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Sweet: Obama advisor Greg Craig rips Clinton foreign police experience. Complete memo.

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from the Obama campaign...

To: Interested Parties

From: Greg Craig, former director, Policy Planning Office, U.S. State Department

RE: Senator Clinton’s claim to be experienced in foreign policy: Just words?

DA: March 11, 2008


When your entire campaign is based upon a claim of experience, it is important that you have evidence to support that claim. Hillary Clinton’s argument that she has passed “the Commander- in-Chief test” is simply not supported by her record.

There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton played an important domestic policy role when she was First Lady. It is well known, for example, that she led the failed effort to pass universal health insurance. There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue – not at 3 AM or at any other time of day.

When asked to describe her experience, Senator Clinton has cited a handful of international incidents where she says she played a central role. But any fair-minded and objective judge of these claims – i.e., by someone not affiliated with the Clinton campaign – would conclude that Senator Clinton’s claims of foreign policy experience are exaggerated.

Northern Ireland:

Senator Clinton has said, “I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland.” It is a gross overstatement of the facts for her to claim even partial credit for bringing peace to Northern Ireland. She did travel to Northern Ireland, it is true. First Ladies often travel to places that are a focus of U.S. foreign policy. But at no time did she play any role in the critical negotiations that ultimately produced the peace. As the Associated Press recently reported, “[S]he was not directly involved in negotiating the Good Friday peace accord.” With regard to her main claim that she helped bring women together, she did participate in a meeting with women, but, according to those who know best, she did not play a pivotal role. The person in charge of the negotiations, former Senator George Mitchell, said that “[The First Lady] was one of many people who participated in encouraging women to get involved, not the only one.”

News of Senator Clinton’s claims has raised eyebrows across the ocean. Her reference to an important meeting at the Belfast town hall was debunked. Her only appearance at the Belfast City Hall was to see Christmas lights turned on. She also attended a 50-minute meeting which, according to the Belfast Daily Telegraph’s report at the time, “[was] a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times." Brian Feeney, an Irish author and former politician, sums it up: “The road to peace was carefully documented, and she wasn’t on it.”

Bosnia:

Senator Clinton has pointed to a March 1996 trip to Bosnia as proof that her foreign travel involved a life-risking mission into a war zone. She has described dodging sniper fire. While she did travel to Bosnia in March 1996, the visit was not a high-stakes mission to a war zone. On March 26, 1996, the New York Times reported that “Hillary Rodham Clinton charmed American troops at a U.S.O. show here, but it didn’t hurt that the singer Sheryl Crow and the comedian Sinbad were also on the stage.”

Kosovo:

Senator Clinton has said, “I negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo.” It is true that, as First Lady, she traveled to Macedonia and visited a Kosovar refugee camp. It is also true that she met with government officials while she was there. First Ladies frequently meet with government officials. Her claim to have “negotiated open borders to let fleeing refugees into safety from Kosovo,” however, is not true. Her trip to Macedonia took place on May 14, 1999. The borders were opened the day before, on May 13, 1999.

The negotiations that led to the opening of the borders were accomplished by the people who ordinarily conduct negotiations with foreign governments – U.S. diplomats. President Clinton’s top envoy to the Balkans, former Ambassador Robert Gelbard, said, “I cannot recall any involvement by Senator Clinton in this issue.” Ivo Daalder worked on the Clinton Administration’s National Security Council and wrote a definitive history of the Kosovo conflict. He recalls that “she had absolutely no role in the dirty work of negotiations.”

Rwanda:

Last year, former President Clinton asserted that his wife pressed him to intervene with U.S. troops to stop the Rwandan genocide. When asked about this assertion, Hillary Clinton said it was true. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that this ever happened. Even those individuals who were advocating a much more robust U.S. effort to stop the genocide did not argue for the use of U.S. troops. No one recalls hearing that Hillary Clinton had any interest in this course of action. Based on a fair and thorough review of National Security Council deliberations during those tragic months, there is no evidence to suggest that U.S. military intervention was ever discussed. Prudence Bushnell, the Assistant Secretary of State with responsibility for Africa, has recalled that there was no consideration of U.S. military intervention.

