HILLARY CLINTON; HARD CHOICES: BOOK ANALYSIS. CHAPTER 18: IRAN: SANCTIONS AND SECRETS. Iran and the bomb. Would you buy a used car from these people?



Hillary states that it was President Obama’s plan to open a dialogue with Iran a country we had no diplomatic contact or communications with since  1979 when the Shah was thrown out by a popular revolution that was subverted by Shiite militants. The Ayatollah Khomeini became leader, an Islamic government installed and the Revolutionary Guards seized the U.S. Embassy and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.
Since then Iran had involved itself in terrorist activities included bombings by proxies in Beirut, Lebanon, of the U.S. Embassy killing 63 people; the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks that killed 241 Americans; the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 U.S. Airmen and the bombing of the Israeli Cultural Center in Buenos Aeries in 1994 killing 85 people. Iran supported Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel and were involved in supplying weapons that killed the troops of the Coalition partners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Further there was evidence they were developing the capability to create and deliver a nuclear bomb. This would set off a nuclear arms race in the Mid-East that could be disastrous for the whole World.
Steps had to be taken to curb Iran. President Obama attempted a diplomatic approach before using force. To that end he wrote personal letters to the present religious leader Ayatollah and Supreme Leader Ali Khomeini who had succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini who had died. The letters went unanswered.
Demonstrations and protests took place over the flawed reelection of President Ahamdinejad, a confrontational and abusive leader. However the protests were violently put down.
Later secret, underground, nuclear facilities were discovered near the City of Qom. This called for greater sanctions than those already in place by the United Nations.
A coalition of States including Russia and China was formed to assert severe sanctions with United Nations approval. Hillary was involved in putting this group together and getting United Nations approval. The economic sanctions were a severe blow to the Iranian economy which was dependent on Oil exports. Also there was no refinery in Iran. This led to severe inflation and economic problems, however, initially, Iran remained defiant.

The Sultan of Oman offered to be a go between in talks between the U.S. and Iran. The Iranians sent a team with demands and preconditions for talks with State Department officers. None of which were acceptable. However the sanctions were crippling Iran financially and their oil exports dribbled to almost nothing. Iranian tankers sat idle in their ports and Iran was effectively excluded from the international oil market.

By 2012 during Ahamdinejad’s second term the economy was in shambles and a new election was held with Saeed Jalili seen as the Ayatollah’s preferred successor.
However eight candidates were picked for the 2013 race and moderates like Rafsanjani were excluded. In televised debates Jalili’s opponents savaged him with criticism on the state of the economy caused by the Ahmadinejad regime during which he had been the chief nuclear negotiator.  He was criticized for stonewalling the U.N. talks that led up to the severe sanctions.

Hassan Rouhani a nuclear negotiator also and the most moderate of the field of candidates won a landslide in June 2013. He made conciliatory steps to the international community. However by this time Hillary was no longer Secretary Of State.
The Omani talks began to heat up and the outlines of the current resolutions began to take shape including halting enrichment and provisions for inspections. The talks were enlarged and merged with other States including Russia and China.
In the end the plans of President Obama for a diplomatic deal on nuclear arms was coming to fruition which was initially  led by Hillary and now John Kerry with the support of the U.N. and other major nations.

What the future holds is anybody’s guess. There is great friction between the Shiites headed by Iran and the Sunni’s headed by Saudi Arabia. Pakistan, a nuclear armed country, is a Sunni Muslim country as is the fourth most populated country in the World, Indonesia. Israel is said to have nuclear weapons.

Further the Iranians in the past have only responded when confronted by over whelming power. Their leaders have continually been dissembling about their intentions while conducting terrorist activities and secretly enriching uranium the precursor for a nuclear bomb.
Can they be trusted on the nuclear agreements or will they look for loopholes to evade the intent and purpose of the nuclear accord now being negotiated? Based on their past record they only respond when confronted with the actual implementation of sanctions severe enough to cripple their economy.
If the coalition imposing the sanctions fractures or weakens they will be building a bomb if the leaders in power are inclined to do so.


