Archive for the ‘State Department’ Category

Obama Throws Britain Under the Bus: Relationship “Reset” and “Regime Change”

March 10, 2009

Remember when Donald Rumsfeld made the remark about “Old Europe”?  Eeryone howlded, including Democrats.  Now Barack Obama has thrown Britain under the bus and nobody has said a thing….There is real “regime change” ongoing….at the White House…..What’s next?  A “special relationship” with Hamas and the Taliban?

Our fear here that barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel and others just don’t get it….In their haste to change everything about everything since moving into the White House, Team Obama may be doing irreparable harm to U.S. foreign policy, strategic alliances, along with the economy and everything else….

Primum non nocere

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03/10/am
ericans-apologizing-to-british-pm-gordon-brown/

Donald Rumsfeld

By Frank Geffney
The Washington Times
.
The British are understandably mystified. Long accustomed to a “special relationship” with the United States, they are trying to figure out why the latter’s likable new president would go to such lengths to distance himself from the country that has for generations been America’s closest ally.

First, there was Barack Obama‘s decision to return the Churchill bust that had graced the Oval Office since then-Prime Minister Tony Blair gave it to George W. Bush as a post-Sept. 11, 2001, gesture of solidarity. Then, there were the successive affronts during the visit by Mr. Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, to Washington last week: A seemingly thoughtless official gift (a set of DVDs of popular American films); a painfully chilly and brief press availability before the start of the two men’s private meeting; and no formal joint press conference of the kind George Bush afforded Mr. Blair on all but one of numerous visits to Washington (the exception a hastily arranged trip right after the September 11 attacks).

The British press has offered several face-saving explanations for these serial rudenesses. Perhaps Mr. Obama is “exhausted.” Alternatively, he is simply “focused elsewhere” in the midst of cratering capital markets, collapsing automakers and skyrocketing unemployment.

The real answer, however, was supplied by an unnamed State Department official whom London’s Sunday Telegraph reported on March 8 “reacted with fury” when asked by the paper why the Brown visit was so, er, “low-key.” According to the Telegraph, “The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship. ‘There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.’ ”

Such a comment by a representative of the State Department – an institution that never saw a foreign government it wanted to offend – is a sign of how serious Team Obama is about “resetting” the U.S.-U.K. relationship. Of course, as that term applies to friendly Britain, it means something very different than when used to describe the administration’s desire for improved ties with America’s enemies, actual or potential, like Russia, Iran and “Palestine.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news
/2009/mar/10/farewell-to-britain/

Related:
Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?
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Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama

Czech President Says Obama Views “Unknown” On Key Foreign Policy Issues

White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

Obama, State Department, White House Staff, Hillary “Unaware,” “Overwhelmed” by Expectations
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Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)

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Obama, State Department, White House Staff, Hillary “Unaware,” “Overwhelmed” by Expectations

March 8, 2009

Bungle: : to act or work clumsily and awkwardly. 

Etymology: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Icelandic banga to hammer.Well, President Obama and Hillary Clinton both hammered their roles as foreign relations dignitaries last week….

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British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

Barack Obama’s offhand approach to Gordon Brown’s Washington visit last week came about because the president was facing exhaustion over America’s economic crisis and is unable to focus on foreign affairs, the Sunday Telegraph has been told.

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been “overwhelmed” by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

The above quote comes from the Telegraph Newspaper in the UK.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa
/barackobama/4953523/Barack-Obama-too-tired-to-give-prope
r-welcome-to-Gordon-Brown.html

Bloggers in the UK and elsewhere are somewhere between bemused and ouraged:
http://www.politicalbyline.com/2009/03/07/can-som
eone-remind-me-as-just-why-exactly-we-elected-this-do
uche-nozzle/

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Related:
Obama And The Fine Art of Political Nuances
Fine Art Of Protocol, International Relations Lost On Obama?

Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama 

In The White House, Protocol Not Just For Computers
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Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)

Hillary’s Benito Bungle

Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows on her first visit to Europe as secretary of state when she mispronounced her EU counterparts’ names and claimed U.S. democracy was older than Europe’s.

Clinton has set herself a gruelling pace on visits to Egypt, Israel and Brussels soon after touring the Far East, attending dozens of meetings and giving speech after speech, with little time worked into her schedule for sleep.

