Hillary Clinton vowed to restore American leadership through a "smart power" mix of diplomacy and defence today as she appeared at a Senate hearing for confirmation as the next US Secretary of State.
In a confident and businesslike appearance before her former colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mrs Clinton also promised to push for stronger partnerships around the world if the committee endorsed Barack Obama's nomination of her as the top US diplomat. “America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America,” Mrs Clinton said. “I believe American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted.”
Signalling a shift away from the militarisation of US foreign policy under President Bush, Mrs Clinton said: “We must use what has been called smart power – the full range of tools at our disposal. With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy.”
With her daughter, Chelsea, in attendance, Mrs Clinton appeared set to sail through her hearing, despite concerns among some senators that the global fundraising of her husband could pose ethical conflicts for her.
Senator John Kerry, a Democrat and chairman of the committee, said that he welcomed Mrs Clinton’s nomination, calling her “extraordinarily capable and smart”.
The panel's top Republican, Senator Richard Lugar, was lavish in his praise, calling her “the epitome of a big leaguer" who is fully qualified for the job and whose presence at the State Department could open new opportunities for American diplomacy, including the possibility of improving America's image in the world.
However, Mr Lugar also raised questions about the issue of Bill Clinton’s fundraising work in relation to her wife’s new post. He said that the only way for Mrs Clinton to avoid a potential conflict of interest due to her husband’s charity was to forswear any new foreign contributions. The Senator said the situation poses a “unique complication" that requires “great care and transparency”.
“The Clinton Foundation exists as a temptation for any foreign entity or government that believes it could curry favour through a donation,” he said. “It also sets up potential perception problems with any action taken by the Secretary of State in relation to foreign givers or their countries.”
The committee could vote on Mrs Clinton’s nomination as early as Thursday. If she is approved, as expected, the former Senator could be confirmed as early as January 20, Inauguration Day.
The hearing was closely watched for more specific signs on US foreign policy under an Obama Administration, most notably on the current conflict in Gaza, in which the President-elect has carefully avoided getting embroiled before his inauguration.
“As we focus on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians,” Mrs Clinton told the Senate committee.
Mrs Clinton said the United States must pursue a foreign policy that “effectively challenges Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and sponsorship of terror and persuades both Iran and Syria to abandon their dangerous behaviour and become constructive regional actors.”
I had one of those moments watching the hearing. In many of these countries she's gonna deal with women don't have equal rights, in some cases even their human rights are denied them. I think she'll be able to put up with that for about 5 minutes She's going to have a huge impact on women (and thus families) globally. She could carry the woman's rights movement to a global scale. She can free our sistas!