Hillary Clinton on Foreign Policy

Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)


"Smart power" combines diplomacy and development

Hillary Clinton saw the job as a kind of reformatting of the State Department itself to prepare for the longer-run issues. "I'd been told that it was a choice that had to be made: You could either do what had to be done around the world, or you could organize and focus the work that was done inside State and the Agency for International Development, but I rejected that," says Clinton. "I thought it was essential that as we restore America's standing in the world and strengthen our global leadership again, we needed what I took to calling 'smart power' to elevate American diplomacy and development and reposition them for the 21st century. That meant that we had to take a hard look at how both State and A.I.D. operated. I did work to increase their funding after a very difficult period when they were political footballs to some extent and they didn't have the resources to do what was demanded of them."
Source: New York Magazine interview, "Hillary in Midair" , Sep 22, 2013

Work toward Arab Spring not being hijacked by extremists

Q: What about the Arab Spring?

A: I think that post the Arab revolutions that took place in Egypt and Libya and Tunisia, and elsewhere in the region, there was always going to be a period of adjustment. What we have to work for, along with the international community, is not to see these revolutions hijacked by extremists, not to see the return of dictatorial rule. It's hard going from decades under one party or one man rule, as somebody said, "waking up from a political coma and understanding democracy."

Q: Is President Morsi with us or not? He's said that the Holocaust didn't exist.

A: You have to look at the fact that the people now in power in these countries have never been in government, never had a chance to really learn how to run agencies or to make decisions. We don't condone what a lot of these leaders are doing, or failing to do. But we also know how important it is that we try to avoid even more extreme elements taking control of territory, even threatening a regime.

Source: Fox News "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" , Jan 29, 2013

Afghan women are better off, but we must prevent reversal

Q: What about the women of Afghanistan? What can they expect as we leave?

A: They're going to have to be given support from their own government and people, as well as the international community.

Q: It's grim for them.

A: For a lot of [Afghan] women, life is much better [than before the US invasion]. Girls are in school who never were before. Women are able to practice their professions and pursue their businesses. So for an increasing group of Afghan women, life is better. Still, there are all kinds of discrimination and difficulties. But for a large group of rural women, life has not changed very much. And what I worry about is that the security situation will keep a total lid on the aspirations and education of the rural women and begin to intimidate and drive out of the public space women who have seen their lives improve. And I think it's incumbent upon us and all the nations that have been in Afghanistan to do everything we can to prevent that from happening.

Source: Fox News "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren" , Jan 29, 2013

America is the "indispensable nation"

Quite a few of the ideas voiced by Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders today date back to the period of ferment in the 1970s. One was the idea of America as the "indispensible nation." Hillary Clinton used this phrase as Obama's secretary of state, explicitly borrowing the words used in the 1990s by Bill Clinton and his secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

But the words didn't originate with them, either. In a 1976 article in "Foreign Policy," Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote of "America the indispensible." Despite its defeat in Vietnam, he argued, American power remains "central to global stability and progress." During that period, Brzezinski argued that the US should start to give a much higher priority to its relationship with its allies.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 20-21 , Jun 14, 2012

Ceremonial role abroad as First Lady, but no NSC meetings

Hillary Clinton was not closely involved in the day-to-day foreign policy operations during Bill Clinton's term. [However], as First Lady, Hillary played a powerful behind-the-scenes role in many of the administration's decisions and a ceremonial role on trips overseas.

Later on, during the presidential campaign against Obama, Hillary Clinton would assert that these efforts demonstrated her experience in foreign policy. But [one of Bill Clinton's appointees from the] State Department said, "she did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not." Her most tangible influence in foreign policy was in selecting personnel: She played an important role in persuading President Clinton to select Madeleine Albright as his second secretary of state.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 43-44 , Jun 14, 2012

Focus on BRICs: Brazil, Russia, India, China, & South Africa

Early on, the Obama administration seemed to embrace a new concept: Its diplomacy would emphasize 4 emerging economic powers called the BRICs, or Brazil, Russia, India & China. (Later on, South Africa was sometimes added as a 5th country, conveniently taking up the letter S.) The idea originally came from Wall Street: In 2001, a Goldman-Sachs economist invented the concept of the BRICs to describe the 4 emerging economies that he believed would play an increasingly important role in the world markets. By 2009, the term had become an addition to the jargon of foreign policy, and the Obama team began to talk about the importance of the BRICs in their speeches. In her first major speech as secretary of state, Clinton said that the Obama administration, while reinvigorating its traditional alliances, "will also put special emphasis on encouraging major emerging global powers--China, India, Russia & Brazil, as well as Turkey, Indonesia & South Africa--to be full partners in tackling the global agenda."
Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.174 , Jun 14, 2012

New American Moment: new ways of global leadership

She didn't want Obama's speech to be misinterpreted overseas as a sign that America was in retreat, that it would bring its troops home and turn inward.

Clinton began by saying that the world's problems required bringing people together "as only America can." Foreign leaders and ordinary people overseas "look to America not just to engage, but to lead," she said. Then she quickly came to the heart of her speech: "Let me say it clearly: The US can, must and will lead in this new century."

This was a "New American Moment," Clinton said, the words capitalized in the transcript of the speech to indicate a special phrase meant to be highlighted. It was "a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways." When she extolled the virtues of diplomacy, she immediately added, "Of course, this administration is also committed to maintaining the greatest military in the history of the world, and, if needed, to vigorously defend ourselves and our friends."