Tiredness appeared to show on Friday when she answered questions in front of 500 young Europeans at the European Parliament, where she was the highest-ranking U.S. visitor since the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

A veteran politician, Clinton compared the complex European political environment to that of the two-party U.S. system, before adding:

“I have never understood multiparty democracy. “It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy.”

The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.

One working lunch later with EU leaders, Clinton raised more eyebrows when she referred to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who stood beside her, as “High Representative Solano.”

She also dubbed European Commission External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as “Benito.”

From Reuters and Canada.com:
http://www.canada.com/news/Solano+Benit
o+Democracy+Clinton+raises+eyebrows/1
361287/story.html

Barack Obama and Gordon Brown: Has Gordon Brown's meeting with Barack Obama restored his fortunes

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown walk down the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, Photo: AP

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009. Emanuel famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)

Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

March 6, 2009

For everyone working on their rsume to improve their hopes of getting a new job, take heart in the story of Hillary Clinton.

Sixteen years ago, Mrs. Clinton was made in charge of reforming health care by her husband, President Bill.

Her closed door meetings riled the opposition and her health care efforts went down in flames.

Now Hillary is reborn as America’s Secretary of State and diplomat in chief and Barack Obama has learned from Bill’s health care fiasco.  Barack is using the all inclusive hug everyone and keep the door open appraoch to health care reform.

Just to make sure health care makes it though the Congress, Barack is using the game plan so successful with the stimulus: Nanacy pelosi and her gamd will write the provisions of the new health care reform measure.

Meanwhile, the only person not under the health care tent, it seems, is Hillary Clinton.

She is in Russia dealing with what many consider a far tougher problem than health care: Russia.

Just aafter President Obama apparently promised Russia it would unilaterally disarm its missile defense efforts in Europe, in exchange for some mysterious Russian assistance to stop Iran’s nuclear program; Hillary arrived in Russia.

Hillary opened her meeting with a gift for her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The gift was supposed to reporest a “resetting” of U.S. and Russian ties.  The gift was a big red button with the word peregruzka printed on top. 

Hillary and her crack State Department team thought peregruzka meant “reset.”

Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.” 

Go get ’em Hillary!  And kudos to the U.S. Department of State!

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By David Cloud
Politico

GENEVA—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened her first extended talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by giving him a present meant to symbolize the Obama administration’s vow to “press the reset button” on U.S.-Russia relations.

She handed a palm-sized box wrapped with a bow. Lavrov opened it and pulled out the gift: a red button on a black base with a Russian word peregruzka printed on top. 

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked. 

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said. 

Instead of “reset,” Lavrov said the word on the box meant “overcharge.” 

Clinton and Lavrov laughed. 

“We won’t let you do that to us,” she said. Trying to recover, Clinton said the new administration was serious about improving relations with Moscow. “We mean it, and we’re looking forward to it.” 

Lavrov said he would put the button on his desk and he and Clinton pushed the button together, before sitting down for their meeting.

A State Department official said the misspelling on the button was being corrected, in time for the post-meeting news conference.

Related:
 Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)
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In The White House, Protocol Not Just For Computers

A lot of people get paid a lot of money to prevent the kind of gaffe just made by Hillary Clinton.  Usually they work in an office called “protocol.”

Protocol and dacorum are the opposite of awkward and foolish rolled into disrespectful and inappropriate.
There have been awkward moments before at the White House and in presidential administrations and sometimes they cause pain and embarrassment to visiting dignitaries.  Sometimes they detract from years of great diplomacy.

Just ask Hu Jintao, President of China, after he was introduced at the White House during a Bush hosted ceremony as the President of the “Republic of China,” which most of us know as Taiwan.  President Bush added to the lack of protocol and decorum that day by manhandling President Hu toward the exit to the stage, a “touching” just not allowed  — except maybe for children.

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is helped ... 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, is helped down the stairs by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after a joint press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, March 6, 2009. Clinton said Friday she hopes her first discussion with her Russian counterpart will begin a new era in U.S.-Russian relations without raising doubts about American support for European allies.(AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009.(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)

Hillary’s incredible, shrinking role

February 12, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding that her job description is dissolving under her feet, leaving her with only a vestige of the power she must have thought she acquired when she signed on to be President Obama’s chief Cabinet officer.

