Clinton faces world of challenges as top US diplomat
Hillary Clinton may have fallen short in her quest to become the first woman US president, but as secretary of state she will have a unique opportunity to carve her name into global history.
The feisty former first lady will face monumental challenges overseas, including the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the threat of terrorism, brought once again into sharp focus by the
attacks in Mumbai.
But perhaps the biggest task facing the 61-year-old, high-profile senator from New York will be restoring the country’s tarnished reputation and ushering in a new era of US diplomacy promised by president-elect Barack Obama.
She can already count on massive support overseas thanks to the image she built as first lady and the goodwill still felt around the world for her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
But following her defeat in the Democratic primaries, Clinton worked hard for Obama, urging her millions of loyal supporters to back his bid and elect the country’s first African-American president.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said her nomination as America’s top diplomat “would be very well taken” abroad.
“She is a strong personality. She is an appropriate person, capable, with experience, well known. I think it would be very well taken by the majority of people,” Solana said during a recent visit to Washington.
Clinton has not yet confirmed the reports, but a person close to her said: “I can confirm that she will be in Chicago tomorrow [Tuesday] to be named secretary of state.
Obama’s formal roll-out of Clinton at a Monday press conference in Chicago nearly a month after his historic election triumph will cement a remarkable alliance after their acrimonious Democratic primary duel.
“It’s an amazing national security team that Obama appears to have selected. It’s, kind of, like Goldilocks and the three bears,” said journalist Bob Woodward on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.
“You’ve got ‘too cool,’ which might be—or at least ‘appropriately cool’ General Jones as the national security adviser; Gates is, kind of, just right, in the middle; and Hillary Clinton, hot.”
Clinton is said to have been initially reluctant to accept the post.
But reports indicate that she won a guarantee of direct access to the president.
Fears that her nomination could falter because of her husband’s charitable foundation and lucrative speech making also appear to have been resolved under a deal between the former president and the Obama team.
Democratic Senator Jack Reed said the ex-president’s “framework of transparency and disclosure” is a key step in defusing concerns about
how he may influence his wife’s work.
“I think the presumption will be that both the secretary of state Clinton and… former president Clinton will be very judicious in what they take on, because there’s a new dimension here,” he said on ABC’s This Week.
As secretary of state, Clinton will face high expectations from a world weary of eight years of President George Bush, which has enthusiastically embraced Obama’s promise of change.
It will also cap a remarkable political career, catapulting her out of a relatively junior position in the Senate to become the face of US diplomacy.
The challenges ahead are staggering, as Clinton herself has acknowledged.
“The next president will be the first to inherit two wars, a long-term campaign against global terrorist networks, and growing tension with Iran as it seeks to acquire nuclear weapons,” Clinton wrote during her White House bid.
She also stressed in the specialist Foreign Affairs magazine the need for Arab-Israeli peace, and warned of the need to address “the looming long-term threats of climate change and a new wave of global health epidemics”.
“To meet these challenges, we will have to replenish American power by getting out of Iraq, rebuilding our military, and developing a much broader arsenal of tools in the fight against terrorism,” she argued. - AFP