Secretary of State Clinton?
In Hillary, Obama would be launching a superstar diplomat.
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What would Iran make of a Secretary of State Clinton, who during the presidential election debates threatened that an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel would mean Iran's obliteration by the United States? Could she engage in prepresidential talks with Iran that Obama may be willing to permit? Is President Ahmadinejad up or down? Have falling oil prices for Iran contributed to economic problems and public discontent? What should we read into an apparent 180-degree turnabout in Iran's position on the Status of Forces Agreement that will permit US troops to remain in Iraq until 2011?Skip to next paragraph
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If Iran is perhaps the most pressing international problem confronting the new administration, there are plenty of other major ones. Could a Secretary of State Clinton succeed, where others have labored fruitlessly for decades, to bring Arabs and Israelis to a two-state solution – a Palestinian state, with security for Israel?
Could a Secretary of State Clinton snatch victory, from what looks suspiciously like pending defeat, of the forces of freedom in Afghanistan? Could she help shore up democracy in Pakistan, while the Taliban and Al Qaeda are put to rout? Could she enlist other democratic nations in this cause?
What of Russia, still smarting from loss of empire and lusting for power and prestige? Can it, too, be drawn into the family of nations while being made to understand that invasion of former satellites such as Georgia, and angry posturing against former satellites such as Ukraine, is not acceptable behavior for admission into that family?
Could a Secretary Clinton connect with women, particularly women in the Islamic world, in helping their emancipation from inferior status? Arab economists argue that much of the Arab world's economic backwardness is due to the fact that women are denied education and barred from useful contribution to the workforce.
President Bush's key aide, Karen Hughes, was unsuccessful in her forays into the Arab world in a bid to elevate women. Perhaps it was because she appeared intent on re-creating them in a Western mold, rather than encouraging them to emerge within an Islamic culture.
Hillary Clinton is a past, and perhaps future, political rival to Barack Obama. He deserves praise if he appoints her to one of the most important positions in his cabinet.
• John Hughes, a former editor of the Monitor, served as assistant secretary of State in the Reagan administration. He is currently a professor of international communications at Brigham Young University.