Posts Tagged ‘Kim Ghattas’

With Hillary Clinton out of public office a mere month,  her absence has not silenced media voices hungry for Hillary news.  As reported here recently,  and no news to anybody  – probably including inhabitants of the space station –  2016 fever hit early and has remained a news item.

Earlier this month, the news broke that Hillary had signed on as a speaker with the Harry Walker Agency,  where she appears in all her glory beside her handsome spouse.   Reactions to her $200,000 per appearance fee fueled internet headers galore.

We knew early on,  from the time Hillary made it clear that one four-year term as SOS would be her limit, that writing was in her future, and as her term drew to a close a book was clearly in the offing.  Lightheartedly,   Washington Post held a contest inviting readers to provide Hillary with appropriate titles.   More serious speculation surrounded the amount she would be offered as an advance.

Hillary Clinton Book Deal Speculation: How Much Will the Advance Be?

Thursday, 28 Feb 2013 01:51 PM

By Dale Eisinger

When Hillary Clinton signed her second book deal in 2000 for “Living History,” she got an $8 million advance from Simon & Schuster. When she recently announced she would be writing a third memoir, speculation began flying about how large that advance will be.

At the time of “Living History,” the New York Times speculated it was the second-largest advance in history, edged out by $8.5 million to Pope John Paul II in 1994 for his memoir.

“Yes, I will write a memoir,” Clinton told her audience in an online town hall interview. “I don’t know what I’ll say in it yet.”

While her loyalists and fans hope she will top the advance offered Lena Dunham – a cool $3.5 million (despite the many times she counted to eight and multiples of eight last night, even as Judy Collins crooned “Someday Soon’),  the money is not the issue.

Hillary has worked long and hard,  and if organizations want to pay her more for one speech than she was paid per year as SOS, fine!  For as hard as she worked, she deserves it.  If a publisher wants to give her a big advance, great.  Any book by her will pull in far more.   The real question is what she will say in it, and that may well depend on a date of release.

If two articles from today are any indication, her book could be a bombshell exposing insular and naïve foreign policy processes with a decidedly political agenda.  At Foreign Policy today, Vali Nasr,  handpicked by Richard Holbrooke as an advisor to Holbrooke’s  office of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) and plucked from a tenured position at Tufts to occupy the first floor domain Holbrooke carved out for himself at Foggy Bottom,  portrays a White House with access to the best of expertise, specialists, and resources,  stubbornly resistant to policy wisdom while habitually turning to political cronies installed in the White House who consistently worried about how actions would play out in the polls and on the evening news.  It is a good read, and in fact, worth bookmarking for future reference. Here is a snip.

The Inside Story of How the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan

“My time in the Obama administration turned out to be a deeply disillusioning experience.”


… Holbrooke knew that Afghanistan was not going to be easy. There were too many players and too many unknowns, and Obama had not given him enough authority (and would give him almost no support) to get the job done. After he took office, the president never met with Holbrooke outside large meetings and never gave him time and heard him out. The president’s White House advisors were dead set against Holbrooke. Some, like Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, were holdovers from George W. Bush’s administration and thought they knew Afghanistan better and did not want to relinquish control to Holbrooke. Others (those closest to the president) wanted to settle scores for Holbrooke’s tenacious campaign support of Clinton (who was herself eyed with suspicion by the Obama insiders); still others begrudged Holbrooke’s storied past and wanted to end his run of success then and there. At times it appeared the White House was more interested in bringing Holbrooke down than getting the policy right.

We can speculate that this piece is part of a larger opus that might emerge later.  Certainly a nod to a large opus foreshadowed by this in-depth interview,  is this article from a different point of view but alluding to similar White House practices in forming foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton Book Reveals The Inside Story Of How Administration Mangled Mideast Peace Initiative

By | March 04 2013 2:14 PM

Like so many of his predecessors, the new American president made a key mistake in his bid to achieve Mideast peace.

Flush with confidence from his historic election victory and eager to capitalize on his mandate, Barack Obama sought to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the negotiating table as one of his first steps soon after taking office in 2009. But the new president was frustrated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline attitude — so his top aides advised him to take a tough approach, and pressure “Bibi” to freeze settlements in the West Bank in order to encourage Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to negotiate directly with the Israelis.

Then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who had served in Israel’s armed forces, “advised Obama to be tough on Netanyahu and show him, immediately, who the superpower was …  and he actively pushed for the freeze to top the agenda,” writes BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas in her new book, “The Secretary: A Journey With Hillary Clinton From Beirut to the Heart of American Power.”

