Syria is a diverse country. The population is 9% Kurdish, 10% Christian, 12% Alawites, 3% Druze, and 70% Sunni. Although the Sunni’s are in the majority, the country is ruled by the Alawite faction thus Syria is not a democracy.

In 2011 as a result of the Arab Spring revolutions across North Africa a series of peaceful protests began in Syria advocating for political and human rights reforms. These peaceful demonstrations were brutally put down by the authoritarian regime led by President Bashar al Assad who assumed the presidency in an unopposed election in 2000 after his father Hafez al-Assad died. Hafez was ruler after seizing power in a bloodless military coup in 1970.

So the al-Assad family has been in power continuously since 1970 despite the fact the country is called The Syrian Arab Republic.

As a result of the brutal repression of the demonstrations, Sunni factions of the army formed the Free Syrian Army organized to protect the people from being killed or interred. Thus the conflict in Syria morphed into a civil war with disparate factions fighting the government independently or sometimes in conjunction.

Seeing the breakdown of law and order other militants entered the fray with their own agenda including ISIS a group claiming to operate under the banner of Islam but in reality is a lawless group of anarchists bent on establishing a caliphate under their atavistic and self-serving interpretation of the Koran and Sharia law. The result; hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, including women and children, have been killed and millions more have become refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries.

The Arab League called for a cease fire which the regime, aligned with Iran and its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, failed to observe.

The war has now become a  sectarian one with Sunni’s on one side backed by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states and the Alawites a Shiite sect backed by Shiite Iran.

Russia, which has a naval base on Syria’s Mediterranean coast is also a backer of the regime.

Thus the United Nations has been unable to act in any positive way because of Russian opposition.

The UN and the Arab League did appoint former Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan, as their Joint Special Envoy on Syria. His task was to bring the regime, the rebels and their backers to the table and agree to a plan to end hostilities. However the regime had no plans to acquiesce to anything that would threaten the Shiite Alawite dominance in Syria over the majority Sunnis.

The U.S was wary of supplying the rebel faction’s arms or even participating in a no fly plan that would be ineffective and may put arms in the wrong hands.

Kofi Annan proposed a six point plan to resolve the conflict similar to a previous Arab League proposal earlier.

1. The regime would pull back their forces and heavy weapons,

2. allow peaceful demonstrations,

3. facilitate humanitarian aid,

4. access by journalists and

5. begin a peaceful transition process to a democratically elected government.

6. The idea was to ratify his plan as a statement rather than a resolution at the UN.

This last part, to call it a UN statement rather than a resolution was to allay Russian fears that the proposal could be used a basis for future military action if the plan was not observed.

Assad agreed and there was a lull in the fighting but then it resumed and none of the other parts of the plan were put into operation.

Kofi Annan resigned as Special envoy because of the failure to implement the plan. Despite continued diplomatic efforts the fighting continues.

ISIS, fortified with oil revenues from captured oil fields and facilities, has become a power player in the region including Iraq where it has seized Mosul and other cities where it has captured more financial assets and military hardware. The Iraqi Army has been routed and  military equipment  left behind by the US has fallen into the hands of ISIS.

Before Isis invaded Iraq the regime was accused of using chemical weapons and there was evidence that this was true. Under threat from President Obama to use force in the area the regime agreed to give up their chemical weapons. Russia acquiesced to this as a way to prevent military action by the U.S. and others. This agreement was negotiated by John Kerry who succeeded Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

NATO has been notably silent on Syria although France, Britain and Germany have been vocal in condemning the regime.

Turkey has a long border with Syria. It is also a NATO member. Millions of refugees have taken refuge there. Also it is a conduit point for foreign fighters to join ISIS. Yet NATO has been reluctant to become involved. Hillary doesn’t say why if the UN was blocked by Russia she didn’t work through NATO. Perhaps because Russia is close to the NATO countries and could exert pressure on them by cutting off energy supplies and in other ways. Also it appears Turkey wishing to avoid a bloodbath didn’t ask for NATO’S help.

Also she doesn’t say who is supporting ISIS. What supply ports they use for their new Toyota trucks, how they export their oil and what financial facilities they use. Thousands of foreign fighters have to be paid, armed, housed, fed along with the thousands of other details needed to support an Army. Hillary doesn’t say. I doubt it all comes from the areas they conquered. The Guardian had this to say which partly answers the question. Meanwhile the carnage continues.


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.



