At the conclusion of my previous article on Secretary Clinton, I stated that "If we consider that harnessing new technologies and advancing women's rights are global issues, then Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State may have sculpted her into the perfect president for this moment." Bringing this vision to bear will require negotiating across the world as much as (if not more than) negotiating across the aisle, and Hard Choices demonstrates Hillary's acumen in the international arena.
The Hillary Parameters: Two-State Solution
Hillary continues to pray that one day the Jewish children of Isaac and the Arab children of Ishmael will have "a comprehensive peace based on two states for two peoples" (p. 487). In November 2012, however, dreams for peace were once again awoken by hundreds of rockets fired into southern Israel by the terrorist organization Hamas (which controlled Gaza from 2007 to 2014). While at a diplomatic meeting in Perth, Australia, Secretary Clinton supported the decision of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire back. "Every country has the right to defend itself, and no government could be expected to accept such provocation" (p. 477).
Far from being a hawk, however, Hillary began carving a path towards de-escalation before a potentially catastrophic ground war ensued. On November 20th, Secretary Clinton convinced President Obama to let her fly "to the Middle East to personally intervene in the conflict" (p. 479). After meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli PM Netanyahu, she met with the former PM of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, acting as an interlocutor, to successfully arbitrate a cease-fire.
Sadly, violence erupted again between Israel and Gaza in the summer of 2014. It wasn't long ago in 2009 when Netanyahu "endorsed the idea of the two-state solution for the first time" (p. 317). Perhaps, in her next chapter (TBD), she will bring the two parties to agree on the Hillary Parameters which, like the Clinton Parameters, will give "the Palestinians a state in the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem." The alternative is an eventual revenge of the cradle, wherein Palestinians will be the majority in Israel due to higher birth rates and lower Israeli birth rates. Reaching a two-state compromise would be preferred over the suggestion by Israeli Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir to take steps to decrease the Palestinian birth rate. The United States will reap more benefits from protracted economic growth among Israelis and Palestinians than from protracted conflict, which award-winning journalist Rula Jebreal predicts will lead to a Third Intifada. As Hillary Clinton makes clear, "the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people will never be satisfied until there is a two-state solution that ensures dignity, justice, and security for all Palestinians and Israelis" (p. 311).
"The combined economy of Latin America [is] nearly three times the size of India's or Russia's and not far behind China's and Japan's" (p. 254). Latin America has "a combined GDP of more than $5 trillion" and Hillary sees the 'power of this proximity' between the United States and Latin America "as a comparative advantage to be embraced, especially at a time when we need to spur more growth at home" (pp. 246-247). Of course, gleaming the benefits of increasing interdependence between the America's necessitates that we invest in the prosperity of Latin America. Unfortunately, some US policies over the last few decades have left many in harrowing poverty and at constant threat from unfettered militias and drug cartels. While the War on Drugs was successful on paper in Columbia as Presidents Andres Pastrana, Alvaro Uribe, and Manuel Santos shepherded through Plan Columbia, the reality was less propitious as many cartels simply relocated to other countries where their profitable black markets could act as pseudo-jurisdictions with less (if any) government imposition.
About "90 percent of all the drugs used in America flowed through Mexico, and roughly 90 percent of the weapons used by the cartels came from the United States" (p. 250). Put simply, "America shared responsibility for helping Mexico stop the violence." In order to provide an explanatory account of the effect of US gun laws on violence in Latin America, Dube, Dube, & Garcia-Ponce (2013) assessed increases in violence following the expiration of the assault weapons ban in 2003. Indeed, "municipios neighboring entry ports into Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico saw total homicides rise by 60 percent" (Dube et al., 2013, p. 415). However, Mexican municipalities adjacent to the California border have not seen a similar increase in violence as California has retained state-level restrictions on assault weapons. In short, the failures of the drug war, acting in concert with drug cartels taking advantage of Americans' 2nd Amendment right to protect themselves and their family, has prevented Central America from being the petri dish of shared prosperity Hillary Clinton envisions. The consequences couldn't be clearer...
