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
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
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.
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
I just returned from the Brookings Institution, where I heard Secretary Clinton deliver a speech previewing the United States' priorities during next week's U.N. General Assembly session.
Before diving into her speech though, Clinton remarked on President Obama's announcement yesterday of changes in the U.S. missile defense program. She said the new system stemmed from a "lengthy and in-depth assessment" of the threats posed by Iran and is based on the United States' "best understanding of Iran's capability."
The new system will "deploy sooner," be "more comprehensive," and have a "better capacity to protect." Clinton said it will "deploy technology that's actually proven" to work and "does what missile defense is actually supposed to do." She added that criticisms of the new system are "not connected to the facts."
Then Clinton delved into her official remarks. Nonproliferation of nuclear weapons will be the main topic that the United States will address next week. Clinton will lead the U.S. delegation to a conference on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the first time that a U.S. secretary of state has attended such a conference.
Another key topic for the United States next week will be Iran. The issue isn't Iran's right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, she said. Rather, she firmly stressed, the problem is that for years Iran has not lived up to its responsibilities to demonstrate that its program is "exclusively for peaceful purposes."
Clinton said that the United States' past refusal to engage Iran had yielded no progress and added, "We remain ready to engage." (Whether Iran is ready to engage on talking nukes, however, is an entirely different story.)
Some other tidbits:
•Clinton said the United States and Iraq have entered a new, "more mature partnership."
•Clinton will be chairing a session on women, peace, and security at the U.N. General Assembly session. She said, "If women are free from violence and afforded their rights," they can be "change agents."
•On corruption, Clinton said it was a "security problem," not just a "good government concern."
•Finally, at the end, Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott asked Clinton about U.S. health-care reform. Clinton said, "We're going to be successful," but went on to say it "won't be pretty."
Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
In yesterday's Washington Post, FP blogger David J. Rothkopf wrote a lengthy op-ed about how Secretary Clinton is "quietly revolutionizing" U.S. foreign policy, "overseeing what may be the most profound changes in U.S. foreign policy in two decades -- a transformation that may render the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush mere side notes in a long transition to a meaningful post-Cold War worldview."
Rothkopf writes that Clinton is tackling many future-oriented issues:
--How to deal with nonstate actors
--Moving from Madeleine Albright's idea that the United States is an "indispensable nation" to recognizing "the indispensability of collaborating with others"
--Prioritizing engagement with emerging powers such as China, India, and Russia (Rothkopf says Clinton has sounded the "death knell for the G-8 as the head table of the global community.")
--Harnessing the power of information technology (remember text "Swat"?)
--Reviewing the State Department's priorities with its new Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review
The list goes on, but Rothkopf makes clear the Clinton is revolutionizing U.S. foreign policy in her own quiet way while many others are simply "missing the forest for the pantsuits."
Over at FP's Shadow Government blog ("notes from the loyal opposition"), some people think Secretary Clinton laid the smack down too hard:
As a woman, does Clinton feel pressure to come on hard and tough? If she hadn't spoken out when the Taliban were a mere 60 miles from the Pakistani capital, would some have perceived her as too soft?
I'm pressed for time today, unfortunately, so here's one more link and Secretary Clinton's schedule:
11:30 a.m. Signing Ceremony with His Excellency Cristian Diaconescu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
Today, May 1, marks Hillary Clinton's 100th day at U.S. secretary of state. (She was sworn in Jan. 21, and we're counting Jan. 22 as Day 1.)
Yesterday, I posted a roundup of views regarding Clinton's first 100 days. Two days ago, the State Department posted its "100-Day Report," in which it stated, "In the first 100 Days of the Obama Administration, Secretary Clinton and the State Department have made significant progress in advancing America's national security goals and promoting America's values around the world." (Obviously, being put out by the State Department, the report only states the positive, declaring that "early and significant progress" has been made on a range of priorities.) More about the report is available in this Associated Press article, "Cue the Fanfare: State Trumpets Clinton's 100 Days."
Just in time for Clinton's 100th day, Time named Clinton one of the 100 most influential people in the world, placing her in the "leaders & revolutionaries" category. Writing for Time, Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. secretary of state (and who served under Clinton's husband Bill) had this to say:
Can Hillary adjust [to being a diplomat]? She already has. It helps that no one doubts her courage, toughness or brains and that everyone knows who she is. It helps more that despite living under intense scrutiny for so long, Secretary Clinton knows exactly what she believes. The mission of public service is in her bones.
