Gringo Lost

Words about things and stuff

Some substance when talking about Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy

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I’m a fan of Hillary Clinton.  As well, I should be (and so should everyone else).  After all, she was a good first lady, is a good diplomat, and as far as senators go she wasn’t bad either.  I find complaints about her tend to be shallow or sexist; small-minded lambasting about her dress or attitude that obfuscates what she actually contributes to this country.

So to my relief, this morning’s Washington Post printed an article by David Rothkopf which was actually substantive and fair-minded; a look beyond the pantsuits to explain what type of American foreign policy Sec. Clinton has set in motion.

As Rothkopf notes, Sec. Clinton’s foreign policy is focused on promoting broader inclusions of international actors, both state and non-state.  There is a forward-looking dimension to it which emphasizes international institutions and multi-actor partnerships, while building on relationships with rising powers in the global system.

According to Rothkopf, “The recurring themes [of Clinton’s foreign policy] include ‘partnership’ and ‘engagement’ and ‘common interests.’ Clearly, Madeleine Albright’s ‘indispensable nation’ has recognized the indispensability of collaborating with others.”

Now there is another part of the article which I’d like to pullout, mainly because of its significance to my current capacity as a development intern with Foundation Proacceso ECO. Proacceso ECO’s goal is to reduce Mexico’s internal digital divide and make information technology more widely available, while simultaneously promoting e-learning opportunities that expand economic possibilities for Mexico’s poor.

The pullout from Rothkopf’s article:

At the center of Clinton’s brain trust is Anne-Marie Slaughter[.] Now head of policy planning at the State Department, Slaughter elaborated on the ideas in Clinton’s speech. “We envision getting not just a new group of states around a table, but also building networks, coalitions and partnerships of states and nonstate actors to tackle specific problems[.]

[…]

A new team has been brought in to make these changes real. Clinton recruited Alec Ross, one of the leaders of Obama’s technology policy team, to the seventh floor of the State Department as her senior adviser for innovation. His mission is to harness new information tools to advance U.S. interests — a task made easier as the Internet and mobile networks have played starring roles in recent incidents, from Iran to the Uighur uprising in western China to Moldova. Whether through a telecommunications program in Congo to protect women from violence or text messaging to raise money for Pakistani refugees in the Swat Valley, technology has been deployed to reach new audiences.

Before this summer, I honestly hadn’t put much thought into the power of IT to change status-quo disadvantages.  And now, not to be cliché but knowledge is power.  Promoting innovation and broader telecommunications access is rightly to be placed high on America’s foreign policy agenda.

Similarly, I think Sec. Clinton’s emphasis on women’s issues should be seen as more than a personal goal but one that furthers our greater national interest of liberty and justice. As Clinton herself said, “the social, political and economic marginalization of women across Africa has left a void in this continent that undermines progress and prosperity.”

Note: If at all interested in information technology or Mexico’s economic development please read this previous post about a World Bank report titled “No Growth Without Equity.”

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