Hillary: Warmonger

March is women’s history month, and Tina Brown’s Newsweek has put Hillary on the March 14th cover of Newsweek, under the banner of “150 Women Who Shake the World.”

The header on the cover is “Hillary’s War,” but on the website the cover story–written by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon–is called “The Hillary Doctrine.”

“Hillary’s War” is not what you think–it takes the common charge against Hillary as the warmonger to outmonger all the men before and after her and turns that canard on its ugly little head.

Hillary’s war is her campaign for all of us–her fight for women and girls. Because if women are left behind there can be no lasting progress. As the byline on the cover notes, Hillary is “shattering glass ceilings everywhere.”

Two other recent pieces/interviews of Hillary that are a must-read for anyone who follows Hillary, btw:

Hilarious to see Kathleen Parker’s whimpy whine that “Women make lousy men” appear as a footnote on the Newsweek cover next to Hillary’s beautiful, beaming face. It’s so revealing. While conservative hacks like Parker are still busy fighting that old battle of the sexes, Hillary and the rest of us in her fearsome army are trying to bring women and girls to the table for the benefit of us all.

So much of Hillary’s comments on Egypt in the last few months–as Barack Obama’s secretary of state–have come across as a pro-stability argument for the West at the cost of a people’s right to self-governance, especially when viewed through the limited backburner coverage we usually get of Hillary’s work from the mainstream media. But, Lemmon’s piece puts the pieces of the Hillary Clinton puzzle into perspective.

Hillary has always been about putting women and girls front and center. And, any time women are left behind, there really isn’t true self-governance by a large segment of that populace anyway.

In Hillary’s own words:

“I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century,” Clinton recently told NEWSWEEK during another rare moment relaxing on a couch in the comfortable sitting room of her offices on the State Department’s seventh floor, her legs propped up in front of her. “We see women and girls across the world who are oppressed and violated and demeaned and degraded and denied so much of what they are entitled to as our fellow human beings.”

Clinton is paying particular attention to whether women’s voices are heard within the local groups calling for and leading change in the Middle East. “You don’t see women in pictures coming from the demonstrations and the opposition in Libya,” she told NEWSWEEK late last week, adding that “the role and safety of women will remain one of our highest priorities.” As for Egypt, she said she was heartened by indications that women would be included in the formation of the new government. “We believe that women were in Tahrir Square, and they should be part of the decision-making process. If [the Egyptians] are truly going to have a democracy, they can’t leave out half the population.”

On Saturday, I linked to two pieces that discuss the issue of women and where they fit in in the New Egypt at length. One thing that really struck me while reading both pieces and in this Newsweek feature on Hillary is that there’s this intersection of top-down and bottom-up efforts going on when Hillary brings women’s voices to the international table. She’s building the structure from the top down, but in doing so, she’s not just putting policies into place, she’s also planting the seeds for women and like-minded men to continue the advocacy work from the bottom-up.

Another thing about Hillary that immediately struck me is that she’s more comfortable in her skin than ever, and it shows in the photo of her on the Newsweek cover. She is doing work of purpose–the unfinished work of the 21st century.

Hillary’s presence in Barack Obama’s Cabinet itself is a symbol that speaks volumes. I often think of this picture from when Obama nominated Hillary. To me that photo says it all: There can be no lasting progress if she is left behind.

It’s not just identity politics. Hillary has taken pains to translate the symbolic into the concrete. Or, what a Young Hillary Rodham called the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible. But more about that later.

In her Newsweek piece on Hillary, Lemmon writes:

Her campaign has begun to resonate in unlikely places. In the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, where women cannot travel without male permission or drive a car, a grandson of the Kingdom’s founding monarch (Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud) last month denounced the way women are “economically and socially marginalized” in Arab countries.

Is Newsweek’s newly hired Andrew Sullivan reading this? LOL. Getting the grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founding monarch to denounce the marginalization of women… not bad for an untalented, drab woman like Hillary, which is what Sullivan has always insisted about Hill.