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.249 , Jun 14, 2012

Obama: Her stature abroad meant she carries message further

The idea of choosing Clinton for secretary of state was first raised over the summer. Few remembered that when he was elected to the Senate in 2005 he gravitated to Clinton. She was the one who best understood how to arrive as a celebrity and still be effective with colleagues. When Obama said publicly in 2007 that they began the race as friends, he was being sincere. He found Bill Clinton exasperating but Hillary formidable, even when she was delivering the blows.

The selection, he said later, "was not a light-bulb moment," but it dawned on him that her stature abroad meant she could carry his message faster and farther than anyone else. He simply was not going to have time to travel to as many places and meet as many foreign leaders as he would like. Clinton was not just formidable; she was an international superstar who could advance American interests overnight. Then there was the "team of rivals" concept that Obama borrowed from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Abe Lincoln and his Cabinet.

Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p. 67-68 , May 18, 2010

2009: Regrets US not part of International Criminal Court

The Obama administration has broader ambitions including an ill-conceived desire to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Clinton administration initially signed the ICC's founding document, the Time Statue, in June 1998, but there was no prospect that the Senate would ratify it.

To date, the ICC has proceeded slowly, partly in the hope of enticing the US to cooperate with it, and the Bush administration succumbed to it in its final years. The ICC's friends under President Obama want to go even further. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2009, for example, that it was "a great regret but it is a fact we are not yet a signatory" to the Rome Statute, signaling unmistakably what she hopes to do.

The Obama administration's willingness to submit US conduct to international judicial review also extends to the concept of "universal jurisdiction," which permits even countries utterly unrelated to an event to initiate criminal prosecutions regarding it.

Source: Obama is Endangering our Sovereignty, by J. Bolton, p. 25-26 , May 18, 2010

2007: Traveled to Iraq & Afghanistan before announcement

Clinton announced on her website that she was running. "I'm in," she wrote. "And I'm in to win." It was Jan. 20, 2007, three weeks before Obama declared his candidacy.

In the days leading up to her announcement, Clinton traveled to Iraq & Afghanistan, flashing her national security expertise. She began a fund-raising drive that was designed to be a show of overwhelming force.

But, lurking just beneath the machismo, there was a defensiveness to the Clinton strategy. Polling found that Hillary was see by many as unelectable. Her experience as First Lady was discounted and her war vote held against her by the base.

Hillary's rollout was all about addressing these vulnerabilities: "in to win" and the fund-raising push, about electability; the soft-sel video, about her perceived hardness and inauthenticity; the trip to Iraq, about setting the stage for a further leftward shimmy on the war. (On returning, she declared her opposition to the troop surge announced by Bush two weeks earlier.)

Source: Game Change, by Heilemann & Halpern, p. 83-84 , Jan 11, 2010

2007: Naive to meet with leaders of Iran & North Korea

In a June 2007 debate in South Carolina she again drew a sharp contrast with Obama when he unexpectedly pledged that, as president, he would willingly meet with the leaders of such rogue nations as Iran and North Korea without preconditions during his first term in office. "Well, I will not promise to meet with the leasers of these countries during my first year." Clinton interjected. "I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are. I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don't want to make a situation even worse."

This looked like another Obama gaffe. The following day, her campaign recruited former secretary of state Madeleine Albright to lead the attack against Obama. During a telephone interview, she launched a personal attack on Obama, [saying], "I thought he was irresponsible and frankly naive."

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 83-84 , Aug 4, 2009

Commit to helping people abroad before committing troops

Q: Underdeveloped nations that lack widespread access to education and basic resources like water tend to be some of the most unstable and dangerous regions of the world. As president, would you consider committing US troops to a purely humanitarian mission under the leadership of a foreign flag?

A: I believe strongly that we have to get back to leading on issues like health care and education and women’s rights around the world. I have introduced bipartisan legislation called The Education for Al Act, to have the US lead the world in putting the 77 million kids who aren’t in school into school. I believe we should demonstrate our commitment to people who are poor, disenfranchised, disempowered before we talk about putting troops anywhere. The US has to be seen again as a peacekeeper, and we have lost that standing in these last seven years. So I think we have to concentrate first and foremost on restoring our moral authority in the world and our standing in the world.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College , Apr 13, 2008

FactCheck: Accomplished but exaggerated foreign experience

Clinton recently listed five foreign policy accomplishments to demonstrate her qualifications as commander-in-chief. The public record of her actions shows that many of Clinton’s foreign policy claims are exaggerated.
  1. Clinton claims she “negotiate open borders” in Macedonia to fleeing Kosovar refugees. But the Macedonian border opened before she arrived.
  2. Clinton’s activities “helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.” Irish officials disagree on her contribution, but agree that she wasn’t directl involved in any actual negotiations.
  3. Clinton has repeatedly referenced her “dangerous” trip to Bosnia, but fails to mention that the Bosnian war had officially ended 3 months before her visit.
  4. Hillary claims she privately championed the use of US troops to stop the genocide in Rwanda. That conversation with Bill Clinton left no public record, & US policy was explicitly to stay out of Rwanda.
  5. Clinton’s tough speech on human rights delivered to a Beijing audience is as advertised.
Source: FactCheck.org analysis of 2008 campaign advertisements , Mar 13, 2008

Meet with Cuban leaders only after evidence of change

Q: Would you be willing to sit down with Raul Castro, to get a measure of the man?

