- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton promised U.S. foreign allies Tuesday that the incoming Obama administration will consult with them extensively on various issues and they will not learn about U.S. decisions from the media.

“We don’t want anything [we] say to take our allies by surprise,” Mrs. Clinton said during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Her remark was a reference to the criticism the Bush administration received at the beginning of its tenure in 2001 for ignoring other countries’ views. At the time, Washington’s European allies complained that no one had told them the U.S. signature would be withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Mrs. Clinton declined to describe in detail the new administration’s policy toward Iran, because she said it needed to discuss the issue with allies before making any decisions. She said, however, that “no option is off the table.”

“We will pursue a new, perhaps different approach,” she said in reference to the Bush administration’s refusal to talk to Iran until it suspends enriching uranium, which the West says is meant to help Tehran build a nuclear weapon. “What we have tried has not worked.”

The U.N. Security Council has imposed several rounds of U.N. sanctions against Iran. President-elect Barack Obama has said that he would pursue “big carrots and big sticks” to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.

“We will do everything we can pursue through diplomacy, through the use of sanctions, through creating better coalitions with countries that we believe also have a big stake in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon power,” Mrs. Clinton said.

She also sought to distance the incoming Obama administration’s foreign policy from that of its predecessor, saying that opportunities presented by world events are as important as threats and dangers.

Her views contrasted sharply with those of the Bush administration, which emphasized the threats the United States faced in formulating policy during the past eight years.

“I don’t get up every morning thinking only about the threats and dangers we face,” Mrs. Clinton said. “With every challenge comes an opportunity to find promise and possibility in the face of adversity and complexity.”

Mrs. Clinton, who most recently was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, vowed to “renew America’s leadership through diplomacy that enhances our security, advances our interests and reflects our values.”

“Foreign policy must be based on a marriage of principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology,” she said. “On facts and evidence, not emotion or prejudice.”

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and the new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, praised Mrs. Clinton as “extraordinary capable,” smart and a figure with “global stature” and a “quick and impressive grasp of detail.”

Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and the committee’s ranking member, also had nice words for the nominee, saying she has “impressive skills and compassion,” as well as longstanding relationships with foreign leaders.

Mr. Lugar also called on the foundation of Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, to stop receiving foreign donations, because they may be viewed with “suspicion” and as “temptation” for foreign entities to try to influence U.S. policy.

“Even well-intentioned foreign donations carry risks for U.S. foreign policy,” Mr. Lugar said, and it “inhibit” Mrs. Clinton’s activities.

The alternative, he said, would be for the Clinton Foundation to provide full disclosure on a regular basis, according to strict rules to be agreed by all sides.

Mr. Kerry agreed with Mr. Lugar, saying he spoke for the committee.

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