Hillary Clinton; HARD CHOICES: Book Analysis. Chapter 5. BEIJING: THE DISSIDENT. The Hard Choice: Humanitarian Acts vs. Real Politik.


Cui Tiankai

Cui Tiankai

On April 25th Hillary got a call that the blind activist, Chen Guangchen (for Chen’s take on this read.) had escaped home confinement in his native province of Shandung. Further he had journeyed to Beijing with the help of sympathizers in hopes of gaining refuge in the American Embassy.  Chen was known throughout China as the blind, barefoot lawyer who advocated for human rights.  He was self taught and whose most recent endeavor was to file a class action law suit in behalf of people victimized by government repression for forced abortions, forced sterilization and enforcement of the one child policy by economic and other means. The Chinese government reacted to this by sentencing him to jail and later home confinement. He was a cause célèbre  in China.  Now he was seeking asylum in the Embassy.

This request was made at a time when he was on the run from the police with a broken foot and  in hiding somewhere in Beijing outside the Embassy.

How the Chinese government would react to a grant of asylum to a humanitarian hero was unknown.

This was compounded by the fact the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue was scheduled with Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, Hillary and their Chinese   opposites for the discussion of the problems of the Islands in the South China Sea, North Korea and other issues including economic ones  like  intellectual property protection and currency values.  Many months of planning and preparation had gone into the forthcoming discussions.

If the U.S. extended asylum to Chen how would the Chinese react? They could cancel the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Hillary decided to give Chen asylum and to negotiate his fate with the Chinese authorities. Negotiations were tense as the U.S. had often criticized China over human rights to their chagrin and this case could only bring matters to a boiling   point. The Chinese viewed the U.S. as meddling in China’s internal affairs over these issues and they were not matters for discussion by outsiders.

However Chen was well known both inside China and to the World so whatever happened to Chen would get worldwide publicity. Therefore the Chinese were willing to negotiate even after we gave asylum to a man who was an escaped criminal in their eyes.

Chen himself was conflicted as to what he wanted to do. At first the principal Chinese  negotiator Cui Tiankai agreed that Chen would be allowed to study law in Shanghai for two years and then travel to the U.S. to study at NYU on a fellowship.   However Chen first agreed to this resolution and then changed his mind saying he wanted to come to the U.S. right away fearing the Chinese government would renege of the agreement once the world spotlight was turned off.

Hillary and her aides renegotiated the terms to the bemused Cui Tiankai. The  Chinese authorities permitted Chen to come directly  the United States to study at NYU.

The agreement was reached without jeopardizing the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Hillary believes she struck a blow for human rights while saving the conference on major U.S. interests.

The Chinese probably saw it as a way to rid themselves of a sympathetic and troublesome dissident who had the ability to draw World attention to their internal policies.

While it is always good to standup for humanitarian principles the interests of the United States and its people should come first. Thus the strategic and economic interests of the U.S. should have been paramount in this case because they affect millions of people.

Hillary was able along with her subordinates to skillfully and adroitly solve the humanitarian issue without scuttling the Strategic and Economic  Dialogue. Whether this incident colored the discussions she doesn’t say other than in a cursory manner to state  that much progress was made without going into specifics.

She says that the United State’s policy is to create a state of shared prosperity and responsibility with China for peace and security and the only way to do this is though greater openness and freedom.  Internal issues like  the  treatment of Tibet, the Uighur Muslims, internet freedom, the suppression of activists like Chen  are counter to humanitarian principles  and China should deal with them in a transparent manner respectful to the rights of the entities and people involved. Internationally it should work though international institutions to solve problems and conflicts like those in the South China Sea.

At present  Chen  is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute which opposes abortion and gay marriage. Cui Tiankai is the Chinese Ambassador to the United States and Hillary is denying she is running for President.


Hillary Clinton: Hard Choices: Book Analysis. Chapter 4: Uncharted Waters. Hillary One Ups China.



