Hard Choices | Hillary Rodham Clinton

Summary of: Hard Choices
By: Hillary Rodham Clinton


Dive into the world of international diplomacy and foreign policy during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as US Secretary of State in ‘Hard Choices’. In this book summary, you will get a snapshot of crucial foreign relations issues faced by the Obama administration, including the Asia-Pacific pivot, relations with China, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Mexican drug cartels, and Russia. Uncover the strategies, negotiations and efforts involved in shaping the future and addressing international challenges. ‘Hard Choices’ offers an insightful look into global developments, and prepares you for understanding the underlying motives and intentions driving world affairs.

Obama’s Pivot to Asia

The Obama administration shifted American foreign policy focus to the Asia-Pacific region from the Middle East to reassert the US as a power in Asia. The economic and strategic opportunities in East Asia, as well as the need for a counterbalance against China and North Korea, were the primary reasons behind this move. The initiative involved the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, renewed engagement with multilateral organizations like ASEAN, and military maneuvers in response to security threats. The administration also continuously met with Japanese leaders and offered assistance following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Clinton visited the Pacific Region 36 times and made seven trips to China during her first three years in office.

Navigating the Complex Ties with China

The relationship between the United States and China is intricate and multifaceted, with both countries having a strong interest in maintaining good relations. China is the largest foreign creditor to the US and a significant trade partner. However, China consistently violates human rights and international borders while seeking to expand its territory. The Obama administration has attempted to focus on common ground with China, establishing a high-level strategic dialogue and expanding trade. At the same time, the US has encouraged smaller Asian nations to stand against China’s territorial grabs and has granted asylum to human rights activists. Despite the challenges, the US continues to navigate the complicated relationship by balancing cooperation with asserting its values.

The United States and Iran’s Nuclear Deal

The strained relations between the United States and Iran have posed several obstacles, with Iran’s nuclear ambitions being a significant challenge. With Iran increasing the number of centrifuges to enrich uranium and building a secret uranium-enrichment facility, the fear of Iran building a nuclear bomb grew exponentially. Such a development would change the dynamics of the world, given Iran’s past propensity to attack US property and troops overseas, making it a global problem. The United States has used diplomacy and harsh sanctions to impede Iran’s atomic plans. However, when Hassan Rouhani became Iran’s President, he negotiated a deal with the US where Iran agreed to discard highly enriched uranium, and in turn, the international community would provide sanctions relief to billions of dollars.

The Benghazi Attack Investigation

The Benghazi attack on September 11, 2012, led to the deaths of four Americans, including the ambassador, Christopher Stephens. The media and the US Congress criticized Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State at the time, for failing to provide adequate security. However, subsequent investigations revealed gaps in State Department security procedures, and the Diplomatic Security office and the State Department offices did not coordinate effectively. The accountability review board concluded its report with 29 recommendations, and the State Department lacked funds and personnel resources to operate at its full potential. Clinton accepted some responsibility, but she was not solely responsible and did not fail her staff. The local militia contracted to guard the compound failed to defend it, and security matters are traditionally addressed by officials responsible for staff security. Clinton received important security requests, but she could not be held personally responsible for the department’s lack of response.

Mexican Drug Cartels: A Looming Threat

The activities of Mexican drug cartels present a significant threat to both Mexico and the United States. Drug trafficking is responsible for thousands of deaths in Mexico every year and impedes economic and democratic development. The majority of illegal drugs in the United States are transported through Mexico, and 90% of the weapons used by Mexican cartels come from the US. To combat this, a multi-pronged strategy was devised in 2009, which included financial aid to Mexico for purchasing military gear and training of Mexican police officers by the US. Hundreds of additional guards were stationed on the American side of the border to fight gun running and drug smuggling, and the cooperation has yielded promising results. Since the collaboration began, some two dozen high-level drug traffickers have been captured or killed. In addition, the United States has worked out a positive compromise for Cuba’s membership in the Organization of American States. Cuba’s suspension was lifted, but it had to formally request readmittance and raise democratic standards to participate.

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