Sunday, November 01, 2009

Another Blunder for Hillary Clinton

First it was her angry outburst in Africa to a students question - an outburst that she later apologized for, because for one, the translation was inaccurate (a translator made a mistake). And before that, you had her outbursts towards then Presidential candidate Barack Obama (which should have been a red flag). This kind of temper is inappropriate for a Secretary of State....someone who should be even-tempered, calm, cool and collected. Add to that the fact that she isn't a trained diplomat, and has no real background in international affairs, and you have a recipe for all sorts of problems.

Add Hillary Clinton's trip to Pakistan this past week to the list of blunders. While there, she showed the problems of having a non-diplomat as Secretary of State at such a sensitive time in U.S. relations with the rest of the World. During one of her press conferences she stated the following:

"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get to them if they really wanted to.”

The comment shows that she doesn't seem to be aware of the current situation in Pakistan. She seems to be stuck in the World that existed 18 months ago. The statement might have been correct had Pervez Musharraf been in power. But he's long gone now. Her comment doesn't show that she recognizes the shift that Pakistan has taken and continues to take. There may be a few rogue elements in Pakistans government. But the comment seemed to be off-base, and could harm relations between the two Countries.

Attention Hillary Clinton, there is a new regime in Pakistan. President Asif Zardari
would have no reason to want to protect Osama Bin Laden or his Lt's. They killed his wife!!!

In one trip, Clinton may have set back relations with one of the few genuine allies that the U.S. has in the region, or as genuine an ally that we could hope for there.
I continue to believe (and i'm becoming more convinced with time) that Hillary Clinton's appointment to be the face of America was a mistake by Obama. In contrast, figures like John Kerry, handle themselves much more responsibly, and are more keen to the nuances of the job and the skill and patience required in such an important position. Hillary Clinton's behavior so far has only served to support and vindicate comments I made in response to her appointment. She's proving me right every day.

She is not the person you want handling diplomacy in a crisis, whether it's dealing with Russia, the Middle East, or anywhere else. You don't want to leave the responsibility of negotiating a cease fire (when a cease fire might be crucial to saving lives and preventing wider conflicts) to someone with her temperament.

In another sign that she doesn't understand diplomacy.... she balked at Pakistan's suggestion that the Kashmir issue be mediated and dealt with in order deal with the problem of extremism. Although Kashmir is not necessarily linked to the recent violence in Pakistan, it is one of the root causes of extremism there, particularly in the ideological war and land battle between India and Pakistan. She also doesn't seem to understand that occupation is a root cause for violence in the Middle East, in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, as she has made similar comments on that issue. Clueless!


Robert M said...

Normally I am the one both tossing gasoline and lighting the match when it comes to her. I think this time she receives a pass because the Pakisatni government played this situation in Afghanistan right up to the brink thinking they could control it.
Kashmir like Afghanistan is an ethnic issue at the base. Afghanistan is the Pushtun cross border issue Kashmir is a Punab one. the body politic in Pakistan being Punjab they just don't think about their own problems. Sec of State had good reason to push them and probably cover from the WH.

The Angry Independent said...

It's true that until recently Pakistan hasn't been as aggressive in fighting militancy and dealing with Al Qaeda as they could be.
But most of that indifference or complicity came under the previous leadership.

Her comments suggested that the current President was complicit in hiding OBL and his Lt's....and the allied groups in Pakistan. Just an off-base comment, esp. considering the fact that he would have no known motive for doing so. A heck of an allegation considering the fact that these are the same folks who killed Bhutto.

Also an out of place comment considering that her trip was meant to be part of a fence mending tour... (FAIL). I'm not the only one who finds her behavior a little uncouth.

Clinton has already walked back these comments. If a Sec. of State is constantly walking back comments....because they aren't careful enough to get it right the first time... then that's not a good situation. A Sec. of State should, at all times, be cognizant of what they are saying and how it will be received.

I don't think Afghanistan and Kashmir are the same (ethnic as you state). One is ethnic/Religious/Territorial.... due to the Pakistan/India partition in 1947. The UK screwed that up.

The current conflict in Afghanistan has to do with several things...but mostly economic/religious fanaticism. The Taliban wants to retake control and impose their fundamentalist brand of Islam (Sharia Law), and they want to continue to profit from their Poppy production and drug smuggling routes (that's why DEA is there).

And now fundamentalists want to take over in Pakistan.

Sometimes being aggressive can be good. But you have to know how to do it. Reagan was as aggressive as one could get...but he had a certain skill when it came to diplomacy.

Clinton seems to fly off the handle at times...and later has to apologize or clarify (meaning change...and walk back) her statements. Doesn't provide a lot of confidence that she will be able to avoid conflict or negotiate us out of conflicts that we find ourselves in...or be a mediator for other conflicts around the World.

Traditionally (past 50 years at least)...the Worlds top mediator has been from the U.S.... but the U.S. lost that position during the Bush Administration. The World now looks to Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, the EU (Javier Solana), and OSCE. They don't look to the U.S.

I am having a hard time seeing Clinton in that role...and doing it effectively.

I'm hoping that she can improve (for the sake of our foreign policy situation)...she is a powerful and respected figure around the World... and that could be an asset to her and to us. It would be a shame if she squanders that.

Robert M said...

Part of the Problem is that the military and intellignece services of Pakistan have always been the de facto government and the civilian government the de jure. the latter has almost had no power. The reason being the army and intelligence services are Pubjabi and see themselves as the guardian of a nation consisting of four ethnic groups(The Balouch live in Iran and Pakistan, the Pushtuns live in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Punjabs in India).
The slap is warranted in that they have been involved w/ what is the Taliban since the Russians invaded. Your point that the US has been negligent since the USSR got kicked out is true. Nonetheless Paksitan has negotiated w/ the Taliban before(the Swat Valley)and it came back to bite them big time.

The Angry Independent said...

Points taken Robert...

But you are aware that the U.S. was behind Pakistan and the militants in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation correct? At that time, they were the Afghan Mujahadeen, and we funded their operations...and with the help of Pakistan...provided weapons.

But you are correct that the civilian leadership there is mostly a figurehead leadership. And the ethnic issues you raise are at play as well. Can't disagree with that.

rikyrah said...


I know I'm not a fan of Hillpatine, but I'm not feeling this as a blunder.

I was waiting for you to write a blistering commentary on the White House trying to bullshyt that Karzi actually WON something in Afghanistan. they should have just kept their mouths shut , instead of saying what they did.