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The Ghattas book comes from the perspective of a seasoned journalist specializing in foreign policy.  Kim Ghattas was on Hillary Clinton’s Big Blue Plane from her earliest through her final stops as Secretary of State, and her story, if this short insight from Baram is an indication,  appears to parallel what Nasr relates.

Is this the story Hillary Clinton will tell?  Will she, having stepped back from the administration’s shadow tell the story of the battles within the Sit Room?  Or will she relate background to her many on-the-ground encounters with officials, civil leaders, women’s groups, students, and marketplace entrepreneurs?   Some of that depends on the release date.  If  it arrives close to or after 2016, it can tell the inside story.  If it comes earlier, it is likelier to focus on her own agendas with folks she encountered and why those agendas are important.

It is hard to imagine Hillary Clinton writing a tell-all.  It can be perceived as treacherous, and Hillary is loyal to a fault.  It is unlikely, then that we will hear from her of the struggles between her experts at DOS and the political wall at the White House, but no matter.  Apparently there are witnesses out there more than capable of writing that book.

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On this blog, over four years of the Hillary Clinton State Department, we have seen many interviews that Hillary granted to Kim Ghattas of the BBC.  A regular on the State Department “Big Blue Bird”  as well as in the press room, Kim has traveled to the far-flung corners of the earth with Hillary and now is releasing the log she has kept of her travels with the the most traveled  U.S. Secretary of State.  Ghattas has provided some of the most penetrating and balanced coverage of Mme. Secretary, and we can expect this seminal work to be among the most comprehensive accounts of Hillary’s work at State.

Hillary Clinton’s story released

11.02.13 | Charlotte Williams

A biography of Hillary Clinton’s time as US secretary of state will be released on 5th March by Henry Holt imprint Times Books, with Melia Publishing distributing the title in the UK.

The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power is written by BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas, who had access to Clinton and her entourage over the four years from November 2008, when Clinton agreed to be President Obama’s secretary of state, to her last day in the post on the 1st of this month.

Read more >>>>

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Interview With Kim Ghattas of BBC


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Rangoon, Burma
December 2, 2011

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for talking to the BBC.


QUESTION: As usual, we’re very delighted to be here with you in Burma. It’s very special for the BBC to be in the country.

I wanted to start by asking you about your meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi. You’ve said that she is an inspiration to you. She has talked about the fact that she’s read your book. What was it like? What did it feel like when you finally came face to face?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Kim, it felt very familiar, and perhaps because I certainly have followed her over the years and have communicated with her directly and indirectly. So it was like seeing a friend you hadn’t seen for a very long time even though it was our first meeting. And it was also incredibly emotional and gratifying to see her free from the many years of house arrest and to see her once again leading her party and standing for elections in this new democratic process they are trying to put into place. So it was, for me, a great honor and a delight to spend time with her.

QUESTION: She sounded quite positive, cautiously so perhaps, but positive about the path towards reform that this country seems to be embarking on. Are you on the same page?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s important for those of us on the outside, whether we’re in government or in an NGO or a human rights activist, to appreciate how it looks from the inside. And certainly, her perspective is there are signs of change, that there is a rhetorical commitment to reform. I think it’s very wise of her to take advantage of that, to do everything she can to support it because, as in any transition, as this one could very well be, there are those who are pushing reform, and there are those who are dead set against it, and then there are probably the most people in the middle trying to gauge which way they should jump. So anything that can be done which legitimates the reformist tendencies should be, in her view, and I agree with this, validated and encouraged. But at the same time, you have to see continuing actions. It’s not enough just to give a speech or to do a few things. There has to be a momentum behind reform, and we’re waiting and watching for that.

QUESTION: You’re obviously coordinating quite closely with Aung San Suu Kyi in terms of America’s own engagement, reengagement with Burma. Do you run the risk that you’re basing your whole policy just on one person?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course we’re not. We are closely coordinating with her, but with many others. We’ve had high-level visits to Burma for nearly two and a half years, because when I became Secretary of State, I said we needed a Burma review, that I wasn’t satisfied with what our policy had produced, which was, frankly, not very much.

And in the course of the last two and a half years, we’ve had more than 20 high-level visits. And whether it’s our Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell or our Special Representative Derek Mitchell, they’ve met people across society – a lot of the representatives of the ethnic nationalities, a lot of civil society members, a lot of government members. So we’ve had a good sense of where people were.

