WASHINGTON – A woman’s place is apparently at the State Department.
Hillary Clinton will be the third woman to hold the coveted and demanding role when she becomes secretary of state in President-elect Barack Obama’s administration.
She will follow Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice in the prestigious diplomatic post.
Obama and Clinton are letting bygones be bygones after their bitter battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Hillary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, both campaigned for Obama’s victory over Republican presidential nominee John McCain. But during their fight for the Democratic nomination, both Obama and Clinton said some nasty things about each other.
Obama said snidely that Clinton was “likeable enough,” and Clinton doubted that Obama would be able to deal with a major foreign policy crisis at 3 o’clock in the morning.
But all is apparently forgiven now.
The president-elect told a news conference that Clinton will be an “outstanding” member of his Cabinet and praised “her extraordinary intelligence and toughness and a remarkable work ethic.”
“She is an American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence . . .who knows many of the world leaders and who will command respect in every capital and who clearly has the ability to advance our interests around the world,” Obama said when he announced his choice of Clinton.
“It was not a ‘light bulb’ moment,” Obama said, when he decided to select her to lead his diplomatic team. He said he “always believed she shares my core values.”
Even so, Obama laid down some ground rules.
“I will be setting policy as president,” he said. “I will be responsible” for the vision that his team is expected to implement.
Hopefully, Clinton will see her role as a world peacemaker and help to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She should also block any hawkish demands for the U.S. to bomb Iran.
I have been wrong in thinking that women leaders in world affairs would be more compassionate and would hate war and would do their best to avoid it. Not so.
Take, for example, Margaret Thatcher – Britain’s hawkish former prime minister – who told President George H.W. Bush “now don’t go wobbly on me” as the first Persian Gulf war loomed in 1990.
Another female foreign policy luminary was Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who was relentless in her opposition to the territorial claims and rights of Palestinians.
Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, supported the ruthless international sanctions against Iraq, depriving Iraqi children of needed medicine. According to the World Health Organization some 250,000 children died as a result of the U.S. restrictions.
When confronted with those facts, Albright said “it was worth it” to bring Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in line.
When she left office, Albright said she regretted uttering those unfeeling words.
Rice said on several Sunday television programs in the weeks before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and warned that “the smoking gun will lead to a mushroom cloud.”
She has yet to apologize for that costly deception. No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.
Clinton cast her Senate vote in favor of the congressional resolution that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, much as she tried to fuzz up that fact during the presidential campaign, when the country was turning against the war.
Obama, who had opposed the invasion when he was still in Illinois state politics, set a goal during the presidential campaign of pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq after 16 months. Now he says he has to listen to the military commanders on the ground. Why? Until we pull out, many more Americans and Iraqis will die in vain.
Because it was based on government false hoods, the war will never become right. At noon on Jan. 20, it will become the responsibility of the new commander-in-chief, President Obama, to bring it to a speedy end.