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Well Researched Presentation of the Clinton State Department
on August 30, 2014
This is a thoroughly researched and well written presentation of the State Department under Hillary Clinton. This serves as an insightful book. Readers learn how foreign policies are made and how they were fashioned by the active style that Hillary Clinton used. This bill is useful to readers interested in international relations as well as Presidential politics.
The following are notes from this book for students of Political Science and International Relations:
Hillary R. Clinton (HRC) has a “bias for action” in seeking action on problems, the authors observe.
The Senators who most helped HRC’s 2008 Presidential campaign included John Kerry, Bob Casey, Jay Rockefeller, and Patrick Leahy.
Sen. Claire McCaskill had been helped by Bill and Hillary Clinton in her 2006 Senate campaign. McCaskill later said of Bill “he’s been a great leader, but I don’t want my daughter near him.” HRC canceled a fundraiser she had scheduled for McCaskill. McCaskill tearfully apologized yet admitted she didn’t want to be caught alone in the same elevator with HRC. McCaskill was the first female Senator to endorse Obama over HRC.
The endorsements of Obama by Ted Kennedy and John Lewis were personally painful to Bill Clinton.
Clinton aids would note of those who betrayed HRC: “Bill Richardson, investigated. John Edwards, disgraced by scandal Chris Dodd, stepped down, Ted Kennedy, dead.:
The Clintons were upset by some junior politicians such as Rep, Jason Altmire. Altmire worked by Hillary Clinton’s health care task force and has been helped get elected to Congress by the Clintons. HRC won Altimire’s district by 31 percentage points. Alltmire upset HRC by remaining neutral. Bill Clinton would later campaign for Altmire’s successful primary opponent, who thought would lose the seat to a Republican.
The Clintons demanded and rewarded loyalty. They often acted accordingly in Democratic primaries.
Lisa Muscatine, a leading speechwriter for HRC, now co-owns the Politics and Prose bookstore.
Bill Clinton and his advisors from his successful 1996 campaign are often blamed for creating the wrong campaign strategy and tone for HRC in 2008.
Obama asked HRC to be his Secretary of State. David Alexrod asked how they could work together after such a tough battle against each other. Obama replied “she was my friend before she was my opponent. She’s smart, she’s tough, she has a status in the world. I’m sure she’ll be a loyal member of the team. I have no concern about her.” Biden supported naming HRC.
The first Cabinet Secretary Obama chose was Tim Geithner at Treasury. HRC was his second decision.
HRC initially turned down the offer. Obama asked her to think about it. For several days, HRC did not want to accept. Some aides were against her accepting.
HRC turned down the offer three ties. Obama asked her to wait to the next day for her final answer. Obama agreed to let HRC pick her own people at the State Department.
Cheryl Mills was selected as Chief of Staff and Counselor to HRC. She was known for her loyalty to HRC. Mills knew how to keep egos in check.
Hama Abedi was HRC’s “most trusted personal aide”. She traveled with HRC everywhere HRC traveled. Her critics claimed Adedin would make small changes to things and pretend she fixed a problem.
Jake Sullivan was third most key aide. He had prepared HRC for political debates. Sullivan was named to lead the Policy Planning Office.
HRC has criticized Gen. David Petaeus for what she believed was an overly optimistic view of the Iraq War. She mended any rift between them and ask Petraeus to work on issues involving Afghanistan and Pakistan along with her trusted aide Richard Holbrooke.
Holbrooke had wanted to become Deputy Secretary of State. Obama aides remained upset over criticisms Holbrooke made of Obama during the campaign. Obama picked Jim Steinberg for the position. Steinberg had hoped to be picked for the National Security Advisor position. Steinberg insisted on being made a permanent member of the National Security Commission. Obama agreed. HRC approved of this as it gave the State Department two Council seats. Steinberg also was trusted by the Clintons.
Jack Lew was named to a post newly created by Congress as Deputy Secretary for Management and Budget. Lew had been an executive at Citigroup.
George Mitchell agreed to be a Special Envoy to the Middle East.
There were some tensions between lower level State Department aides between those who had supported Obama versus those who had supported Clinton.
HRC set up to gain the respect of Obama and of White House aides.
Secretary Geithner spoke Mandarin and had studied China at Dartmouth College. HRC sought to exert dominance on Chinese policies. Geithner was personally fine with this although his aides were upset. Chinese economic policies were reviewed by the State Department.
HRC sought a double digit increase in funding of the State Department. Peter Orszag, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director, approved a small cut in their funding. HRC had Jack Lew, himself a former OMB Director, state this was unacceptable. Orszag then approved a spending increase of slightly more than 1%. HRC wanted more. HRC allied with the Defense Department and the National Security Council who agreed the State Department needed more money. HRC went to Obama and received what she wanted, which was a 6% increase. Included in this was funding for embassy protections in war zones.
Defense Secretary Bill Gates, a moderate Republican, and HRC, a hawkish Democrat, formed an alliance. The Defense Department had increased its role in foreign policy making under the previous President and both Gates and HRC believed that was wrong. Their united front made them a powerful team.
Holbrooke wanted increased troops in Afghanistan to then force the Taliban to negotiate for peace. Obama aides feared getting involved in a war which could cost Obama reeleciton. Holbrooke believed achieving peace would be far better than withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and getting nothing in return.
Biden and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel wanted to reduce troops in Afghanistan. Obama initially approve 21,000 troops and then increased this to 40,000. Negotiations did not become feasible. The State Department became allied with the Defense Department in supporting the war effort. Obama found Holbrooke abrasive.