A: The people of Cuba deserve to have a democracy. And this gives the Cuban government, under Raul Castro, a chance to change direction from the one that was set for 50 years by his brother. I’m going to be looking for some of those changes: releasing political prisoner, ending some of the oppressive practices on the press, opening up the economy. Of course the US stands ready. And, as president, I would be ready to reach out and work with a new Cuban government, once it demonstrated that it truly was going to change that direction.

Q: Very simply, would you meet with Raul Castro or not?

A: I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening. A presidential visit should not be offered without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest, and in this case, in the interests of the Cuban people.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin , Feb 21, 2008

Diplomacy with Iran & Cuba, but no presidential meetings

Q: [to Obama]: Do you support normalizing relations with Cuba now?

OBAMA: I would not normalize relations until we started seeing some progress [on the US agenda in Cuba]. But I do think that it’s important for the US not just to talk to its friends, but also to talk to its enemies.

CLINTON: I agree that we should be willing to have diplomatic negotiations and processes with anyone. I’ve been a strong advocate of opening up such a diplomatic process with Iran, for a number of years. Because I think we should look for ways that we can possibly move countries that are adversarial to us, toward the world community. It’s in our interests and in the interests of the people in countries that are oppressed, like Cuba, like Iran. But there has been this difference between us over when and whether the president should offer a meeting, without preconditions, with those with whom we do not have diplomatic relations. And it should be part of a process, but I don’t think it should be offered in the beginning

Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin , Feb 21, 2008

Bill made deal with Kazakhs to bring in HIV drugs

Q: The NY Times reported that in 2005, your husband flew to Kazakhstan with a Canadian businessman, and he helped the businessman get a huge uranium deal by praising the Kazakh dictator, and then a few months later, that Canadian businessman made a $31 million donation to the Clinton Foundation. Are you going to tell your husband to knock off those kinds of dealings?

A: Well, that is a very one-sided and inaccurate description of what actually occurred. Let me set the record straight. He went to Kazakhstan to sign an agreement with the government to provide low-cost drugs for HIV/AIDS, a growing problem in central Asia. While he was there, he met with opposition leaders and certainly spoke out about the hopes that we have to have a good relationship with that country. I have been on record for many years against the anti-democratic regime, calling for changes, standing against efforts that would bring them into positions of leadership in the global community without their making changes

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series , Feb 3, 2008

Establish leadership & moral authority via multilateralism

Q: When future historians write of your administration’s foreign policy pursuits, what will be noted as your doctrine and the vision you cast for U.S. diplomatic relations?

A: It will be a doctrine of restoring America’s leadership and moral authority through multilateral organizations, through attempts to come to agreements on issues ranging from global warming to stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other dangerous weapons. It will be a doctrine that demonstrates that the United States is not afraid to cooperate; that through cooperation in our interdependent world, we actually can build a stronger country and a stronger world that will be more reflective of our values.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

Deeply involved with Bill Clinton’s foreign policy team

Q: When you traveled to China and then when you returned to the White House, did you advise your husband on Chinese foreign policy or on foreign policy in regard to any other countries that you traveled to? And conversely, if you were elected president, would he advise you?

A: I certainly did. I not only advised; I often met with he and his advisers, both in preparation for, during and after. I traveled with representatives from the Security Council, the State Department, occasionally the Defense Department, and even the CIA. So I was deeply involved in being part of the Clinton team in the first Clinton administration. And I am someone who want the best possible advice from as many different sources as possible, and that would certainly include my husband.

Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

Operate from a position of strength, but not confrontation

Q: Should we believe that the U.S. relationship with China under a Hillary Clinton administration would be less one of cooperation and engagement and one more akin to confrontation?

A: No, absolutely not. It would be a position where we would operate from strength with a coherent policy about what our interests were and what we hope to achieve.

Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

2001 speech to AIPAC pledges money for Israeli military

On a visit to Gaza City in 1998, Hillary met with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and his wife and declared, well ahead of the official line from the White House, her support for a Palestinian state. Her husband’s spokesperson had to distance him from her comment.

As a senator, however, one of her first major speeches was to AIPAC, the Israeli lobby group where she pledged to work to send more money, not for peacekeeping, or to both sides, but for Israel’s military. (She’s spoken to AIPAC many times since.)

On the fortieth anniversary of the Israeli occupation of West Bank and Gaza, Clinton joined the rest of the Senate in sending a message of congratulations and support to the Israeli government. No encouraging message went to the Palestinians still enduring occupation.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 34 , Nov 11, 2007

Supported strong funding for international development

Hillary worked quietly with her husband’s top officials on their budgets and policy priorities in areas that interested her, such as the US Agency for International Development. Brian Atwood, the director of USAID, said that Hillary “deserves more credit. than anyone” for securing an increase in funding for his agency in 1997.
Source: For Love of Politics, by Sally Bedell Smith, p.263 , Oct 23, 2007

Cuba deserves peaceful transition to freedom & democracy

Q: What do you think would happen in Cuba without Fidel Castro? And what role would the US play in that transition?

