As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, March 08, 2008

McCain/Clinton '08

It's ridiculous for Hillary Clinton to continue to praise John McCain and the lifetime of experience he'll being to the White House, reinforcing that only Republicans can steer the national security ship, and I have no problem denouncing and rejecting that right-wing frame. It's an argument she'll lose in November, and then we'll be playing on Republican turf, trying to not talk about the war and emphasize kitchen-table issues, which has sunk us in numerous elections. Also, when the Republicans get through with articles like this, we'll be in big, big trouble.

In Clinton's case, she may well have exercised influence on foreign policy that is hard to document because she had a unique opportunity to offer private counsel to her husband, President Bill Clinton.

But while Hillary Clinton represented the U.S. on the world stage at important moments while she was first lady, there is scant evidence that she played a pivotal role in major foreign policy decisions or in managing global crises.

Pressed in a CNN interview this week for specific examples of foreign policy experience that has prepared her for an international crisis, Clinton claimed that she "helped to bring peace" to Northern Ireland and negotiated with Macedonia to open up its border to refugees from Kosovo. She also cited "standing up" to the Chinese government on women's rights and a one-day visit she made to Bosnia following the Dayton peace accords.

Earlier in the campaign, she and her husband claimed that she had advocated on behalf of a U.S. military intervention in Rwanda to stop the genocide there.

'Ancillary' to process

But her involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process was primarily to encourage activism among women's groups there, a contribution that the lead U.S. negotiator described as "helpful" but that an Irish historian who has written extensively about the conflict dismissed as "ancillary" to the peace process.

The Macedonian government opened its border to refugees the day before Clinton arrived to meet with government leaders. And her mission to Bosnia was a one-day visit in which she was accompanied by performers Sheryl Crow and Sinbad, as well as her daughter, Chelsea, according to the commanding general who hosted her.

Whatever her private conversations with the president may have been, key foreign policy officials say that a U.S. military intervention in Rwanda was never considered in the Clinton administration's policy deliberations. Despite lengthy memoirs by both Clintons and former Secretary of State and UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright, any advice she gave on Rwanda had not been mentioned until her presidential campaign.

"In my review of the records, I didn't find anything to suggest that military intervention was put on the table in NSC [National Security Council] deliberations," said Gail Smith, a Clinton NSC official who did a review for the White House of the administration's handling of the Rwandan genocide. Smith is an Obama supporter.

As would ANYONE be who reviewed the Clinton Administration's Rwanda policy. They did NOTHING to help the Rwandan people. Nearly a million died while they dithered over whether or not to call it genocide in an infamous Dee Dee Meyers press conference. Bill Clinton has since apologized for his inaction but not in any meaningful way. If this were a hard-nosed campaign, the response to the 3AM ad would be a room full of Tutsi skulls. That was how that crisis was handled in 1994, and it was the ultimate "red phone" moment. Hillary can either associate herself with that horrific and stomach-turning policy to justify her national security credentials, or she can come clean with the fact that she was a first lady doing first lady things abroad. She did not win the peace in Northern Ireland. That's nutty.

And all of this would come out in a general election. She needs to stop this foolishness that there's a magic national security threshold that you have to cross to be President. If that were true practically everyone who has been President would be disqualified. In addition to her.

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