Hillary Clinton calls for pragmatic approach to diplomacy

In an apparent criticism of the Bush administration, Hillary Clinton said foreign policy should marry "principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology." Speaking before the Senate on Tuesday, she promised a new era of "smart power".


AFP - Secretary of state designate Hillary Clinton Tuesday promised a new era of "smart" US military and diplomatic power under president-elect Barack Obama, saying American global leadership would no longer be found wanting.

But Clinton, in the latest intriguing twist to her trail-blazing political career, the former first lady and New York Senator also warned the Senate Foreign Relations committee America could not solve the world's problems alone.

Clinton received an almost rapturous welcome from her soon-to-be-former Senate colleagues and is expected to coast to Senate confirmation within days after giving the first post-election glimpse of Obama foreign policy.

"I believe American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted," said Clinton, who narrowly lost her campaign against Obama for the Democratic nomination last year, ending her bid to be the first woman president.

"We must use what has been called 'smart power,' the full range of tools at our disposal," Clinton said, advocating a mix of diplomatic, economic, military, political legal and cultural strategies.

In an apparent criticism of the Bush administration, Clinton said she and Obama believed in foreign policy which married "principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology."

But she warned that military power "will sometimes be necessary, and we will rely on it to protect our people and our interests when and where needed as a last resort."

She also placed part of the onus for repairing relationships strained during the Bush administration on US partners.

"America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the world cannot solve them without America," she said.

Clinton, 61, delivered a broad sweep of US foreign policy but gave few specifics, reiterating Obama's pledges to put a new focus on the war in Afghanistan and to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

She pledged the United States would work to combat climate change, in a reversal of the Bush administration's reticence to throw itself into global efforts and would cut US reliance on carbon energy sources.

Touching on the Gaza conflict, Clinton, set to succeed Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, said the United States "cannot give up on peace."

"The president-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets," Clinton said.

"However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians."

"We will exert every effort to support the work of Israelis and Palestinians who seek that result."

She promised a "comprehensive" terrorism strategy to root out Al-Qaeda, and like the Bush administration, warned the greatest threat to America was that weapons of mass destruction would fall into the hands of terrorists.

She said the Obama administration would seek to reduce global nuclear stockpiles and would work to prevent nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran.

In line with Obama's campaign promises, Clinton said the administration would reach out to old friends, including Europe, India, Japan and South Korea and seem to forge new alliances and to diminish the lists of US enemies.

Clinton who spoke scathingly of China's trade policies during her failed Democratic presidential campaign, warned that China-US ties would depend largely on Beijing's behavior in the world and at home.

"We want a positive and cooperative relationship with China, one where we deepen and strengthen our ties on a number of issues," Clinton said.

"But this is not a one-way effort -- much of what we will do depends on the choices China makes about its future at home and abroad."     

She also said Obama wanted a cooperative relationship with Russia, after recent diplomatic spats between Washington and Moscow but would stand up for its interests and international norms.

The only note of discord amid Clinton's warm welcome, came from a courteous but forceful warning from Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who wanted more steps taken to avoid conflicts of interests between Clinton's new job and the charitable foundation of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

"If there is the slightest doubt about the appearance that a donation might create, the foundation should not take it," Lugar said.

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