Secretary Clinton Presents Obama Administration Foreign Policy Priorities

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
April 22, 2009

Secretary Clinton appeared today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In her remarks, the Secretary said:"Our priorities are clear. We are deploying the tools of diplomacy and development along with military power. We are securing historic alliances, working with emerging regional powers, and seeking new avenues of engagement. We’re addressing the existing and emerging challenges that will define our century: climate change, weak states, rogue regimes, criminal cartels, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, poverty, and disease. We’re advancing our values and our interests by promoting human rights and fostering conditions that allow every individual to live up to their God-given potential.

Now, I know that many of your questions today will deal with longstanding concerns: Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, certainly the Middle East, the fallout from the global financial crisis. I will speak briefly to those, and I look forward to answering any questions you might have.

As you know, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the President has outlined a strategy centered on a core goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida, and to prevent their safe return to havens in Afghanistan or Pakistan. We combined our strategic review with intensive diplomacy, and nations from around the world are joining our efforts. More than 80 countries and organizations participated in the international conference in The Hague, and a donors’ conference just concluded in Tokyo raised over $5 billion.

In Iraq, we’re working toward the responsible redeployment of our troops and the transition to a partnership based on diplomatic and economic cooperation. We’re deploying new approaches to the threat posed by Iran, and we’re doing so with our eyes wide open and with no illusions. We know the imperative of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. After years during which the United States basically sat on the sidelines, we are now a full partner in the P-5+1 talks.

In the Middle East, we engaged immediately to help bring the parties together to once again discuss what could be done to reach a two-state solution. We’re maintaining our bedrock core commitment to Israel’s security, providing economic support, security assistance, and we are also doing what we can to bolster the Palestinian Authority, and to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

More broadly, we’re working to contain the fallout from the global financial crisis. Our efforts at the G-20 focused in large measures on the poorest and most vulnerable countries. We need to provide support for the International Monetary Fund. We need to provide direct assistance to countries such as Haiti, where I traveled last week. These resources will help democratic, responsible governments regain their economic footing and avert political instability with wider repercussions.

Now, these challenges demand our urgent attention, but they cannot distract us from equally important, but sometimes less compelling or obvious threats, ranging from climate change to disease to criminal cartels to nonproliferation.

In today’s world, we face challenges that have no respect for borders. Not one of them can be dealt with by the United States alone. None, however, can be solved without us leading. All will have a profound impact on the future of our children. As daunting as these challenges are, they also offer us new arenas for global cooperation. And we’re taking steps to seize these opportunities."

Read more of Secretary Clinton's remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.



United States
April 22, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

There is not a single priority in the entire speech!

Which item is our first priority? Our second? Our third?

Which is more important, direct assistance to Haiti or to Palestine?

Which should receive more attention, poverty or human rights?

Which should receive the most public funding, our search for evidence of Al Qaida or our search for evidence of climate change?

Which is more important to our national interest, our our security or our liberty? Which of the listed Clinton "priorities" requires sacrifice of more liberty?

A rehash of the usual government buzz words does not "present priorities" but only obscures them.

We have a government of limited resources that cannot assume responsibility for every problem on earth, so which problems are we going to deal with first, and which shall we set aside for other countries to handle?

From this particular speech, we are offered nothing substantive, nothing real, nothing tangible, and no prioritizing whatsoever.

If America is now the only nation that is absolutely necessary to be able to resolve the world's problems as Mrs. Clinton claims, then how did the rest of the world manage to survive before 2008?

Florida, USA
April 22, 2009

Francine in Florida writes:

Secretary Clinton, Thank You!

Your testimony today was superb, honest, straight forward and smart. You've laid out the new American Foreign Policy priorities in a manner simple enough for even the most dense to understand, and asked repeatedly for critique, suggestions and input.

Thank you for your grace, intelligence and maybe most of all -- your strength.

United States
April 22, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

PRIORITY: A thing that is regarded as more important than another. The right to take precedence or to proceed before others. A task placed in order of its importance.

April 22, 2009

Mekishiko in Mexico writes:

@ Zharkov, I consider that you are right about almost everything. Mrs. Clinton had the responsability to put it on a more especific basis giving it an order, what goes first, second and so forth.
But I'd like to think that Mrs.Clinton has all the priorities set as equal on importance level in her mind, and in the behalf of the U.S. goverment.

