BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Mark Urban
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Hillary has been quick off the blocks

Mark Urban | 17:53 UK time, Monday, 9 March 2009

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton has been jetting about the world successfully making her presence felt. She's actually back here today, seeing the Indian Foreign Minister in her office at the State Department. It's a key economic and security relationship for the US.

She's been racking up the air miles since taking over the USA's chief diplomat, visiting the Far East, Middle East and Nato. The key thing about this globe trotting is that is hasn't just consisted of photo ops. She has been taking the lead to restore good relations with Russia, symbolically 're-setting' the relationship at a meeting with counterpart Sergei Lavrov last week. She's also sent important signals in the Middle East; on the humanitarian situation in Gaza or relations with Syria, and extended a hand to Iran, inviting them to a meeting on Afghanistan.

When President Obama was inaugurated I expected the economic crisis to limit his impact on foreign affairs - and this has proven to be the case, so far at least. But what Ms Clinton has shown, is that his plans to devolve the day to day running of foreign policy to others have got off to a good start.

Some of us wondered how Ms Clinton was supposed to fit in with National Security advisor General James Jones, the 'super envoys' appointed to various parts of the world, or indeed the Vice President, Joe Biden, who has been given the job of overseeing foreign policy. Was the new president setting the scene for a struggle akin to that which Mssrs Rumsfeld, Powell and Cheney waged during his predecessor's first term?

It seems that the Obama team is able to get along rather better. Ms Clinton's initiatives on Russia or the Middle East have constituted significant steps that could not have been taken without her president's authority. He has delegated to a political beast big enough to get out into the global jungle, and she is relishing it. One of the US breakfast TV shows ran a segment this morning of the Secretary of State on Turkish television talking about how she likes going for long walks with her husband and misses being able to sit by herself in a café. It was harmless trivia, but just as we have seen some major politicians diminished when they are separated from the well of power, so Ms Clinton seems rejuvenated by being allowed to draw its waters once more.

Of course it is early days - the Obama administration has yet to face a severe test overseas. It may be that they will be at one another's throats once the pressure ratchets up. But the early indications are that the Secretary of State has wielded her office so effectively that would-be Washington rivals have been left in the starting blocks.


  • Comment number 1.

    no sign of Bill interferring....yet

  • Comment number 2.

    She looks very tired in this photo. After weeks of traveling and giving speech non-stop, she did slip up and made a mistake or two during her visit to European parliament, but overall I would say she has done an excellent job. The Clintons have accumulated a lot of goodwill with regards to foreign affairs in the past. In my personal view, America couldn't have asked for a better Secretary of State.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good Old Hilary.

    I didn't want her to beat Obama for the top spot, but I'm very glad that her experience and skills are already being used to very good effect in these early days.

    Even better, it shows that Mr Prezzy and she already have a good working relationship, well seasoned with trust.

    The US should go from strength to strength if the rest of the presidential team are as effective !

  • Comment number 4.



    Where in the World is Henry Kissinger
    So, what has Heinz Kissinger (85) Eighty-Five year old, (born Heinz Alfred Kissinger), our German-Jewish born American Diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and side kick (Thomas Graham), Carmen San Diego, is on vacation staying home, of Kissinger Associates a consulting company founder by Kissinger, been up to these days, modern day “Ping-Pong” or just craving up the turkey, but using a lot of frequent flyer miles, it seems Henry and Tom, have developed a liking for The Russian Federation, Moscow, and the Kremlin, on the compute (3) Three time in (2008), May, June, and December, (3) Three visits in (2009) one a secret stopover in February, and now had a tête-à-tête with Russian Federations President Dmitry Medvedev, and (PM) Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.


    Well it seems that instead of Col. Mustard in the library, with a pipe wrench, murdered by Miss Scarlet, it more Islam like, in Moscow, with an agreement, by Heinz and Tom. You would think after all the history since the beginning of time that these guys would have learned something. The Greeks and the Trojan Horse, “As long as the water flows, the grass grows green, and the buffalo roam, Neville Chamberlain “Peace In Our Time”, and the Potsdam Agreement (Iron and Bamboo Curtains, Cold War One), that the best made plans of mice and men are at the fate of the Gods. One would have to wonder just how the Peoples Republic of China, and the Chinese (PM) Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, felt not having a seat at all these “Ping-Pong” tête-à-tête, and just what they are being left with just the scraps off the global table.

    Let’s Make A Deal

    Behind door number one is the Caspian Sea with (7.3Trl. Cu. Mts.) Seven-Point-Three Trillion cubic meters of hydrocarbons, (NG) Natural Gas, and (1/5th) of the world’s know oil reserves, and the (€14.8Bln), Fourteen-Point-Eight Billion Euro’s, Nabucco pipeline meant to pump Central Asian (NG) from Central Asia to Europe a distance of (3,300 Km.), Three-thousand-three hundred kilometer, bypassing the Gazprom Russian Federations Gas Monopoly, South Stream gas pipeline. In exchange for the (2K-klm) Two-Thousand Kilometer Arctic continental shelf, Lomonosov Ridge, were The Russian Federation already has (20%) Twenty-Percent of its (GDP) Grosse Domestic Product, and represents (22%) Twenty-Two percent of Russian Federation exports, Behind door number two is Eastern Europe clear of (NATO) The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in exchange for Iran’s left defenseless no (SS-300) missiles, with the Islamic Crescent (Persian Islam), under the management of the Eastern half of the “Empire”, and (Arab Islam) under European Management.

    You Can’t Play

    The question is was the Peoples Republic of China, and (PM) Prime Minister Wen willing to settle for (€9.4 Bln. /£10Bln.) Nine-Point-Four Billion Euro’s/Ten-Billion British Pounds, deal to buy British technology to help Modernize and advance China’s technologies, or was “The Other China” thrown in, along with The China Sea, or were they even able to play in the game, did, Dmitry, Vladimir, Heinz and Tom, even let Wen play, after all it seems that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, weren’t consulted, unlike (PM) Benyamin Netanyahu, and the current leader of the Likud party the Eastern part of the “Empire”. It’s tuff sitting there as others decide your fate without your say.


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