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

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Clinton's Confirmation Hearing

I watched a good bit of the Clinton nomination hearings this morning, and I did it on C-SPAN, because I didn't want to hear the gasbags going on and on about all those terrible conflicts of interests between the Secretary of State and the Clinton Foundation. Um, wasn't Hillary Clinton a SENATOR before all this? If these conflicts with the Clinton Foundation getting cash from foreign governments to influence American foreign policy are a conflict now, wouldn't they have been before? Furthermore, what giant political family DOESN'T have conflict of interest ties like this? It just seems like this manufactured outrage is practically reserved for the Clintons.

The latest high school-level argument that the press is making is that John Kerry wanted the job and now that he's Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, there are going to be all kinds of petty animosities and grumbling. Have these reporters evolved at all from the time when the key question was who was going to ask who to the prom?

So I'd rather focus on the specifics, at least as I saw them. There's an AP writeup of the hearing here.

Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that she intends to revitalize the mission of diplomacy in American foreign policy, calling for a "smart power" strategy in the Middle East and implicitly criticizing the Bush administration for having downgraded the role of arms control [...]

"America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America," she said, her daughter Chelsea seated behind her in the audience. "The best way to advance America's interest in reducing global threats and seizing global opportunities is to design and implement global solutions. This isn't a philosophical point. This is our reality." [...]

In discussing the problem of peacemaking in the Middle East, Clinton referred to her husband's extensive, though ultimately unsuccessful, efforts to strike a comprehensive peace deal.

"As intractable as the Middle East's problems may seem and many presidents, including my husband, have spent years trying to help work out a resolution, we cannot give up on peace," she said. She said that she and Obama are "deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself" against Hamas rockets fired from the Gaza Strip but also worried about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

"We must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians; that effectively challenges Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and sponsorship of terror, and persuades both Iran and Syria to abandon their dangerous behavior and become constructive regional actors." she said.

I think you're going to hear "smart power" a lot during Clinton's tenure. It fits the combination of tough-minded diplomacy and global cooperation we can expect from her, and it's certainly a break with the past.

Top dislike: the continued use of "all options are on the table" when it comes to Iran. Our rhetoric is not only overheated, but everyone seems to have forgotten that the latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iran showed that they stopped their nuclear program four years ago. You don't have to believe that, but you could at least cite it.

Top like: Clinton over and over again suggested that our over-reliance on contractors weakens our national security and is not even fiscally responsible. The multiple abuses by contractors trouble her, and she feels that State Department personnel can better handle the job and would not have to be constantly retrained. However, Clinton neglected to call for a ban on mercenaries, which was a campaign promise of hers. She needs to be pushed on that. Also, Clinton will be dogged in her efforts to secure the proper funding for the department and bring into balance the State/Defense relationship. On more than one occasion she has said that the Pentagon has 10 times the budget of Foggy Bottom, and they have been carrying out functions usually reserved for State. As even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said yesterday, we need less of a reliance on the military in foreign policy, which speaks well of the effort to get someone of such prominence to helm the State Department.

There was also talk of Afghanistan, which I'll get to in a later post.

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