Friday, November 14, 2008

What Would Hillary Do?

First, may I brag on my political instincts? Last summer, in the throes of speculation over now President-Elect Obama's pick for a VP, I knew it would not be Senator Clinton. Who couldn't read the woman on this? She was clearly aiming higher when she surrendered her candidacy for president. Secretary of State, I said. Look at the news today: Discussions about Clinton, D-N.Y., being asked to accept the post are "very serious," an Obama source says. Asked if Hillary Clinton would consider the secretary of state job, a former official in President Clinton’s administration said, "I think so. What would you rather do -- be senator or secretary of state?” “She's smart, she's strong, she's experienced, she's a team player, she is usually pretty diplomatic, and she also brings some gender diversity to an Obama Team concerned about such matters." "She brings instant stature to the job," said one democrat. "Many world leaders have known her for almost two decades.” (ABC News) The Secretary of State is the United States' cowpoke in the corral of international wrangling. The overseer of foreign affairs, if you will. Secretary of State is also 4th in the presidential line of succession, behind VP (soon to be Joe Biden), Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi), and President Pro Tem of the Senate (Robert Byrd...formerly, yikes, Ted Stevens of Alaska!). It's a cool cabinet position. So, what kind of SoS would Hillary be? Can we count on her to be a peace loving one? I've studied her voting record this morning, and find nothing frightening in it. She votes, historically, with democrats on matters of military funding...although she did break with the party last year when President Bush vetoed a war funding bill with a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, and sent the work back to Congress. When a subsequent bill was proposed without withdrawal mandates, Senator Clinton was among the 14 no votes (along with Senator Obama) in the U.S. Senate. She wants us out of Iraq. Point in her favor. I'd love to sit with Senator Clinton over a bottle of wine and the conversation we've been having at our house this week. The pondering around here has been this: How do we create peace and prepare for war at the same time? How do we behave as responsible world citizens? Who takes care of bad guys and protects the poor and persecuted from evil? Can't we just make new rules that don't include war? Then what happens when someone breaks the rules? It's muddy. War is the invention of the human mind. The human mind can invent peace with justice. Norman Cousins suggested this was possible in's a logical enough sounding argument. But the conversation has made me dizzy this week. I hope Senator Clinton has read the work of the New Rule Set Project, a five-year think tank piece that studied how globalization is transforming warfare. Among other data in New Rule, there is this critical discovery: when a country's per-capita income rises above $3,000, war becomes much less likely. Duh. When people can eat and drink clean water and escape weather conditions while they sleep, they are content. I want a Secretary of State who is aware of this. One who believes our country's role in the world is not to prove Might Makes Right, but that Compassion Creates Peace. It's time to turn this corner while the neocons are licking their wounds and regrouping. Can Hillary Clinton pick up this ball and run with it? Will she go the right direction? I hope she is listening to Thomas Barnett, a military strategist with what is clearly a more hawk-ish view of the military than I hold...but, is a reconciling voice nonetheless on the questions that have haunted my house this week. He led the New Rule Set Project, and has a great talk on (link below). It's a 30-minute piece, and I know most of you don't have 30-minutes to spare. Try to watch the first least the first 5-minutes.'s the weekend. Find the time. And let me know what you're thinking. Peace.
Thomas Barnett: The Pentagon's New Map for War and Peace

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