Hillary With Sate Counselor Dai


Americans have been to China many times since Nixon and Kissinger went there in 1972 to open relations. Hilary and Bill were students at the time and rented a portable television with rabbit ears to watch the ceremonies. Zhou Enlai and Kissinger negotiated the ground rules

for the two leaders, Nixon and Mao Zedong, to meet.

Since then there have been many diplomatic trips to China including Hillary’s trip in 1995 for the Fourth World Conference on Woman where she spoke as First Lady of the United States. Her speech on the rights of women was censored by the Chinese government by blocking it from broadcast in China.

In June of 1998 she returned to China with her husband who was President at the time. It was an official state visit and Bill Clinton gave a speech on human rights. This after the “incident ” at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Incident is her word probably for diplomatic reasons as the Chinese will read this book closely particularly if she becomes a declared presidential candidate.

Hillary never misses an opportunity to remind us that she is a strong advocate for human rights and in particular women’s rights. We all know this and it will certainly seal the liberal vote in her favor if she runs for president but there are a lot of others out there that are not quite as liberal as her who don’t like her in your face demeanor on these issues whose vote she will need in 2016.Hillary doesn’t seem to remember the old saying “softly, softly catchee monkey.”

Maybe it would be better if she modeled herself on other woman leaders like Angelika Merkel or even Margaret Thatcher, a conservative, who are and were strong effective women because they focused on the politics at hand that affected the entire electorate and not solely on one noble issue that will turn a lot of voters off who believe most people  in the United States are doing well, even if the last recession left many scars we seem to be coming out of  the debacle created by Congress and Wall Street.  

She returned to China as Secretary of State in 2009 with the goal of building a relationship that could withstand the stress points that will and have developed between our two countries as China emerges as a World power.  

She also wanted to engage China and have them work within the multilateral institutions in the area and internationally and encourage China to work within the rules of these organizations in ironing out their differences with other countries.  

She met with her counterparts in the Chinese hierarchy, State Counselor Dai Bingguo and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Their relations were cordial and they sometimes spoke earnestly about their lives and other matters.

However things were different with President Hu and Premiere Wen who were formal in dealing with her and they avoided any frank discussions leaving human rights (Tibet i.e.) and woman’s rights discussions for their subordinates. They also refused to talk about economic, military or diplomatic issues with her except in a formal and general sense

 At the ASEAN conference in Hanoi on July 22, 2010(ASEAN, a political and economic organization consisting  of ten countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar  and Vietnam.) both China and the U.S Attended.

The ASEAN delegates wanted the territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea discussed on a multiparty basis. China on the other hand wanted to deal with the disputes one to one which would give China the stronger hand. 

Hillary and her team supported the multilateral approach to solving these problems. She gave a speech on this issue and the vote of the delegates went in favor of a multilateral approach much to the chagrin of the Chinese.

Foreign Minister Yang according to Hillary was “livid” over the vote and State Counselor Dai was so upset he suggested that the U.S should “pivot out of here.”

Thus this part of her goal may or may not have encouraged China to work within existing organizations to resolve differences.

The term Uncharted Waters in the chapter title apparently refers to the disputes about the islands in the South China Sea and the territorial waters around them which may be rich in minerals namely oil and gas.

However it also has a larger meaning as to how China will develop either as a quasi rogue nation like Russia  or a member of the alliance of democratic and industrialized nations that work their problems out through established institutions like the World Trade Organization or ASEAN.


(Hillary in Iowa addressing democratic activists at Tom Harkin event 9/14/14.)





August 12, 2014 by · 2 Comments
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Hillary Sworn In As Secretary of StateHILLARY CLINTON SWORN IN AS THE 67th U.S. SECRETARY of STATE

President Obama took office on January 20 2009, and that was when Hillary took office.   Before that she had to assemble a team that could work with the Chief Of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and the White House National Security team. She met with the White House Security Team in Chicago on December 15, 2014.  Vice President Joe Biden had been in the leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for years and the President’s National Security Advisor was General James Jones, a former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe . Susan Rice was to be U.N Ambassador. All these people she knew well. (Susan Rice had wanted the National Security Advisor post that went to General Jones . When Hillary resigned her post after four years Rice had her name removed as a candidate for Secretary of State because of her statements on the Benghazi, Libya tragedy.)