Hillary puts the Mama-in-chief propaganda on both sides of the political spectrum in the US to shame, and Lemmon underscores this by bestowing Hillary with the following:

advocate in chief for women worldwide

I was really glad to see Newsweek note the following, as well, because predictably, it didn’t get the attention it deserved at the time:

As she noted in Qatar in January, two weeks before Egypt’s first “day of rage,” the Middle East’s old foundations were “sinking into the sand.”

Here’s a state.gov transcript link to what Hillary had said in Qatar. I’m only going to quote a short bit, so click the link if you’d like to read the larger context of her remarks — it’s very thoughtful and incredibly prophetic given the global events that unfolded right after she spoke:

But in too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere.

This wasn’t just two weeks before Egypt’s first day of rage–Hillary said this THE day before Ben Ali fled Tunisia.

That’s our Hillary–we can add cassandra-in-chief to the list of her titles.

Another key theme of Hillary’s work on behalf of women and girls emerges in Lemmon’s piece:

“This is a big deal for American values and for American foreign policy and our interests, but it is also a big deal for our security,” she told NEWSWEEK. “Because where women are disempowered and dehumanized, you are more likely to see not just antidemocratic forces, but extremism that leads to security challenges for us.”

Hillary has been saying this all along, of course:

Exhibit A: “What we are learning around the world is that if women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners in society, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations do as well.” –First Lady HRC

Exhibit B: “the role and rights of women in today’s world is a critical core concern of foreign policy — it *is* national security.” –SecState HRC

Theresa Loar–who helped Hillary organize the Beijing delegation in 1995–tells Newsweek that she (Loar) got a call from the National Security Council after Hillary expressed interest in speaking at the conference. The NSC told Loar that her job was to make sure Hillary doesn’t go to China. Loar says her reaction at the time was to think “my job is to make sure it’s a rip-roaring success—and guess who is going to succeed?”

And, succeed Hillary did. Hillary’s 1995 speech was a call for all women to assume our rightful places in society and our political voices. When Kirsten Gillibrand took Hillary’s old Senate seat, I remember her describing Hillary’s speech as the clarion call that helped inspire her to become more politically involved. Similarly, the current Newsweek piece describes how Mu Sochua, a prominent Cambodian opposition leader, decided to enter politics the day she met Hillary in Beijing and heard her give that speech.

Theresa Loar also had this to say:

“I honestly think Hillary Clinton wakes up every day thinking about how to improve the lives of women and girls. And I don’t know another world leader who is doing that.”

There are some wonderful paragraphs in the Newsweek piece that talk about Hillary becoming the first secretary of state in two decades to visit Yemen. A tiny snippet:

It’s also a country where a man may marry a girl of 9, and so Clinton sought out the kind of people who rarely meet American secretaries of state—the students, community activists, and, most obviously, the women.

Anybody who has been following Hillary’s work as secretary of state or really her entire history knows this is no anomaly. Hillary has always been about using her voice to bring out the voices and the causes of the marginalized, and she’s made “townterviews” with students, activists, and women a staple of her diplomatic visits around the globe.

A great quote from Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues and longtime partner with Hillary Clinton in her work for women Hillary Clinton:

“Politics is seen in most societies, including our own, I would add, as a largely male sport—unarmed combat—and women are very often ignored or pushed aside in an effort to gain or consolidate power,” she says. Her work aims to change that.

[Edit to correct. It was Hillary who said it, not Melanne. Right before that the Newsweek piece talked about how Melanne is at Hillary’s side.]

Hillary and Melanne and countless others fighting this “war” understand that the health of a society can be gauged by how well society treats its women.