A: The Cuban people deserve freedom and democracy, and we’re all hopeful that that can be brought about peacefully. It appears as though the reign of Castro is reaching an end. We don’t know what will follow Fidel Castro, but we need to do everything we can to work with our friends in Latin America who are democratic nations, with the Europeans and others, to try to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy and freedom for the Cuban people. Now, that requires that we work with the entire hemisphere. You know, in 1994 I remember being here in Miami when my husband hosted the Summit of the Americas. At that time, there was only one anti-democratic, anti-American leader in the hemisphere, namely Castro. Look at what we face today because of the misguided, bullying policies of this president. So let’s reverse it and get ready for freedom in Cuba!

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on Univision in Spanish , Sep 9, 2007

Should not telegraph our adversaries about preconditions

Q: Is Sen. Obama “not yet ready” to be president?

CLINTON: I’m running on my own qualifications and experience. It’s really up to the voters to make these decisions. I think we have a great group of candidates. You don’t have to be against anybody. You can choose who you’re for.

Q: But you did say that Sen. Obama’s views on meeting with foreign dictators are “naive and irresponsible.” Doesn’t that imply that he’s not ready for the office?

CLINTON: Well, we had a specific disagreement, because I do not think that a president should give away the bargaining chip of a personal meeting with any leader, unless you know what you’re going to get out of that. It takes a lot of planning to move an agenda forward, particularly with our adversaries. You should not telegraph to our adversaries that you’re willing to meet with them without preconditions during the first year in office.

OBAMA: Strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries. We shouldn’t be afraid to do so.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

US support & no-fly zone, but UN troops on ground in Darfur

Q: What about American troops in Darfur?

A: I agree completely that what we need to do is start acting instead of talking. That means accelerating the UN peacekeeping forces along with the African Union. It means moving more quickly on divestment and sanctions on the Sudanese government, including trying to use the diplomacy to get China involved. And, finally, it does mean a no-fly zone. We can do it in a way that doesn’t endanger humanitarian relief.

Q: How about American troops on the ground?

A: I think NATO has to be there with the no-fly zone, and I think that only the US can provide the logistical support and the air lift to make a no-fly zone and the actual delivery of humanitarian aid work.

Q: Does that mean no American ground troops?

A: American ground troops I don’t think belong in Darfur at this time. I think we need to focus on the UN peacekeeping troops and the African Union troops.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Arabic and Muslim countries take women leaders seriously

Q: The Arab states, Muslim nations, treat their women as 2nd-class citizens. As president, how do you feel that you would even be taken seriously by these states in any kind of negotiations or diplomatic relations?

A: You know, when I was First Lady, I was privileged to represent our country in 82 countries. I have met with many officials in Arabic and Muslim countries. I have met with kings and presidents and prime ministers and sheiks and tribal leaders. And certainly, in the last years during my time in the Senate, I have had many high-level meetings with presidents and prime ministers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan and many other countries. I believe that there isn’t much doubt in anyone’s mind that I can be taken seriously. Other countries have had women presidents and women prime ministers. There are several serving now--in Germany, in Chile, in Liberia and elsewhere--and I have noticed that their compatriots on the world stage certainly take them seriously.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Diplomacy yes; propaganda no; when meeting enemy leaders

Q: Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba & N.Korea?

OBAMA: I would. The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them is ridiculous. I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.

CLINTON: I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort but not a high level meeting before you know what the intentions are. I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration. I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we’re not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro & Hugo Chavez & the president of North Korea, Iran & Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC , Jul 23, 2007

Allegedly pro-PLO in 1960; but pro-Israel by 1981

In 1981, while the Clintons campaigned to win back the governorship, their pastor, Vaught approached them about a trip to Israel. As Bill and Hillary found themselves struggling spiritually and politically to put Bill back in the governor’s mansion, the couple decided to go.

In contrast to the anti-Israel version of Hillary portrayed during parts of the 1970s, some sources claim this trip gave Hillary an inspired appreciation for the state of Israel, and if so, it may have mitigated her alleged pro-PLO sympathies, giving more balance in her perspective. A friend of the Clintons says: “Bill and Hillary understood the profound effect that Israel has on American Jews and around the world and share a feeling for the security and stability of the State of Israel.”

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p. 70-71 , Jul 18, 2007

NATO-enforced no-fly zone to end Darfur genocide

Q: Darfur is the second time that our nation has had a chance to do something about genocide in Africa. The first came in Rwanda in 1994, when we did nothing.

A: There are three things we have to do immediately. Move the peacekeepers--that, finally, the United Nations and the African Union have agreed to--into Sudan as soon as possible. In order for them to be effective, there has to be airlift and logistical support, and that can only come either unilaterally from the United States or from NATO. I prefer NATO. And finally, we should have a no-fly zone over Sudan because the Sudanese governments bomb the villages before and after the Janjiwid come. And we should make it very clear to the government in Khartoum we’re putting up a no-fly zone; if they fly into it, we will shoot down their planes. Is the only way to get their attention.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

Supported Palestine in 1998, before Bill officially did

In 1998, Hillary laid out her vision for the future of the Middle East: “It would be in the long-term interests of peace in the Middle East for there to be a state of Palestine, a functioning modern state that is on the same footing as other states.” The White House raced to clarify the remarks as Hillary’s own.

Several months later, while attending a meeting of the Palestinian National Council, Hillary praised Yasser Arafat’s leadership and again called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

In 1999, while traveling in the Middle East, Hillary had a joint appearance with Yasser Arafat’s wife, Suha. Ms. Arafat took the occasion to accuse Israel of poisoning her people. It was an outlandish accusation, but it did not stop Hillary from giving Suha a kiss when she finished talking.