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
A cursory Internet search finds these views of Secretary Clinton's first 100 days:
For his list of 100-days winners, Chris Cillizza at The Fix (a Washington Post blog) selected Clinton:
Who would have thought that in less than one year Clinton would go from a defeated presidential candidate to the country's top diplomat? Clinton['s] decision to leave politics (forever?) has paid off as her approval number[s] are through the roof. (A mid-March CNN poll showed 71 percent of Americans approved of the job she was doing as secretary of state.) Clinton has been measured and effective as an advocate for the president's policies and has shown an amazing adaptability as she moves from political circles to diplomatic ones.
Charles Wolfson, State Department reporter for CBS News, writes:
For those who forecast that Hillary Clinton would have trouble playing second fiddle to her former political foe, senior officials who have watched the two say she knows who the boss is and has had no problem accommodating herself to her new role.
Over at Politico, David Cloud writes:
In less than 100 days, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did something that neither Colin Powell nor Condoleezza Rice was able to accomplish in their entire tenures: She restored the State Department to the central place in U.S. foreign policy.
"What Clinton has done and the president has done is to say clearly that diplomacy is a national security tool of the United States," said Marc Grossman, a career foreign service officer who served as undersecretary of state during the Bush administration. "The only tool is no longer just the military."
By the president's side is a straight-talking secretary of state with her own star-power and some 60,000 air miles already under her belt - Hillary Clinton.
The administration's new emphasis on diplomacy means the state department is squarely back at the heart of America's efforts to engage with the world, from allies to rivals.
Of course, there are some negatives. Here are a few:
--David Cloud at Politico mentions that in the first 100 days there hasn't been much in the way of "diplomatic breakthroughs, peace deals or the standard measurements of State Department success." On the other hand, he admits that these types of accomplishments can't be expected to happen in a mere 100 days.
--Then there was the blooper with the reset button that Clinton gave to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Instead of saying "reset" in Russian to indicate wanting to press the reset button on U.S.-Russia relations, the button had printed on it a Russian word that translated to something along the lines of "overload."
--Additionally, many Americans were upset when Clinton played down human rights when she visited China in February. On human rights in China she said, "Successive [U.S.] administrations and Chinese governments have been poised back and forth on these issues, and we have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis."
--Then, of course, there's the whole issue about reaching out to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
Secretary Clinton delivered even more testimony today, speaking about the State Department's FY2009 supplemental appropriations request, as seen in the photo above. Her schedule today:
9:00 a.m. Testimony before House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2359.
2:30 p.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand.
3:25 p.m. Welcome Children of Department Employees, “Take Your Child to Work Day,” Acheson Auditorium.
4:00 p.m. Meeting with President Obama and Vice President Biden
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Speaking in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday, a gutsy Secretary Clinton told it like it is.
With Islamist militants just 60 miles from Islamabad, the capital of nuclear-armed Pakistan, she declared: "[We] cannot underscore [enough] the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by the continuing advances."
As you may know, a recent "peace" deal in Pakistan gave control of Swat Valley to pro-Taliban militants who have been imposing their extremist version of sharia there. It appears to be a case of "give them an inch; they take a yard." The leader of the main opposition party said: "The last few days show that gun-carrying Taliban are spreading to more areas and eventually want to capture the whole of Pakistan." Yikes! And Clinton would agree. She said the Pakistani government, in signing the deal, was "basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists."
In another bold move, when Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) asked Clinton about former Vice President Dick Cheney's effort to declassify documents he says prove the "success" of harsh interrogation techniques, Madame Secretary had this zinger:
Well, it will not surprise you that I do not consider him a particularly reliable source of information.
Clinton seems to be displaying the controlled and competent essence of her "newly launched" fragrance line, Authorité.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
This afternoon, Hillary met with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines (who, incidentally, went to Georgetown with Bill, as they are both fond of pointing out) and, during their short press appearance, used the opportunity to voice concern about a Pakistani court's decision to release A.Q. Khan, who gave secret nuclear information to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, from house arrest.
And though I know I already posted a photo of French Foreign Minister Kouchner and Clinton from yesterday, I came across this one that I just had to post. There is something charming about this photo, no? Kouchner and Clinton, in sync.
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images and Mark Wilson/Getty Images News
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China February 15-22 to discuss issues including the global financial crisis and climate change, the State Department said on Thursday.
"In all capitals, the secretary will be discussing common approaches to the challenges facing the international community, including the financial markets turmoil, humanitarian issues, security and climate change," State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.