HRC fundraiser for an American pavilion at the Chinese World Fair, She used some of her contacts, some of whom had also contributed to the Clinton Foundation, such as executives at Microsoft, Yum!, Chevron, General Electric, Honeywell, Intel, Bloomberg, Pepsi, Pfeizer, the National Basketball Association, Dow Cheimcal, Citigroup, Proctor and Gamble, and Sidney Harmon.
HRC seldom fired people and often stood by people forced out for mistakes or other reasons. She and Bill personally thanked P.J. Crowley, the Assistant State Department Secretary for Public Affairs, who stepped down after criticizing the government’s handling of Bradley Manning who had leaked documents to Wikileaks.
HRC fell and broke her elbow. This caused her to miss some foreign relations trips. It also diminished her influence while she was healing.
HRC reviewed policies on same sex marriages for State Department employees. This included housing and medical expense and made travel and evacuation procedures better for same sex couples.
HRC began her day going over news clips, briefing books, and funny cat videos. Aides noted that she read the memos. In her four years as Secretary, she traveled over a million miles.
Jared Cohen of the Planning office observed that Green Movement demonstrators in the Iranian elections would be protesting in Iran and tweeting to the rest of the world during a time when Twitter had planned to shut down for maintenance. Cohen spontaneously convinced Twitter to change its maintenance hours. He did not inform his superiors and did not realize he had violated the policy that the State Department did not intervene in elections. Further, the Green Movement did not want to be seen as supported by Americans. The press found out about what Cohen had done. HRC read the New York Times article on what Cohen did and replied “this is great. This is exactly what we should be doing.”
HRC traveled to war areas of Congo. She had the US provide $17 million in rape prevention and help to women raped by Congolese soldiers.
HRC knew that public criticism of a policy was not a reason to abandon that policy.
HRC avoided discussing domestic policies with anyone other than Obama, Emmanuel, and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina. She was useful in advising on people she knew in Congress.
HRC sought to have more effective sanctions against companies doing business with Iran.She negotiated that if Russia and China helped limit Iran’s weapons capabilities that U.S. sanctions would not apply on their companies. HRC knew that unilateral sanctions would be less effective than in getting international help on limiting Iran’s capacities.
HRC negotiated a treaty with Russia where inspectors could inspect their weapons. Most Republican Senators objected to the treaty and it did not appear to have the two thirds of Senators required for ratification. HRC and Biden met with Senators. 71 voted for ratification, four more than the minimum necessary.
Holbrooke died of a heart attack. Holbroke was forceful and at times abrasive. His passing removed a barrier between some Obama and HRC aides.
Protestors in Egypt rose up against their President, Hosni Mubarak. HRC was cautious as Mubarek, which an autocrat, was an ally. The U.S. preferred democracies, yet was leery especially once Mubarek was toppled and the Muslim Brotherhood was elected into power in Egypt.
The rise in demonstrations led to what is called the Arab Spring. Demonstrators led to ousting the government of Tunisia.
HRC urged Middle East leaders to change their own societies before others changed them. She warned that terrorist groups and extremists were appealing to those in poverty. She pledged the U.S. would assist countries that rose to improve their societies.
HRC supported the revolution against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. She worked with various parties in forming an alliance of the opposition that each could live with. HRC sought to prevent genocide by Qaddafi against the rebels. France and England joined in supporting the revolution. HRC avoided upsetting NATO or the Arab nations. She achieved the use of military force over the objections of Secretary Gates.
Leon Panetta advised HRC of secret intelligence as to the likely whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. Since the information was not certain, Panette feared Obama would hesitate and miss this opportunity to kill bin Laden. HRC joined in urging for action. Admiral Bill McRaven discussed every possible contingency. Biden was worried bin Laden might not be there Gates questioned the raid. HRC favored the raid. Obama agreed to the raid, which was successful in killing bin Laden.
Burma allowed some economic and political reforms. The U.S. lifted some its sanctions against Burma. HRC visited Burma. No U.S. Secretary of States had been to Burma in half a century.
Ambassadpr Gene Cretz in Libya felt “there was no credible threat” and that the Bengazi computer had as much security as did others in conflict areas. Cretz was replaced by Chris Stevens. Stevens requested two Mobile Security Deployment units to remain yet his request was denied and the units were transferred away from Bengazi even though an IED had exploded and created a large hole in the outer wall. Stevens objected to reducing the Bengazi compound from 34 security personnel to 7. The increase in personnel was placed in Tripoli which also saw increased threats. The request for more security personnel for Bengazi was denied by Pat Kennedy, the Undersecretary of State for Management. There is no indication this request went to any more superior than Kennedy.
20 to 125 people attacked the compound with explosives, gunfire, and setting fires. A CIA team arrived yet no before Sean Smith had died and Stevens was missing. Stevens was later found dead. The CIA team held off attackers for several hours until reinforcements arrived. The reinforcements were attacked with five mortar blasts over 90 seconds that killed two CIA contractors.
Susan Rice incorrectly stated the Benghazi conflict was similar to a demonstration that happened the same day in Cairo. HRC stated the attackers were terrorists, which conflicted with Rice’s portrayal. Congressional critics attacked these inconsistencies. Some argued HRC did not act quickly or effectively. The authors note there is little to substantiate those charges and that she responded quickly. On the other side, Sen. Lindsay Graham declared that HRC “got away with murder.”
HRC intended to be Secretary for one term. She declined to serve in Obama’s second term.