Roll forward 8 months. Hillary, now a candidate for the Senate, called for moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “the eternal & indivisible capital of Israel.”

Source: The Extreme Makeover, by Bay Buchanan, p. 88-90 , May 14, 2007

Obligation to support Israel with more than foreign aid

(Senator Hillary Clinton, letter to Colin Powell, April 9, 2002)(Senator Hillary Clinton, American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference, May 24, 2005)
Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p.210-211 , Oct 17, 2005

Support UN reform because US benefits

(Senator Hillary Clinton, Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 13, 2005)
Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p.212-213 , Oct 17, 2005

1995: Spoke as voice of United States on Latin America trip

While I was dealing with Bosnia at home, Hillary was off on another trip, this time to Latin America. In the post-Cold War world, with America the world's only military, economic, and political superpower, every nation wanted out attention, and it was usually in our interest to give it. But I couldn't go everywhere, especially during the budget struggle with Congress. As a result, both Al Gore and Hillary made an unusually large number of important foreign trips. Wherever they went, people knew they spoke for the United States, and for me, and on every trip, without fail, they strengthened America's standing in the world.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.674-675 , Jun 21, 2004

Supports USAID projects in developing world

My visit to the subcontinent was meant to demonstrate that this strategic and volatile part of the world was important to the US and that Bill supported their efforts to strengthen democracy, expand free markets and promote tolerance and human rights.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.268-270 , Nov 1, 2003

Focus on women's rights in international policy

China had been chosen to host the upcoming UN Fourth World Conference on Women, and I was scheduled to attend as honorary Chair of the US delegation.

Typically, governments limit their foreign policies to diplomatic, military and trade issues, the staple of most treaties, pacts and negotiations. Seldom are issues such as women's health, the education of girls, the absence of women's legal and political rights or their economic isolation injected into the foreign policy debate. Yet it was clear to me that in the new global economy, individual countries and regions would find it difficult to make economic or social progress if a disproportionate percentage of their female population remained poor, uneducated, unhealthy, and disenfranchised.

The UN women's conference was expected to provide an important forum for nations to address issues such as maternal and child health care, microfinance, domestic violence, girls' education, family planning, women's suffrage, property and legal rights.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.298-299 , Nov 1, 2003

Alienated Jewish voters by kissing Mrs. Arafat

Hillary faced a problem with Jewish voters after kissing Suha Arafat, the wife of Yasir Arafat, shortly after the first Lady of the Palestine Liberation Army charged Israelis with using poison gas on Palestinians. The first lady of the United States explained that she hadn’t understood the translation of Madam Arafat’s remarks. When the actual and quite clear translation was made public and the excuse evaporated, she retreated to a mushier explanation, and then silence.
Source: The Final Days, by Barbara Olson, p. 38 , Oct 25, 2001

Engage in world affairs, including human rights

Hillary Clinton called for the US to reject isolationism and aggressively engage itself in world affairs in the tradition of President Truman at the end of WWII. Staking out a more internationalist position than many of her fellow Democrats, Clinton called for expanding the definition of American interests beyond the loss of American lives and the protection of American dollars to include such things as women’s and human rights, environmental protection and the spread of deadly diseases.
Source: Dean Murphy, NY Times , Oct 20, 2000

Human rights are central to our objectives abroad

“At this decisive moment in our history, I believe America needs a renewed internationalism, not an old isolation,” Clinton said. “It very much is in our interest to assert the leadership required to meet our strategic and national security needs and interests around the world.” Saying that the US should do more than just intervene in “splendid little wars” in which it can prevail, Clinton claimed she reflected the views of NY’s current senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

And while aligning herself with her husband on many issues, she called for a broader foreign policy mandate that, for instance, considers disease fighting a national security issue and deems the rights of women a priority. “I think it has become increasingly clear that our efforts to ensure democracy and human rights cannot be considered marginal but are indeed central to our foreign policy objectives this century,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Source: Dean Murphy, NY Times , Oct 20, 2000

Keep Cuban embargo; pay UN bills

Hillary Clinton said she would oppose lifting the embargo against Cuba until democracy took root there. She said she would support paying America’s unpaid bills to the United Nations. She once again voiced her support for Israel and, while praising the tentative cease-fire agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians reached Monday, she made it clear the burden was on Yasir Arafat to end the violence.
Source: Dean Murphy, NY Times , Oct 20, 2000

Smartest strategic choice is peace

By working for peace, we are not being naive or soft-headed. We recognize that peace in the Middle East is not only a moral imperative, but the smartest strategic choice to ensure security for the children of Israel. That doesn’t mean that Israel can ever let down her defenses. It doesn’t mean that her friends, especially the US, will ever be relieved of our responsibility to help Israel maintain her military strength.The work of peace and the work of democracy are neverending.
Source: Remarks at Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center , Nov 11, 1999

Puerto Rico: Stop using live ammo at Vieques

There should be an immediate and permanent end to the bombing. The use of live fire on the island (Puerto Rico) has put the people of Vieques at risk, degraded the environment, and hampered economic development.
Source: Press Release , Oct 19, 1999

