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To his credit, Jeffrey Goldberg shares the entire transcript of his interview with Hillary in The Atlantic.  I urge readers to read the entire text, but if you have time to read only part, read the transcript rather than Goldberg’s out-of-context interpretation and summary.  I read the text in order and on some topics her words took on a very different meaning in the full interview than they appeared to mean in Goldberg’s opinion.

One statement I will make definitively and that is that Hillary has not in this interview made any of the judgmental statements about the current administration that are being attributed to her by the viral ‘spin-off’ articles this interview has spawned.  This epidemiology is nothing new and is so common that I simply have given up arguing with the people who write those shallow articles and who clearly have poor reading comprehension skills.

So here is the interview, preceded by Goldberg’s take on her words.

 

Hillary Clinton: ‘Failure’ to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS

The former secretary of state, and probable candidate for president, outlines her foreign-policy doctrine. She says this about President Obama’s: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

JG: You go out of your way in Hard Choices to praise Robert Ford, who recently quit as U.S. ambassador to Syria, as an excellent diplomat. Ford quit in protest and has recently written strongly about what he sees as the inadequacies of Obama administration policy. Do you agree with Ford that we are at fault for not doing enough to build up a credible Syrian opposition when we could have?

HRC: I have the highest regard for Robert. I’m the one who convinced the administration to send an ambassador to Syria. You know, this is why I called the chapter on Syria “A Wicked Problem.” I can’t sit here today and say that if we had done what I recommended, and what Robert Ford recommended, that we’d be in a demonstrably different place.

Read more>>>>

The exchange above demonstrates what I was talking about.  One thing you will never catch Hillary Clinton doing is second-guessing in the subjunctive.

Goldberg refers to this interview in his text.

Secretary Clinton’s Interview With Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic

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Hillary introduces this chapter with a good deal of background from her previous visits to China and the influence they had on her first visit there as secretary of state.  She speaks of reunions with old friends that were not public and therefore not covered by press or the State Department.

It is clear that this maiden voyage in her new capacity was freighted, and she explains both her priorities and the degree to which some (political, environmental,  and commercial issues) were given publicity and others (human rights issues) were not but emphasizes that human rights did not take a back seat.

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She mentions discussing religious freedom and the related issues of Tibet and Taiwan in meetings with high officials but does not remind us that she took the trouble to attend church services.  We at the now-defunct Hillary’s Village Forum knew and shared that information, but I never blogged it here.

2009_0224_clinton_wen_meeti_m U.S. Secretary of State Clinton listens to clergy as she walks out after Sunday service in Beijing

She also participated in an online chat and a TV interview on this visit, although she does not specifically mention them.  Part of her outreach to civil society to be sure.

Hillary Clinton’s Online Chat in China

Hillary Clinton’s Dragon TV Interview in China

The highest profile meeting detailed by the State Department at the time was her bilateral with then Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Hillary Clinton with Chinese FM Yang Jiechi

It was during this meeting that she became aware of the upcoming Shanghai Expo about which it appeared no one in the U.S. was doing anything.  So Hillary shouldered the responsibility to get a U.S. pavilion up and running in time for the opening in May 2010.

 

 

Video: Secretary Clinton Meeting With Student Ambassadors At The Shanghai Expo

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks At USA Pavilion Gala Dinner

Secretary Clinton Meets and Greets USA Pavilion Student Ambassadors and Employees

Photos: Hillary Clinton at the Shanghai Expo

The most important item on her agenda with China was formulating a way to navigate through the ‘uncharted waters’ of the U.S.-China relationship.   She and other cabinet officials, specifically Timothy Geithner  being a high-profile proponent, were determined to initiate a U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue realized in May 2010.

05-24-10-34U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks at China's President Hu Jintao during the opening ceremony of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue in BeijingChinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan (3rd R)

Secretary Clinton’s Address at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue Opening Session

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue Opening Session

Among all of the issues involving Asia, the most enormous elephant in the room swinging its massive trunk on the sidelines of every official meeting was the issue of ‘dominion,’ if it can be called that, over the waters of the South and East China Seas.   These waters are vital to shipping routes, but also flow over precious mineral resources such as semi-conductors that are indispensable in the hardware that organizes our online lives now from communications through paperless bill-paying.  The Chinese made it clear that their claims to these waters were non-negotiable.  Hillary thought that if enough of China’s smaller neighbors were to coalesce around the issue of access the giant might blink.

