Cabinet Doors Flung Open: First, Hillary Clinton
As the President’s principal advisor on U.S. foreign policy, she carries out his policies through the State Department and Foreign Service of the United States. She is tasked with: advising the President on the appointment, recall and dismissal of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls and other diplomats; personally participating in, or directing U.S. representatives to, international conferences, organizations and agencies; ensuring the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property and interest in foreign countries; informing Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. Foreign Relations; and negotiating, interpreting and terminating treaties and agreements, among other things.Her acceptance of the position was a surprise to many, considering it meant working under the political rival who defeated her in the 2008 Democrat Primary. At the time, Barack Obama disparaged her “lack” of foreign policy experience and castigated the press for its failure to thoroughly investigate her claims to the contrary. There was a general sense that this cabinet appointment was sure to provide a generous amount of tension and fireworks. But those expectations never materialized. Instead, Clinton has proven to be extremely loyal to Obama’s foreign policy vision.
In September 2010, she created the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership spearheaded by the State Department and led by the United Nations Foundation. According to the State Department’s website, the initiative aims to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance’s “100 by 20″ goal calls for 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020. The Alliance works with public, private, and non-profit partners to help overcome the market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment, and use of clean cookstoves in the developing world.
Toxic smoke from outdated cookstoves causes an estimated 2 million premature deaths a year, impacting women and children the most.
In April of 2012, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who had been placed under house arrest in 2010 for protesting forced sterilizations and abortions, escaped from his home in eastern Shandong province, then sought and was granted asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. At the time, Clinton traveled to China in an attempt to repair its relationship with that nation and garner support for U.S. foreign policy on Iran and North Korea. Guangcheng contacted Clinton and made it known he wanted to come to the U.S. She managed to obtain a promise from China that he and his family would be allowed to safely leave and come to America as a student. While this incident caused embarrassment for China, Clinton was able to broker the deal and complete her original mission.
More recently, Clinton traveled to Egypt and met with President Morsi, who brokered a ceasefire in the current actions between Israel and Hamas. This has been something of a double victory for Clinton and the Obama administration, who have been under fire for their decision to support the Muslim Brotherhood in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring. This support led to charges that U.S. influence in Egypt has diminished and the U.S. would be unable to garner support for Israel in the Middle East should tensions erupt.
Clinton has also made some incredible missteps along the way. On November 26, 2011, an American AC-130 flew two miles into Pakistani airspace and returned fire after Pakistani troops attacked an American-Afghan ground patrol across the border in Afghanistan. Due to difficulty in determining the border between the two countries and Pakistan’s failure to notify NATO of two new military outposts in the area, the U.S. military had been unable to identify the troops as friendly forces, leading to the wounding or death of 37 Pakistani soldiers.
With Clinton’s departure, there has been speculation that Obama will nominate Susan Rice to fill the post. Critics believe Rice to be complicit in the Benghazi cover-up and will likely face an uphill battle for confirmation. Another name that has surfaced is Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
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