Foreign aid spending is only 1%; lead by remaining engaged

I think many people are mistaken about how much money we spend on foreign aid. We spend 1%, and many believe we spend 25%. That 1% investment has made a difference in solving problems but also in helping America to be stronger by solving problems around the world. We sometimes learn lessons we can bring home. I want us to continue to be a leader, and you don’t lead from behind walls. You don’t lead by walking away from the world. I think you lead by remaining engaged and trying to shape events.
Source: Unique Voice, p.111-12 , Feb 3, 1997

Supports micro-loans to third-world women

From the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh to the Self-employed Women’s Association in India, or to the work in Ghana, to banks and programs modeled on these from Indonesia to the Dominican Republic, to my own country, we have seen that microlending works. Women who have received loans from the Grameen Bank, for example, have a repayment rate of 97%, and often within one year. And they invest their money well.
Source: Unique Voice, p.115-16: Remarks to UN Development Fund , Sep 6, 1995

Hillary Clinton on China

Freedom of navigation & open access in South China Sea

[At a meeting] in Hanoi about China's expansive maritime claims, Vietnam quickly brought up the subject of the South China Sea, and several other Southeast Asian countries followed. Clinton, speaking last, took her audience by surprise. Freedom of navigation was a "national interest" of the US, she said--a phrase that sounded like a counter to China's talk about "core interests." She said the US was determined to maintain open access to the South China Sea, in effect rejecting China's claims to sovereignty there. Much of the world's shipping tonnage--including oil from the Middle East to northeast Asia--passes through the South China Sea. Clinton said the US would be willing to serve as an intermediary or facilitator for multilateral talks over the competing claims.

The US was, in effect, rejecting China's claims in the South China Sea. Its suggestion of multilateral talks also undercut China's strategy; Vietnam had most eagerly sought to "internationalize" its dispute with China.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.246 , Jun 14, 2012

Boycott Olympic ceremony to pressure China on Tibet & Sudan

Q: China has continued to persecute the people of Tibet. China is not doing all it can to stop the genocide in Darfur. Is our participation in the Beijing Olympics harmful to that our voice in the world?

A: Last week I called on our president to not attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics [to protest] Beijing government’s actions. [We should push] the Chinese to end the suppression of Tibetans and undermining their culture & religious beliefs, and to get more cooperation with respect to Sudan. But the challenge is, how do we try to influence the Chinese government? I believe we have missed many opportunities during the Bush administration to do so. In fact, I think it’s fair to say our policy toward China is incoherent and that has not been in our strategic interest. So I would urge the president to not attend the opening ceremonies, and let’s see whether the Chinese government responds because that would be a great loss of face and perhaps we would get more cooperation.

Source: 2008 Democratic Compassion Forum at Messiah College , Apr 13, 2008

Establish coherent diplomatic approach toward China

Q: Who has more leverage, China or the US?

A: We currently still have more leverage, but it doesn’t really count because we’re not using it. We have handicapped ourselves because of Bush’s irresponsible fiscal policies, but we’ve also, unfortunately, seen an incoherent foreign policy. I fear that if we don’t start taking steps to demonstrate that we are back in charge of our fiscal destiny, that we do have a coherent diplomatic approach toward China, China will continue to gain leverage over us.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

China respects us if we call them on human rights breaches

Q: Many talk tough about China and its human rights record in the past but, in the end, favor securing our economic interest rather than risk upsetting China. How would you balance human rights & trade with China?

A: You know, 12 years ago, I went to China, and the Chinese didn’t want me to come. And they didn’t want me to make a speech, and when I made the speech, they blocked it out from being heard within China, where I stood up for human rights and in particular women’s rights, because women had been so brutally abused in many settings in China. And I think you do have to call them on human rights. I mean, the Chinese respect us if we actually call them on their misbehavior and their breaches of human rights, economic activities and other kinds of problems that we have with them. That’s what I object to about this administration. We’ve gotten the worst of both worlds. We’ve gotten neither the kind of smart enforcement nor the kind of cooperation that might lead to changes in behavior.

Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

FactCheck: Chinese did black out Hillary, but DID invite her

Clinton stretched the facts when she claimed the Chinese didn’t want her to come to the UN Conference on Women in 1995. Clinton said, “The Chinese didn’t want me to come... & didn’t want me to make a speech, and when I made the speech, they blocked it out from being heard within China.”

Most of what Clinton said is true. The Chinese certainly weren’t eager for her speech to be widely heard. They blacked it out, allowing just 5,000 carefully selected Party members to hear it. From their perspective, they may have been right to do so. She was critical of China’s human rights record in general, especially its treatment of women. Republicans and Democrats alike praised the tough tone of her speech.

But contrary to Clinton’s claim, the Chinese very much wanted her to come; she was considered a prize catch. The government even released an American, human rights activist Harry Wu, whom they had convicted of espionage, at least in part as a good faith gesture to convince Clinton to attend the event.

Source: FactCheck on 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR , Dec 4, 2007

Our fiscal responsibility undercuts Chinese power over us

Q: Is China an ally or an adversary?

BIDEN: They’re neither. The fact of the matter is, though, they hold the mortgage on our house. This administration, in order to fund a war that shouldn’t be being fought and tax cuts that weren’t needed--we’re now in debt almost a trillion dollars to China.