So, yes, of course, it was critical that we closely coordinated with Aung San Suu Kyi, but she was not the only person we were working with. And uniformly led by her, we were encouraged to engage. And as she said publicly, she appreciated what the United States was doing, and we all hope that it can continue.

QUESTION: She said that she will run in the parliamentary by-elections that are coming in the next few months. Do you think that she runs the risks of being absorbed by the system? Is it perhaps better for her to continue leading the call for reform from the outside?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, that’s her decision, and I totally respect what she has decided. And I think from her perspective, it’s important to validate the political process. And the only way to do that is to ensure there is as much participation as possible. Her deciding to run sends a very important signal to others as well that this is worth doing. Because if all the people who have a deep, abiding commitment to democracy decided it was better to stay on the sidelines – because after all, getting involved in politics anywhere is a messy business, as I know from my own experience – then you would leave that to perhaps those whose commitment to reform and democracy are not as deep as they should be.

I think as a member – an elected member of parliament, she would have an important role to play, because she’s the one who has read deeply and thought deeply about how do you actually do this. And when I was meeting with members and leaders of the parliament, it was very clear they’re seeking advice. They wanted all kinds of ideas about how do you run an elected body. And so I think she is following through on what she believes to be her responsibility to the future.

QUESTION: Did you give her political advice about how to run?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, she, I think, is more than capable of doing that on her own, but we did discuss how challenging the political process can be.

QUESTION: Now, you had other meetings here in the country up in the capital in Nay Pyi Taw. You met with the country’s civilian president, Thein Sein. He’s a former junta leader. What were your impressions of him? Because you did come here to try to gauge his intentions. Is he really serious about reforming? What were your impressions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that certainly what I heard from him and what I heard from all of the leaders that I met with in Nay Pyi Taw was a stated commitment to continue the reform process. That’s obviously a first and important step, but it can’t end there; there has to be a series of actions that create a momentum toward democracy that cannot be reversed or undermined.

And I had the impression in speaking with all of the leaders that they’re well aware of the tensions within their own government about how far to go, how fast to go. That’s not unusual. But what I was reminded of is that we have experience in Latin America and in Asia, even in Africa, where military leaders transition into civilian leaders, and then create a democratic process which is left for those who come after them. That’s the hope that I think we all share.

QUESTION: Well, when you, let’s say, looked into his eyes, did you see a real intention for reform?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t speculate on matters like that. I judge people by their actions, and there have been some promising actions, but there needs to be a lot more.

QUESTION: Because indeed, as you said, there are those who are perhaps sitting on the fence, and you’re hoping that your visit will encourage the reformers, reinforce their hands, but also encourage others to join the camp of the reformers. That is the hope. The risk, of course, is that your visit might give legitimacy to a government that is desperately seeking it, and then when you leave, who knows what might happen on the ground. Are you worried about that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I think it certainly is important for the United States to be on the side of democratic reform, and when there is such an opening, as we see here, to demonstrate what the engagement might lead to on behalf of investment in the country and the like.

I was struck by how everyone I met with from civil society representing the ethnic nationalities were all so welcoming of engagement. I mean, people who – and it’s not just whom I met, but the stories and reports I’ve received from all of my team, people who had just gotten out of prison who said, “Thank you so much for engaging.” Well, how can we have less of a willingness to try to move this forward than the people inside the country who have suffered because of the repression? So I think it certainly is the right thing to do, but we’re not making any long-term commitment. This is a first date, not a marriage, and we’ll see where it leads.

QUESTION: So where are we going next? North Korea? Cuba?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I think that if they ever had a leader who did things like begin releasing political prisoners and – on a wide scale and set up a system for elections and the like, then we’d think about it. But right now, we’re focused on what we could see happening here.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you very much for talking to the BBC.


QUESTION: Thank you.

Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Rangoon, Burma
December 2, 2011

QUESTION: I want to ask you first about just being at the house, Aung San Suu Kyi’s house, where she spent so much time under house arrest. How did it feel for you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, in one way, it was familiar to me because I had seen pictures of it over so many years, and friends of mine who have had a chance to visit with her have, of course, described the house. On the other hand, it was an overwhelming personal experience for me, because I’ve admired her for so long, and to see where she was unjustly imprisoned, where she had her unfortunate experience of really spending a lot of time alone, which was difficult, but also gave her the chance to think deeply about what she hoped to see for her country.

