Hillary Clinton; Hard Choices: Book Analysis. Chapter 3. ASIA: THE PIVOT? Too Soon, Or a Prescient Move?
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The Obama Administration decided that American Foreign Policy need to be more focused on Asia where half the World’s population lived. With this in mind Hillary’s first trip was to Asia to show the region it was to be a priority with the new administration, militarily, diplomatically and economically.
The purpose of her trip, had three goals, visit Japan, South Korea and strengthen and confirm our alliance with them; reach out to Indonesia, a Muslim democracy, an emerging regional power and the home of ASEAN a political and economic organization consisting of ten countries , Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Its goals include regional economic viability, regional peace, social progress and a forum for members to come together to discuss problems; the third goal was to engage China diplomatically and have sufficient military power to back up our position.
Hillary made more trips to Asia for the purpose of advancing Democratic ideals and our power in the area. One was her trip to Myanmar. A closed country beginning to open up. She met Aung San Suu Kyi who was under house arrest for decades before reforms allowed her to be released and run for office. She is now a Member of Parliament. Perhaps Myanmar will fall into our camp and not be a satellite of China.
North Korea remained a problem not just for the region but also the rest of the world with its nuclear and missile program. Things seem to have become worse under Kim Jong Un.
Vietnam is another communist country to watch. It may adopt a market economy like China. Hillary believes a dictatorship and a free economy cannot exist side by side indefinitely and the dictatorship will either yield to democratic reforms or have to tighten control of the economic life of its citizens. That is the great experiment we are witnessing now in China.
The Pivot to Asia has been criticized by our Allies in Europe as too strong a word and suggest we are refocusing on Asia to the detriment of Europe and the Middle East.
Since leaving office Hillary has stated she was a strong advocate for use of force by proxies in Syria. The failure to do so has led to the current situation where ISIS has gained control over territory in Syria and Iraq and is calling itself an Islamic Caliphate.
She also sought to cement ties with India a great democracy nearly equal to China in population which has been abandoning its socialist economy for a more free market economy. Therefore it will be an example for China, if it not has been already, that a free market economy exists best with a democracy. However the Indian economy is not nearly as robust as the Chinese’s economy.
The Pivot to Asia diplomatically and militarily has refocused American attention to the region. However the Obama mission to withdraw from the Mideast has back fired with the rise of ISIS which will call for greater American resources to be expended to counter its expansion.
The purpose of the Pivot policy seems to be that Asia would be on an equal footing with Europe diplomatically and militarily. The fruits of this policy have yet to be seen. China is getting stronger militarily; it is acquiring at least one aircraft carrier, an offensive weapon, and seeks to assert itself in island disputes with Japan and Vietnam. Whether the U.S. can broker a resolution over these disputes remains to be seen.
It also has not seen fit to deal with Kim Long Un with a strong hand. A lot of time and energy was spent in the East while the administration’s most immediate problem was in the Mideast which Obama thought he could withdraw from and allow it to become the sleepy backwater it once was. This was a true failure of diplomatic and military policy. Perhaps the pivot policy will prevent a crisis like that in the Mideast before they get started. Some great thinker once said ”An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Wonder where he has been. Maybe it has been Hillary constrained to follow the policies set by the Administration beyond her control
The dust cover of the book shows Hillary’s face as did her 2003 book Living History. Considering the time difference and all that’s happened to her in between there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the two pictures.
Hillary begins her book with an author’s note about the hard choices people have to make in life. One wonders why it was necessary to explain the self evident title of the book. It was almost as if she felt it was necessary reassure us that she was the actual author of this 596 page tome and it was not ghost written as are many books are by political candidates, Romney’s was for instance. Hillary does mention at the end of the book the many people who assisted her in the preparation of the book. I guess it takes a village to get most things of substance done.
Hillary outlines some of the choices she had to make in her life; Marriage, healthcare reform, Secretary of State and others.
One was leaving Washington as a young lawyer about to start a career; she had been a staff lawyer on the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into impeachment grounds against Nixon for the Watergate scandal. After that she was considering remaining in Washington as a trial lawyer but ultimately chose to go to Arkansas to marry Bill Clinton who previously had asked for her hand. In that case she followed her heart to the uncertainties of being the wife of a neophyte political candidate. Not unwisely as it turns out. However it does reflect on the idea that Hillary put a strong marriage before a professional career in Washington at a young age. Many professional young women put career before marriage and children often to their disappointment later.
Bill Clinton was an alpha male then as he is now and she was and is an alpha female. She could have pursued a career first settling for someone less able later, rather than Bill Clinton, to her lifelong dissatisfaction.
This was probably Hillary’s hardest decision along with the decision to stick with him through the ups and downs of their personal and political life. Whatever the critics say, theirs is a strong team and one without the other probably would have led less a successful life. One could say it takes a strong team in life to achieve success professionally and personally. It also indicates Hillary has the virtues of loyalty, forgiveness, determination and is not a quitter. Also no one can accuse her as being a surrogate (but they will anyway) for Bill if she does run for president given she has already proven herself as a Senator, presidential candidate in 2008, and a formidable Secretary of State.
Thus she begins her book which may be the public opening of a bid for the presidency in 2016