CLINTON: I want to say amen to Joe Biden, because he’s 100% right. You know, 6 years ago, we had a balanced budget and a surplus; now we are in deep debt with a rising deficit, and it is absolutely true that George Bush has put it on the credit card, expecting our children and grandchildren to pay for it. We’ve got to get back to fiscal responsibility in order to undercut the Chinese power over us because of the debt we hold. We also have to deal with their currency manipulation. We have to have tougher standards on what they import into this country. I do not want to eat bad food from China or have my children having toys that are going to get them sick. So let’s be tougher on China going forward.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 8, 2007

China: criticized authoritarianism with women & children

Could the First Lady of the US go to China and criticize its government for authoritarian practices in dealing with women, children, and political activists? The very thought made traditionalists in the White House and the State Department shudder. Her chief of staff said, “More people thought she should not go. Hillary felt strongly she should.”

[At the conference], the First Lady lambasted China’s Communist government for suppressing free speech and the right to assemble at the grassroots women’s forum [of the UN Conference]. She inspired the women there to make their voices heard against selling girls into prostitution, against rape as a tactic of war, against forced abortion or sterilization. “Human rights are women’s rights. And women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

Source: Hillary’s Choice by Gail Sheehy, p.275-277 , Dec 9, 1999

Hillary Clinton on Voting Record

Would use very vigorous and bipartisan diplomacy

Kennedy said he wouldn’t be afraid to negotiate, but he would expect there to be a lot of preparatory work done, to find out exactly what we would get out of it. Therefore, we should be eliminating the policy of the Bush administration, which has been very narrowly defined, and frankly against our interests, because we have failed to reach out to countries, we have alienated our friends, & we have emboldened our enemies. I would get back to very vigorous diplomacy, and I would use bipartisan diplomacy
Source: 2008 Democratic debate at University of Texas in Austin , Feb 21, 2008

Dems believe in fighting terror with cooperation

We believe in fighting terror and other threats to our security by cooperating with others whenever we can and acting alone only when we are forced to. Republicans believe just the reverse -- in acting alone whenever they can, and cooperating only when there is no alternative. So for five and a half years, they have controlled the White House and the Congress, and they have succeeded in concentrating wealth and power, in resisting accountability, in ignoring evidence, and going it alone in the world.
Source: Annual 2006 Take Back America Conference , Jun 14, 2006

Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power.

Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): Integrating India into a global nonproliferation regime is a positive step. Before anyone gets too sanctimonious about India's nuclear weapons program, we should acknowledge that the five recognized nuclear weapons states have not done nearly enough to fulfill their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including making serious reductions in their own arsenals, nor in the case of the US in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BARBARA LEE (D, CA-9): In withholding my approval, I seek not to penalize the people of India but, rather, to affirm the principle of nuclear nonproliferation. Jettisoning adherence to the international nuclear nonproliferation framework that has served the world so well for more than 30 years, as approval of the agreement before us would do, is just simply unwise. It is also reckless.

Approval of this agreement undermines our efforts to dissuade countries like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. By approving this agreement, all we are doing is creating incentives for other countries to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Reference: US-India Nuclear Agreement; Bill HR.7081 ; vote number 2008-S211 on Oct 1, 2008

Voted YES on enlarging NATO to include Eastern Europe.

H.R. 3167; Gerald B. H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act of 2001, To endorse the vision of further enlargement of the NATO Alliance. Vote to pass a bill that would support further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, authorize military assistance to several eastern European countries and lift assistance restrictions on Slovakia.
Reference: Bill HR.3167 ; vote number 2002-116 on May 17, 2002

Progressive Internationalism: globalize with US pre-eminence.

Clinton adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Build a Public Consensus Supporting US Global Leadership
The internationalist outlook that served America and the world so well during the second half of the 20th century is under attack from both ends of the political spectrum. As the left has gravitated toward protectionism, many on the right have reverted to “America First” isolationism.

Our leaders should articulate a progressive internationalism based on the new realities of the Information Age: globalization, democracy, American pre-eminence, and the rise of a new array of threats ranging from regional and ethnic conflicts to the spread of missiles and biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. This approach recognizes the need to revamp, while continuing to rely on, multilateral alliances that advance U.S. values and interests.

A strong, technologically superior defense is the foundation for US global leadership. Yet the US continues to employ defense strategies, military missions, and force structures left over from the Cold War, creating a defense establishment that is ill-prepared to meet new threats to our security. The US must speed up the “revolution in military affairs” that uses our technological advantage to project force in many different contingencies involving uncertain and rapidly changing security threats -- including terrorism and information warfare.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC12 on Aug 1, 2000

Increase aid to avert humanitarian crisis in Congo.

Clinton co-sponsored increasing aid to avert humanitarian crisis in Congo


SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: There is a country embroiled in conflict that has not yet received the high-level attention or resources it needs. It's the Democratic Republic of Congo, and right now it is in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe.

31,000 people are dying in the Congo each month and 3.8 million people have died in the previous 6 years. The country, which is the size of Western Europe, lies at the geographic heart of Africa and borders every major region across the continent. If left untended, Congo's tragedy will continue to infect Africa.

I believe that the United States can make a profound difference in this crisis. According to international aid agencies, there are innumerable cost-effective interventions that could be quickly undertaken--such as the provision of basic medical care, immunization and clean water--that could save thousands of lives. On the political front, sustained U.S. leadership could fill a perilous vacuum.


LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Became Public Law No. 109-456

Source: Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act (S.2125) 05-S2125 on Dec 16, 2005

Implement Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force.

Clinton co-sponsored implementing Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force

Source: S.RES.455 08-SR455 on Feb 14, 2008

Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.