Last night at dinner, I was talking to her about my long conversation with Nelson Mandela and how he, looking back, had realized that all those very lonely days and nights in prison for him helped him really summon the strength that he – and of course, I feel the same way about her, that she sacrificed so much. And now, she has perhaps another chance to try to see the democracy that she’s believed in and struggled for and sacrificed for come to reality.

QUESTION: She’s now making this transition from democracy activist to politician, running for elections. Have you given her some advice on what politics is all about?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think she certainly understands that it’s a rough-and-tumble experience, no matter where one is. But we did talk about the difficulties of not only standing for election, but being elected and having to make compromises. And that would be true in any political process. Democracy really has to be constantly oiled by compromise, and a lot of people think that somehow is less than principled. But if you look at it from a historic perspective, people come into elective offices with many different experiences and ideologies, and you have to work together. She’s fully aware of all of that, but I think it will still be something quite new and challenging for her.

QUESTION: She’s really been guiding, in a way, this step-by-step U.S. rapprochement with Myanmar, and I wonder if you think – did she give you a sense that you guys have gone far enough or did she want you to do more, for instance, exchange ambassadors?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think she has been very helpful to us as we have designed our engagement, but continues to support the approach we’re taking, as she said publicly in her house today. And we’ve been very clear that we have to see further steps by the government in order to move again. And she has expressed her confidence in how we are proceeding. Obviously, we both want to see significant steps taken by the government, starting with the release of all political prisoners, before we are able to do any more.

But it’s also the testing of the sincerity and seriousness of the new leadership, which is important for her to know, because they are not releasing prisoners for us. They’re releasing it for their own internal decision-making, because they want to be on this path. So that’s helped her a lot about how they intend to proceed, which is on an important piece of information.

QUESTION: Now you’ve met Thein Sein, the president. She seemed to have confidence enough in him, but do you think he can deliver? I mean, he has a government that has a lot of people in that don’t like what he’s doing.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t speak for her. She is the one who has to make her own assessments. But we’re going to be watching. That’s – our measurement is what actually happens – not what is promised or not what is intended, but whether it’s delivered. And we discussed at some length, when I met with him at Nay Pyi Taw, what the next steps needed to be. And there are a lot of small steps that have to be taken that are of significance, but – releasing all of the prisoners, setting a date for the elections, and ensuring that they are free, fair, and credible, having a really comprehensive, well-designed effort to resolve the ethnic conflicts – those are three very big steps that we think have to be taken before we can further engage on a range of issues that we’d be willing to discuss.

QUESTION: I just have to ask you one question about Nay Pyi Taw. What were your impressions about this place? I mean, here in Rangoon, it’s a lively city, but up there, it’s just nobody there. Are you worried that they’re just too isolated from reality?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know about that. But it’s like a lot of these capital cities that get built in green space areas far from where they used to be. I’ve seen it in several countries around the world, and it always gives you a surreal impression, like is this a set; is it going to be here when I come back tomorrow? But they obviously invested a lot of money and effort in designing their government buildings. They’re looking to host a series of events of regional significance there over the next few years. So as for the business of the government, apparently it’s going to be done, but it’s not a bustling, lively city like Rangoon is, for sure.

QUESTION: So you think Aung San Suu Kyi will manage to live there or work there?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think she is disciplined, determined, and they say that – nice meeting with me, (inaudible) when we get there.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your time.


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Secretary Clinton gave this interview a month ago in Dubai,  and the beginning of it explains the missing day on the trip home from Africa.  Everyone was aware that a volcano eruption has caused her to cut short her stay, but there was no explanation at the time for why a trip that should have taken maybe about 16 hours (given a stop for refueling) actually took about twice that amount of time or more. It seemed like it took forever for her to get home, and now we see why.

When I look around on the news feeds, I always see headers and stories that interpret what the secretary has said.  That is one thing I religiously try to avoid above the fold on these posts.  Toward the end of this interview,  she makes a remark about what people “know” about her when in fact the “knowledge” is faulty.   I believe that comes of interpreting rather than delivering her words.   It is for that reason that here on this blog I simply deliver her words. I may interpret below the fold in the comment threads, but her on top, Hillary Clinton speaks for herself.

Interview With Kim Ghattas of BBC


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
June 14, 2011



QUESTION: I know it’s a strange question, but may I ask you to start by introducing yourself to BBC listeners?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am Hillary Rodham Clinton. I’m the 67th Secretary of State for the United States of America, serving in the Administration of President Barack Obama.

QUESTION: Okay. We’re in Dubai because we had a little problem with your plane.