Alexander Mora was the first to be identified of 43 college students missing in Mexico since September 26th. These 43 lives add to the 60,000+ that have been taken in Mexico over the past decade. This is inextricably linked to the violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras (the so-called corridor of violence). The increase in Central American refugees in summer 2014 was a reminder of the human toll of decades of failed policies (read Roque Planas' & Ryan Grim's historical analysis of the Refugee Crisis here).
Rather than rush to deport unaccompanied minors, we should review each family's case to determine if they can stay in the United States. It's unfortunate that the national media failed to discuss the Special Immigrant Juvenile Visa, which states that "children whose return to their country of nationality or last habitual residence is not in their best interest, may be able to obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and, based on that, apply for lawful permanent residence (a green card)." As one 17-year old Honduran refugee ("Maria") said in an interview with Jose-Diaz Balart, "I arrived just to save my own life, so I could continue my dreams, so I could help my family." She noted that if she was deported back to Honduras, the country with the highest murder rate in the world and with 8 million of the poorest people in Central America, "That would be the last day. I would die."
Hillary's promise is to help Latin America achieve the prosperity we all wish to see. While threading the diplomatic needle as Secretary of State, she "helped develop a proposal for an Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas" and "set a goal of seeing every community in the region gain access to electricity by the year 2022" (pp. 255-256). Hillary argued for policies that would address the economic inequality in Latin America that kept many "locked in persistent poverty"; namely, ensuring "workers earn decent wages," "that families have enough food on the table," encouraging countries "to join negotiations with Asian nations on TPP, the trans-Pacific trade agreement," and ensuring "that the benefits of economic growth were broadly shared" (pp. 254-255).
Independence Through Interdependence
The story of Vladimir Putin's father recognizing his wife in a pile of bodies during World War 2 and nursing her back to health is beautiful (p. 243). It's unfortunate that the Russian leader himself fails to exhibit even a modicum of his father's humanity.
Sclerotic societies like Russia have become "a study in squandered potential" (p. 244). Russia's blasé response to the act of terrorism that downed Malaysia Flight MH17, an event that was only possible because Putin armed the separatists in eastern Ukraine, only further isolated it from the international community after its "illegal annexation of Crimea in early 2014" (p. 212). While failed states like Russia may be persona non grata in our global community, attempts to replace the resources provided by such countries will ultimately bring the international community closer.
For example, "America's own expanding natural gas supplies helped loosen Russia's grip on Europe's electricity", and Hillary help Shepherd through agreements on the Southern Corridor Pipeline which, in its latest iteration, would give Europe access to natural gas in Azerbaijan as early as 2016 (pp. 240-241). Hillary suggests that Europe could gain even greater economic independence if they pushed "an aggressive investment program" as opposed to austerity or "just cutting spending, which would contract the economy even more" (pp. 210-211).
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the band Pussy Riot and 2014 Hannah Arendt Prize winners, offer far more hope for Russia today than its irascible leader who fetishizes the idea "to re-Sovietize Russia's periphery" with such prurience it would make Christian Grey blush in all 50 shades (p. 239). The Soviet Union ended in 1991 and thus Ukraine owes Russia nothing for its sovereignty or desire to join the European Union. It would be great if Russia realized how profitable it and the world would be with greater cooperation in science and innovation, but unfortunately they are "frozen between the past they can't let go of and the future they can't bring themselves to embrace" (p. 245). Until Russia is ready to move forward, the United States will help our allies across the world achieve greater independence from them through interdependence.
The international scope of what Hillary refers to as her "unfinished business" in Hard Choices goes beyond the perfunctory rhetoric aligning the liberal-conservative spectrum; instead she offers an incisive account of her policies, approach, and vision for American Leadership in a 21st century that promises to be defined by unprecedented global interdependence. In short, global policies are American policies.
Dube, A., Dube, O., & García-Ponce, O. (2013). Cross-Border Spillover: US Gun Laws and Violence in Mexico. American Political Science Review, 107(03), 397-417.