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Clinton Playing Foreign Policy Catch Up

- May 16, 2014

Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices” At The State Department Continue To Unravel

CLINTON TRIES TO TAKE CREDIT FOR THE IRAN SANCTIONS THAT HER OWN STATE DEPARTMENT FOUGHT TO STOP

The Daily Beast Headline: “Hillary Clinton Celebrates The Iran Sanctions That Her State Department Tried To Stop” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary Clinton Celebrates The Iran Sanctions That Her State Department Tried To Stop,” The Daily Beast, 5/15/14)

While Speaking At The American Jewish Committee This Week, Clinton “Portrayed The Multi-Year Effort To Impose Several Increasingly Tough Sanctions Measures Against Iran As Largely Led By The Administration.” “Speaking at the American Jewish Committee Wednesday, Clinton said that she and Obama faced a ‘hard choice’ when deciding to both reach out to Iran and increase the pressure on the Iranian government and economy, a not so subtle pitch for her upcoming memoir ‘Hard Choices,’ which hits bookstores next month. She portrayed the multi-year effort to impose several increasingly tough sanctions measures against Iran as largely led by the administration.” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary Clinton Celebrates The Iran Sanctions That Her State Department Tried To Stop,” The Daily Beast, 5/15/14)

Clinton’s State Department “Worked Hard Against” Sanctions Legislation

What Clinton Didn’t Mention Was That Her Own State Department “Often Worked Hard Against Many Of The Measures She’s Now Championing.” “What Clinton didn’t mention was that top officials from her own State Department—in conjunction with the rest of the Obama administration—often worked hard against many of the measures she’s now championing.” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary Clinton Celebrates The Iran Sanctions That Her State Department Tried To Stop,” The Daily Beast, 5/15/14)

  • Some Sanctions Legislation Was Slowed Down By The State Department, Some Lobbied To Be Made Softer, And Others “Opposed Outright By Clinton’s Deputies.” “Some bills Foggy Bottom slowed down; others, the State Department lobbied to be made less strict; still others were opposed outright by Clinton’s deputies, only to be overruled by large majorities in the House and the Senate.” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary Clinton Celebrates The Iran Sanctions That Her State Department Tried To Stop,” The Daily Beast, 5/15/14)

Clinton’s Comments “Were An Attempt To Rewrite The Events Without Acknowledging The Administration’s Actions At The Time.” “For the senators who worked against the administration to pass the sanctions, Clinton’s comments Wednesday were an attempt to rewrite the events without acknowledging the administration’s actions at the time.” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary Clinton Celebrates The Iran Sanctions That Her State Department Tried To Stop,” The Daily Beast, 5/15/14)

In 2011, Clinton’s Top Deputies Fought A Bipartisan Amendment “At Every Step Of The Legislative Process” That Sought To Sanction The Central Bank Of Iran. “The most egregious example of the administration’s effort to slow down the sanctions drive came in late 2011, when Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez openly chastised top administration officials for opposing an amendment to sanction the Central Bank of Iran that he had co-authored with Sen. Mark Kirk. Leading administration officials including Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman publicly expressed ‘strong opposition’ (PDF) to the amendment, arguing that it would anger allies by opening them up for punishment if they did not significantly reduce their imports of Iranian oil. Clinton’s top deputies fought the amendment at every step of the legislative process. Clinton’s #2 at the State Department, Bill Burns, even joined an emergency meeting with top senators to urge them to drop the amendment. They refused. The amendment later passed the Senate 100-0.” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary Clinton Celebrates The Iran Sanctions That Her State Department Tried To Stop,” The Daily Beast, 5/15/14)

AFTER CONDEMNING THE ACTIONS BY BOKO HARAM, CLINTON FORGOT TO MENTION THAT HER STATE DEPARTMENT REFUSED TO NAME THEM A TERRORIST GROUP

Last Week, Clinton Condemned The Kidnappings By Boko Haram, Calling It “An Act Of Terrorism.” “‘The seizure of these young women by this radical extremist group, Boko Haram, is abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost by the government of Nigeria,’ Clinton said in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts at Philanthropy New York.” (Ken Thomas, “Clinton: Kidnapping In Nigeria ‘Act Of Terrorism,’” The Associated Press, 5/7/14)

But Clinton’s State Department “Fought Hard” Against Listing The Group As A Terrorist Organization

CNN Headline: “Clinton’s Handling Of Boko Haram Questioned” (Tom Cohen, “Clinton’s Handling Of Boko Haram Questioned,” CNN, 5/8/14)

“The State Department Under Hillary Clinton Fought Hard Against Placing The Al Qaeda-Linked Militant Group Boko Haram On Its Official List Of Foreign Terrorist Organizations For Two Years.” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary’s State Department Refused To Brand Boko Haram As Terrorists,” The Daily Beast, 5/7/14)

  • Former Officials Say That Decision “May Have Hampered” The U.S.’ Ability To Confront The Group. “And now, lawmakers and former U.S. officials are saying that the decision may have hampered the American government’s ability to confront the Nigerian group that shocked the world by abducting hundreds of innocent girls.” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary’s State Department Refused To Brand Boko Haram As Terrorists,” The Daily Beast, 5/7/14)

Clinton’s 2011 Refusal To Place Boko Haram On The Terrorist Organization List “Came Despite The Urging Of The Justice Department, The FBI, The CIA, And Over A Dozen Senators And Congressmen.” “What Clinton didn’t mention was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary’s State Department Refused To Brand Boko Haram As Terrorists,” The Daily Beast, 5/7/14)