At no time prior to her campaign for the presidency did Senator Clinton ever make the claim that she supported intervening militarily to stop the Rwandan genocide. It is noteworthy that she failed to mention this anecdote – urging President Clinton to intervene militarily in Rwanda – in her memoirs. President Clinton makes no mention of such a conversation with his wife in his memoirs. And Madeline Albright, who was Ambassador to the United Nations at the time, makes no mention of any such event in her memoirs.

Hillary Clinton did visit Rwanda in March 1998 and, during that visit, her husband apologized for America’s failure to do more to prevent the genocide.

China

Senator Clinton also points to a speech that she delivered in Beijing in 1995 as proof of her ability to answer a 3 AM crisis phone call. It is strange that Senator Clinton would base her own foreign policy experience on a speech that she gave over a decade ago, since she so frequently belittles Barack Obama’s speeches opposing the Iraq War six years ago. Let there be no doubt: she gave a good speech in Beijing, and she stood up for women’s rights. But Senator Obama’s opposition to the War in Iraq in 2002 is relevant to the question of whether he, as Commander-in-Chief, will make wise judgments about the use of military force. Senator Clinton’s speech in Beijing is not.

Senator Obama’s speech opposing the war in Iraq shows independence and courage as well as good judgment. In the speech that Senator Clinton says does not qualify him to be Commander in Chief, Obama criticized what he called “a rash war . . . a war based not on reason, but on passion, not on principle, but on politics.” In that speech, he said prophetically: “[E]ven a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.” He predicted that a U.S. invasion of Iraq would “fan the flames of the Middle East,” and “strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda.” He urged the United States first to “finish the fight with Bin Laden and al Qaeda.”

If the U.S. government had followed Barack Obama’s advice in 2002, we would have avoided one of the greatest foreign policy catastrophes in our nation’s history. Some of the most “experienced” men in national security affairs – Vice President Cheney and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others – led this nation into that catastrophe. That lesson should teach us something about the value of judgment over experience. Longevity in Washington, D.C. does not guarantee either wisdom of judgment.

Conclusion:

The Clinton campaign’s argument is nothing more than mere assertion, dramatized in a scary television commercial with a telephone ringing in the middle of the night. There is no support for or substance in the claim that Senator Clinton has passed “the Commander-in-Chief test.” That claim – as the TV ad – consists of nothing more than making the assertion, repeating it frequently to the voters and hoping that they will believe it.

On the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation – the War in Iraq – Senator Clinton voted in support of a resolution entitled “The Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of U.S. Military Force Against Iraq.” As she cast that vote, she said: “This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make -- any vote that may lead to war should be hard -- but I cast it with conviction.” In this campaign, Senator Clinton has argued – remarkably – that she wasn’t actually voting for war, she was voting for diplomacy. That claim is no more credible than her other claims of foreign policy experience. The real tragedy is that we are still living with the terrible consequences of her misjudgment. The Bush Administration continues to cite that resolution as its authorization – like a blank check – to fight on with no end in sight.

Barack Obama has a very simple case. On the most important commander in chief test of our generation, he got it right, and Senator Clinton got it wrong. In truth, Senator Obama has much more foreign policy experience than either Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan had when they were elected. Senator Obama has worked to confront 21st century challenges like proliferation and genocide on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He possesses the personal attributes of a great leader – an even temperament, an open-minded approach to even the most challenging problems, a willingness to listen to all views, clarity of vision, the ability to inspire, conviction and courage.

And Barack Obama does not use false charges and exaggerated claims to play politics with national security.