Robert Gates remained as Secretary of Defense. He has an old Washington hand and she knew him well. Traditionally State and Defense were often at logger head on many issues. However she and Gates saw eye to eye on major issues. One was that diplomacy (soft power) was to be used to the maximum extent before military power (hard Power). Also Gates believed that State had been under funded compared to  Defense  and that there should be a better balance in funding between State and Defense. The   State budget is approximately 1% of the total national budget, while military spending is approximately 18%.

The Obama administration was determined to use soft power and multilateralism to its maximum advantage. Hillary calls the use of soft power and hard power smart power. This can be seen in Iran where diplomacy supported by economic power coupled with the threat of military power has been the brought to bear on the nuclear issues.

Hillary recruited Cheryl Mills to be her Counselor in Chief.   Capricia Marshall was asked to be Chief of Protocol , this last appointment  met with some resistance from the White House staff  but Hillary got her way .

As  for Afghanistan and Pakistan She recruited Richard Holbrooke, in her opinion the première diplomat of our generation appointed as Special Representative For Afghanistan and Pakistan

George Mitchell was appointed Special Representative for the Middle-East. He had worked with her husband to bring peace to Northern Ireland. President Obama approved and came to State for both men’s swearing in ceremony.

At President Obama’s request Jim Steinberg was appointed her Deputy Secretary for Policy.  Jack Lew was appointed as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, a position that had been previously unfilled in prior administrations.

She met with Condoleezza Rice on two cordial occasions as well as receiving a letter from her  wishing her well as Secretary. She also talked with formers Secretaries, Albright, Christopher, Kissinger, Baker, Powell and Shultz.

After spending weeks preparing for her Senate confirmation hearing on January 3, 2009 she was confirmed by a vote of 94-2.

She took office with the policy of using smart power to its fullest extent possible. This of course was the mantra of the Obama Administration and did not originate with her office although she may have had some input in the formulation of the policy. (This doesn’t sound like a “Team of Rivals  but  people pretty much all on the same page concerning the implementation of American soft and hard power now known as smart power, to be asserted in coordination with our Allies. Obama and his advisors seem to have kept a tight reign on foreign policy.)

According to David Packer, in the New Yorker, Hillary was an excellent Secretary visiting 112 countries giving speeches and holding town halls with questions and answers explaining American values and policies.  However there no major Foreign Policy events like the doctrine of containment, the Marshall Plan or Nixon’s rapprochement with China during her tenure, the pivot to Asia seems to have never happened except in some minor gestures.

Packer says that that Obama denied Clinton the opportunity to be a great Secretary of State “… she and her department were never trusted with the policy blueprints. From Iran and Israel to proliferation and human rights the President has kept policymaking inside the White House, tightly held by a small circle of trusted advisors.”

So Hillary was a ceremonial Secretary of State implementing policy made by the White House and occasionally her voice was heard on policy decisions like the surge in Afghanistan. Obama may have seen her as a rival but as a result she had a small voice in the formulation of policy and apparently she was not on the White House team that made the policy she was obliged to follow.

Obama sought her support in the campaign and he needed prominent woman in his camp and after winning the election she was rewarded with the Secretary Of State position but he did not give her free reign and she was not a significant voice in the formulation of policy.

If there was a Team of Rivals as she says she was mainly out of the loop on policy issues according to David Packer. Thus Hillary in this chapter may telling us indirectly that she was marginalized by Obama  and his staff  to being an ordinary Secretary of State when a person of her intellect, energy and talent could have been a great  Secretary of State.


Hillary Clinton; Hard Choices book analysis. Chapter 1: 2008 Team Of Rivals. (Really?)