April 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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Hillary explains the facts behind the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith, CIA Officers Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods on September 11, 2012 at the diplomatic compound and the CIA’s nearby compound in Benghazi, Libya.
At this time there was demonstrations and attacks throughout the Muslim world as a result of a video, “Innocence of Muslims” aired on Egyptian satellite television defaming the prophet Mohammad and Islam in general. The video was made by an independent producer resident in the United States but the United States government had nothing to do with it much as the government had little control over the Florida Minister Terry Jones who threatened to burn the Koran amongst other things.
However both these incidents caused anger in the Muslim world, the video causing the worst reaction.
Benghazi is not the seat of the American Embassy which is in Tripoli but a satellite diplomatic compound guarded by diplomatic security. U.S. Marines were not stationed there because Hillary says their function was to protect or destroy Embassy documents in the event of an attack.
The video itself was aired on September 8 three days before the Benghazi attack also 9/11 was another incendiary day in the Muslim world for trouble makers and those who wished to cause unrest. Hillary says The State Department received no actionable intelligence that any diplomatic facility was in danger of an attack. However two thousand people demonstrated with black flags in Cairo outside the U.S. Embassy tearing down the U.S. Flag. They were dispersed by the Egyptian riot police and there were no casualties.
Ambassador Stevens went to Benghazi despite unrest and its history of being a hot bed of dissidents under Kaddafi which continued after his downfall in 2011 because it is a key city and a strategic one in Libya. He went there to strengthen our relations with the city. He took with him two diplomatic security officers and Sean Smith. At the time of the attack there were five Diplomatic Security agents and Stevens and Smith for a total of seven Americans at the site plus Libyan workers.
There was a larger CIA compound less than a mile away whose mission was classified but it was understood they would come to the aide of the diplomatic compound in a crisis.
About 9:40 pm an armed group of men appeared in front of the compound. They overwhelmed the guards and entered the compound. They set fires in the compound. Smith and Stevens were moved to a safe room in the main building by their security agent, Scott Stickland. Tripoli was notified of the attack.
The CIA compound prepared two vehicles to assist after the attack was underway for twenty minutes.
The building with the safe room was sprayed with diesel fuel and set fire. The heavy smoke made it difficult to breathe and the Diplomatic Security agent decided to go to the roof. In the heavy smoke Strickland made it to the roof believing Stevens and Smith were behind him. However when he reached the roof Stevens and Smith had not followed and could not be found. Scott Strickland reentered the building several times looking for Stevens and Smith but was unable to locate then and finally returned to the roof.
In the meantime the original attackers had withdrawn. This allowed three other Diplomatic Security agents to reach the main building and resuscitate Strickland.
The vehicles with the Armed CIA agents arrived and secured the compound. They searched for Stevens and Smith. They found Smith dead from smoke inhalation but no sign of Stevens. Attackers and others were still milling around in the area and after an extensive search for Stevens it was decided to evacuate the compound to the CIA compound which was better protected. They took Smith’s body with them but Stevens was still missing. The convoy back to the CIA compound itself came under attack but made it through.
The CIA compound was also under attack with men with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades but the shooting eventfully subsided and the attackers withdrew.
A call came in on Stevens cell phone that his body had been found after the attackers had left and onlookers and looters were combing the wreckage had come upon Stevens body about 1:00 a.m. He was taken to the hospital and attempts to revive him failed and at around 2:00 a.m. he was declared dead.
Reinforcements arrived from Tripoli to relieve the CIA compound which now had come under mortar attack killing Doherty and Woods.
By noon all personnel had been evacuated to Tripoli along with the bodies of the fallen.
Numerous questions arose as to why the Libyan government failed to protect the diplomatic compound as they were required to do under a diplomatic treaty previously signed by multiple nations in Vienna.
An investigation was launched led by Admiral Mullen and Tom Pickering, a retired senior foreign service officer, who made recommendations for greater security measures at all embassies.
It was found among other things that the Libyan security force had failed to protect the compound and fled leaving the compound vulnerable.
President Obama addressed the press in the Rose Garden saying “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter the character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” Thus he labeled the attack as a terrorist one.
Exactly who the terrorists were was not discussed in this chapter. Likewise if they were demonstrators spontaneously deciding to act in the face of the general unrest caused by the video or if they were organized group with a specific goal of attacking the compound and killing those inside. How many groups were there? It was not discussed.
No personnel were killed in the diplomatic compound by gunfire, although there was plenty, but later the CIA agents were killed by mortar attack at the CIA compound. The thesis that a group of unorganized demonstrators came first and then were supplemented by an unconnected organized group has been advanced. This theory was stated by Susan Rice the Ambassador to the United Nations based on talking points supplied by the CIA in an appearance on a television political talk show.
She was criticized in trying to cover-up an organized terrorist attack as a demonstration that got out of hand even though the President had characterized it as terrorist attack.
The dispute goes on.


Hillary Clinton; HARD CHOICES: Book Analysis. Chapter 10. Europe: TIES THAT BIND.