Like I said earlier, this goes beyond identity politics. Hillary is not content to let the story just be about herself as an image and end there. Hillary wants to translate her star power and the movement she has created and make sure it is built into something that will outlast her and make lasting change for women, so that when she and Melanne and the rest of the Hillaryland crew aren’t there, the work will still continue:

For her part, Clinton says that her ambition now is to move the discussion beyond a reliance on her own celebrity. She must, she says, take her work on women’s behalf “out of the interpersonal and turn it into the international.” At the State Department, that goal is reflected in a new and sweeping strategic blueprint known as the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which establishes priorities over a four-year horizon. Women and girls are mentioned 133 times across the 220 pages of the final QDDR document.

By institutionalizing a process that recognizes the importance of women’s involvement, Clinton hopes her successors will continue what she has started. Many of those on the front lines of implementing Clinton’s changes say they believe her message will stick. “Once you have built this track record, it is much harder to ignore it,” says Anne-Marie Slaughter, who served as a chief architect of the QDDR process.

Others worry that without Hillary, the causes of women and girls will return to the backburner:

“There is a culture at State, and you have to break through that culture,” admits one former ambassador. “The guys who work on country-to-country relationships don’t think these issues are central.” Clinton’s efforts could easily stall or be reversed when she and Verveer leave, he adds, in part because each is so good at what she does. “I think the combination of those two personalities is crucial, and that’s why I can’t be at all sure it will last beyond this administration.”

Here’s how Hillary responds to that kind of concern:

Asked whether she worries her eventual departure from the State Department will endanger the future of her mission, Clinton admits to feeling a great weight of responsibility for all the women and girls she has met and the many millions of others like them. “It is why there are 133 references to women and girls in the QDDR,” she says, turning reflexively to the hard evidence. “It is why I mention the issue in every setting I am in, and why I mention it with every foreign leader I meet.

Whatever concessions Hillary has made to work from within the system, and however much I often disagree with the US foreign policy machine that she is very much apart of, Hillary is using her political capital to try her best to make space for ALL of us to keep talking well beyond her tenure at the State Department and open up the space even more and resolve a lot of those foreign policy impasses that have proven so far impenetrable. Hillary’s “war” and “doctrine” is bigger than Hillary, and always was.

That is what separates Hillary from the empty suits and skirts whose audacity and moxie stops where their images stop.

I still can’t wait for Hillary to get back to her advocacy roots and set up that foundation for women and girls. But, I’m also so very glad to hear that my intuition about Hillary and why she is so tireless in always bringing up women and girls has been correct and that it is all very much part of a strategy on her part to integrate women at every later of national security and foreign policy.

I don’t want to ruin the ending lines of the Newsweek piece for you, because it’s so good, you need to read it for yourself. I’ll leave you with this passage from the piece instead, which I found very moving as well:

Squeezed in elbow to elbow around a long wooden table in the State Department’s Jefferson Room was a virtual cabinet gathering, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. As host of the meeting, which began so promptly that several attendees sheepishly slid in late, Clinton asked each of the officials to share their team’s progress. She moved briskly around the table, then stopped to make a frank appeal. “One thing I would urge, if you do get a chance, is to visit a shelter, a site where trafficking victims have been rescued and are being rehabilitated,” she said to a room that had suddenly gone silent. “I recently was in Cambodia, and it is just so overwhelmingly heartbreaking and inspiring to see these young girls. One girl lost her eyes—to punish her, the owner of the brothel had stabbed her in the eye with a nail,” Clinton continued. “She was the most optimistic, cheerful young woman, just a tremendous spirit. What she wants to do when she grows up is help other victims of trafficking, so there is just an enormous amount of work to be done.”

The shelter Clinton referred to is run by the Cambodian activist Somaly Mam, who herself was forced into a brothel as a little girl. Mam credits Clinton’s visit with making her work rescuing young victims respectable in the eyes of her government. “She protects our lives,” Mam says simply, noting that during her visit Clinton took the time to talk with the girls and that many of the shelter’s children now keep photos of her on their walls. “Our people never paid attention. Hillary has opened their eyes, so now they have no choice; by her work she has saved many lives in Cambodia—our government is changing.”

This is change that will reverberate. I don’t have to “believe” in the idea of it. This is change I can see. Words translated into action.

