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.


BARACK OBAMA:BOOK REVIEW: The Audacity Of Hope. Chapter Two: Values.

January 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Obama in this chapter talks about values. If you remember the 2004 presidential election the subject of values was a big issue if not a decisive issue in the campaign. This is one of those nebulous issues thought up by Karl Rove to show that Republican voters, particularly fundamentalist Christian voters had superior values than those people that just voted their economic interests. Like it or not the candidates had to address issues surrounding abortion, gay marriage, gays in the military etc.

Obama believes that the core values of America are those that are expressed in the Bill Of Rights and it is those values that unite us as a people.
Politicians in Washington are engaged in a big money game over humanist values versus property values for their constituencies. Thus the issue of values came up in the 1994 election when the values in question, gun rights, gay rights, abortion, Christian fundamentalism etc. had nothing to do with the economic rights of the people involved. People with marginal incomes were led not to vote for their economic interests but for perceived values that would have no effect as to what they had on the table to eat that night. Thus an election was decided on false issues created by politicians whose loyalty lay not with the electorate but the economic interests of the wealthy.

While the values of Americans as expressed in the Bill Of Rights have not changed 9/11 has allowed the government to play fast and loose with constitutional principles. Problems arise when conservatives who value “free markets” or gun rights do not pay enough attention to those that liberals value like freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, privacy and due process. Also who controls woman’s reproductive rights seem to cut both ways and everybody appears to believe in freedom of worship but the line that defines government involvement in religion is often blurred depending on one’ point of view.

Often there is a misconception between values and ideology. Values are important to people but do not rise to the level of an ideology. Many people value gun rights but nowhere in the Constitution is there a clause saying they can’t be regulated so those who enjoy hunting can exercise their gun rights but those who wish to use an AK 47 for illicit purposes can’t be stopped from doing so.

Ones perception of  other peoples values can be enhanced by empathy or by putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to see how he sees the issues surrounding values and what is important and what is not. Those that wish to divide the public on the issue of values by creating good guys and bad guys  do not act in the public interest.

What is more important; clean air and water, adequate medical care, proper education a broad and secure middle class, freedom of speech, privacy rights, due process, freedom of assembly or small government, unfettered markets, an uncontrolled military and their contractors, laws that cause the accumulation of wealth in the top sector of the public and lobbyists that formulate laws and have the financial clout to see that they are enacted?

Obama believes that change is in the air and that people are becoming more enlightened as to what is important to them and the welfare of the public in general and what is important to the power brokers in Washington.