She cites the July 2010 ASEAN Ministerial Meetings in Hanoi as the tipping point at which a coalition of south Asian countries became strong  enough to press giant China on these seafaring issues.*  Her instincts and predictions on this were spot-on.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the ASEAN-U.S. Ministerial Meeting

Slideshow: Hillary Clinton ASEAN Hanoi Day Two

She closes out this Asia chapter with her return from the Hanoi ASEAN with only a week left to finalize preparations for Chelsea’s wedding.

MOTB Hillary Clinton in New York

Slideshow: Hillary and Bill @ Beekman Arms

Here Comes the Bride!

And so ends chapter 4 with a lot of hope for the future.

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

_________________________________________________________________

Endnote

*I still contend that if the Senate, at any point, had ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST – see the sidebar on the right) her job from here through her last Asia trip in 2012 would not have been so demanding.  The island-hopping and bilaterals and trilaterals that took place in summer of 2012 might not have been so intense and crucial.  You might remember her being given access that was not easy to come by to watch WJC address the Democratic National Convention in September of that year.  All of that traveling among those islands was over maritime rights in the South and East China Seas.  A LOST ratification might have obviated much of that shuttle diplomacy.  But that’s just me.  Just sayin’.  Anyway, it’s water under all the bridges.

How the Tea Party Harpooned Hillary Clinton’s Asia Mission

 

The September issue of Glamour will run a feature article about Hillary.  Here is an exceprt from her interview with Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive.

Career Advice from Hillary Rodham Clinton: “You Don’t Have to Be Perfect. Most Men Never Think Like That.”

Here are the chapter 3 events that I have on record in the order in which Hillary mentions them in Hard Choices.

Early in chapter 3, Hillary refers to an essay published in Foreign Policy Magazine.   In it she summarizes the rationale behind the policy the Obama administration called the “Asia Pivot.”

Hillary Rodham Clinton Op-Ed: America’s Pacific Century

 

In Hard Choices, she asserts that the decision to begin her 112 country pilgrimage as secretary of state in Asia was hers.  She points to her February 2009 speech at the Asia Society in New York as her launch site for this grand pivot and her charter journey.

Hillary Clinton at the Asia Society in New York

February 13, 2009 by still4hill |

She landed first in Japan – dramatically and in breathtaking style!  Her remarks upon arrival are at the link below.

Hillary Clinton: Wheels Down Tokyo

February 17, 2009 by still4hill |

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She comments on how pleased she was that the Japanese Special Olympics Team greeted her.

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The Town Hall at Tokyo University she refers to was her first enormous encounter with civil society on foreign soil as secretary of state.   There would be many more over the years.

Hillary Clinton’s Town Hall at Tokyo University

February 18, 2009 by still4hill |

 

Her next university town hall was at Ewha Women’s University -the largest women’s university in the world!  I had graduate students who were Ewha alums.  They were surprised I knew about it, but of course I learned about it from Hillary!  When I told them that they were thrilled that she had been at their alma mater.

Hillary Clinton’s Town Hall at EWHA Women’s University

February 21, 2009 by still4hill |

 

In Indonesia, she appeared on a morning show called The Awesome Show.  She refers to it as being something like MTV.

Hillary Clinton’s TV Interview in Indonesia

February 20, 2009 by still4hill |

 

Also in  Indonesia, in a much more sedate setting, she stopped at ASEAN headquarters where Dr. Surin Pitsuman greeted her with yellow roses noting that they are the symbol of hope and new beginnings.

Hillary Clinton With ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan

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In this chapter, Hillary describes how Euna Lee and Laura Ling,  journalists from Al Gore’s Current TV, were arrested for accidentally crossing an unmarked border between China and North Korea.  Several potential rescuers were suggested, but Bill Clinton was the knight-in-shining-armor of choice.