Hillary meets with her French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, today and ends the evening preparing for her first trip overseas to Asia:
SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON:
7:30 a.m. Attend 57th Annual National Prayer Breakfast at the Hilton Washington Hotel.
12:30 p.m. Lunch with His Excellency Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the French Republic.
1:15 p.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the French Republic.
5:00 p.m. Bilateral with His Excellency Rene Preval, President of the Republic of Haiti.
6:30 p.m. East Asia Policy Working Dinner.
Secretary Clinton held a very interesting Town Hall meeting today with State Department employees. The Q&A session covered a great deal of ground - the role of special envoys, the relationship between State and Defense, and benefits for same-sex partners working in war zones - and Hillary had great responses on the whole and was fast with a quip, joking about food in the cafeteria and how she "sometimes totally forget[s]" having run for president.
But her response about private military contractors surprised me - and contradicts her past positions. On the presidential campaign trail, Clinton was vehement in her opposition to using private military contractors in Iraq. And last February, she was the sole cosponsor in the Senate of a bill that would require the Secretary of State to ban all use of military contractors in protecting State Dept. employees. According to the bill,
Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall ensure that all personnel at any United States diplomatic or consular mission in Iraq are provided security services only by Federal Government personnel.
But today at the Town Hall meeting, she backpedaled:
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madame Secretary. My name is Chris Dilworth. I’m an intern from Indiana University. I’m interning in the Bureau of Human Resources, Department of Resource Management and Organizational Analysis. My question is a quick one. Will you ban private military contracts?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have, as you know, expressed a lot of concern about private security contracts. The Department ended the Blackwater contract in Iraq. But here’s the dilemma, and take Iraq as the example. We are going to be withdrawing our troops. Now, the President’s working right now on how to sequence the withdrawal and how to do so in as safe and effective manner as possible. We believe there will be an important role for our civilian employees.
How we provide security and safety for those performing civilian functions is a very difficult question. The military assets will be diminishing. The numbers of civilians in Iraq, to go back to Steve’s question, will also be decreasing. But there will be a corps of, you know, Foreign Service and Civil Service and foreign nationals who will be performing the work of the United States of America. And I, for one, as your Secretary, want to make sure that they have necessary security.
So we’re working that out. This is one of the issues on a long list of issues about Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places. I certainly am of the mind that we should, insofar as possible, diminish our reliance on private security contractors. Whether we can go all the way to banning, under current circumstances, seems unlikely, but we ought to be engaged in a very careful review of where they should and shouldn’t be used, and under what circumstances. And that’s what we’re doing right now.
As senator, Hillary accused outfits such as Blackwater as having "compromised our mission in Iraq" and "endangered U.S. lives." Her new vantage has apparently softened that stance?
And for the comments: Do you think the State Department should use private military companies to protect its employees overseas?
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images
By and large, both the British and German papers today are delighted that Secretary Clinton's meetings with British Foreign Minister David Miliband and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier seem to herald a new day for transatlantic relations.
WIth Miliband, the agenda was largely the "special relationship" between the US and UK, Iran's nuclear ambitions, and peace in the Middle East.
The Guardian loves the fact that Britain scored a diplomatic coup:
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, lavishly praised the "special relationship" between the US and Britain after discussions in Washington yesterday with David Miliband, the first foreign minister to meet her in the new job....
British diplomats had played down the importance of whether Britain, France or Germany would be first to speak to the new administration but they were yesterday celebrating twin coups: Gordon Brown was the first European leader Obama called and Miliband became the first foreign minister to visit Clinton.
The Independent detected "bittersweet moments":
The two top diplomats gushed over each other, with Mr Miliband declaring he was "delighted" to be meet with Mrs Clinton exactly three months after Mr Obama was elected, two weeks after his inauguration and one full day after Mrs Clinton was formally sworn in. Whew. Their talks were "detailed, substantive and friendly", Mr Miliband recounted.But was there a hint of regret that Hillary wasn't in the White House? As far as the Foreign Office is concerned, Barack Obama, is an inspiring but essentially blank sheet of paper.
And the Times seemed relieved that Clinton reassured Miliband that the U.S. wouldn't act rashly toward Iran:
Hillary Clinton offered David Miliband assurances yesterday that plans to re-engage with Iran would proceed one step at a time - and only after heeding concerns from Britain.
With Steinmeier, the agenda focused on Afghanistan, Iran, and Germany-U.S. ties.
