amend their passports, ensuring dignified and fair processing. And today, I'm pleased to announce that for the first time, gender identity will be included along with sexual orientation in the State Department Equal Employee Opportunity Statement.
In her remarks, Clinton said that the State Department's annual Human Rights Report includes a section on how LGBT individuals are treated in every country and mentioned that the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor recently announced a new grant to provide aid to human rights advocates in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia who are in danger because of their LBGT status or because they work on LGBT issues. The State Department is also working to provide more protection for LGBT refugees who face persecution in their home countries.
Mother's Day is this Sunday, and today Secretary Clinton announced, "Happy Mother’s Day to all of the proud parents of the State Department." (I'm sure daughter Chelsea and husband Bill will have a surprise for Clinton on Sunday.)
In her message, Clinton also recommitted the State Department to providing its employees with better parental-leave policies, saying:
I'm recommitting the State Department to do all we can to support parents, especially new mothers and fathers. We will continue to do all we can to advance paid sick leave to new mothers recuperating from childbirth, family members caring for the mother, as well as those caring for a newborn with a serious ailment or disability, and the employees that are in the process of the adoption efforts that I know can be so difficult."
It's not enough to just talk about the importance of family -- our policies must reflect our commitment and our values."
And before I depart for the weekend, here's a photo of Clinton yesterday as she left the Capitol after briefing senators on the new START Treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) signed last month with Russia.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
State Department photo / Public Domain (Flickr)
Today Secretary Clinton, as seen above, delivered remarks upon the release of the State Department's annual "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices," which has individual reports on the human rights situation in virtually every country of the world (though I don't see an individual report on the United States itself listed.)
In her remarks she said:
So when we work to secure human rights, we are working to protect the experiences that make life meaningful, to preserve each person's ability to fulfill his or her God-given potential -- the potential within every person to learn, discover, and embrace the world around them; the potential to join freely with others to shape their communities and their societies so that every person can find fulfillment and self-sufficiency; the potential to share life's beauties and tragedies, laughter and tears with the people they love."
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
A lengthy article in the Washington Post's Style section today declares that Secretary Clinton has brought "new energy" and a favorable management style to the U.S. State Department. The first two paragraphs say:
Hillary Rodham Clinton ran a presidential campaign notoriously insular and unhappy, managing a group of egos and backstabbers whose dysfunction may have cost her the White House. Understandably, people wondered what kind of management style she would bring to the State Department.
But a little over a year into her tenure as secretary of state, allies and detractors alike say Clinton has made a vigorous effort to widen her circle, wooing and pulling into her orbit the agency's Foreign Service and civil service officials, many of whom said in interviews that she has brought a new energy to the building.
The only part I took issue with was the assertion that Clinton hasn't defined a signature issue:
One loyalist inside the agency, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid, suggested that Clinton is stretched too thin and has not narrowed her goals or developed signature issues that will define her tenure. "What bothers me is that we're planting zillions of seeds … speeches on every issue, but where's the thematic coherence?" this aide said.
No "signature issue"? How about women's rights? As I blogged last September, Clinton is making women's rights her signature issue for U.S. foreign policy. During virtually every overseas trip she has made, Clinton has met with women leaders and women's groups, even defying security advice last August and traveling to Goma, Congo -- the epicenter of where rape has been used as a weapon of war -- to meet with victimized women and hear their stories.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
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
Secretary Clinton will be on a National Geographic Channel special called "Inside the State Department" that will air this spring. Cameras have been following Clinton as she has traveled to places such as Pakistan, Africa, and Jerusalem. They've recorded her meetings with officials and private moments. The special will also show the extraordinary efforts made to protect Clinton's securtity, as well as the IMAX-size video screens at the State Department Operations Center.
The specific airdate isn't available yet, but should eventually appear on the National Geographic Channel's website.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Foreign Policy just published its first annual list of the top 100 Global Thinkers, and Secretary Clinton and husband Bill ranked No. 6! Secretary Clinton was selected for "giving 'smart power' a star turn at the State Department." More specifically, the magazine said:
This year, she has tirelessly broadcast the administration's banner diplomatic message: The United States under Obama is a smart power, a participant in a 'new era of engagement based on common interests, shared values, and mutual respect.' But Clinton is also aiming to remake the State Department itself. The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review she initiated promises a thorough, ongoing assessment of the massive bureaucracy in order to create a leaner, more responsive State Department capable of being the engine of Washington's new diplomacy."
Photo: SAUL LOEB/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
A 64-year-old Foreign Service officer has sued Secretary Clinton for age discrimination. Last November, the woman was offered -- and accepted -- a two-year position at the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, Algeria, which would have begun this past summer. Instead, the offer was rescinded when it was discovered that the woman would turn 65 during the middle of her term. The mandatory retirement age for Foreign Service officers is 65.
The woman has filed an age-discrimination lawsuit against Clinton, stating that the age limit is unconstitutional and based on old-fashioned stereotypes. What's particularly painful is that the woman didn't join the Foreign Service until age 54 because when she wanted to join earlier, there was a ban on married women!
Clinton, who's almost 62, will be turning 65 when she's still secretary of state, but the mandatory retirement age doesn't apply to political appointees. "Imagine if someone told Hillary Clinton she couldn't be secretary of state because she would turn 65 before her term is up," a lawyer representing the woman told the Washington Post.
If an adult is physically and mentally able to handle a position, age shouldn't matter. I would hope Clinton agrees. As more baby boomers enter their "senior years," my hunch is that these age barriers will come down.
Photo: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton was on TV yesterday! In a Face the Nation interview that was pre-taped Friday, Clinton talked about the recent news of Iran's secret nuclear facility and the upcoming Oct. 1 meeting between representatives of Iran and the P5+1 countries -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States.
Clinton said of Iran, its nuclear facility, and the Oct. 1 meeting:
We don't believe that they can present convincing evidence that it's only for peaceful purposes, but we are going to put them to the test on October 1st."
When asked, "What can Iran say in this meeting to say we're really -- all all we're trying to do is make electricity?", Clinton bluntly replied:
Well, they can't say anything because they've said that for years, but they can open up their entire system to the kind of extensive investigation that the facts call for."
When interviewer Harry Smith asked Clinton about the "crippling sanctions" that Clinton said should be put in place if diplomacy with Iran fails, she replied:
Well, Harry, we're exploring how you broaden and deepen sanctions. Now sanctions are already in place as you know, but like many sanction regimes they're leaky. But in the last eight months since we've been dealing with North Korea on a similar set of issues we have forged an international consensus around very tough sanctions. And that's given us some additional information about how to proceed on the Iranian front."
When the interview switched to Pakistan, Clinton had complimentary words:
HARRY SMITH: Is Pakistan doing enough to clean up its own house?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, look at, again, what has happened in the last nine months. Pakistan has increased its commitment in the fight against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
HARRY SMITH (overlapping): They were successful in Swat valley.
HILLARY CLINTON: Absolutely successful.
Clinton did add, though, that the United States is working for even more action from Pakistan.
It's not as strong as it was, because America's changed demographically, but it's as virulent as it was."
And when asked whether Hillary will ever run for president again, Bill replied:
That's up to her. I don't -- you know, we're not getting any younger. But I'm proud of what she's doing now. I think she's doing a good job and I'm honored that -- I think it's pretty thrilling that she and the president have established the relationship they have. And it's a good argument for reconciliation and remembering the big things for all the rest of us."
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.