Clinton’s Pragmatism, Smart Power, Multilateralism Welcomed in Muslim World

Hillary Clinton at her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State said in her opening remarks,

‘ The president-elect and I believe that foreign policy must be based on a marriage of principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology, on facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice. Our security, our vitality, and our ability to lead in today’s world oblige us to recognize the overwhelming facts of our interdependence.

I believe that American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted. We must use what has been called smart power, the full range of tools at our disposal — diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural — picking the right tool or combination of tools for each situation. With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of our foreign policy. This is not a radical idea. The Ancient Roman poet Terence declared that “In every endeavor, the seemly course for wise men is to try persuasion first.” The same truth binds wise women as well. ‘

That was the lead in the pan-Arab London daily, al-Hayat, which wrote, “Gone was the tone of confrontation and ideological rhetoric that characterized the foreign policy of the United States during the past 8 years.”

You know, as much as three-quarters of the American public is just dying to see the end of the Bush administration next week, you can only imagine how much more eager the Arab world is to have a new team in Washington.

The Pakistani press was also obviously delighted to hear that Clinton appreciated the return to power of civilian politicians in Pakistan who would be less beholden than the military dictatorship to old policies of secretly supporting the Taliban.

Clinton’s and John Kerry’s, emphasis on civilian aid will also be welcome. Opinion polling shows that the Paksitani public wants better relations with the US and is especially interested in civilian development aid rather than all those weapons Bush used to send.

Turkey’s Hurriyet noted with obvious relief that although Clinton ruled out direct talks with Hamas, she at least expressed distress over civilian casualties on both sides in the present conflict. The Muslim world has been upset that Israel has killed nearly a thousand and wounded over 3000 Palestinians, about half of them women and children, in the current conflict. Only a handful of Israeli civilians have been killed or wounded during the same time. I don’t believe Bush expressed any regret for this toll at all.
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