US Foreign Policy: A Critical Choice

The conduct of American foreign policy is more critical today than at any time since the late 1980s. The next President of the United States must have extensive foreign policy experience with command of the issues and the process. In this regard, comparing Hillary Clinton's knowledge and experience to that of Donald Trump is analogous to comparing the U.S. Special Forces to a Boy Scout troop. One wonders whether he knows the difference between the Baltics and the Balkans.

Whereas Mr. Trump, whose foreign policy experience appears to be limited to opening golf courses and emceeing beauty contests, Hillary Clinton's mastery of foreign policy predates her tenure as Secretary of State. By the mid-1990s she was already a seasoned diplomat and an outstanding spokesperson for the United States. I know this from personal experience as US Ambassador to Hungary in the mid-1990s.

In July 1996 I had the privilege of welcoming then First Lady Clinton to Budapest for a three day visit. Before arriving in Budapest, Mrs. Clinton advised my embassy that she wanted to meet with a variety of Hungarians: she was particularly interested in problems faced by women, children, and minorities in a country recently emerged from Soviet domination. The day she was due to arrive in Budapest, Mrs. Clinton had already spent the morning in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, followed by a trip to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

This meant that she had to master the issues she discussed in two other countries before arriving in Hungary. After laying a wreath at the monument honoring Imry Nagy, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the People's Republic of Hungary during the 1956 uprising, I took her to the Parliament Building to meet Hungary's Prime Minister Gyula Horn and Foreign Minister László Kovács. Showing no signs of wear and tear, Hillary was impressive. She spent over an hour discussing Hungary's foreign policy and domestic concerns - possible admission to NATO, membership in the EU, the state of Hungary's economy, its treatment of minorities, particularly Roma, Jewish restitution, and the role of women in Hungary's civic and political life.

I never experienced a more satisfying meeting between a prominent American and Hungarian leadership in my two previous years as Ambassador. On the way out of the meeting, I turned to Hillary and said, "If you ever get tired of being First Lady, you might consider becoming Secretary of State."

Hillary has already accomplished this and is now ready to assume the Presidency.

Ambassador Donald Blinken
U.S. Ambassador to Hungary
1994-1998