Hillary's First 100 Days

By Zunes, Stephen | National Catholic Reporter, May 15, 2009 | Go to article overview

Hillary's First 100 Days


Zunes, Stephen, National Catholic Reporter


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Hillary Clinton has received mixed though generally favorable reviews, both internationally and domestically, during her first 100 days as secretary of state. Public opinion polls in the United States give her a more than 70 percent-positive rating.

Still, concerns linger regarding her eight years in the Senate, during which she supported some of the more controversial initiatives of the Bush administration, such as the U.S. invasion of Iraq, criticisms of the World Court and United Nations, and defense of Israeli occupation policies and military offenses against its neighbors.

Clinton has been slow to appoint a number of key officials, including regional assistant secretaries, and many of the appointments she has made have been of center-right veterans of the foreign policy establishment, many of whom were prominent in her husband's administration, not the younger, more innovative figures many had hoped to see. Indeed, given that Barack Obama as a candidate promised not just to end the war in Iraq but to "end the mindset that led to the war in Iraq," the prominent State Department roles given to supporters of the illegal invasion of that oil-rich country have been disturbing.

In certain ways, Clinton's path has been made easier simply by the fact that her boss is not George W. Bush. Indeed, the enthusiasm overseas for Obama's election has been unprecedented. Yet the penchant for unilateralism and disregard for the views of its allies for which the Bush administration became so notorious was also in evidence during her husband's administration, such as the Clinton administration's support for Israeli occupation policies, the enactment of the embargo of Cuba, and the continuation of draconian sanctions, accompanied by unauthorized air strikes, against Iraq, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths.

Despite this, Clinton has demonstrated that U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration will be very different from that under Bush. In one of her first actions as secretary, she met with a large group of career State Department personnel--well-regarded experts in their respective fields who were consistently ignored under the previous administration--to thank them for their service and welcome their input.

On her trips abroad, she has put her experience as a campaigner to work, spending as much time listening as talking, trying to shore up the image of " the United States, so badly damaged under the Bush administration. Her style is far more frank and open than the conservative intellectual Condoleezza Rice or the career military officer Colin Powell.

It is not unusual for a president to want to be his own secretary of state, but rarely. has a secretary so badly wanted to be her own president. Despite this, she has demonstrated an ability to be a willing subordinate to the commander in chief.

Despite her decidedly hawkish record while on Capitol Hill, Clinton has shown herself willing to adjust to the more moderate policies of Obama. …

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