Nonetheless, and without leaving all the responsability upon the shoulders of US, I'd like to quote you: "(...)If America is now the only nation that is absolutely necessary to be able to resolve the world's problems as Mrs. Clinton claims, then how did the rest of the world manage to survive before 2008?(...)"

And I' like to response to that: Barely


United States
April 22, 2009

Sybil in U.S.A. writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A., what part of this don't you understand?

Diplomacy? Climate change? Rogue regimes? Nuclear proliferation? Terrorism? Poverty? Disease? Or do you not understand what OUR values are? Confused about promoting human rights?

Are you unable to focus on more than one challenge? There are entirely too many issues in this world to even consider one more important than any of the others.

Evidently you don't have children -- I've got six and guess what, each one's priority is now MY priority. And even they have more than one simple priority.

But because you've made me curious, what would you focus all your time, your country's resources on? Which one doesn't affect every other one?

Stacy B.
Massachusetts, USA
April 22, 2009

Stacy B. in Massachusetts writes:

I think Secretary Clinton did an outstanding job, even when some of the committee members tried to politicize the hearing by raising the issue of the torture memo over and over again.

One thing that disturbed me a bit was how it seemed as though many of the committee members were trying to get Secretary Clinton, and by extension, the Obama administration, to tow a more conservative, hawkish line with Iran policy and also Mid-East peace (the Israeli-Palestinian conflict)- in other words, trying to get us to move back towards the last eight years of failed diplomacy in those areas.

While Hamas (for example) must cease firing rockets at Israeli civilian and military targets, the US must start making *some* demands of Israel- we have sat back silently as Israel used white phosphorus in crowded civilian areas in Gaza, blocked essential humanitarian aid to the West Bank, remained largely silent as Israel uses American citizens to pass US intelligence on Iran to Israel and never condemned Israel's Avigdor Lieberman for his anti-Arab, racist statements and proposed policies while constantly condemning the Palestinians and imposing more and more conditions to *allowing* them to sit down at the same table with the US and Israel. How can we have any credibility with the Palestinian Authority when that is the case?

How can the US demand Cuba release *all* political prisoners as a condition to constructive engagement while virtually ignoring China's repeatedly rounding-up political dissidents and engaging in religious suppression and torture?

It seems clear, based upon many of the questions posed to Sec'y Clinton today, that some in Congress want so many conditions attached to any prospective plan for the U.S. to engage with Iran, Cuba and the Palestinian leadership, that failure is practically a foregone conclusion. I do hope that Secretary Clinton and President Obama resist the urge to continue to refuse to approach these issues (and leaders) with a more even-handed and less hypocritical approach.

I believe that Secretary Clinton has tremendous moral authority on all of the issues above- my fear is that Congress is going to get in the way and try to erode that authority for short-term political gain.

United States
April 23, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

In reply to Sybil's comment that "There are entirely too many issues in this world to even consider one more important than any of the others", my reply is that if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

If all issues are equally important, none are more important than the rest, hence by definition, none are a "priority".

The first lesson of Public Finance is that all government agencies must set priorities for public spending, including the State Department. This means some things are more important than others.

In setting funding priorities, all problems are not equal; some problems may be better handled by other agencies, some may be better handled by other countries, and some may never be handled by anyone.

What I see in this speech is a list of problems, not priorities. As a lawyer, Mrs. Clinton is an expert in the precise use of the English language. What justification exists for obscuring facts by airy, imprecise use of language?

The Congress is no better off for allowing obfuscation to pass for testimony and I think the interrogators should be ashamed of themselves.

Patricia S.
New York, USA
April 23, 2009

Patricia S. in New York writes:

The Secretary's presentation on Wednesday was wordy but did not "say" much.

It was a disappointment and seemed crafted by other members of the Administration. The Secretary looked weary and care-worn.

Pennsylvania, USA
April 23, 2009

Helen in Pennsylvania writes:

Secretary Clinton was correct if we continue to underfund Diplomacy then we take a risk of spending more money on conflict.

Puerto Rico
April 23, 2009

Ilia in Puerto Rico writes:

President Obama's choice for Secretary of State could have not been better. Secretary Clinton is an intelligent woman qualified to meet the challenges of foreign issues and affairs.

