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Thursday, June 30, 2016

What this election needs is an honest assessment of candidate Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy record.

Since Donald Trump trounced his GOP primary opposition and became the apparent Republican nominee for President, the media has not missed an opportunity to point out that Trump has no foreign policy record or experience to gauge.  No doubt Trump's grasp on foreign policy will be challenged often on the campaign trail by both his opponent and the press, and this is as it should be; the voter deserves to see both candidates undergo a thorough vetting process not just in foreign policy, but in a handful of tremendously important subjects.  With very little journalistic effort and probably no homework, the media has already decided that the issue of foreign policy and international diplomatic experience is a huge winner for Hillary Clinton, who served for twelve years as a United States Senator and four years as Secretary of State.  Let's take a look at candidate Clinton's foreign policy record during her years as a Civil Servant and see if we agree.

Hillary Clinton served in the United States Senate from January 2, 2001 until January 21, 2009.  During this time period, Senator Clinton took a number of international trips as part of her job, but no legislation was introduced or supported by Senator Clinton that has left a profound "foreign policy" impact.  Being a well-known personality and a leader in her party, Senator Clinton did not hesitate to comment on foreign policy issues, saving her most critical comments for the George W. Bush Administration.  You may recall that when the Bush Administration requested Congressional Approval for military action against Iraq, Democrat Senators and Representatives were put on the spot.  September 11 was still fresh on the mind of Americans, and politicians did everything possible to avoid the reputation of being "soft on terrorism".  This political reality explains why so many Democrats, Hillary Clinton being one of the most prominent, voted in support of the Bush Administration's efforts vis-à-vis Iraq.  Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama in 2008 were wrong to criticize Senator Clinton regarding her vote.  Hillary made it very clear that although she wanted to support the right of the president to take certain actions when necessary, she did not support the Bush Administration's intention to go to war with Iraq.  Clinton did not "flip-flop" on this issue.  Like many Democrats, she did what she thought was best in order to support the office of the presidency and at the same time prosecute the war on terror.

An examination of Hillary Clinton's record during her time as Secretary of State in the Obama Administration will serve as a much more useful tool in measuring Clinton's effectiveness as Secretary of State, and understanding how her political philosophy influenced her actions.  In campaign commercials that Clinton is already running, she takes credit for her efforts to help write and promote 2010's New Start Missile Reduction Treaty with Russia.  Mark my words- The Clinton Campaign will misrepresent the facts involving this Treaty, because the reality has the potential to damage the image being portrayed by Democrats and the Media of a shrewd, tough negotiator who faced down Russian President Vladimir Putin.  This false scenario is so off the mark that it is disturbing, although existing treaties with Russia were due to expire and there was an expectation for the Obama Administration to address the issue.  The New Start Treaty was signed by President Barack Obama and Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev on 8 April 2010, with the intention of further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive weapons.

The first real problem with the New Start Treaty is that it was signed by Russian Federation President and Vladimir Putin figurehead Dmitry Medvedev.  This particular Russian government has no intention of following through with its obligations, regardless of all the hand-shaking and smiles.  This sad fact was known to the Obama Administration, but it didn't matter; what was important was the treaty's political benefits, not the feasibility of its verification protocols.  Now I have the unenviable task of explaining the flaws of the New Start Treaty without putting you to sleep.  The reality is, this treaty will result in broad reductions of U.S. Ballistic Missiles because we follow through on our negotiated obligations.  The Russians will not.  It makes no sense to go through each and every flaw (the Heritage Foundation identifies twelve major flaws) because we can assume from the beginning that Russia will cheat at every opportunity.  If you need a dose of clear and brutal evidence, just review the diplomatic history of the current Ukrainian conflict.

The Clinton Campaign has identified the New Start Treaty as a diplomatic achievement important enough to make the voter brush aside all the failures of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's  Department of State.  We will be discussing some of these failures in the next blog posting, including the Clinton State Department's crippling habit of being reactive as opposed to proactive.  Diplomacy is a multi-faceted tool which has the fruits of espionage as one of its resources.  In addition, our cadre of well-trained diplomats are expected to create new relationships and build upon existing partnerships.  These are but a few of the resources that the State Department has at its disposal, to allow for a consistent pattern of proactivity on the international stage.  When the Arab Spring arrived with the force of a mid-summer Saharan sandstorm, our embassies in Tunis, Cairo, and other Arab capitals appeared to be taken by surprise, as was our Secretary of State.  From the genesis of this fascinating political and cultural event, the United States was always one or two steps behind.  I credit our career diplomatic corps at Foggy Bottom (State Department) for keeping many of our assets out of harm's way, but the entire mess leaves one to ponder, where was Secretary of State Clinton when the Arab Spring broke?

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