• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • A Response to Secretary Clinton's Foreign Policy Speech

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a major foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier today touting the Obama Administration’s foreign policy. The speech was wide ranging. The bulk of the speech was populated by platitudes and generalities intended to emphasize the Administration’s dedication to maintaining America’s global leadership role, revitalizing alliances, resolving international problems, and commitment to helping countries develop. All worthy aspirations to be sure, but they are ultimately empty words without evidence of achievement or at least progress toward achievement. That is where the questionable nature of the Administration’s foreign policy becomes evident.

    According to Secretary Clinton:

    We are working to support direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, and next week I will travel to Egypt and Jerusalem for the second round of negotiations. In Iraq, where our combat mission has ended, we are transitioning to a civilian-led partnership. We are stepping up international pressure on Iran to negotiate seriously on its nuclear program. We are working with Pakistan as it recovers from devastating floods and combats violent extremism. And of course the war in Afghanistan is always at the top of the agenda.

    This list only serves to reveal the stark lack of substantive achievement on the major foreign policy priorities of the Administration. Aside from Iraq, where the transition was paved by the previous Administration, the list is one of stalled efforts and questionable decisions.

    The speech also contained the obligatory reflexive swipes at the previous Administration: “With Russia, we took office amid talk of cooling relations and a return to Cold War suspicion…. Let’s examine the Asia-Pacific region. When we took office, there was a perception—fair or not—that America was absent.  So the Obama Administration made it clear from the beginning that the United States was back.”

    Some parts of the speech were downright offensive. Take this quote for instance:

    We are upholding and defending the universal values that are enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today these principles are under threat. In too many places, new democracies are struggling to grow strong roots. Authoritarian regimes are cracking down on civil society and pluralism. Some leaders see democracy as an inconvenience that gets in the way of the efficient exercise of national power.

    This world-view must be confronted and challenged. Democracy needs defending. The struggle to make human rights a human reality needs champions.

    This work starts at home, where we have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals.

    To casually equate the crackdowns by authoritarian regimes and internal political debate over American policies—whether referencing to U.S. treatment of detainees in Guantanamo or the immigration debate exemplified by the Arizona legal challenge or the debate over the Ground Zero mosque or some other issue—is indefensible.

    However, not all of the speech was bad. Secretary Clinton’s discussion on “Global Institutions for the 21st Century” is worth highlighting because it may represent a triumph of experience over naiveté:

    So our fifth step has been to reengage with global institutions and begin modernizing them to meet the evolving challenges of the 21st century. We need institutions that are flexible, inclusive, and complementary, instead of competing with one another for jurisdiction. Institutions that encourage nations to play productive roles, that marshal common efforts, and enforce the system of rights and responsibilities that binds us all.

    The United Nations remains the single most important global institution and we are constantly reminded of its value: The Security Council enacting sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Peacekeepers patrolling the streets of Monrovia and Port-au-Prince. Aid workers assisting flood victims in Pakistan and displaced people in Darfur. And, most recently, the UN General Assembly establishing a new entity -UN Women-which will promote gender equality, expand opportunity for women and girls, and tackle the violence and discrimination they face.

    But we are also constantly reminded of its limitations. It is difficult for the UN’s 192 Member States, with their diverse perspectives and interests, to achieve consensus on institutional reform, especially reforming the Security Council itself. The United States believes that the Council must be able to react to and reflect today’s world. We favor Security Council reform that enhances the UN’s overall performance, effectiveness and efficiency to meet the challenges of the new century. We equally and strongly support operational reforms that enable UN field missions to deploy more rapidly, with adequate numbers of well-equipped and well-trained troops and police they often lack, and with the quality of leadership and civilian expertise they require.  And we will continue to embrace and advocate management reforms that lead to efficiencies and savings and that prevent waste, fraud and abuse.

    The UN was never intended to tackle every challenge, nor should it.  So when appropriate, we are working with our partners to establish new venues and organizations to focus on specific problems.

    Considering that the Obama Administration’s “smart power” foreign policy, with its emphasis on using and working through international institutions, is commonly perceived to be a refutation of the Bush Administration’s “unilateral” foreign policy, Secretary Clinton’s characterization of the United Nations in her speech today is remarkable. Sure, the United Nations is declared to be the “the single most important global institution.” But what does that mean? What other truly “global” institutions are there outside of the U.N. system? When standing alone, it is easy to be the most important.

