Clinton Us Must Exercise Smart Power

01.13.09 | FL News Team

The U.S. must initiate a new era of pragmatic "smart power." So said Secretary of State-nominee Hillary Clinton in a Senate confirmation hearing. She described "smart power" as an effective mix of diplomacy and defense.

New York Senator Clinton said the U.S. must continue to promote its interests while upholding American values. She described a complex, dangerous world that needs positive, strong U.S. leadership. 

Indiana Republican Dick Lugar praised Democrat Clinton as a "big leaguer," but expressed concerns about former President Bill Clinton's charitable activities. Lugar cited the former President's aggressive fundraising efforts for his non-profit global foundation.

Lugar warned about possible distractions and perceptions of conflicts of interest on the international stage. He said foreign governments, quote, "may perceive the Clinton Foundation as a means to gain favor with the Secretary of State."

Lugar further warned that the Clinton Foundation, quote, "exists as a temptation for any foreign entity or government that believes it could curry favor through a donation."  The former President has agreed to disclose past donors and submit future donations to a State Department ethics panel for an annual review. 

Senator Clinton cited the ongoing violence in Gaza between Hamas and Israel. Clinton said the U.S. must address Israel's security needs while balancing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians.

She also argued that the U.S. must find new ways to challenge Iran to end nuclear ambitions. Clinton said past efforts have not worked. Additionally, Clinton said Iran and Syria must be convinced to "abandon their dangerous behavior" in the volatile Middle East. 

Senator Clinton was President-elect Barack Obama's chief rival in last year's Democratic presidential primaries. The 61-year old Clinton was first elected to the Senate in 2000 after serving eight years as First Lady in the administration of her husband. Hillary Clinton has been a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Opening the confirmation hearing, Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry called for a "new era of American diplomacy." Kerry described Senator Clinton as a tough woman of "global stature." Kerry, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed strong interest in the Secretary of State post before Obama selected Clinton.