WJC and HRC left Andrews AFB the same day and at about the same time (they arrived together, of course),  he on his rescue mission,  she on her first official State Department visit to Africa.  In a Vogue article published in December 2009, Jonathan Van Meter described consternation among her press corps that Bill was stealing Hillary’s limelight.  But Hillary, of course,  was the one who had provided the approval for the former POTUS to embark on that mission.

Upon its success, she commented from Kenya.

Hillary Clinton’s Statement on Bill Clinton’s Rescue of Laura Ling and Euna Lee

August 5, 2009 by still4hill |

 

The chapter continues in a somber tone on the topic of North Korea as Hillary recalls her visit with Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the DMZ  in 2010 and a rather disconcerting moment in the negotiation room – precisely on the dividing line of the 38th parallel – when a North Korean Guard peered through a window.

Slideshow: Secretaries Clinton and Gates in Korea

July 21, 2010 by still4hill

 

In July 2009 on her first official trip as SOS to India, she states that she choose to stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel that had been subject to a terrorist bombing in November 2008.  Here are her remarks (video) upon arrival at the hotel.

Hillary Clinton at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

July 19, 2009 by still4hill |

07-17-09-S-03

 

In reference to a 2012 visit to Laos, she calls that country “the most heavily bombed country in the world.”  Many remember Nixon and the “incursions.”  Those who view Obama as the “worst president since ____________ ” (fill in the blank) would do well to remember those incursions – or read about them.

Hillary Clinton Makes History … AGAIN! First SOS in 57 Years to Visit Laos

July 11, 2012 by still4hill

 

 

If you would like to know what Hillary was saying about democracy on her July 2012 visit to Mongolia, go here!

Hillary Clinton at the Community of Democracies Governing Council in Mongolia

July 9, 2012 by still4hill |

Hillary Rodham Clinton

End of chapter 3.

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

###

"Hillary Clinton

If you were at this signing event at Book Revue in Huntington NY on Tuesday, there is a good possibility that you can find your picture with Hillary here!  Rob Rich snapped an extraordinary number of great pictures at this event.

The slideshow begins here >>>>

In the first two chapters, Team of Rivals and Foggy Bottom, Hillary walks us through some of the 2008 primary season and her acceptance of the secretary of state post, with some of the staffing and policy decisions involved, and, finally, through her formal swearing in.

Those who were passionate supporters in 2008, especially PUMAs , are sure to suffer some sad and angry memories reading chapter one.  The nearest emotion I can confer to it is grief.  Many of us went through a process very close to if not exactly the stages of grief.  I am pretty expert in that field having lost both parents and almost all of my aunts and uncles over a period of about seven years from 1995 – 2002.  Grief was not a stranger to me, and that is how I felt about much of what Hillary recounts in chapter one.

Those who were part of the Women’s Liberation Movement felt kicked in the stomach back to the Stone Age.  Where had all that misogyny come from?  Hillary does not directly confront it, but that might be because she, among all of us, was the one who was least surprised.

Chapter one is filled with memories that stick like an arrow in the gut.  She says she ‘lost’ the nomination, but we all knew she had done phenomenally well and had the convention respected  … well,  convention, we might have seen a more traditional (and to us a fairer) nomination process.  Many here were among those who exhorted her to let us have a traditional roll call on the convention floor, but she went in another direction.

She explains her rationale in the book, just as she did at the time.  Anyone who knows anything about her would understand why she did what she did.  Many of us who love her still had a hard time accepting it, but then, those very reasons are part of why we love her.

In Part One she takes us through her suspension speech.

suspension_speech

Hillary Clinton Suspends Her Campaign – Tears Flow Copiously

June 8, 2008 by still4hill

 

She goes on to recount her shift from primary campaign mode to general election mode with the Unity, New Hampshire rally for Obama.

hill in blue

Hillary Clinton’s Unity New Hampshire Speech

Hillary Clinton Shines at the Convention

Many of us disagreed with her appearance on the convention floor to stop the roll call vote.  She acknowledges that and explains her reasons.  There is no mention of earlier votes at the hotels that morning, and perhaps she did not know about those when she walked onto the convention floor.  It is hard to say what she knew and to what degree she was simply following her own reasons.  I, for one, must simply take her at her word on this decision.