QUESTION: Now, what does that say – (laughter) – about American power, because it’s not the first time your plane breaks down?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it says that we prioritize. So the President’s plane, Air Force One, is absolutely impeccable. Our fighter jets are the best in the world. Others of our Air Force are first-rate. But I think there’s a long line ahead of the plane that I’m in, which I share with the Vice President and other high officials. So we’ve had our ups and downs, as you might say, with this airplane.

QUESTION: On the other hand, you actually have an airplane that you can commandeer to go wherever you want when needed.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s exactly right. So I have no complaints. And if we were to just chart the hundreds of thousands of miles that I have traveled, the mechanical problems, or in the case of volcanic ash clouds or rocks on runways, have been relatively few.

QUESTION: Does the plane feel like a home away from home, an office with wings?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It feels like an office, not a home, because it is an office. It has secure communications, it has a very able civilian and military team, we get a lot of work done on the plane, but it’s a little challenging jet lag-wise, mileage, dehydration, all of the problems that come with spending a lot of time in the air. So I am always happy to be home once we finally land.

QUESTION: How do you handle jet lag? I mean, I travel with – I’ve traveled with you quite a bit, and at the end of the trips, I’m exhausted and I take a few days off. You go back to the office the next day. How do you do it? Do you do yoga, a special diet, what’s the secret?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I sleep a lot on the plane. I know that some people think you should stay up for a certain period of time and not sleep on certain legs, but since I am perpetually tired, I figure make up for the lost hours of sleep while flying. Also, I know very simple things – drink a lot of water, deep breathing, try to get a little bit of sunshine if you can every day. But I don’t know that there’s any magic formula. Because I, too, often am tired; there’s no doubt about it. But I’m exhilarated at the same time. I love what we’re doing, I’m honored to represent our country everywhere we go, and I feel like we are making a difference. So that is enough to keep me going.

QUESTION: I want to take you back to our stop in Shannon when we were on our way here. You took me outside to talk to those two Irish guys. Tell me about them. You seemed to have a very nice conversation with them. Are they always there to welcome you when you land?

SECRETARY CLINTON: They work at the airport, so they and a few others are usually always there. They’re combination security and welcoming, and I have gotten to talk with them over the years, stopping, going from Shannon. And I love Ireland, so it was great because we were there while it was still light out, and actually, I had slept till about five minutes before we were going to take off again. So I wanted to get a little air and a little bit of sun, and they kindly accommodated me.

QUESTION: When we travel with you, we are in what is known apparently as the bubble. How would you describe the bubble?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think of it so much as a bubble. I think of it as more of a caravan going from place to place, and sometimes the dogs bark, but we still move on. And it is for me a moveable adventure. No day is the same, in part because the places, the issues, the leaders, the people, the food are enough different still in our increasingly interconnected world that there’s always something new to see or hear about or discover. But it is true that when we’re traveling, we are focused on where we have been, are, and intend to go. So a lot of what happens back in the United States has to take second priority to what we are actually focused on. But there is no escaping the constant stream of paper, which is never ending. And I keep up with that on the road. So I don’t feel like I’m cut off in any way. I assume it would have been quite challenging, but such different times you would not maybe have noticed, 50 or 100 years ago when travel was much slower, communication was either so slow or nonexistent. So we live in this 24/7 media environment. So I’m always kept up to date, but I try to keep my attention on what we’re doing.

QUESTION: But do you ever wish you could break free of the caravan and go explore on your own? Where would you go?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I do wish that, and I’ve been fortunate because I’ve traveled before this current job where I had the opportunity to explore, wander, walk anonymously, and even in –

QUESTION: Anonymously?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Anonymously in those days. (Laughter.) That was a long time ago. So I would have felt very sad if I hadn’t had that experience before I – before my husband was president, certainly before I was a first lady, a senator, or a secretary. I went to a lot of places, and that gave me a familiarity. But even on these trips in the last two and a half years or so, every once in a while I will go for a walk and just get away. I remember when we were in Wellington, New Zealand and we were on the water, and there was a great walkway. I walked for probably an hour, and it’s just so rejuvenating to me. It’s my favorite thing to do. So I don’t get enough time to do that, but I try to fit it in.

