Patagonian Pander Predictably Flops
Published on: March 4, 2010
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  • Well, you’re absolutely right about the Patagonian pander and, if you liked, or I liked, you (or I) could list several other dumb initiatives that have come out of the State Department under H. Clinton. But these don’t match the larger and dumber foreign policy initiatives that have come out of the White House, from the early obsession on Israeli settlements to the crazy way missile defense in Eastern Europe was handled to the inadvertent dissing of the French tpo disastrous trips to Asia and to Russia….and I could go on. And here is the gist of my problem with your analysis, Walter: How can your specific understanding of the Argentine gaffe be reconciled with the assertion that Secretary Clinton is a strong Secretary?

    The facts, as I see them, are these. First, the State Department has been cut out of most high level decisionmaking on most issues. The President is trying to run the entire foreign policy of the United States out of the White House, and this is impossible. Second, what is left to State is not being well coordinated from the top. People are going off in all sorts of directions and no one seems to be in charge of them, or able to see all the pieces as they fit together. This is how, for example, we can have an NPT Treaty Review effort afoot totally cut off from policy regarding Iran and North Korea. So you can have some good speeches coming out of the Secretary, as has been the case lately on Europe, but it isn’t clear that this is really U.S. government policy, and there are not enough deliverables in the speeches to know what they actually mean in practice. Third, it is true that Secretaries Clinton and Gates see eye to eye a lot, and are tougher than the President. There is less turf war between State and Defense than there has been in recent memory. That strengthens State and the Secretary of State to some degree. But a strong Secretary? Stronger in terms of policy influence than Rice, or even in some respects Powell (both of whom I worked for, so I might be biased)? I remain to be convinced.

  • Edward Gustafson

    Could this be retribution for the Lockerbie release and the Binyam Mohamed situation? Is so, would that change your analysis?

  • Peter

    “Let’s be clear on this: Hillary Clinton is one of our strongest secretaries of state in a long time, generally executing her difficult responsibilities in a way that does credit to her and to the country she represents. ”

    Stated as an axiom to be accept but one for which no tanagble proof can be cited.

  • Roy

    I would like to see what the Guardian’s Comment is Free section makes of this; hard to imagine them defending an outpost of empire, convincingly, given their usual orientation.

  • Timerover

    The 1982 Falklands Campaign is a fascinating one from the standpoint of a somewhat advanced 3rd World power attacking a competent 1st World military.

    As for the Administration extremely misguided diplomacy, as a US citizen, I view that as appalling. Granting Argentina the right to make that claim after almost 180 years would be the equivalent of granting Mexico the right to claim Texas and the rest of the Southwest that we took from them in the Mexican-American War. The correct response by the US is “the Falklands Islands are British, they wish to stay British, and we support the British government in keeping them British. Case closed, now deal with your internal problems without trying to start another international incident.”

  • ” I hope she’s at least equally clear that she shouldn’t follow Tom DeLay onto the set of Dancing With The Stars…”

    Let us hope that all the morbidly callipygian would, as with the Secretary of state, eschew such an appearance. The Republic would not survive the vision. “That which is seen cannot be unseen.”

  • SC Mike

    The 1982 Falklands Campaign is indeed fascinating, but it did strain Brit resources. Their high-capacity comms were shaky because their satellite was just at the horizon, necessitating half-speed transmission of high-level intercepted encrypted communications. Moreover the transmitting ship had to steer a steady, straight course for the thirty minutes it took to send the intercepted fifteen minutes. Rather nerve-wracking for the folks aboard with the threat of Exocets about.

    Oh, and the successful campaign assured the Iron Lady’s domestic political success.

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