In Speech, Clinton Reasserts Herself in US Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday delivered a blueprint for American diplomacy in the 21st century, rejecting claims of America's waning power and asserting that the United States can still lead the world. That can be done, she said, through broader global partnerships, enhanced resources geared to an interdependent world, and guidance from American values.

Secretary Clinton chose the occasion of a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington to offer her plan for diplomatic action.

Increasingly over recent weeks, she had been judged by some Washington political observers to be almost absent from the foreign- policy scene as President Obama named a number of special envoys for international issues and delivered speeches from foreign venues on aspects of his global vision.

The former first lady, senator, and presidential candidate dubbed the still-new century a time for "smart power." She defined that term as "the intelligent use of all means at our disposal," from military and technological to the scientific and human-resource- based.

Clinton noted at the outset of her speech that a former occupant of her post had advised her, "Don't try to do too much." But she said that a world of climate change, an economic crisis, destabilizing extremism, and threatened pandemics - even as America fights two wars - place a burden on the US for not just more, but a new kind of leadership.

"America will always be a world leader as long as we remain true to our values and embrace policies that keep us abreast of the times," she said.

Some foreign-policy experts who attended the speech praised Clinton for a thorough and impassioned - if at times somewhat wonky - presentation of Mr. Obama's vision of diplomacy through greater engagement, particularly with adversaries. But some said it was a perspective that places too much importance on what America does or doesn't do to explain why other powers act the way they do, and how they can be brought to act differently. …