QUESTION: If I’m not mistaken, your Secret Service code when you were first lady was Evergreen, and it’s stayed. And in hindsight, it’s quite a fitting name – (laughter) – because you’ve renewed yourself, reinvented yourself so often and so well.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Apparently – well, apparently so. I had no choice. I was just given the name. My husband was Eagle. My daughter was Energy. And I think those are all fitting code names. But I have been lucky. I’ve been so fortunate to have been given these opportunities in my life over the course of a long time now. And I never take it for granted. I’m never complacent about it. I’m always energized by it because I think it’s important. I think the work that we’re trying to do, especially in this time of such tumultuous change, is going to set the template for the rest of this century.

QUESTION: It is a very tumultuous time in the Arab world and in many other places, and you have to meet a lot of leaders around the world. Some of them you like; some of them perhaps you like a little bit less. What is it like to have to shake hands with an autocrat, with somebody whose values you don’t really share? It can’t be easy to smile for the cameras all the time.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It isn’t, and I have had to do it quite a bit over the course of the last 20 years. But I try to remember why I’m there and why I’m doing it. The United States has relationships with every country just about. There are a few exceptions that we don’t, obviously, but we are everywhere in the world, and we have a great mission to protect our security and advance our interests and promote our values. We see that very clearly. So with some you can work on all three, and some you can work on two or one of the three, and we’re always looking for those moments. I also try to be sensitive to the historical, experiential, cultural, religious, social differences that exist that make life so intriguing on this planet we share. But there have been times when I have left a meeting or an encounter, and it’s been very difficult to smile for the cameras, as you say. But some of what you do you do because of the goal that you are trying to achieve. And you cannot get from point A to point B without working with leaders and regimes that you don’t have much in common with or, frankly, who you disagree rather significantly with.

QUESTION: When a foreign minister travels to a foreign country, they’re usually – they usually only get to meet their direct counterparts, the foreign minister of that country. When an American secretary of state travels, when you travel, you get to meet with presidents and kings. Why is that? What does it say about America?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it says a lot about America and about our great reach and the relationships that we have. I also know many of these people from my prior incarnations, so I have personal relationships with them, which I have certainly called upon in this role. So I find it very helpful to meet with, as you say, kings, presidents, and prime ministers.

QUESTION: But they also open the doors to you.


QUESTION: They wouldn’t do that for the foreign minister of another country, for example.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t speak to that, but I know that because of my prior relationships, which are often on a long-standing personal basis, they would see me under any circumstances. They saw me when I was a senator, they saw me when I was a First Lady, so they continue to see me in my current role, and then I do think that as Secretary of State of the United States, there is a lot of business to be done, and some of that business is not only in the foreign ministry.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite story from your time – (laughter) – as a secretary of state?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, my gosh, Kim. I have too many. I’ll probably save them for my next book if I ever get around to writing it, but there have been wonderful moments, and then there have been moments of high comedy and even some quite difficult times. But the few times when I really feel like we’re making a difference are the best times because for me it’s mostly about the work when I travel. I mean, I don’t try to think too much about what else is happening, and I haven’t had too many difficult experiences. So I’m not looking back on it and rolling my eyes or anything, but I think I’ll probably wait until I can really think that through. Certainly, the last time I was in South Africa, getting to see Nelson Mandela, which for me has always been important personally, was very gratifying because he’s an international treasure. But there’s too many stories to tell.

QUESTION: And what was your biggest challenge or your worst moment? I mean, we’ve been on some very interesting trips.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, you have. I think that first trip to Asia was maybe one of the most consequential because there was a feeling in Asia that the United States had abandoned its role as a Pacific power, and that’s why I decided to go, but we did not know what would await us. And I heard a lot from the leaders there about our economic crisis, the global recession, whether the United States was going to remain a player in the region. So that very first trip for me was a real baptism by fire, so to speak.

QUESTION: You were practically mobbed by adoring fans, and you were greeted like a rock star everywhere. Two and a half years into your job, do you think people still look at you as a rock star, a celebrity, or do they see you more as part of the Obama Administration?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question. I actually think it’s both. I mean, I was just walking through the mall here and had some young women come up and shout at me and tell me how much they appreciated me. And I think for young women and not so young women, there is a connection. They know that I’ve spent a lot of time working on women’s issues and they care about what I’m doing and what it might mean for them. So I still encounter that a lot. And so that’s kind of my independent role. But also as someone who ran against Barack Obama, and you’ve heard me say, ran very hard and didn’t make it, but then supported him and much to my amazement was asked to be Secretary of State. That is a very powerful story around the world.

