The speech Wednesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York was a comprehensive look at U.S. foreign policy, almost midterm in the Obama Administration.
It was especially timely as she embarks on her first historically significant mission as secretary, making peace in the Middle East.
Mrs. Clinton preemptively took on the argument that the United States has been so weakened economically that it no longer can play the leading role that it has exercised in global foreign policy since World War II.
She said the world still looks to America, not just to engage, but to lead the world and called this “a new American moment. “
The secretary sees two constants in the nation's destiny at this point. The first is the need for “national renewal, “ a preoccupation of President Obama.
The second is “international diplomacy,” her own mission. Looking ahead to the upcoming U.N. General Assembly, she underlined the need for the United States to concentrate on its role in traditional institutions, starting with the United Nations, but also to focus on developing new partners — institutions such as the G-20, countries like India and Russia and key places like Palestine.
She stressed the need for the United States to remain a champion of human rights and defended the nation against accusations made against its actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
She made a point in talking about Iran, its nuclear ambitions, and the initiatives by various countries to block them.
Without referring to pressures on the United States to attack Iran, or to agree to an Israeli attack, Mrs. Clinton said the United States and its partners remain committed to a “negotiated solution.” She knows full well that any military action against Iran would spell death to her efforts to achieve a Middle East peace settlement.
Secretary of State Clinton's talk was useful, informative, and timely — and rightfully called attention to the nation's major foreign policy goals.