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[Op-Ed] Sec. of State Hillary Clinton

Posted December. 03, 2008 05:19,   


New York Senator Hillary Clinton emphasized her diplomatic experience in the Democratic primary, saying she visited 80 countries and worked with world leaders. The Clinton camp aired a “3 a.m. emergency phone call” commercial to highlight Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s lack of diplomatic experience. The commercial failed, however, because many viewers wanted Republican presidential candidate John McCain to get an emergency call if U.S. national security was at risk.

The relationships that Clinton, who was nominated as the next secretary of state Monday, built with world leaders as first lady for eight years are an important asset for the United States. She was able to juggle her busy schedule, attending the funeral of Princess Diana in Britain one day and visiting that of Mother Teresa in India the next. The number of countries she has visited, however, does not matter. The point is how smoothly she carried out peace diplomacy in the United States and the world.

Unlike former first ladies, Clinton often visited other countries alone. A case in point is the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing. She put China in a predicament when she said women’s rights are inseparable from human rights, and is not the annex of human rights. The New York Times said the event was the pinnacle of her public life. She often visited other countries not as first lady but as an ambassador. She visited Croatia and Herzegovina to show the importance of the Dayton Peace Accord.

Clinton has said one of the most important lessons she learned as first lady is that diplomacy largely depends on relationships between leaders. If leaders know and trust each other, they can easily reach an agreement despite ideological conflicts and even forge an alliance, she said, and to ensure success, partners need endless, close, and unofficial talks. This is her belief in diplomacy. The world is watching how her diplomatic philosophy will unveil in the real world such as deterring nuclear development in Iran and North Korea or the war on terrorism.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)