Mrs. Clinton is beginning to be pressed for details of specific things that she was involved in, or specific things that she had done, in foreign policy while First Lady. (Earlier, in the Ohio debate, she had not answered Tim Russert’s question on that point.)
Clinton has now responded by claiming that she “helped to bring peace” to Northern Ireland and negotiated with Macedonia to open up its border to refugees from Kosovo. She also cited “standing up” to the Chinese government on women’s rights and a one-day visit she made to Bosnia following the Dayton peace accords.
Today Former Northern Ireland First Minister William David Trimble — who shared a Nobel Prize for his peacemaking efforts in Northern Ireland — is contradicting Hillary Clinton’s statements that she played an instrumental part in the peace process there, calling her claim “a wee bit silly.” The Daily Telegraph reports Lord Trimble says of Clinton, “I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill (Clinton) going around… being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player.”
Thankfully many are questioning this “experience” and her contention that she had any significant foreign policy experience, her trips abroad while First Lady, while perhaps broadening, were hardly the equivalent of managing global crises.
She was never asked to do the heavy lifting” when meeting with foreign leaders, said Susan Rice, who was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration and is now advising Obama. “She wasn’t asked to move the mountain or deliver a harsh message or a veiled threat. It was all gentle prodding or constructive reinforcement. And it would not have been appropriate for her to do the heavy lifting.”
Mrs. Clinton’s mission to Bosnia was a one-day visit in which she was accompanied by performers Sheryl Crow and Sinbad, as well as her daughter, Chelsea, according to the commanding general who hosted her.
Earlier in the campaign, Senator and President Clinton have claimed that she had been urging him to send in troops to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda.
Whatever her private conversations with the president may have been, key foreign policy officials say that a U.S. military intervention in Rwanda was never considered in the Clinton administration’s policy deliberations. Despite lengthy memoirs by both Clintons and former Secretary of State and UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright, any advice she gave on Rwanda had not been mentioned until her presidential campaign.
“In my review of the records, I didn’t find anything to suggest that military intervention was put on the table in NSC [National Security Council] deliberations,” said Gail Smith, a Clinton NSC official who did a review for the White House of the administration’s handling of the Rwandan genocide. Smith is an Obama supporter.
Prudence Bushnell, a retired State Department official who handled the Rwanda portfolio at the time and has not allied with a presidential candidate, confirmed that a U.S. military intervention was not considered in policy deliberations.
The one thing that she did that pretty much everyone mentions as a foreign policy triumph was her speech to the United Nations’ Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995. She spoke out forcefully in making a call for women’s rights, and she particularly mentioned forced abortion, a practice in the host country.
So when Senator Clinton derisively says, “With me or with Senator McCain, there is a lifetime of experience, but Senator Obama gave a speech in 2002,” one might counter by saying that her experience amounts to a disastrous vote on the Iraq War, a horrible vote that amounted to American saber rattling with Iran and a speech she made in 1995.