Friday, October 25, 2013


"I think the question is one that has a very simple answer: yes, America’s leadership remains not only preeminent but necessary. But the world in which we live poses new challenges to all of us on an ongoing basis that require a level of strategic thinking and execution that starts, first and foremost, back in the democracies that we represent. So I would never criticize my country out of my country, but let me say that it is distressing at any point to see a political system that has weathered so many crises over centuries now be caught up in what are very unfortunate partisan disputes. However, underlying them are questions about America’s direction at home and abroad, and I am confident that we will work our way through this latest challenge as we did back during my husband’s administration in 1995 and early 1996. But I think that there’s an underlying concern – and it’s not only in our country, because we didn’t take a vote but you did – that raises issues about, what are our responsibilities? How do we project power in the 21st century which is both traditional forms as well as new, so-called soft or (what I like to say) smart power? Those are debates that societies have to have, not just inside government offices. So I’m looking forward to talking in specifics with you but I think it’s fair to say that the concerns that we have to be aware of when we look at the international position of the United States have to really come from a wellspring of effective decision-making at home.
"Chatham House Prize 2013: In Conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton." The Royal Institute of International Affairs. 11 October 2013, in
"Polonius: This business is well ended. My liege and madam, to expostulate what majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time, were nothing but to waste night, day and time. Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief."
William Shakespeare. Hamlet. Act II, scene II.
The rise and rise and seemingly ever-lasting rise of former First-Lady, former Junior Senator from New York, former Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton is on the face of it, one of the mysteries of the age. A little suburban nobody from Chicago, transplanted to even more provincial Arkansas. A person like her husband in this respect, with a character almost completely out of Balzac's Comédie Humaine: the provincial, petit-bourgeois, arriveste, as opportunist. Someone who circa 2000, had no, I repeat no, qualifications whatsoever (except for perhaps that of sleeping in the same bed, nay the same room, nay the the President of the United States), to hold any office of importance in the state; I repeat no qualifications, was first elected on the sympathy vote, to be Patrick Moynihan's replacement in the Senate, a seat, formerly held by such august personages besides Moynihan, as James Buckley and Robert F. Kennedy. Thereafter she soon became (for reasons which are not very evident to me...) a 'star' among her Senatorial colleagues and it would appear the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency in 2008. However, for perhaps the only time in her career, nemesis struck Mrs. Clinton and she was denied the nomination and with it the good likelihood of being elected President, by someone who was as little qualified as herself: AKA the ex-junior Senator from Illinois with the absurd name. However, her consolation prize for not securing the nomination and not being selected as Vice-President, was to be named to the post of Secretary of State. A post which in all honesty, one cannot say she filled horribly or horrendously. She simply filled the position and played a role for the sum of four years. She was hardily what one may term a domineering or forceful Secretary of State. Especially since the American President was to some extent his own Secretary of State, inasmuch as this term means that American foreign policy was for the first term of his presidency very much what he decided to do and to not do 1. As per Mrs. Clinton she simply was a placeholder at the State Department, pur et simple. Which given the tendency to rely, Polonius-like, upon the current clichés and catch-phrases in her conversation and speeches, is au fond hardily surprising in the least. Her discourse, which the talk at Chatham House is a perfect example, is nothing more than an exercise in verbal emptiness if not flatulence. How that could possibly translate as endowing her with the eminence of a Statesman or for that matter, make her the odds on favorite to become the next American President, come-2017, is simply another mystery of the age.
1.For this point, see the interesting article by a former State Department official: Aaron David Miller, "Kerry's time has come." The World Today. October / November 2013, p. 10.


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