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Column: Clinton A Questionable Secretary Of State Choice

This story was written by Cristobal Matibag, Iowa State Daily

Earlier this week, MSNBC Correspondent Andrea Mitchell reported that President-elect Barack Obamas transition team had offered Hillary Clinton the top job in the State Department. I was sincerely surprised by these developments. When I consider the possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming secretary of state, Im faced with two conflicting impulses. The first is to immediately discount the influence of the position. The second is to wonder why Obama (reportedly) offered it to her.Post-Nixon, many of the historical functions of the State Department have been usurped by the presidents National Security Adviser. For a recent example of this paradigm shift, one can look to the conduct of the Iraq war undoubtedly the largest of Americas current foreign policy challenges.Former NSA Condoleezza Rice was instrumental in supporting the 2003 invasion of Iraq. At the time, Secretary of State Colin Powells doubts about pre-war intelligence were sidelined. He eventually became the mouthpiece for the administrations faulty rationale for war, spouting false allegations about Saddam Husseins possession of yellowcake uranium before the United Nations. In the thousands of days since the current administration declared Mission Accomplished in that country, Bush has delegated an unprecedented amount of oversight to his National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, who was one of the main architects of 2007s troop surge.These examples illustrate the diminishing role that the State Department has played in the recent past, as well as the ascendancy of the strong NSA. Presuming that current trends continue, Clinton would probably not have the kind of power that predecessors such as Dean Acheson or John Foster Dulles once wielded.However diminished its role, the head of the State Department is still a respected player at the foreign-affairs table. Why would Barrack Obama risk giving a voice small as it may be to a woman who has so often demonstrated her opposition to his proposed foreign-policy agenda?In the primaries, Clinton attacked Obama for being willing to speak with enemy leaders without preconditions. She repeatedly condemned the possibility of open dialogue with them as dangerous. In a pointless and inflammatory gesture, she also voted for a Senate resolution that designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. According to the National Journal, Obama missed that vote, but has said he would have voted against it. Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq from its inception, while Sen. Clinton voted to authorize it. Though she now concedes that the intelligence it was based on was misleading, she refuses to repudiate that vote.During Sundays 60 Minutes interview, Obama invoked Abraham Lincolns team of rivals as a model for his cabinet. Clinton certainly fits the rival description. I just hope that the rivalry between Clinton and the president-elect doesnt obstruct the latters foreign policy plans.
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