In what the Los Angeles Times described as "a fence-mending trip" to Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton managed to tear down more fence posts than she repaired. Abrasive, arrogant, and condescending, she fired a series of verbal RPG volleys that nearly demolished what remained of good relations between the U.S. and its principal ally in the region.
On the fight against al-Qaeda:
"Clinton told a group of journalists in Lahore that she found it ‘hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to.’ Al-Qaeda, she said, ‘has had a safe haven in Pakistan since 2002.’"
It is astonishing that a U.S. diplomat would say this in a public forum – at a question-and-answer session with Pakistani journalists, no less. One U.S. official tried to justify this outburst with the "explanation" that "You’ve got to remember, she was a senator from New York on 9/11." But what has that got to do with the plausibility of Hillary’s contention that the government of Pakistan is holding out on us as to Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts? Exactly nothing. If she has evidence Pakistan is knowingly harboring the world’s most wanted terrorist, then she should state it publicly, rather than engage in unfounded innuendo.
A more inflammatory remark would be hard to imagine – unless it’s what she said about U.S. drone attacks on Pakistan’s territory. Asked if she thinks attacks that kill innocent civilians constitute terrorism – "execution without trial," as one questioner put it – Clinton replied, "No, I do not," and then refused to discuss the matter further, citing "security" reasons. The audience of Pakistani women sat there in stunned, horrified silence. Which was similar to the reaction of an audience of businessmen, who were told:
"’At the risk of sounding undiplomatic, Pakistan has to have internal investment in your public services and your business opportunities,’ she told the executives. The U.S. government taxes ‘everything that moves and everything that doesn’t, and that’s not what we see in Pakistan.’"
Hillary is miffed Pakistan doesn’t plunder its citizens to the extent we do, but that doesn’t mean the central government in Islamabad scores high points in any index of economic freedom. Pakistan’s poor bear the lion’s share of the tax burden in that country to such an extent that their Supreme Court recently intervened to lower the gasoline tax, overruling the national legislature. The lower and middle classes cheered, but Hillary will have none of it: how dare those Pakistanis lower taxes!
What’s scary is that Hillary considers this to have been a "charm offensive" – and, by her standards, it is. Having inflicted maximum damage on the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, she took her bull-in-a-china-shop routine to Israel, where, standing next to Netanyahu, she declared:
"What the prime minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements … is unprecedented."
Well, yes, Netanyahu’s absolute refusal to freeze all "settlement" activity is unprecedented – in its stubborn intransigence. This is specially evident in the context of the U.S. demand that, as Hillary put it not long ago, we "see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions." So much for taking the administration’s pronouncements seriously.
The Palestinian reaction was to declare that the peace talks – which Hillary had been sent to the region to kick-start – are indefinitely stalled. Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority head honcho Mahmoud Abbas, averred, "The negotiations are in a state of paralysis, and the result of Israel’s intransigence and America’s backpedaling is that there is no hope of negotiations on the horizon."
It is often said that the election of Barack Obama boosted our image in the world: suddenly, after eight years of unmitigated hatred directed against George W. Bush’s America, we’re popular again. Yet it looks like Hillary is trying as hard as she can to undo all that with her ill-will tour. The woman is John Bolton in a dress.
Just as I predicted upon her appointment to State, Clinton is conducting her own foreign policy while Obama, preoccupied with domestic matters, dithers and lets his "team of rivals" carry the ball. The problem is that the Clintonian policy is a blunt instrument with which our remaining allies are being hit over the head, and the results aren’t pretty. Hillary left Pakistan even more destabilized – and hostile to the U.S. – than it was when she arrived, and her trip to Israel is similarly disastrous.
This administration is hopelessly divided when it comes to foreign policy, with the Obama loyalists sending out hopeful signals in the form of the Dear Leader’s matchless rhetoric (e.g., the Cairo speech) and the the Clintonians in effective control of the foreign policy apparatus, contradicting and neutralizing whatever positive effects result from the president’s pronouncements.
Not only that, but at the policy level, where words are translated into concrete actions, Queen Hillary and her minions are carrying out another policy altogether, one virtually indistinguishable from the Bush administration’s in style and content. The same blundering crudity is used to express and justify a policy of unmitigated aggression and complete disregard for human life.
There is nothing diplomatic about Hillary’s words or the tone in which they are uttered; she speaks with the bold assertiveness of Obama’s co-president, rather than as a member of the cabinet. Which is, indeed, precisely what she is, having been ceded the entire realm of foreign affairs by a chief executive clearly staggering under the burden of his office.
The point is that, once again, American voters are faced with a coup at the top. They never voted for a more belligerent foreign policy – quite the opposite, in fact – and yet that is precisely what they are being given. Obama is the happy, smiling, politically correct face of a policy that remains essentially unchanged, which is why his secretary of state feels free to travel the world recklessly pushing her weight around and insulting everyone within range of her smug, grating, hubris-inflected voice.
So you thought you were getting change, eh? Not a chance, not as long as Obama refuses to rein in his secretary of state. It is going to take more than a mere presidential election to effect fundamental change in our interventionist foreign policy. We are in for a long, hard slog. So dig in, check that you have enough rations, and get ready for a protracted struggle against the War Party – which has by no means retired from the field.