8 Comments

It is about time, I want to personally thank Mr. Craig for outlining the events of Senator Clinton without a derogative word in sight. I know as well as the billions of other Obama supporters that she's only qualified to play the very old "He Said She Said" game just to stay in realm with our soon to be new President Barack Obama. It almost seems like she's in the school yard with a crush on someone who's ignoring her. She doesn't want change, she's following in the footsteps that have us where we are now, with $4.00 p/gal gas prices, heightened un-employment rates, and 61% of homes in foreclosure. I wish she would step down and let the real fight for the White House begin. We have bigger fish to fry, Senator Obama doesn't have time to keep responding to her multiple personality remarks. Her campaign model should be: Hillary against Obama instead of Hillary for President, she doesn't have the Democratic party or it's supporters interest at heart that's why she's always crying on National TV, because she knows the truth. She qualifies much more at demeaning, a man who has inspired Black America and White America beyond belief, than running for President. Oh by the way, I won't even ask her grade on the Commander in Chief "TEST"! Bill you surprised me, we now know the real meaning of "BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY"

Obama voiced against the Iraq War in 2002 was an political ploy to get him in the Illinois House of Representatives which failed. It did help Durbin though get in to the Senate. He continued to state through his campaign for president, that he has always been against the war. He has been ,when it politically benefited him. Though while in the senate, he voted to continue the blank check to Bush for the Iraq war. If one is against something so strongly like the War, one would not support people who voted for it or support the continuation of the War. Obama calculating and cunning politician!

Every time that Senator Obama tries to attack Senator Clinton for having no foreign policy experience, it only highlights that he has absolutely no foreign policy experience. A speech in his hometown when he was not a U.S. senator is not foreign policy experience, and we now know that despite his committee membership, he failed to take the reins of his important subcommittee and actually do anything with respect to Europe and NATO. (I read that when Senator Biden chaired that subcommittee, it was very active.) Senator Obama doesn't provide any specifics regarding what he has actually done on the foreign relations committee other than "confronting challenges." Instead of engaging in negative attacks (which just goes to show that he is not any different than any other politician, despite his flowery words), he should be explaining why he is the better choice. I have yet to hear him say anything concrete about why he is the better choice on foreign relations, other than the fact that he made a speech over two years before he was in the Senate.

Boy he is a egotistical maniac.

Or is that just his spokespersons

Either way Obama is a stuff shirt.

EVENING HERALD ,DUBLIN.
STATEMENT FROM JOHN HUME, WHO WON THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR PEACE FOR
HIS WORK ON THE NORTH,WHICH SAID HILLARY CLINTON PLAYED A
"POSITIVE ROLE" IN THE PROCESS.
SO NO MATTER HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE
HILLARY HAS IT'S TON'S MORE THAN OBAMA.

DEE
IRELAND.


OBAMA CONSIDERS HILLARY THE MOST DIVISIVE.HA HA
MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE SHE ASK'S THE HARD QUESTION'S
THE MEDIA WONT ,SOMEONE HAS TO, GREAT WIND IS NOT
ENOUGH TO BE PRESIDENT OF AMERICA.
THE MOST DEVIOUS OF THEM ALL OBAMA!!!!!
DEE.
IRE.

I want to express my thanks for detailing an account of Mrs. Clinton's non-experience in foreign affairs. The American people must wake up to these notorious lies that she is getting away with thus far. Sen. Obama is a great candidate with the background to become president. He has organized political rallies (now, you see the Clintons taking notes from his organizational skills), he was a constitutional law professor, he worked as a state legislator for over 7 years. He was not riding on anyone's coattails as Mrs. Clinton is doing now. If it weren't for Mr. Clinton's scandalous background, Mrs. Clinton would not be doing this. Her name is recognizable because of Bill Clinton. Who would want a president who changes her stance on every issue. She will not get my vote.

First of all, how does this guy get away with being on Obama's team when he was Clinton's lawyer? Attorney client privilege obviously means nothing to this guy.
And as for being first lady for 8 years doesn't give you experience.... I think it does. My husband owns a roofing business, and I can tell you exactly how to replace a roof, even though I've never done it. As well I'm an accountant and he's learned most of the tax laws from listening to me for the past 10 years. I think first lady is more experience than any other politian who hasn't been in the white house has.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 11, 2008 9:11 AM.

Sweet: Read Rezko court exhibit here. Mentions Obama's name. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column: Obama on Clinton's oki-doke, bamboozle and hoodwink. is the next entry in this blog.

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