Monday, December 1, 2008

Clinton as Secretary of State, a Disappointing Choice

It is now official. Hillary Clinton is Obama's pick for secretary of state. I am really bummed.

During the primaries, Obama consistently said that Clinton showed bad judgment in the biggest foreign policy decision of her career, Iraq. Was he just being a slimy politician, saying what he thought would play, even though he didn't believe it? Or does he truly believe that Hillary Clinton has poor judgment, but he is appointing her anyway because he thinks it will keep the party together. I'm not sure which scenario is more disappointing.

I'm particularly disappointed for what this means for Israel policy. Clinton has consistently come out on the side of the uber-Zionists, even when faced with massive evidence of human rights abuses and violations of international law by the Israeli government. Check out this report on the Lebanon war and Hillary's speech at the end.

That speech was during her senate race in New York. Her democratic opponent was Jonathan Tasini. He is a Jew who lived in Israel and has seen first hand the situation on the ground. When he asserted that Israel had violated international law, Clinton spokespeople said his comments were "beyond the pale." Tasini responded to them with a letter calling Clinton out for her irresponsible policies. I should note that human rights organizations agree with Tasini and that a 2007 Human Rights Watch report found that:

Israel’s indiscriminate airstrikes, not Hezbollah’s shielding as claimed by Israeli officials, caused most of the approximately 900 civilian deaths in Lebanon during the July-August 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
The Israeli Palestinian conflict is a vitally important focus for any secretary of state. It isn't just the conflict itself, but the backlash when we are seen as taking Israel's side no matter what they do. World opinion polls consistently rate Israel as having a mostly negative effect on the world. We cannot dismiss this as pure anti-semitism. There are very legitimate criticisms to be made against Israeli government policies. When Bishop Desmond Tutu is comparing your policies to apartheid in South Africa, it's time to listen.

The fact that the U.S. so rabidly defends Israel, including consistently using our UN security council veto to block resolutions related to Israeli crimes, is a major sticking point in any effort to improve our moral standing in the world. How do we turn over a new diplomatic leaf with an old, compromised hoe.

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1 comment:

Shaking My Head in Disbelief said...

My disappointment concerning the selection of Hillary as Secretary of State has also to do with her having neither the experience nor the temperament to do this job effectively.

Here's a list of the duties of the Secretary of State .

Sorry, but visiting other countries, with or without one's husband the President of the United States, does not qualify one to be a later President's "chief foreign affairs adviser." One of Obama's supposed vulnerabilities in this campaign was his relative lack of foreign policy experience, so he selected Joe Biden to help fill in that gap. Now a former first lady with virtually no foreign policy experience is going to be his principal adviser on foreign policy? How does that even make sense?

But even beyond that, Hillary's temperament doesn't match this job's requirements. Whereas I was overjoyed to be able to vote for Obama for President, a man whose basic approach to problem solving seems to be to sit down and say "Look, we don't agree on all the points here, so let's find some that we do agree on and work from there," Hillary's approach throughout the campaign was to be pugnacious, "us against them," mean, nasty, vicious and not even honest. I found her behavior appalling in one who wanted to run this country. And now we're going to have HER representing us to other countries, negotiating with them?

It just doesn't make sense, and much as I am delighted to have Obama/Biden in a position to restore this country and its relations with others, this particular decision seems nothing but political, and very unwise.