By Dick Morris
The Hill

Since her designation:

 Vice President Biden has moved vigorously to stake out foreign policy as his turf. His visit to Afghanistan, right before the Inauguration, could not but send a signal to Hillary that he would conduct foreign policy in the new administration, leaving Hillary in the role of backup.

 

• Richard Holbrooke, the former Balkan negotiator and U.N. ambassador, has been named special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He insisted on direct access to the president, a privilege he was denied during much of the Clinton years.

• Former Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine), negotiator of the Irish Peace Accords, was appointed to be the administration’s point man on Arab-Israeli negotiations.

• Samantha Power, Obama’s former campaign aide, who once called Hillary a “monster,” has been appointed to the National Security Council (NSC) as director of “multilateral affairs.”

• Gen. James L. Jones, Obama’s new national security adviser, has announced an expansion of the membership and role of the NSC. He pledges to eliminate “back channels” to the president and wants to grow the NSC’s role to accommodate the “dramatically different” challenges of the current world situation.

• Susan Rice, Obama’s new United Nations ambassador, insisted upon and got Cabinet rank for her portfolio, and she will presumably also have the same kind of access to Obama that she had as his chief foreign policy adviser during the campaign.

So where does all this leave Secretary of State Clinton?

While sympathy for Mrs. Clinton is outside the normal fare of these columns, one cannot help but feel that she is surrounded by people who are, at best, strangers and, at worst, enemies. ….

Read the rest:
http://thehill.com/dick-morris/hillarys-inc
redible-shrinking-role-2009-02-09.html

U.S. to broaden dialogue with China

January 28, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday signaled a shift in U.S. dealings with China, with the State Department poised to take charge after the Treasury Department’s leading role during the Bush administration’s final years.

By
The Washington Times

Mrs. Clinton said the economy-focused approach to China that was spearheaded by Bush administration Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. must give way to a “broader agenda.”

“We need a comprehensive dialogue with China. The strategic dialogue that was begun in the Bush administration turned into an economic dialogue,” she told reporters in her first briefing at the State Department since taking office last week. “That’s a very important aspect of our relationship with China, but it’s not the only aspect of our relationship.”

She avoided specifics, but issues affecting Sino-U.S. relations traditionally have included human rights, technology transfers, Taiwan, military exchanges and efforts to slow nuclear proliferation and halt fighting in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/ja
n/28/clinton-signals-china-policy-shift-bey
ond-treasury/

Bill Clinton made millions from foreign sources

January 28, 2009

Former President Bill Clinton earned nearly $6 million in speaking fees last year, almost all of it from foreign companies, according to financial documents filed by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press show that $4.6 million of the former president’s reported $5.7 million in 2008 honoraria came from foreign sources, including Kuwait’s national bank, other firms and groups in Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico and Portugal and a Hong Kong-based company that spent $100,000 on federal lobbying last year.

Executives at many of the firms that paid honoraria to Bill Clinton have also donated large amounts of money to the Clinton Foundation, according to documents it released last year as part of an agreement with Congress on Hillary Clinton’s nomination as secretary of state.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090128/a
p_on_go_ca_st_pe/clinton_finances

Two Clintons and An Obama: Winning Hand? Or Hillary: no command of foreign affairs

January 14, 2009

Why is Sen. Clinton, the spouse of the great influence-peddler, being nominated in the first place? In exchange for giving the painful impression that our State Department will be an attractive destination for lobbyists and donors, what exactly are we getting? George Marshall? Dean Acheson? Even Madeleine Albright? No, we are getting a notoriously ambitious woman who made a fool of herself over Bosnia, at the time and during the recent campaign, and who otherwise has no command of foreign affairs except what she’s picked up second-hand from an impeached ex-president, a disbarred lawyer, and a renter of the Lincoln Bedroom. If the Senate waves this through, it will have reinforced its recent image as the rubber-stamp chamber of a bankrupt banana republic. Not an especially good start to the brave new era.

…..

Here is a thought experiment that does not take very much thought. Picture, if you will, Hillary Clinton facing a foreign-policy conundrum. With whom will she discuss it first and most intently: with her president or her husband? (I did tell you that this wouldn’t be difficult.) Here’s another one: Will she be swayed in her foreign-policy decisions by electoral considerations focusing on the year 2012, and, if so, will she be swayed by President Barack Obama’s interests or her own?

