Meet Obama’s Cabinet: 7 Things to Know About Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Experience

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Her bio:  “Her eight years as first lady and nearly equal amount of time as senator from New York have given her broad exposure to U.S. foreign policy. In the Senate, Clinton followed U.S. military moves in Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of the Armed Services Committee. She has worked on climate change issues while serving on the Committee on the Environment and Public Works, and has also been closely involved in homeland security issues.” (Newsweek)

Her views on Iran:  “The Bush administration, which accuses Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb and helping militant groups in Iraq, has generally shunned contacts with Tehran.  During the Democratic presidential primary campaign, Clinton charged that Obama’s willingness to meet leaders of Iran, Syria and North Korea was evidence of his naivete about foreign policy. She has threatened to ‘obliterate’ Iran if it uses nuclear weapons against Israel.  But Clinton also has argued for engaging Iran, Syria and other countries of the region in talks about the future of Iraq. And one of her top foreign policy advisers, Richard Holbrooke, a former assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration, suggested recently that U.S. contacts with Iran should start through private and confidential channels to determine if there is a basis for continuing.” (Reuters)

And on the war in Iraq:  “Clinton had voted in 2002 to authorize military action but then criticized the Bush administration approach to post-invasion Iraq. Though reluctant to set a schedule on American withdrawal, she made clear that she too saw the need to move beyond what has seemed an open-ended involvement in an insurgent war. In a Foreign Affairs article, she wrote, ‘Ending the war in Iraq is the first step toward restoring the United States’ global leadership.'” (U.S. News & World Report)

She was an early micro-credit advocate:  “The then-first lady’s motorcade steered Clinton to a dusty Hindu village in rural Bangladesh.  It was in this village that Dr. Mohammad Yunus first established his microcredit movement, a program that seeks to reduce poverty by making small loans to poor people, mostly women.  Yunus’ efforts would win him a Nobel Peace Prize a decade later. But this was April 1995, and here was Clinton, ‘First Lady of the World,’ as Yunus would describe her, in a bamboo hut halfway around the world to meet with 80 women whose lives were turned around due to loans as small as $100…After meeting with Yunus in Bangladesh that day in April 1995, using mircocredit as a tool to fight world poverty became one of Clinton’s biggest international initiatives in her travels as first lady. The issue of microcredit appears on Clinton’s schedules more than 50 times.” (Politifact)

She will make human and women’s rights around the globe a priority:  “Clinton’s ascension to be the nation’s top diplomat also gives new hope to supporters of international women’s rights, who see Clinton as one of the world’s leading figures in the fight to improve education, safety, and economic opportunity for women and girls…As first lady, Clinton delivered a dramatic speech on women’s rights at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, criticizing the host country and other nations for abuses of girls and women. ‘It is no longer acceptable to discuss women’s rights as separate from human rights,’ she said then.  The speech ‘in many ways became an inspiration to both the governmental representatives and the nongovernmental representatives to go back to their countries and to really advance the [goals] of Beijing,’ said Melanne Verveer, who was Clinton’s chief of staff in the White House.” (Boston Globe)

Concern about her possible pro-India bias:  “Hillary Clinton faces an early test of her influence in South Asia with tensions rising between India and Pakistan after last week’s deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai. President-elect Barack Obama on Monday said that instability and the rise of militants in that region pose ‘the single most important threat against the American people.’  Both Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have maintained warm relations for years with India and the Indian-American community. As New York’s senator for eight years and as a 2008 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton toured India and visited with Indian officials and entrepreneurs, and her campaigns profited from the largesse of Indian-American fundraisers. Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation has been funded by some of the same well-heeled Indian businessmen who backed his wife’s campaigns.” (AP)

Her shifting views on trade agreements:  “Since 2001, Clinton has consistently said the promise of more jobs and greater economic growth has persuaded her to support trade agreements. While campaigning for the Senate a year earlier, Clinton said that she also supported normalized trade relations with China.  But as a presidential candidate, she has adopted a very different tone.  ‘We’re going to take a look at every single trade agreement we’ve got and we’re going to make those trade agreements pro-America and pro-American worker,’ Clinton recently said at a rally in Muncie, Ind…Clinton has criticized pending deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia, which labor groups have singled out for tolerating violence against labor organizers.  She has pledged to call a “time-out” on any more trade pacts until the effect of current agreements can be assessed.  And she has promised to renegotiate specific parts of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was signed during the administration of President Clinton.”  (LA Times)

Posted by: Mariela

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