    What about value? Secretary Clinton’s examples, presumably among the best she has, are hardly convincing. For instance:

    • Security Council sanctions against Iran and North Korea are useful, but hardly decisive. Without cooperation and observance from China and Russia, the sanctions are greatly blunted. Their cooperation has not been secured despite the Administration’s plaintive efforts.
    • U.N. Peacekeepers often do good work, but U.N. peacekeeping also has serious problems and weaknesses. Thus far, the U.S. mission has been absent in Turtle Bay when it comes to pressing for U.N. reform.
    • U.N. humanitarian efforts are certainly useful and the dedication of U.N. workers is admirable, but is it indispensable? Humanitarian efforts, including those in Haiti and Pakistan, are often initiated and facilitated by NGOs and backed by U.S. bilateral and regional government aid and support. U.N. coordination helps, but the humanitarian assistance would likely be welcome without U.N. involvement.
    • As for the U.N. General Assembly creating a new organization to promote gender equality, one only has to realize that Iran (which recently sentenced a woman to be stoned death for adultery) was elected earlier this year to U.N. Commission on the Status of Women to gauge the seriousness of the U.N. General Assembly’s dedication to women’s rights.

    Secretary Clinton implicitly acknowledges the limited value of the U.N. in her next paragraph which highlights the problems of the U.N. and the need for reform. This may be a rhetorical acknowledgement of U.N. problems—the U.N. has a well-earned reputation for ineffectiveness and mismanagement. But it also could be an acknowledgement that working through the U.N. has not been nearly as easy as the Obama officials envisioned it would be during the campaign.

    The telling blow, however, comes at the end: “The UN was never intended to tackle every challenge, nor should it.  So when appropriate, we are working with our partners to establish new venues and organizations to focus on specific problems.” Ambassador John Bolton would have been comfortable making that point and it echoes the recommendations that The Heritage Foundation experts have been making for years in publications like Liberty’s Best Hope and ConUNdrum: The Limits of the United Nations and the Search for Alternatives. The fact that the most pro-U.N. U.S. Administration in decades is conceding that the U.N. is a niche effort and that progress on addressing problems requires alternative organizations is a damning indictment of the organization.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to A Response to Secretary Clinton's Foreign Policy Speech

    1. SMW, JAX FL says:

      At what point can she be impeached? And to think that she already has ad campaigns for 2012 …..unbelievable

    2. opiniononly, Florida says:

      The foreign policy of this administration is to willingly hand our sovereignty over to the "global community." Everything she says is just cover for that reality. And did you HAVE to include her picture?

    3. Dennis Georgia says:

      This appears to be a great speech, if you believe all that was said. Hitlary is all for the UN, she wants the UN to rule this country and the world under a one world "guvment". The treaties she talks about are worthless to America. Between her and obama they are giving away the keys to the white house, and the security of this country. he talks about all the sanctions that the UN has passed, what good have they done? NONE!!! We support most of the budget for the UN, yet we have never had anyone as the head of the UN. She and the Un talk a good talk, but can not walk the walk.We do not need the UN!! We also do not need obama and hitlary.

    4. Wm, Ky says:

      Hillary is just a different side of the same coin. She will be the 2012 candidate I suspect. When will we be free of the Clintons? The US is at it's most vulnerable point in history. All planned by this administration. Eventually Iran, and every other country, will be casting votes in this Country's elections and determining our laws. I agree, we could have done with the picture.

    5. Slick - Nebraska says:

      I just LOVE looking past her open mouth and looking up her nose, don't you???

      This may not be the worst picture of "Good Old Hil" I have ever seen but it has to be real close!

      I do not listen to President Obama when he speaks anymore because nearly everything that comes out of his mouth are lies and pass-the-blame to the past – I just get furious listening to him! Likewise I don't listen to anything Hillary has to say either . . . she just says the same thing over and over. The two of them are giving away our country and our standing in the world.

      Boy, 2012 can't come soon enough for me!