August 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary says that after the final primaries in Montana and South Dakota when Barack Obama won the popular vote and the delegates securing himself as the Democratic Presidential Candidate he said “let’s sit down when this makes sense for you.” Later she was invited to Dianne Feinstein’s house for a secret meeting with Obama. She says they met alone and he asked her for her support and the support of Bill in the coming campaign. This was June 5th 2008.

On May 31st 2008 the Washington Post opined Biden would be Obama’s choice for Vice President on the Democratic ticket. This was publically announced on August 23 and confirmed by the convention (August 25-28 2008) on the third night. 

Hillary says she agreed to actively support his campaign and the  day after the meeting, Bill in a telephone call also agreed to campaign

Hillary says nothing about the Vice Presidential position which was still open nor does she mention any other position with the administration. So this challenger who garnered 18 million votes in the primaries committed her support as well as facilitating the support of her husband, both formidable campaigners, without any understanding what her role would be in the administration if Obama won?

Hillary says when they met at Senator Feinstein’s house she, her husband and her staff were still sore and licking their wounds after losing in the primaries.


Particularly there was much rancor that Bill had been labeled a racist in South Carolina by the Obama people. Barack on the other hand was upset by being called a sexist by people on Hillary’s staff. However this was explained away as over exuberance by minor staff people on both sides and not the candidate’s personal views. Thus at the meeting and during the call with Bill the next day these wounds were healed and the union was made. Hillary made the announcement to her staff the next day amid grumbling by some of the diehards.

The Clinton’s campaigned long and hard for Obama and Biden. In August at the Convention she was asked to give the official nominating speech for Obama which she did and called for party unity behind the ticket. However at the roll call the next day she was asked to interrupt it to move for an immediate declaration for Barack Obama as the party’s candidate. By doing this she hoped to forestall some diehard delegates from casting their votes for her highlighting the fact that a woman had won 1009 delegates in the primaries. She did this to eliminate what could have been evidence of a split in the party on prime time television. (The facts are 1010.5 delegates voted for her in the final tally. This appears to be glossed over without explanation.)

Considering all the political power Hillary had and all the work she did during the campaign one wonders why she was not chosen as Vice President rather than Biden whose own candidacy for  president had sputtered out after the past misstatements he had made and the inaccuracies in his biography came to light in the Media.

On August 29, 2008 the day after the Democratic Convention John McCain announced Sarah Palin would be his running mate. At the announcement in Dayton Ohio, Palin in her acceptance speech said, “Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all”.

It was a “Hail Mary” pass by McCain to reenergize his foundering campaign which could not draw a crowd to his speeches. He knew little about the inexperienced Palin other than she was Governor of Alaska and was regarded as a maverick just as he thought of himself.

Of course any thoughtful analysis would reveal that Hillary and Sarah were so much unalike that about the only thing they had in common was that they were both married woman with children. So Sarah’s chances of converting Hillary’s female constituency, just because she was a woman, were slim and none and we all know where slim was. 

Despite their philosophical and political differences Hillary refused to attack Palin as an inexperienced woman candidate. However as later events revealed this would be unnecessary. (Say what you will about Palin she tied with Michelle Obama recently as the third most admired woman in the United States. Hillary is first and Oprah is  number two. So she has a certain charisma too bad it’s not backed up by brains or she would be a serious political candidate.)

After the election Hillary says the president-elect offered her the Secretary of State post. “Reluctantly,” after consulting family and friends she accepted. On January 20, 2009 the new Secretary of State took office. Thus the “Team of Rivals” was in place.

Hillary received $10 million as an advance for this book and so far she seems to be glossing over reality for her expected wide audience consisting of the hoi polloi. I also detect the fine hand of Bill as an editor. I guess the recipe by these too cooks was for plain vanilla pudding topped with whipped facts for the masses.


Hillary Clinton; Hard Choices book analysis. Beginning: “Authors Note.” Her Wisest Choice.

June 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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hillary Book cover 2014

hillary clinton book cover 2004Her Wisest Choice.

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