Former U.S. Senior Official: “The One Thing She [Clinton] Could Have Done, The One Tool She Had At Her Disposal, She Didn’t Use. And Nobody Can Say She Wasn’t Urged To Do It. It’s Gross Hypocrisy.” “‘The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,’ said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. ‘The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.’” (Josh Rogin, “Hillary’s State Department Refused To Brand Boko Haram As Terrorists,” The Daily Beast, 5/7/14)

Just Yesterday, A State Department Official Said The U.S. Could Have Acted Sooner On Boko Haram

CNN Headline: “U.S. Could Have Acted Sooner On Boko Haram, Official Says” (Laura Koran, “U.S. Could Have Acted Sooner On Boko Haram, Official Says,” CNN, 5/15/14)

A State Department Official Told Lawmakers That The U.S. Could Have Acted Sooner On Naming Boko Haram A Terrorist Group. “The United States could have acted sooner to designate Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization, a State Department official told Congress on Thursday, adding that ‘resolving this crisis is now one of the highest priorities of the U.S. government.’” (Laura Koran, “U.S. Could Have Acted Sooner On Boko Haram, Official Says,” CNN, 5/15/14)

AND AS RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA CONTINUE TO DETERIORATE, CLINTON MAY NEED TO RESET HER OWN RUSSIA LEGACY

Clinton Led The Obama Administration’s Pledge To “Reset” Relations With Russia

Five Years Ago, Then-Secretary Hillary Clinton Presented Her Russian Counterpart With A “Reset” Button Illustrating The Administration’s Desire To “Press The Reset Button” With Russia. “Russian media has been poking fun at US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after she gave her Russian counterpart a ‘reset’ button with an ironic misspelling. Clinton's gift to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at their meeting in Geneva on Friday evening was meant to underscore the Obama administration's readiness to ‘to press the reset button’ in ties with Moscow. But instead of the Russian word for ‘reset’ (perezagruzka) it featured a slightly different word meaning ‘overload’ or ‘overcharged’ (peregruzka).” (“Russian Media Teases Clinton Over 'Reset' Button,” Agence France-Presse, 3/6/09)

  • Clinton, 2009: “We’re Going To Hit The Reset Button And Start Fresh Because Clearly The Obama Administration Believes That There Are A Number Of Important Areas To Discuss With The Russians.” NPR’s MICHELE KELEMEN: “Madam Secretary, you’ve exchanged letters, you met briefly in Egypt this week already with Sergey Lavrov, but this is going to be your first lengthy meeting with the Russian foreign minister tonight. How do you set the tone, because as you know your predecessor had quite a testy relationship with him?” HILLARY CLINTON: “Well, we’re going to hit the reset button and start fresh because clearly the Obama administration believes that there are a number of important areas to discuss with the Russians. We’re just at the beginning of this discussion, but I’m looking forward to it.” (Michele Kelemen, “Clinton Says She'll Hit 'Reset Button' With Russia,” NPR, 3/6/09)

But The “Reset” Clearly Isn’t Working

Politico’s Mike Allen: Clinton Was The Face Of The Administration’s Russia “Reset.” MIKE ALLEN: “Willie, it was Senator Clinton, Secretary Clinton, who was the face of the ‘reset.’  You guys will remember we saw this on ‘Morning Joe’ back in 2009, in her second month in office. She was in Moscow at one of her first trips and she presented the Russian Foreign Minister with an actual gift wrapped red ‘reset’ button.” (MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” 3/4/14)

CNN’s Gloria Borger: Obama And Hillary’s Russia Reset Is “Not Really Working Out Well.” WOLF BLITZER: “And then President Obama took office in January 2009 and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they wanted to reset relations with Russia and with Putin.” GLORIA BORGER: “How’d that go?” BLITZER: “How’s that working out?” BORGER: “Not really, not really working out well.” (CNN’s “Wolf,” 3/3/14) 

  • White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, On Whether The Relationship With Russia Is In Worse Condition: “Well, No Question. No Question.” JAY CARNEY: “I'm not minimizing the challenges we face or the disagreements we have with Russia, but I think that it’s important not to imagine that everything was harmonious in our relationship with Russia a few years ago and is now lacking harmony of any kind at this time.  There’s no question that we have a number of disagreements with Russia.  We certainly had some under President Medvedev, including over missile defense--” QUESTION: “It worse now.” CARNEY:  “Well, no question.  No question.” (White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, Press Briefing, 8/8/13)

Politico: The Reset In U.S.-Russian Relations Has “Devolved Into A Chilly Standoff.” “After four years, the much-vaunted reset in U.S.-Russian relations has devolved into a chilly standoff over issues like the Kremlin’s support for Syria and an intensifying crackdown on dissent in Russia. Instead, the White House’s blunt public announcement Wednesday of the summit’s cancellation evoked Cold War-era showdowns. (Josh Gerstein, “President Obama’s Russia Reset Unravels,” Politico, 8/7/13)

Russia And The West Are Experiencing “The Most Serious Battle Since The End Of The Cold War For Influence Over Ukraine.” “Russia and the West are locked in the most serious battle since the end of the Cold War for influence in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic with historic ties to Moscow that is a major commodities exporter and strategic link between East and West.” (John Irish And Timothy Heritage, “Russia Rebuffs West On Crimea Amid Paris Talks,” Reuters, 3/5/14)


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