Deutsche Welle seems giddy about the fact that Steinmeier is on a first-name basis with the Secretary:
They already call each other by their first names.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, looking forward to a warmer era of diplomatic relations with the United States under President Barack Obama, called the new top US diplomat "Madame Secretary Hillary" or simply, "Hillary," a sign of friendship for Germans, who often call each other by their last names even after decades.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reciprocated by calling her German colleague "Frank." Indeed, the pair have known each other since the 1990s, when she was US first lady and Steinmeier was chief of staff to the previous German chancellor.
Der Spiegel, on the other hand, reported that Steinmeier's enthusiasm for the new administration (in juxtaposition to Angela Merkel, who has been noticeably more reserved when it comes to Obama) is a product of his desire to be Germany's next chancellor, and that yesterday showcased a bit of campaigning on this side of the pond:
The foreign minister, who is also the chancellor candidate for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in this year's German national election, waited no longer than the inauguration before making plans for his first visit with the new administration. Steinmeier, after all, is trying to mount a campaign in Germany that he hopes will help him cash in on Barack Obama's win and America's shift to the left. He wants to position himself with German voters as the country's chief Atlanticist and a passionate friend of the new American government....
During their joint press conference at the State Department, Steinmeier addressed his counterpart as "Dear Hillary" and spoke for a very long time -- a lot longer than she did. Steinmeier praised what he described as his "visit with friends" and said trans-Atlantic cooperation must not be suffocated by "routine." Later he raved about a "new freshness, a curiosity, a preparedness to discuss new issues." Clinton played along.
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton has inherited many headaches from her predecessor (and her predecessor's boss), but while most of them concern foreign shores, at least one is far closer to home. According to a number of recent reports, the Office of the Historian at the State Department is in serious disarray.
Now, before you even ask whether this bears any relevance whatsoever to the workings of the State Department or to Sec. Clinton, let's be clear: It absolutely does. The Office of the Historian is in charge of publishing the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), a documentary series first started under Abraham Lincoln that features declassified government documents - from State, Defense, NSC, CIA, and other government agencies - relating to how U.S. foreign policy is made. It's the first stop for researchers, journalists, historians, and ordinary citizens wanting to know the secrets to how the sausage is made. Want to see the minutes from Oval Office meetings on the Iraq war circa March 2003? Check the FRUS in a few decades' time.
And from the recent reports (and through no fault of her own, commenters), it sounds as though Sec. Clinton has inherited something of a hornet's nest. In December, the chairman of the watchdog committee overseeing the series resigned in protest, citing mismanagment of the FRUS. William Roger Lewis, a former president of the American Historical Association, said in his resignation letter to Condoleezza Rice:
The Historian’s Office has become an intolerable place to work; the exodus of experienced historians is significant; and the future of the Foreign Relations series is at risk. [...] At the present rate of attrition, the Foreign Relations series faces as grave a crisis as at any time in its history.
The reported disorder in the Historian's office is causing the publication of declassified materials to fall behind schedule by several years. How is this any of Clinton's problem? It's up to the Secretary to make sure the series is published on time. Secretary Rice met with members of the Advisory Committee just before she left State, and an outside report was prepared in an attempt to solve the office's issues. It was released just days before Obama took office, and there's worry that its critical recommendations might have gotten lost in the shuffle of the new administration. It need not necessarily be at the top of her to-do list, but support from Secretary Clinton early on in her tenure could get this critical resource back on track.
Thanks to reader BB for the tip.
This morning, Secretary Clinton got a debriefing from special envoy George Mitchell, who returned from his trip to the Middle East last night. He'll return to the region before the end of the month for more meetings.
No real details were provided, and they only took a single question with regard to any shift in policy toward Hamas:
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, you know, we have a very clear policy toward Hamas, and Hamas knows the conditions that have been set forth. They must renounce violence. They must recognize Israel. And they must agree to abide by prior agreements that were entered into by the Palestinian Authority.We are just at the beginning of this deep and consistent engagement that we are part of, that Senator Mitchell is leading for our Administration, but our conditions with respect to Hamas have not and will not change. It is our hope that the work that needs to be done to move the parties toward an effort to settle many of the disputes that they currently confront will be effective. But Hamas knows that it must stop the rocket fire into Israel. There were rockets yesterday, there were rockets this morning. And it is very difficult to ask any nation to do anything other than defend itself in the wake of that kind of consistent attack. So that’s not new news.