It’s also worth noting that this “warmonger” on behalf of women’s rights was kept off the domestic stage in the US at a time when the right wing’s armageddon on women’s civil rights was taking foot. Just think if we had her to respond to Stupak and all the odious baby Stupaks it has spawned across the nation.


53 Comments on “Hillary: Warmonger”

  1. Here are some reactions to the Hillary newscover from the Hillary ’08 diaspora in the blogosphere:

    Still4Hill — Newsweek Celebrates Women’s History Month: “The Hillary Doctrine”

    Stacyx/SecretaryClintonBlog: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the First Newsweek Cover

    Taylor Marsh: Tina Brown’s Newsweek Features Sect. Clinton in First Issue

  2. Dario says:

    Thank you for this great post, Wonk. I too look forward to the time when Hillary leaves the administration and starts working on what I believe will be a lasting legacy that will change the lives of women all over the world this and next century. She’s that great.

    • You’re welcome and thanks. She is that great indeed.

      As paperdoll just said at my file cabinet blog…

      “1600 PA Ave. isn’t big enough for Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.”

    • Woman Voter says:

      I agree Dario, I agree!

      Just think if we had her to respond to Stupak and all the odious baby Stupaks it has spawned across the nation.

      Yes, it was Obama who made all these backroom deals, trading women’s rights and selling us ALL out on Health Care Reform so, he could say he passed something, but in reality he was passing what Wall Street ‘Greedos’ wanted and what the insurance companies wanted, while us working people got SKYROCKETING premiums, high deductible (cheats are also charging twice for the copay for medication in violation, but Obama does NOTHING about this, it was all intentional.) and NO REFORM!

      I will die asking WHEN WILL HILLARY GET HER ROLL CALL VOTE! She earned it, we voted for her and she was denied it. I know, we all worked very hard to insure it, but Pelosi Blocked it, that is why I wish she would just retire! If you betray the voters, you need to retire!

      • She didn’t get her roll call vote proper, but she did get her dream job I think.

        Whether as president or secretary of state or emeritus stateswoman, advocate-in-chief is her calling.

        I’m glad the world has Hillary–we’re part of that world. I hope American women have Hillary again when she retires and builds her foundation.

  3. Outis says:

    Thanks so much for this. While I am so happy to see her spread her wings and her message onto the international stage, I am saddened that her post disallows her to interfere with domestic issues. I can only imagine her dismay at what is happening here. We need her strong voice very much.

    What a Shero! WOW. I hope these articles put to shame everyone who says “Hillary would have been the same” though I fear they will never learn.

    • still4hill says:

      THANK YOU! She would have been VERY DIFFERENT! You see that QDDR she did at DOS? She would have ordered that in every single department! As it turned out, she used QDDR to restructure the executive branch anyway. But if she had been in the Oval Office, many things would have gone differently, from the stimulus (remember HOLC and HOME?), to health care reform, to jobs, to the oil spill, I could go on, but you get the idea. No, she would not have been the same as Obama.

      • I remember in ’08 (in multiple pieces that didn’t grab all the media attention) that Hillary was actively planning out what she would do as president.

        Obama just had lots of vanity speeches to give.

      • still4hill says:

        Right. That is also why she talked fast and didn’t like a lot of interruptions or long applause. She had a lot to say – to communicate. Obama’s speeches were about luring in the audience so he tolerated a lot of interaction and back-and=forth. He had no plan. He still does not.

      • Obama has always been best understood through that call and response bit you’ll often hear at his stump speeches and events…

        Audience: indistinguishable clamor

        Obama: “I love you back”

      • still4hill says:

        Yes, his cal-and-response, “I love you back!” That was what a colleague told me Hillary needed to do more of. I argued that she actually has plans to lay out. She would quiet the crowd and talk in that machine-gun fast way to get it all to fit in. It was always clear and well-organized. She knew we loved her, she didn’t need that from the sudiences. I hope she still knows!

