Sunday, December 7, 2008
Former Secretaries of State Shultz, Baker, Christopher, Albright, and Powell Advise Hillary Clinton
When Times editorial writer Marjorie Miller asked five former secretaries of state what advice they had for Hillary Clinton in her new job, James Baker III, who served as secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, found it necessary to explain to Clinton how she will be expected to relate to the president. At his paternalistic best, Mr. Baker said Clinton should present herself as Obama’s clone in public, although she will be permitted to express any disagreements with him privately.
Baker is actually echoing any number of pundits who insult both Obama and Clinton by suggesting the president-elect and his newly appointed secretary of state lack the maturity to engage in a mutually respectful professional relationship that would foster the frank exchange of ideas and offer the opportunity to privately explore differences in critical areas of foreign policy.
Miller introduces the advice proferred by the five former secretaries of state by summarizing the problems Clinton faces when she assumes her new role:
“Hillary Rodham Clinton will have no shortage of issues to take on as secretary of State. She steps into the job amid a global economic meltdown and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On top of that, she must address the rising tensions between India and Pakistan, and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while managing complex relations with Russia and China. And there are the perennial issues of hunger and disease in Africa, drugs in Latin America and the nuclear threat worldwide. How can one person manage it all?”
To read transcripts of the counsel offered to Clinton by George Shultz, James Baker III, Madeleine Albright, and Colin Powell go here.