A high-ranking Japanese official has told the Asahi Shimbun that Hillary Clinton's first visit overseas will be to Japan and that she might visit the country as soon as mid-February, the first leg on a larger Asian tour.
The choice of Japan as the first leg on Clinton's Asia tour, which is expected to include China and South Korea, is seen as an indication of the importance the Obama administration puts on its relationship with Tokyo.
The trip could help dispel concerns in Japan that the new administration intends to place a greater importance on relations with Beijing than with Tokyo.
Clinton's schedule is subject to change, depending on world developments.
During the visit, Clinton is expected to reconfirm the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and discuss the global financial crisis and regional issues, including North Korea, with Japanese leaders.
Officials in Tokyo apparently would feel obliged to come out with additional help to stabilize Afghanistan. During the presidential campaign, Obama vowed to ramp up the U.S. effort in Afghanistan as part of the war on terror.
Clinton is also expected to take part in intensive discussions on North Korea's nuclear program during her East Asia tour.
Given Secretary Clinton's working lunch with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner today and speculation that both want to take over the China file, I asked Minxin Pei, a noted China expert at the Carnegie Endowment for Interntional Peace, for his thoughts on who should spearhead the China brief - Clinton or Geithner?
The right answer is neither. In the past, the most successful handler of U.S.-China relations was either the president himself (both Bush Sr. and W, for example) or the National Security Advisor (Kissinger, Brzezinski, and Berger) who has the ear of the president.
The reason is quite simple:Given the complexity of the relationship and the conflicting interests among various bureaucracies, the only person who can manage this relationship and balance competing interests would be the president or his national security advisor.
Hillary Clinton might want to be spearhead this relationship, but she might want to think twice. She would be treading on many toes -- the Pentagon, the Treasury, USTR, and, needless to say, Congress. And for what? The relationship is not in deep trouble. There are some problems to be ironed out. She would be spending a lot of energy but getting very little in return.
As for Geithner, I doubt whether he wants to repeat what Paulson did. Geithner has neither the personal interest in China nor the political backing from the very top to handle the U.S.-China brief. Paulson supposedly got a commitment of support from W as a condition of signing on as the Treasury Secretary. In any case, Geithner will be spending most of his time on rescuing the U.S. economy. If I were him, I would do anything to avoid 14-hour flights to Beijing and the jetlag.
That leaves one possible choice -- Joe Biden. The Chinese press is already floating unconfirmed rumors -- out of Japan -- that Biden will be heading the Strategic Economic Dialogue between the U.S. and China. That could be wishful thinking on Beijing's part because this would give him even more face than what Paulson has done.
UPDATE: Cheng Li, director of research at the Brookings Institution's John L. Thornton China Center, writes in with his take:
Given the global financial crisis and the rise of economic protectionism in both countries, economic issues are at the forefront of US-China relations. In this regard, Tim Geithner will be appropriate for interacting with China. However, as the most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century, it must go far beyond economic matters. Counterterrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, climate change, human rights, and religious freedom are also essential. Therefore, the State Department led by Hillary Clinton must take the lead on these issues. On balance, it may be a good idea that the Office of the Vice President, or even that of the President, should play a primary role in coordinating this important relationship.
The State Department's U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and director of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) position was unexpectedly vacated last week by its incumbent, Dr. Mark R. Dybul. Dybul initially told colleagues on January 9th that he had been asked to stay for several months; the day after Hillary Clinton was confirmed, she announced that he had resigned, though he's reportedly told friends he was asked to leave.
Michael Gerson wrote an op-ed on Wednesday criticizing the move, calling Dybul "almost universally respected among legislators, AIDS activists, foreign leaders and health experts." But it's not just conservative op-ed writers who are concerned; PEPFAR is one of the few things many health and development experts believe the Bush administration got right. The Times reports that nearly 70 anti-AIDS groups sent Clinton a letter this week asking for a delay in naming a successor and for a more open process in deciding on the next chief.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood was quizzed today about Dybul's sudden departure.
QUESTION: On Mark Dybul. Mr. Wood, The Washington Post reported January 28th that the day after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, your Global Coordinator on HIV/AIDS, Ambassador Mark Dybul, quote, “received a call asking him to submit his resignation and leave by the end of the day his office,” unquote. I am wondering why and what happened.
MR. WOOD: Well, very simple.
QUESTION: Excuse me?
MR. WOOD: It’s very simple. I’m going to explain.As you know, at the end of an administration, on January 20, officials who are political appointees are required to submit their resignations and depart. And that’s all that was. It was for not just Mr. Dybul but other, you know, officials from the Bush Administration. They are required to submit their resignations and to depart. That was a part of it.
Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) reportedly approached Clinton recently to recommend Harvard professor and former WHO AIDS chief Dr. Jim Yong Kim for the position, only to be told that Clinton had already offered it to Dr. Eric Goosby, who led AIDS initiatives for the Clinton administration. Goosby refused to comment, according to the Times.
Secretary Clinton released a financial disclosure form yesterday, revealing that she and Bill made between $6.1 million and $8.1 million last year. Bill made $2 million in foreign speaking fees alone in final weeks of the year, after it was rumored Hillary would get the secretary of state nod.
More from the Washington Wire:
The new Obama administration’s top diplomat disclosed that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, earned $5.7 million in speaking fees last year, most of it from foreign corporations. He picked up honoraria from companies in India, Portugal, Mexico and Germany, and earned $350,000 from a bank in Kuwait, $200,000 from an equities firm in Malaysia and $300,000 from an automotive company in Hong Kong. The largest sum came from a Canadian motivational firm called The Power Within Inc. , which paid the former president $1.25 million.
But of course, we’re concerned about the humanitarian suffering. We’re concerned any time innocent civilians, Palestinian or Israeli, are attacked. That’s why we support Israel’s right to self-defense. The rocket barrages, which are getting closer and closer to populated areas, cannot go unanswered. And it’s, you know, regrettable that the Hamas leadership apparently believes that it is in their interest to provoke the right of self-defense instead of building a better future for the people of Gaza.There have been pointed breaks with the previous administration this week on Iran and climate change, but this is one area of policy where there hasn't been a huge amount of sunlight between Bush and Barack so far.
Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden had breakfast together this morning at the Veep's residence at the Naval Observatory. A State Department spokesman declined to talk about what was discussed, telling me that it was a private meeting. George Mitchell's trip to the Middle East today was no doubt on the agenda though.
Jeff Fusco/Getty Images News
For all you Hillary newshounds, here's your Monday round-up.
She's the biggest single loser in all of this. If the media had done its job early on, Hillary Clinton would have been the nominee for president of the United States and probably elected president of the United States.
Not the sexism in the media, mind you, its liberal bias. Sexism is a thing of the past, obviously.
First of all, I think she herself is a known quantity abroad. When I was secretary and she was first lady, it was very evident that she had quite a large and resounding international role. She was identified with human rights and women's rights and generally showing a very positive side of America. I think she is so well-known abroad, and having somebody that is that well-known is very important. The other part is something that I think is essential, and that is that it is showing what democratic elections are like in the U.S. -- you argue and you run against each other, but you are capable of developing a partnership.
This is similar to what Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal told me last week, actually. Albright also had praise for Clinton and "smart power," which was maligned by Fox News last week.
What she said [Thursday], which I thought was very interesting, is that national security policy is like a three-legged stool -- there's defense, there's diplomacy and there's development, and the State Department is basically responsible for two of those three. I would advise her to really make that a very central part of what she does -- is to make sure people understand that smart power, which she talked about a lot, is the way to show the best side of America.Pool/Getty Images News
In a video address to the Madrid meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Washington was "committed" to working with other nations to meet the goal of halving the number of people worldwide living in poverty and hunger by 2015. "Governments and nations are more likely to become unstable when their populations are hungry and underfed," she said. "We are committed to building a new partnership among donor states, developing nations, UN agencies, NGOs, the private sector and others to better coordinate policies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals," she added.Are you starting to sense a theme (and a growing distance with Bush administration policies)? The Obama administration is convinced that trying to make the world a better place will make it also a safer place, whereas the Bush administration was concerned with making us (and sometimes us alone) safer and thus better off. It should be interesting to see who is more right -- though I have some ideas.
Secretary Clinton released a statement yesterday on Obama's decision to repeal the Mexico City policy:
President Obama's repeal of the global gag rule, which has prevented women around the world from gaining access to essential information and healthcare services, is a welcomed and important step taken during the first days of the Administration.
For the past seven years, this policy has made it more difficult for women around the world to gain access to essential information and healthcare services. Rather than limiting women's ability to receive reproductive health services, we should be supporting programs that help women and their partners make decisions to ensure their health and the health of their families.
As I said in Beijing at the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women, women must not be denied the right to plan their own families. I look forward to working with the President, my colleagues in the Administration, and the NGO community to promote programs and policies that ensure women and girls have full access to health information and services.
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.