By Christopher Hitchins, Slate

The next question, and I must apologize in advance for once again making it an un-strenuous one, is: Who else will be approaching Bill Clinton for advice, counsel, and “input” on foreign affairs? It appears from the donor list of the Clinton Foundation that there is barely an oligarch, royal family, or special-interest group anywhere in the world that does not know how to get the former president’s attention.

Read the rest:
http://www.slate.com/id/2208425/?GT1=38001

Gushing Over Hillary

January 14, 2009

We seem in a moment of gushing over everybody.  All are gushing over barack Obama, the man of hope.  Terrific.

But yesterday, the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gushed all over hillary Clinton, and that was unnecessary and sad….

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By Dana Milbank
The Washington Post

At Hillary Clinton‘s confirmation hearing yesterday, senators came up with a new interpretation of the Constitution’s “advice and consent” clause. This one could be called the “admire and congratulate” clause.

“In Senator Clinton, President-elect Obama has boldly chosen the epitome of a big-leaguer,” gushed Sen. Richard Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

“She’s an excellent choice,” asserted Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.).

“There couldn’t be a better person to represent our nation,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) amended.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sounded as if she were writing for Hallmark as she told Clinton: “I truly appreciate all that you are poised to do and what you have done in the past.”

The line of spectators trying to get into the hearing room snaked the length of the Hart Senate Office Building — more than even a nominee to the Supreme Court can expect — and yet there was no suspense inside. Clinton’s confirmation was a sure thing, and the senators were so deferential to their colleague that they didn’t bother to swear her in, the way they did when her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, came for her confirmation.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/cont
ent/article/2009/01/13/AR200901130271
7.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

At Confirmation Hearing, Clinton Talks of Engagement With Iran

January 14, 2009

Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that the incoming Obama administration will seek to engage directly with Iran in an effort to persuade it to abandon its nuclear program and become “a constructive regional actor,” underscoring a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy from the Bush administration.

By Glenn Kessler
The Washington Post

In prepared testimony and remarks during her confirmation hearing — which were supplemented by 79 pages of formal answers to questions posed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — Clinton was careful not to tip her hand on specific plans or policies that the new administration might pursue. But she struck a consistent theme of active engagement and unyielding diplomacy, a sharp contrast to President Bush‘s policy of refusing to deal with countries that did not first meet conditions set by the United States.

“I don’t get up every morning thinking only about the threats and dangers we face,” Clinton said. “With every challenge comes an opportunity to find promise and possibility in the face of adversity and complexity.”

Clinton also pledged greater involvement in the quest for Middle East peace but was not drawn into specific questions about how the incoming administration might handle Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte
nt/article/2009/01/13/AR2009011301145
.html?hpid=topnews

Endgame In Gaza? Will Hamas Collapse or Just Fade?

January 9, 2009

Israel’s leaders have purposely obscured their war aims in Gaza. But there are only two possible endgames: (A) a Lebanon-like cessation of hostilities to be supervised by international observers, or (B) the disintegration of Hamas rule in Gaza.

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
.
Under tremendous international pressure — including from an increasingly wobbly U.S. State Department — the government of Ehud Olmert has begun hinting that it is receptive to a French-Egyptian cease-fire plan, essentially acquiescing to Endgame A.

That would be a terrible mistake.

It would fail on its own terms. It would have the same elements as the phony peace in Lebanon: an international force that abjures any meaningful use of force, an arms embargo under which arms will most assuredly flood in, and a cessation of hostilities until the terrorist side is rearmed and ready to initiate the next round of hostilities.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2009/01/08/AR2009010802993.html

REFILE - CORRECTING LOCATION OF ARMY BASE  Israeli Army Chief ... 
Israeli Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (L), Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (2nd L), Defence Minister Ehud Barak (3rd L) and Yoav Galant (R), head of the Israeli army Southern Command, sit together during a visit to an army base in an undisclosed location in southern Israel January 8, 2009, in this picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO). Several rockets fired from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Thursday, slightly wounding two people, police and medics said, in an attack seen as linked to Israel’s war on Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip. REUTERS/Amos Ben Gershom