      • I think it goes back to her being an expert debater… she’s like a laser. She’s too focused on zooming in to make public policy details accessible and understandable that she doesn’t have time to worry about fitting in self-aggrandizement like “I love you back.” (It’s not like we ever really hear the crowd say “I love you” anyway.)

        Hillary wouldn’t be very good at being more like Obama anyway, and thank goodness–that’s a very good thing 🙂

      • still4hill says:

        Hahaha!!! It’s true! We never really hear “I love you.” (To me the idea is pretty creepy, anyway.)

    • Ayup… I doubt people who insist “Hillary woulda been the same” *want* to learn in the first place.

      I don’t know how much stepping down eventually will free her up to talk about domestic issues, but I like to think that as the war on our rights continues on, she’ll speak up and echo Eleanor Roosevelt’s words:

      “The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it.”

      • still4hill says:

        Since she finds ways to comment sometimes even as SOS, I think she will speak pretty freely. We know the degree to which she agrees (or not) with Obama by the number of times he has reined her in. She’s bold. He’s hesitant.

      • She does make pointed comments here and there about domestic issues in a way that she can tie it in to foreign policy. And, not just about women.

        The comment from May that “the rich are not paying their fair share” comes immediately to mind.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Wonk it is interesting you mention Eleanor Roosevelt. I was going to comment that I believe Hillary Rodham Clinton will one day have the same respect and legacy that Eleanor Roosevelt has today. Books will be written about her accomplishments and she will be seen as a champion of rights for women and girls.

      • Minx, yes, I see her as our Eleanor Roosevelt and a bit of Alice Paul and Frances Perkins too 🙂

        I think history will judge Hillary’s work on behalf of women and girls and all children and people as seminal human rights work. And, if you read her writings and public remarks, from the time of her Wellesley speech or her thesis on Saul Alinsky, there is a thread that runs through all of it. There’s pragmatism, but it’s tied to principle.

  4. jmac says:

    “Women make lousy men.” Depends on the woman. Parker lost her job because she couldn’t compete as intelligently or knowledgeably or forcefully as her male co-host. Hillary would have been right there with him or superior to him. Parker is Obama. Gender makes no difference.

  5. Pilgrim says:

    Wonk, I like this article you have written.

    You were mentioning that in the Newsweek photo she looks very comfortable in her skin….

    That quality in her appearance is very evident in the many photos posted each Sunday by Stacyx on her SecretaryClinton blog. I often look at those photos to sort of drink in the mature strength and grace and poise she clearly possesses.

    • “mature strength and grace and poise”

      It’s always shown (Bill Clinton said the first time he saw her she was the most “self-possessed” person he’d ever seen), but I think her comfort with herself has catapulted to another level starting from the Texas/Ohio/Pennsylvania ’08 primary days I think.

      • Outis says:

        Yes, and I have to admit that photo was very inspiring, to see a MATURE woman who looks accomplished and alive, not someone who’s had too much surgery in order to look young.

      • Yeah… I actually was kind of weirded out recently to see Jane Fonda on one of those weekend newspaper inserts caught up in looking younger. Or at least it felt that way. It was a bit depressing. This image of Hillary embracing her maturity is an uplifting contrast to that.

  6. Ok, I had to go in and add a correction.

    That great quote from Melanne was actually from Hillary herself, not Melanne.

    Like Hillary, I’m human… 😉

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Although, I disagree with Taylor Marsh about this:

      It makes you wonder what might have happened and been possible if Pres. George W. Bush hadn’t lied about WMDs, and politicians in both parties, which included Senators Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and many others, hadn’t gotten distracted by Iraq.

      I feel most of these countries have had issues against women for centuries. There is no way to change that culture overnight. So I am not sure what Marsh is trying to say here. Anyway, the news that woman’s initiatives will be phased out is disappointing to say the least.

      • I think Taylor just always maintained Hillary was wrong about war like the others and if we hadn’t gotten into Iraq then maybe the work on behalf of women in Afghanistan wouldn’t have been jeopardized.