 

This is a chapter that, for diehard Hillary 2008 folks, is so hard to get through.  (If you click through to August 28 on the links above, you see how well I took that roll call vote and how some delegates chimed in.)

Hillary goes on in this section to describe her dilemma at being asked to accept the post of secretary of state.  She recounts her personal deliberations and decision-making process.  Having decided, she moves on to the preparations. They involved heavy briefings and  a good deal of policy formation much of which rested on foundations formed from Senate and White House experience.

She recalls her confirmation hearing in subdued tones except for the preparation and her great team that she praises, but it was a phenomenon.  It lasted nearly as long as three dissertation defenses might,  and she was on task. on topic, and on fire the whole time.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 01.13.09

Known adversary, Chris Matthews,  said he had never seen anybody know so much for so long.  She blew everyone away as we always knew she could and would.

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The Hillary Show: The reviews are in

A good deal of the Foggy Bottom chapter (2) treats decisions about staffing.  Hillary explains her decision to recruit special envoys for high-risk regions  – a rationale most of us rational folks understood and thought reasonable – in fact brilliant.  She explains how primary contentions gave way to team goals, and how broken fences were mended.  It reminded me of this.

MENDING WALL

(Frost read a poem at JFK’s inauguration and my heart broke when the sun and wind were so strong that his papers blew and he had trouble seeing the pages.  I was a kid, and I loved him, so I cried. But that’s beside the point.)

If there were walls, Hillary set them well.  She made her conditions for accepting the job clear, and President Obama complied.   When she arrived at Foggy Bottom she was greeted liked a rock star.

First she was sworn in privately, as she says.

Hillary Clinton Sworn-In Privately as 67th Secretary of State

Her arrival at C Street was jubilant!

Date: 01/22/2009 Description: 67th Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for her first day at the Department of State greeted by an overflowing lobby of  Department employees in the diplomatic entrance. State Dept Photo

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Arrival at the Department of State

 

 

 

 

After her arrival there was the ceremonial swearing in, and then she was on her skateboard and off to the far corners of the earth as our top diplomat!

Date: 02/02/2009 Description: Vice President Biden swears in Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Joining Secretary Clinton is her husband, former President Bill Clinton, their daughter Chelsea Clinton, and Secretary Clinton's mother Dorothy Rodham.

 

Hillary Clinton’s Ceremonial Swearing-In

 

 

 

End of Part One.

Related:

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

My personally autographed copy of Hillary’s Hard Choices sat on top of my entertainment center (not one of my so many bookshelves) still carefully wrapped in the plastic bag originally provided by Bookends in Ridgewood, NJ for a few days short of three weeks from the time I brought it home .

img-hardchoices_191922507583.jpg_article_singleimage

In part, this was because Hillary was very active over these weeks and  involved in enough events to keep me pretty busy blogging … in part.  But also because, even when I had free moments, I did not want to expose this precious signed copy to any kind of possible accident – no spilled coffee, stray cigarette ash (yes, I am a very bad girl).   No unintentionally creased pages or broken binding allowed.  I want it to remain in the pristine condition it was when Hillary returned it to me with her firm signature inscribed.

hard-choices-autographed

 

Early this week I decided the best recourse was to purchase the E-Book and read that.  I cannot mess up this copy.  So reading has commenced.

As I began reading, I asked myself what I was going to do here at the blog about it.  I have shared many of Hillary’s words here and at times commented on them, but a book review seemed presumptuous.  Who am I to review the work of Hillary Clinton?  Nobody!

Reading her words I felt I was watching a movie run before my eyes.  It occurred to me that I had seen and heard so much of what she wrote about that it might be interesting for some people to revisit some of the images and words she refers to.  That is what I have decided would be my best contribution to the hard work of Hillary Clinton – to share those images and words once again in the context of the organization of her book.

Welcome, then,  not to a review but rather to a retrospective on Hard Choices.

Entries will not be regular since both reading the book and compiling the entries will depend upon available free time.  I cannot promise a post a day.  I will however, attempt to continue this retrospective through the final pages of the book and hope that it coincides passably well with the waning weeks of summer.

The retrospective on part one of the book will be coming soon.

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