I started telling that story on that first trip to Asia, and I could see people just nodding, little light bulbs of thinking and recognition going off about, oh yeah, that did happen there, and we have politics where basically we try to kill each other. And so people do see me connected with the Obama Administration. I often encounter very positive personal responses in the town halls, the townterviews kind of programs that we do, and then an interviewer or an audience member will mention President Obama’s name and people will break into applause. So I think there’s still a very good feeling about what the President and what this Administration are trying to do.

QUESTION: Do you ever wake up in the morning think, oh, I’m too tired to go to work today?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I really don’t. I wake up and say I’m tired so I better get up and get going. But no, every day is fascinating to me because I really don’t know what’s going to happen during the day. I am very aware of how much energy this takes because, clearly, it’s a nonstop marathon. But let me knock on wood here, I have been lucky with health, stamina, and all that goes with it. So no, I won’t lie to you. I’m tired. My friends call and email saying, “Oh, my gosh, I saw you on television. You looked so tired.” (Laughter.) Which I send back saying, “Gee, thanks a lot.” But I know, because if you work around the clock like we do, that’s just inevitable. So I do try to take some time, long weekends, take some deep breathing. I do exercise, yoga, those kinds of things. But no, I’m never tired about the work. It’s just the physical challenge.

QUESTION: You have an incredible amount of people you know around the world. You must have the biggest Rolodex in town. (Laughter.) How many contacts do you have in your Blackberry that you can just call up like that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, thousands. Really, thousands. And it’s the right kind of contacts, because they are people who have some connection with me.

QUESTION: Somebody’s calling you right now. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Somebody’s calling me right now, so if somebody else will, I hope, answer it and see what they want. But that – you timed that question. Is that one of your colleagues calling and saying, “Oh, my goodness”?

I’m lucky. I know a lot of people. Now, they’re not close friends, but I have become friends with a number of the leaders with whom I do work. And I have found over this 20 years of high-wire American and international activity, people do not end up in the positions they hold by accident. There is a reason. Even in authoritarian, dictatorial systems, there is something that has set them apart. And it’s always fascinating for me to figure it out. Because from afar, you can say how did that person end up as prime minister, president, whatever? But then you work with them and you – and there’s an intelligence there, there’s a savvyness, there’s a sense of survival. It’s really, for me, not just diplomatic. It’s political, psychological.

I remember very well when – on my first trip to Africa and I went to Kenya, and it was shortly after they’d had this terrible violence after their prior election, and I delivered a really tough message. And they were taken aback by it, but I felt strongly that here was a country that had so much going for it. And we slowly saw some changes. I had very open, honest conversations with some of the leaders there. The President followed up because, of course, his deep interest in Kenya, with his father. And then two years later, we were at a democracy conference in Poland, and Kenya had been invited. They had taken some rather significant steps, including reforming their constitution. And the spokesman who came from the government started off by saying to me – I was in the audience – that you came and you really spoke very truthfully to us, and we have tried very hard to change. And that’s worth it to me. That’s worth all the travel.

I have no illusions about how hard this is to create strong democracies, to build free market economies, to stand against a culture of corruption, and all of the things that I talk about endlessly. But when I see progress being made against the odds, I say okay, this is really worth it, because we’ve been at independence for 235 years this year. We’ve had our own ups and downs and our own difficulties, including a civil war and so much else. But it’s the intention and it’s the direction. And when I see positive intentions matched with a commitment to a path that could lead in a positive direction, I just am going to stand up and say hooray, and the United States will be with you, we’ll support you, we’ll do everything we can to help you.

QUESTION: You are still very popular, both in the United States and abroad. In fact, I think you’re skyrocketing in polls. But some of your critics say that they can’t quite put their finger on what it is that you are trying to achieve as a Secretary of State. What is the issue that you are trying to get your hands on and bring to fruition? Is it Middle East peace? Is it Afghanistan? Is it Pakistan? What is – what do you want to be remembered for as Secretary of State?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t see it that way, especially at this time. I think there are so many converging challenges that are interconnected in ways that we could not have imagined 25, 50 years ago, that what we’re trying to do is restore America’s leadership in the world, because I fervently believe American leadership is essential for the promotion of human rights and dignity, freedom, economic opportunity.

And I am well aware that for the years prior to this Administration, there were a lot of questions about what we were doing. And of course, there are those who say, well, history will look back and see Iraq as a great success, and I hope that’s the case. But I think much of what we did was because we were attacked on 9/11, and I think we made fiscal and budgetary decisions that undermined America’s strength at home and abroad.

