Tag Archive for 'hillary-clinton'



Yet Another Sleazy U.S. Foreign Client

Published December 31st, 2010 by tcarpenter

If honorable Americans haven’t squirmed enough about their government crawling into bed with numerous unsavory regimes and political movements around the world during the Cold War (including the Shah of Iran, African tyrant Mobutu Sese Seko, and the Saudi royal family), we now have evidence of a more recent relationship that may top them all.  Since the mid-1990s, Washington has backed the independence of Serbia’s province of Kosovo, a secessionist movement led by the Kosovo Liberation Army, a motley collection of Islamic militants, strident Albanian nationalists, and mafia chieftans.  The United States and its NATO allies have helped bring the KLA to power through an air war in 1999 and an ongoing military “peacekeeping mission.”

There was always ample evidence about the odious nature of the KLA, but U.S. officials in both the Clinton and Bush administrations repeatedly downplayed or dismissed that evidence.  Now, though, a damning new investigative report commissioned by the Council of Europe presents evidence that the KLA, including Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, systematically killed Serbian prisoners to harvest their organs and sell them on the black market–a horrific war crime by any definition of the term.  I discuss that report and its policy implications in greater detail in a new article published in The National Interest.

This episode is a real test for the Obama administration, which constantly touts the importance of moral values in U.S. foreign policy.  Let’s see if President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are willing to disown Washington’s ghoulish client in the Balkans.  I won’t hold my breath.

Hillary Gets One Right

Published February 18th, 2009 by tcarpenter

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton or her foreign policy views.  In the past, she has far too often been an advocate of U.S. military intervention in situations that have nothing to do with the security or well being of this country.  Her support for meddling in the civil wars in Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s were prime examples, as was her later endorsement of the congressional measure authorizing President George W. Bush to use force in Iraq.

But she has made the correct decision regarding her first trip abroad as secretary of state.  Instead of going to Europe, as most of her predecessors did, or going to the Middle East–a region that gets far too much attention from American foreign policy officials, she chose to go to East Asia.  Secretary Clinton is in the middle of that trip, having already made a stops in Japan and Indonesia.  Next, she travels to China and South Korea.

East Asia is already a crucial region for the United States, both diplomatically and economically, and it is likely to become more so in the coming decades.  My colleague, Leon Hadar, makes a strong case for giving that region a higher priority on the U.S. foreign policy agenda instead of obsessing over every development in the Middle East.  It’s refreshing to see signs that the Obama administration may be developing a more rational set of priorities.

The only other step Secretary Clinton should have taken was to put India on her itinerary.  In many respects, that country should be as important as China–perhaps even more so–to the United States.  Nevertheless, her first move as the steward of U.S. foreign policy has been a competent one.

Obama’s First Week: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Published January 25th, 2009 by tcarpenter

President Obama is certainly off to a fast start.  The record during his first week, though, is mixed. 

One good early action was his decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, shut down the secret CIA prisons in various overseas locations, and tighten the standards for interrogating terrorist suspects.  Gitmo and everything associated with it will likely go down as one of the more shameful episodes in American history.  Even though Bush administration officials repeatedly denied that the U.S. engaged in torture, the reality was otherwise.  Cynical euphemisms like “enhanced interrogation techniques” sounded like dialogue from characters in a George Orwell novel.  Of course, we all want to minimize the danger of new terrorist attacks, but there are certain lines that a society must not cross if it wishes to remain a moral society.  Torture is one of those bright red lines.

While President Obama’s decisions on that issue removed a stain on America’s honor, his proposed remedy for the ongoing economic recession embodies many of the worst ideas liberal Democrats have been peddling for decades.  Advocating another $825 billion in spending when the federal government is already running a deficit that is likely to exceed $1 trillion this year constitutes fiscal folly.  Even the underlying goal to jump start more consumer spending is flawed.  Jim Rogers, one of world’s most successful investors over the past three decades put the matter very well: “The idea that you can solve a period of excessive borrowing and consumption with more borrowing and more consumption” is “ludicrous on its face.”

The ugly portion of the Obama administration’s first week was the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.   In her earlier confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she pledged that the administration’s foreign policy would be one of “smart power”–filching a term that I and other scholars have used for years.  That wouldn’t be so bad if what she advocated was even remotely smart.  But virtually everything she said was merely warmed over conventional wisdom–and usually the worst aspects of the conventional wisdom.  Clinton emphasized the supposed need to strengthen NATO–that Cold War-era dinosaur of an alliance–and add new members, such as tiny Balkan states, Georgia, and Ukraine.  The former are militarily useless (as is Georgia) and membership for Georgia and Ukraine would further damage the already tense relations between the U.S. and Russia.  The rest of her testimony was equally bad.  America must keep other useless, costly military commitments, such as the one to South Korea, somehow solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (like we haven’t been trying to do that for the past four decades), take a hard line with Iran (like we haven’t been doing that for the past three decades) and engage in more humanitarian interventions and nation-building missions.  Those, apparently, we can accomplish with all of our spare money and troops.  If there were such a requirement as truth in advertising for presidential appointees, Hillary’s foreign policy would have to be labeled “dumb power” not smart power.  For an approach that is actually smart power, check here.