March 31, 2010

Hillary Clinton Shows The Harsher Side of Soft Diplomacy

Not more talk about Canada? Two posts in a row?  Well, surprisingly, yes.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in Canada at a G8 meeting - lecturing Canada on Afghanistan and on abortion.  Talking tough to an ally has become a hallmark of the Obama administration, almost as much as being soft on adversaries.  The misfires don't just come from Obama.  The same Secretary of State last month offended the British over her take on the Falklands is now trying to bully Canada into adapting the administration's positions on a number of issues.

She started out with a nice slap in the face of the hosts;
Hillary Clinton was openly critical of Canada’s organization of an Arctic meeting, skipped a news conference on the topic with Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and then went on national television to appeal to Canadians to stay in Afghanistan.
Then she moved on to dictating abortion policy while claiming it wasn't the business of government to dictate such issues;
Turns out she had one more pot to stir, telling a Gatineau meeting of G8 foreign ministers that any initiative to improve maternal health – Ottawa’s signature global project this year – must include abortions, an option the Conservative government has tried to avoid.w
“You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health and reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortions,” Clinton said Tuesday.
“I do not think governments should be involved in making these decisions. It is perfectly legitimate for people to hold their own personal views based on conscience, religion or any other basis. But I’ve always believed that the government should not intervene in decisions of such intimacy,” she said.
For an administration intent on pulling out of Iraq, the slap is ironic as it is pushy.
“So much for soft power, reaching out and consulting allies and trying to go along to get along,” said Fen Hampson, director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.
He highlighted Clinton’s deliberately public appeal for Canada to stay in Afghanistan as a particularly undiplomatic move, given the sensitivity of the issue among Canadians and Ottawa’s repeated assertions that the military mission, at least, will end next year.
Way to go Hillary.  The agenda before your own people and the agenda before your allies. You think people aren't noticing?  Think again.


  1. I remember when Bill Clinton was making his first bid for the presidency, the joke was that the best president would be all three of the major candidates combined. George H.W. Bush for foreign policy, Ross Perot for domestic policy and Bill Clinton to make speeches.

    Bill Clinton's foreign policy chops were unimpressive (especially militarily). Obviously his wife is no better. Typical of the ham-handed bush-league diplomacy of this administration. It's a good thing Canada isn't building settlements...

  2. As a Canadian I take no offense to Hillary's comments, they obviously want to make a social impact here but it will fall flat. Nobody cares Hillary.

    But if I were an American, I'd be embarrassed by it. Of course that would have happened long before this. Say during all that Presidential bowing, or the disrespect of Israel, or the cowardice towards the Iranian election situation, or the Falklands turmoil...

    You mentioned ham and chops in a single paragraph. Made me hungry.


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