So what we’re trying to do, and what I am personally am committed to doing, is moving on a very steady path toward restoring America’s influence and leadership. That’s why going to Asia was important. That’s why continuing to pay attention to Latin America and Africa, working with regional institutions that can espouse the same values that we think are the best way to live and for societies to flourish.

Now, when I took this job, people said, well, you can either try to do that or you can pick one or two or three things. I don’t think this is a time to pick one or two or three things. And I’m well aware of – others might well choose a different perspective, but that’s how I see what I’m doing.

QUESTION: Do you think you are on the right track in terms of restoring American leadership? Some people argue that, in the Middle East, America is becoming irrelevant.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I just don’t believe that for a minute. I think that it’s nothing we can take for granted. We can’t be complacent and we certainly can’t walk away. I have fought hard within the Administration for a significant economic program for both Egypt and Tunisia, because I think that the revolution of expectations in both countries was as much economic as political, because it wasn’t only the freedom to vote or the freedom to speak, but the freedom to work and to increase your standard of living and to see your life improve.

And I think that we are still looked to, sometimes begrudgingly and critically, but there is no doubt in my mind that people still care very much what the United States says and does. And what I worry about is the contrary, that it’s not what people around the world think about our role, but at home people who rightly are concerned about our own domestic economic situation, our own federal budget deficit, who are saying enough with the foreign involvements; let’s just do nothing but stay right here and tend to our own garden. That would be, in my view, a great mistake.

So part of what I’m trying to do is speak and work on behalf of America’s influence and leadership in a way that my own country understands, so that people who are unemployed auto workers in Michigan or struggling small businesspeople in California can say, “Yeah, I really want the President, the government, to pay attention to me, but I get it. I know why we’re working to make sure Egypt and Tunisia turn out well. I know why we still put money into developing agriculture and fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa, and all the other things that we are working on.”

QUESTION: And a final question, to wrap up on a lighter note. Tell us something about yourself that BBC listeners don’t know. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I sometimes think I’m the best-known unknown person. I’m always amazed when people – and sometimes interviewers but sometimes just citizens around the world – will say something to me about me that I think, well, no, I didn’t do that or I didn’t say that or I don’t like that. So I’m always amused by that. But there’s – look, I don’t think anybody in the public eye can ever be totally known. That’s a misnomer, even though people are constantly in the press and therefore, you think you know them.

But I think that I am a pretty normal, average person, despite all of the hype. And I am very interested in spending time with my friends and my family and not being on the merry-go-round all the time, which is one of the reasons why I have decided that I will move on and return to private life at the end of what will be a very intense period of activity and work in the next 18 months. But I just – I believe what I say and I work to try to see life improve, particularly for women and girls, and I love what I’m doing.

QUESTION: I think one thing that people don’t know about you is that you have a great sense of humor. (Laughter.) You (inaudible) I think.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you’ve got to have a little bit of fun doing these kinds of jobs, Kim, as you know. And thank you for all of your good work.

QUESTION: Thank you.

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I had every intention of the previous post being the last for tonight, but, alas, an article I could not ignore spilled into my news feed, and I simply could not sleep tonight without sharing this lovely piece.  Regularly, on these pages, I have posted interviews the BBC’s Kim Ghattas has done with Mme. Secretary.  I have also  shared links to feature articles about Hillary in major publications. This is a little different.

This lovely article by the aforementioned  Kim Ghattas will not, as far as I can tell, be available at your local news stand as a collector’s item any time within the coming week, but a collector’s item it is nevertheless.

Kim has traveled many thousands of miles with Hillary Clinton, and this article is a tribute to both of them in my book.  I hope you enjoy reading about our “Evergreen” as related by Kim Ghattas,  press corps member extraordinaire!

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Thank God for the tweets of BBC’s Kim Ghattas, traveling with Secretary of State Clinton, who tweeted this a little while ago:

Get on Chinook to #Kabul airport then 8hr long trip to Seoul #hillarytravel

So for the readers who expressed anxiety regarding reports we heard and read here about attempts by terrorists to target her or the conference, with any luck she is already wheels up and on her sparkly little multitasking way.

Great work Mme. Secretary!  We saw/heard you on TV!  Thanks for the wonderful work!  ESPECIALLY for explaining how the Taliban came to be!  Excellent!  Continue your journey safely.

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-07/22/09  Interview With Michele Kelemen of NPR; Bangkok, Thailand

-07/23/09  Interview With James Rosen of Fox News; Phuket, Thailand
-07/23/09  Interview With Kim Ghattas of BBC; Phuket, Thailand

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