The world knows that former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto ultimate goal was democracy. Unfortunately, her efforts were futile and prove disastrous. I believe President Ali Asif Zardari should be more determined about the resistance movement that continues to trouble and disrupt freedom and democracy in Pakistan.

Those religious extremist will keep creating turmoil, terror and insecurity. Their ideologies are their main forces of strength. Obviously, they overpower the government denouncing that any Western style and intrusion is unwelcome thus maintaining their resistance by violence. Their obstinate refusal to compromise is strong and the government cannot control the activities of those doctrine-infatuated radicals. It seems is hard to extinguish but is not. President Zardari should follow good advice.

Let's hope this continual chaos will end.

Virginia, USA
April 27, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

United Kingdom learned a valuable lesson about the Russians.

I believe it was about year and half ago when a man went into a resturant in London. He ordered his food, which included a bowl of soup. What he didn't know was how a KGB Spy had added a Biological substance to his soup. After finishing his food, he was admitted to the hospital. The news reported how even the best scientist in London couldn't figure out the strain of agent used on the man. Which if you read the article or watched it on the news, the Russian man had perished. The British Government never got resolve from this case. So while your laughing and carrying on how your ressetting wonderful switches with the Russians, keep in mind what they are truly capable of doing to people. My advise before you eat anything at the Kremlin, have it tested first. This was a true story not fiction. Believe IT!

California, USA
May 4, 2009

Masood in California writes:

Ms. Clinton's recent concern that "Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the extremists" in a view of on going progress by the extremists advancing towards Islamabad, apparently has been realized by the government of Pakistan. Pakistan army is on offense to drive militants back from Swat and other areas.

However, media and general impression indicates that Pakistani army forces are looking up to the United States for the help in terms of military hardware and equipment to effectively control and eliminate militants from the border area.

Opening remarks before house foreign affairs committee in connection to Pakistan and Afghanistan are encouraging with the realization that your approach is based on profound awareness of the situation considering the scope of interfering regional interests.

Pakistani forces are working to defeat terrorist and aiming for total control of the troubled tribal areas but wide-ranging diplomatic agenda involving regional key powers will be critical for the real solution, as proposed in the committee briefings.

Particularly constructive relationship base on true commitment from Russia, China and India.

Vision outlined in your remarks will achieve gaol primarily, in following sequence:

A- United States support to Pakistan Government(support to allies)

-Action by Pakistani army supported by the United States
-United States pressure to political parties in Pakistan to get it together and form a governing coalition

B-United States Wide-ranging diplomatic relations with key regional powers, Russia,China and India urging cooperation

-Russia, China and India co-operation in implementing overall strategy
-Regional powers co-operation to Pakistan blocking influx of arms and militants in NWFP and Baluchistan

Any of the element missing from the program will make it harder to defeat terrorism. Merely counting on Pakistani civilian government in cracking down on militants will simply not work. It is beyond their control.

As it has been pointed out by the White house, Pentagon and your office that situation in Pakistan could spin out of control instantly that will be a nightmare! In such a scenario a nomenclature will be needed justy to identify type of insurgency. Therefore, a comprehensive strategy is needed with all stake-holders involved!

New Mexico, USA
May 5, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

It is somewhat oddly self defeating for Iran, a nation with deep rooted paranoia of outside intervention and intererence in its sovergnity and internal politics, to habitually lead the list of state sponsors of terror, never mind the quest for nukes.

For such activity needed to get star billing on that list will almost certainly guarrantee their worst nightmares will become reality...eventually.

Question is, after 30 years of putting up with this, how much terrorism is enough to be fed up enough to end the problem whether they wanna talk about it or not?

I don't think it much matters given their track record in negotiation whether the Iranians want to talk to the U.S. or not, and no matter the setting, forget about making progress through the carrot and stick approach...try "houstraining the puppy"(*) instead and they may get with the message;

"You don't get to do that."


I left detailed instructions somewhere in the archives...(chuckle).

California, USA
May 5, 2009

Masood in California writes:

Failing foreign policy of any country manifest in many ways but also reveals the deficiencies of the system in comprehending the real essence of the problem.

It is easier to criticize and display our frustrations in a manner most suited to us. However, suggestions based on concrete approach with substance could help the decision makers in real time on complex problems.


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