Hillary or Barack: Do Either Have Foreign Policy Experience?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Foreign Policy, The World

Hillary?

Clinton’s aides point to her extensive travel to more than 80 countries as First Lady and her 1995 speech at a U.N. conference on women in Beijing. “She helped represent the United States abroad throughout the ’90s,” says Howard Wolfson, Clinton’s communications director. “Obviously, that’s an important qualification. She went to China and gave a very famous and important address when she declared that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights. That electrified the world.” But these sanitized, ceremonial trips abroad are hardly preparation for the middle-of-the-night call from the Situation Room. After all, Laura Bush has also traveled extensively as First Lady, taking in 68 countries either with her husband or on her own. No one is saying she has the experience to be commander in chief.

Barack?

Obama stresses life experience. At a private meeting with journalists and executives in Manhattan last week, he claimed he had better judgment than “any other candidate.” “And I don’t base that simply on the fact that I was right on the war in Iraq,” he said, according to a transcript provided by campaign staff. “But if you look at how I approached that problem, what I was drawing on was a set of experiences that come from a life of living overseas, having family overseas, being able to see the world through the eyes of people outside our borders. The notion that somehow from Washington you get this vast foreign-policy experience is illusory.”

That may be well phrased. But in reality, Obama lived overseas—in Indonesia—for just four years as a kid. And voters may not warm to a candidate whose judgments are shaped by overseas relatives. (In combating Clinton’s criticisms, Obama has an unlikely ally in Bill Clinton. Obama aides unearthed comments from Bill’s first campaign, in which he eloquently deflected the same kinds of charges of inexperience she’s now leveling at Obama.)

I find Barack’s response a bit refreshing actually, but still…what’s the conclusion?

There is little in the résumés of either Clinton or Obama that will help them negotiate their way through the vast and complex array of foreign-policy challenges the next president will face—in Iraq and beyond. Over the coming months, we may get to hear from them in detail on these points. Yet so far, the bickering over experience reveals more about the character of the campaigns than the qualifications of the candidates.

It all comes down to answering the question, “Who do you trust to make the right decisions when the time comes?” That’s it.

And let me be blunt…after we trusted Bush for 8 years, I don’t think Hillary or Barack are going to be much of a stretch…

Courtesy of MSNBC.


This entry was posted on Monday, July 30th, 2007 and is filed under Foreign Policy, The World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Hillary or Barack: Do Either Have Foreign Policy Experience?”

  1. Paul Chacko Says:

    Rhetoric Vs Reality: Think again and you will see how some despite being not in DC can be smart enough to lead.. like JFK and Bill.

    Barack Obama’s experience: CHECK THIS

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4x_KnWEDjs

    Clinton’s experience:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyqAR4lJCmw

  2. Jeremy Says:

    “Hillary or Barack: Do Either Have Foreign Policy Experience?”

    As opposed to Bush I think anyone has better foreign policy experience. Foreign policy success is largely dependent on negotiation skills. A president has to be able to convince others that it is in their best interests to work and cooperate with the U.S., not oppose it.

    Bush has made the mistake of thinking that since he occupies the most powerful executive office in the world that it means he doesn’t have to
    follow world precedence. The world doesn’t cooperate and follow the U.S. just because it is militarily and economically powerful, it does so because they believe in what most Americans believe–that America, for all its imperfections means good and wants to do good in the world.

    I’ll argue that Bush has severely destroyed this popular image of America and it will take some time to overcome the suspicion and irreverence a great deal of the world feels toward the U.S. at this time.

  3. Jeremy Says:

    “Hillary or Barack: Do Either Have Foreign Policy Experience?”

    As opposed to Bush I think anyone has better foreign policy experience. Foreign policy success is largely dependent on negotiation skills. A president has to be able to convince others that it is in their best interests to work and cooperate with the U.S., not oppose it.

    Bush has made the mistake of thinking that since he occupies the most powerful executive office in the world that it means he doesn’t have to
    follow world precedence. The world doesn’t cooperate and follow the U.S. just because it is militarily and economically powerful, it does so because they believe in what most Americans believe–that America, for all its imperfections means good and wants to do good in the world.

    I’ll argue that Bush has severely destroyed this popular image of America and it will take some time to overcome the suspicion and irreverence a great deal of the world feels toward the U.S. at this time.

    Being successful in the foreign arena will entail listening to other countries, listening to their concerns, their interests and above all their objections. Bullies don’t make true, long lasting friends. Champions of human rights and justice do, I suggest America return to that role instead of the one we are inhabiting now.

  4. vwcat Says:

    I have been arguing the past week your same points when the pundits keep gushing over Hillary and her vast experience.
    But, you made another very valuable point that actually is at the heart of the matter.
    Is it experience or is it judgement.
    While everyone is talking about experience this and that I wonder if they actually mean judgement.
    Maybe that is why the media doesn’t use the correct phrase. Afterall they have been spending everyday for the past 6 months not just giving Hillary a free pass but, cheerlead and spin for her.
    and when the subject of judgement comes up in regards to Hillary, well….let’s just say it is not her strong suit.

  5. Marti Kennedy Says:

    Is no one paying attention? There is a candidate in the Democratic field who actually does have diplomatic negotiating experience, not to mention his familiarity with two of the “despots” Obama has pledged to meet with if elected (Castro and Chavez). Bill Richardson has done so much more in this area than any of the other candidates. Travelling and making moving speeches does not a President make.

  6. Barack and Hillary Says:

    They both lack foreign policy experience. Making a speech abroad and following your husband on his travels is not Foreign Policy Experience. Obama has clinton’s former advisors to fall back on. But this race is to do with more than just Hillary and Barack. Edwards and Biden may surprise you.

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