        I somewhat agree, but I also would note than unlike John Kerry and Joe Biden, Hillary was voting from the state of NY. The conventional wisdom is that Hill voted for the AUMF because she wanted to prove she was tough enough since she was a woman, but I always got the feeling it was more about her constituents and representing what they wanted.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          Yes, most of her constituents work in Manhattan, and I would guess that some lost their lives on September 11th. Saddam was horrible, along with all those other dictators who killed so many of their own people…I am glad he is gone. I am glad Mubarak is gone. I will be glad with Gadaffi is gone too.

    • I saw that… I wasn’t really surprised. Everybody who thinks that Hillary’s work on behalf of women and girls translates to Obama’s work on behalf of women and girls isn’t paying attention. IMHO.

  7. dakinikat says:

    Nice to have an inspiring piece up during a time when watching and reading the news is a stressful thing! Thanks for this Wonk!

    • My pleasure. The part where Hillary talks about the Somaly Mam shelter and Somaly Mam says “She [Hillary] protects our lives” really choked me up! Such a contrast to women who sell other women out.

  8. Outis says:

    And I also wanted to say I might just get a t-shirt made of this beautiful quote

    “I believe that the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century,”
    –Hillary Clinton

    • Okay… I’m going to ruin the ending of the Newsweek piece in the comments because here’s another one I’d love to see on a t-shirt (with the last sentence sort of highlighted to stand out from the rest)…

      “You just keep at it, take it piece by piece, seize the ground you can, hang onto it, and then move forward a little bit more… (pause)… And we are heading for higher ground.” –Hillary

      • Outis says:

        That’s a great one. To me it shows her sincerity, her true principles, that she follows through the storm and will make her legacy. Very, very humbling.

      • The mention of “seizing ground” and “higher ground” reminded me of a Rumi quote, too:

        “Friend, our closeness is this: anywhere you put your foot feel me in the firmness under you.”

        That’s the bond between Hillary and her grasssroots. She’s got our back, and we’ve got hers.

  9. Peggy Sue says:

    Very nice way to start the week! Thank you that. Hillary Clinton was the champion we were denied in 2008. But she’s a champion for us all nonetheless. Makes me proud as a woman and as a human being. And yes, she will be remembered long after we’re all gone.

  10. TheRock says:

    Hillary 2012.

    The real question should be “…is there anyone else?..”

  11. Sima says:

    What a great and uplifting post. It is wonderful to read about Hillary and her hard work on behalf of all women and girls. I still feel sorrow, I want her for President so bad! But, make lemonade from lemons, and enrich the lives of women everywhere, yes, I can deal with that!

  12. Sophie says:

    Excellent post, Wonk!!

    Of course, the keyboard crew came out of the mothballs, leaving several comments over at Newsweek about sniper fire. Funny how they remember that and don’t remember 57 states or B0 “remembering” being conceived because of a speech that happened two years after he was born.

    Hillary 2012. Accept no substitutes.

  13. janicen says:

    Thank you, Wonk. This is such an uplifting post.

  14. glennmcgahee says:

    I just finished reading the piece before I wandered over here. What “could’ve been” is turning into “whats next”! Just think of the untapped power of 50% of the world’s population thats due to take over as women become empowered through her work. We’ll see major change. I always have thought that the force of women could really bring about peace all over the world. It sounds cliche, but its true.

  15. soupcity says:

    Wow! Epic and wonderful post Wonk, thank you so much! Boy did I need this. Like glenn says above, it is like “what’s next”. Hill is a true treasure and we are so fortunate to live in her time.

  16. Joanelle says:

    Wonk, this is a wonderful post – thank you.
    Clearly, Hill is: advocate in chief for women worldwide
    But in reality she is advocate in chief for humanity – she gets it – she knows that we all suffer – not just women and girls when they are put upon and she’s going to run with it as far as she can before O decides she’s getting too much notice.
    What a shame that she wasn’t allowed to clean up the mess that we have here at home so that we could be a truly shining example.