    6. stevekoko, cleveland says:

      Hillarity Clinton would not' know a good foreig policy if it hit her in the butt, and that would be a hard target to miss. Tell obama to bow somemore that will fix everything

    7. stevekoko, cleveland says:

      Hillarity Clinton would not know a good foreig policy if it hit her in theback side, and that would be a hard target to miss. Tell obama to bow some more that will fix everything

    8. stevekoko, cleveland says:

      Hillarity Clinton would not know a good foreig policy if it hit her in thehead , and that would be a hard target to miss. Tell obama to bow some more that will fix everything

    9. stevekoko, cleveland says:

      If you dont want to hear what I think why ask

    10. stevekoko, cleveland says:

      Hillarity Clinton would not know a good foreig policy if it hit her in the back side , and that would be a hard target to miss. Tell obama to bow some more that will fix everything

    11. Becky Lynch, Mentor, says:

      Benedict Hillary is always at it. Even the clouds are lower than her by now. Globalism is first and by all means more important to her and her president than the sovereignty of the United States. Unfortunately she is 'using', in every sense of the word, our State Department, for her own personal elitist motives. There will be much to clean up with the swift action of our U.S. Constitution once we get the chance to lawfully do so. Her book, 'Living History' is a veritable road map to her psyche, especially the chapter entitled 'Third Way'. I've read so many of Lady Hillary's rantings it is a shame that our country has been so affected by her misguided globalist influence. Please God, Bless America and keep us safe! Thanks for considering my comment. -Becky Lynch

    12. Pingback: » Daily Dose – September 9, 2010

    13. Allen L. Smith says:

      Not a bad Gig when your Husband can knock-out MILLIONS from the Middle East. Along with the front runners, That She thinks she will be, The Saudi's can go ahead and remain their Self, In keeping the woman in the kitchen and knock-ed up with the dish towel wrapped around her Head and never behind the steering wheel of a Mercedes. Hillary is such a bore and liar,after all she was trained by the best (no sex with that woman). When will she announce that she is going to try and Dethrone the Annointed-One and slip into the Golden Seat herself. If any of you cannot see this you have to belong to the Family of the uninspirited, self appointed Fools. Hang in there it will change, Taxes keep on going up as we pay for this Inflated Socalist GOVERMENT, Go, Texas Tea ,GO

    14. Drew Page, IL says:

      I don’t see China or Russia, or for that matter North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezula or Somolia all that concerned about what the U.N. thinks, says or does. Maybe I’m the only one, but I can still recall how Sadam Hussein cowered in fear at the thought of a U.N. resolution or sanction. And U.N. sanctions have certainly gone a long way in preventing Iran from developing nuclear capabilities, eliminating human rights crimes such as stoning to death women accused of adultery. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton can persuade our friends in the U.N. to have a word with Mexico and issue a ‘resolution’ or a ‘sanction’ condemning their drug wars and the trafficing in human smuggling and international kidnappings. That ought to work.

    15. Billie says:

      The truth really took a lot out of her. How can we trust she will be truthful again?

    16. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      The tendency is to go blind reading this crap, Glenn, maybe that's your problem. I can see nothing lauditory in Der Secretary's speech because it is One World crap (completely ridiculous and preposterous). Vie haf zeen vat der Clintons do, und it is murderous in its final end. Especially for the Free Enterprise people. We have a classification for Hillary, "Not quite bright." See? She's not smart enough to actually fix anything or actually solve our Nation's problems. She is a Wilson Progressive! Yeah, she admitted it. Glenn Beck is right about Wilson, he's the guy who nearly put my Grandfather out of business (FDR finished the job).

      They don't teach this word in Progressive School, but the word is Sophestry. Something that sounds good, but it is a hairball eventually and must come up. There are lots of tricks, but she's good at it and it leaves me saying "What the Hell did she actually say?"

      Let's see: She is going to exploit human rights to bring us One World Governance. She is going to steal the glow from the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights. She is going to favor simple Democracy (unworkable) over Representative Democracy (which actually does work.) She'll put the appearance of daylight between herself and the leper, whilst supporting everything Obama does (she lies even better than he does). America will fund the Progressive Agenda all across the World (while she gets the glory because we are no good). She won't tackle the challenge of Iran or North Korea, but let them continue the rope a dope while they Nuclear Arm. She will buddy up with Puten, Hugo and probably any other terrorist (and she will withhold their due condemnation). Yes, her actions speak loudly enough for me, Hillary Clinton will become more electible than BO, plenty more, and use her sex like Obama abused his race. She will steal the election by subterfuge (Statehood for Puerto Rico, the Right to Vote for Illegal Aliens, sex bias and counterfeit statistics.) Communism is already here, Clinton will make it permanent.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×