Clinton co-sponsored acknowledging the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s

Sen. DURBIN: The definition of "genocide" is "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group." Scholars agree that what the Armenian people suffered in 1915 to 1917 fits the definition of genocide. To date, 19 countries and 37 US states recognize the Armenian Genocide. Genocide is wrong. It is evil. It is evil whether its victims are Armenians, Sudanese, Rwandan Tutsis, Cambodians or European Jews. Not to acknowledge genocide for what it is denigrates the memory of its victims. Recognition of genocide is part of the healing process. Official recognition will reaffirm our tradition of protecting the vulnerable and inspire us to not stand by and watch as genocide occurs in our time.
Source: Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.RES.106/H.RES.106) 2007-SR106 on Mar 14, 2007

Urge Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations.

Clinton co-sponsored urging Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations

Source: Radio Caracas Resolution (S.RES.211) 2007-SR211 on May 21, 2007

Call for Burma's junta to release political prisoners.

Clinton co-sponsored calling for Burma's junta to release political prisoners

Source: Aung San Suu Kyi Resolution (S.RES.250) 2007-SR250 on Jun 22, 2007

Develop a strategy to protect civilians in Darfur.

Clinton co-sponsored developing a strategy to protect civilians in Darfur

A resolution calling on the United States Government and the international community to promptly develop, fund, and implement a comprehensive regional strategy in Africa to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian operations, contain and reduce violence, and contribute to conditions for sustainable peace in eastern Chad, northern Central African Republic, and Darfur, Sudan.

Source: Darfur Resolution (S.RES.76) 2007-SR76 on Feb 8, 2007

Let Ukraine & Georgia enter NATO.

Clinton co-sponsored including Ukraine & Georgia in NATO

Congressional Summary: A resolution expressing strong support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to enter into a Membership Action Plan with Georgia and Ukraine:

  1. reaffirming support for enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to include democratic governments that are able to meet the membership responsibilities;
  2. that NATO's expansion contributes to its relevance;
  3. that Georgia and Ukraine are strong allies that have made important progress in the areas of defense and democratic and human rights reform;
  4. that a stronger relationship among Georgia, Ukraine, and NATO will benefit those countries and NATO member states; and
  5. that the United States should take the lead in supporting the awarding of a Membership Action Plan to Georgia and Ukraine.

Legislative Outome: Resolution agreed to in Senate without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.

Source: S.RES.439 & H.RES.997 2008-SR439 on Jan 31, 2008

Condemn violence by Chinese government in Tibet.

Clinton co-sponsored condemning the violence by Chinese government in Tibet

A resolution condemning the violence in Tibet and calling for restraint by the Government of the People's Republic of China and the people of Tibet. Calls for:

  1. a dialogue between the government of China and His Holiness the Dalai Lama on religious and cultural autonomy for Tibet within China; and
  2. release of peaceful protesters.
    Calls on the PRC to:
  1. respect the right of the people of Tibet to speak of the Dalai Lama and possess his photograph;
  2. respect basic human rights;
  3. allow international journalists free access to China; and
  4. provide a full accounting of the March 2008 protests in Tibet.
Urges that the agreement permitting the PRC to open further diplomatic missions in the United States should be contingent upon establishment of a U.S. government office in Lhasa, Tibet.
Source: S.RES.504 2008-SR504 on Apr 7, 2008

Sanction Mugabe until Zimbabwe transitions to democracy.

Clinton co-sponsored sanctioning Mugabe until Zimbabwe transitions to democracy

A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the political situation in Zimbabwe. Expresses the sense of the Senate:

  1. supporting the people of Zimbabwe;
  2. that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission should immediately release the legitimate results of the presidential election and ratify the previously announced results of the parliamentary elections;
  3. that President Robert Mugabe should accept the will of the people of Zimbabwe in order to effect a timely and peaceful transition to democratic rule;
  4. that the U.S. government and the international community should impose targeted sanctions against individuals in the government of Zimbabwe and state security services and militias who are responsible for human rights abuses and election interference;
  5. that the U.S. government and the international community should work together to prepare an economic and political recovery package for Zimbabwe;
  6. that regional organizations should play an active role in resolving the crisis; and
  7. that the U.N. Security Council should support efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis and impose an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe until a legitimate democratic government has taken power.
Source: S.RES.533&H.RES.1230 2008-SR533 on Apr 24, 2008

Pressure friendly Arab states to end Israeli boycott.

Clinton signed Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members

    Dear Secretary Rice,
    In the past, the lack of sufficient support from [non-participating] Arab states have made it difficult to reach agreements [on the Arab-Israeli conflict]. You should press friendly Arab countries that have not yet done so, to:
  1. Participate in the upcoming international meeting and be a full partner of the US in advancing regional peace
  2. Take visible, meaningful steps in the financial, diplomatic and political arena to help Palestinian President Abbas govern effectively and meet obligations to fight terror
  3. Stop support for terrorist groups and cease all anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement
  4. Recognize Israel's right to exist and not use such recognition as a bargaining chip for future Israeli concessions
  5. End the Arab League economic boycott of Israel in all of its forms
  6. Pressure Hamas to recognize Israel, reject terror, and accept prior agreements, and isolate Hamas until it takes such steps.
Source: Schumer-Graham letter to Secy. Rice from 79 Congress members 2010-LT-AR on Oct 2, 2007

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