November 18, 2014 by · 1 Comment
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This chapter tells about NATO our long standing alliance with western European nations and Canada. She credits it with containing the Soviet Union and when the wall fell NATO was able to expand to include many of the nations of Eastern Europe as well in the alliance.

At present there are 29 member nations in North America and Europe. After 9/11 NATO joined us in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. The treaty states that an attack on one member nation is an attack on all members. This alliance has stood fast from the Cold War to the present day. It is one of the most successful alliances in history.

Our Relationship with Great Britain and France has been long and preceeded the NATO Alliance, they are well aware that more than sixty thousand American Soldiers lie buried in France alone whose lives were lost defending western European liberty and freedom.

The Germans are indebted to us for the Marshall Plan wherein we rebuilt Germany and other countries after the devastation of World War II. Germany eventually became the economic power house it is today.

The European Union is an Economic Alliance that includes 28 member states and more than 500 million people with a common currency and a trade policy of a single market governed by a central governing council based in Brussels Belgium. It was formed over a number of years and treaties and in 2002 a single currency, the Euro, was adopted. Today the European Union has a 16.5 trillion dollar economy.

The Union has held together despite economic stresses and strains. Germany has a favorable balance of trade and a strong  saving propensity so it is the dominant economic power over other countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy who are weaker economically and have to borrow to support their populations. Whether this will cause a modification in the principles of the Union or possibly a break up has yet to be seen. A principle problem is the single currency. Thus economically weaker countries are not in a position to devalue their currency to encourage exports and tourism to solve their problems when they are in financial trouble.

It is interesting that Hillary uses the term “Ties That Bind” rather than ties that unite because we are the principle actor when military problems arise such in the Balkans or Iraq and Afghanistan and many countries feel they do not have to participate or contribute very little. From 1950 to 2000 over ten million Americans were stationed in Germany alone. However France did take a leading role in the Libyan conflict.

There is an uneasy peace between Kosovo and Serbia, but there are still many areas of disagreement over such matters as borders, customs and  freedom of movement. Serbia has yet to consent to Kosovo as an independent nation as it was a part of Serbia until 1999.

Neither state is a part of the European Union or a member of NATO.

The “troubles” in Northern Ireland mostly disappeared and the parties are moving towards greater cooperation. Part of this is due to the diplomatic efforts of President William Clinton and his representative George Mitchell, Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.   

Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952 and is led by Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and his Islamist Party. Turkey is an economic powerhouse which bridges Europe and Asia. It is a laboratory to see whether democracy and secular values can exist alongside an Islamic state.

After WWI Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established the modern Turkey state as a secular one. Since then the Turkish military has been the guarantor of Ataturk’s vision of a secular Turkey.

Recently Turkey’s endeavors to become part of the European Union were voted down by the EU. The Erdogan government has been charged with human rights violations of critical journalists and political opponents. However the the leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church viewed Erdogan favorably even though the government has yet to return seized church property. Erdogan’s critics see him as creating a theocracy incrementally.

Turkey has long standing animosities with its neighbors Greece and Armenia and internally it has suppressed the Kurdish population.

Turkey is also a leading nation in the Mid-East and it will always play a major role there.

The question remains whether it becomes an Islamist state or a secular state with Islamic leaders.

Hillary has given a general overview of recent relations with Europe and the current status of our relationship which is strong. However critics of the Obama foreign policy argue that his pivot to Asia was at the expense of Europe. European relations were badly damaged by the Bush Administration which often did not consult with European leaders on political moves and viewed cooperative alliances on problems as unnecessary. Rumsfeld called Europe “old Europe” as if their thinking on World affairs was out of date and not needed by the United States. The Obama Administration has made a strong effort to correct this situation by including European leaders in major decisions on foreign policy.   

Europe as a whole has never fully recovered from the recent recession which has put great stress on the European Union and the Euro as a single currency. Whether it survives is a matter of conjecture.

The pivot to Asia was widely misinterpreted as a pivot away from Europe when it was really meant to be a pivot away from the Mid-East. However as current events in 2014 have shown this is not so easily accomplished. The word pivot is too flippant a term as if we were playing basketball on the World court when we are not.

Also Hillary and the Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, are of the opinion that the United States should take action in situations where humanitarian values demand it not just when our own self interest is at stake.


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.)




Hillary Clinton; Hard Choices: Book Analysis. Chapter 3. ASIA: THE PIVOT? Too Soon, Or a Prescient Move?

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.

Hillary Visits South Korea On First Foreign Tour Of Her Appointment As Secretary Of State

Hillary Visits South Korea On First Foreign Tour Of Her Appointment As Secretary Of State

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



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. Beginning: “Authors Note.” Her Wisest Choice.

June 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton 



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