No one is sure whether Hillary Clinton is going to run for president in 2016 except the former Secretary of State herself, the author of a new book on Clinton tells Newsmax TV.
“She hasn’t fully made up her mind yet. She is keeping the door open,” Kim Ghattas, a BBC foreign correspondent, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “She will make sure that she doesn’t do anything in the next year or two that undermines the possibility of her running for office.
“She is going to get some rest and study the lay of the land over the course of the next two years, see how President [Barack] Obama’s second term unfolds, whether Americans will want to elect a Democrat for the third time in a row to the White House,” Ghattas says. “She’ll size up the competition in the Republican Party, perhaps even within the Democratic Party because, remember, in 2007, everybody said the Democratic nomination was hers for the taking — and it didn’t turn out like that.
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“She’ll look very closely at who might be rising within the ranks of the Democratic Party,” Ghattas adds. “Of course, there’s talk that perhaps the vice president, Joe Biden, will want to run. I don’t think that they will run against each other in the primaries.”
Ghattas, who was born and educated in Beirut, is the author of “The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton, from Beirut to the Heart of American Power.” A former reporter for The Financial Times, she has traveled with Clinton throughout her term as America’s top diplomat.
“It was ‘exhausting’ — in one word,” Ghattas says of her following Clinton across 300,000 miles and 40 countries. “You will see the detail of what that actually involves, the exhaustion that comes with trailing behind the American Secretary of State, how she does her job as the representative of America around the world — and you’ll see the detail of what it’s like for someone like Hillary Clinton in the 21st Century to represent the United States at a time of challenge around the world.”
Clinton’s greatest contribution as Secretary of State is improving perceptions of the United States abroad, Ghattas says.
“Hillary Clinton went about trying to implement the concept of ‘smart power,’ trying to keep aside, alongside President Obama, how the United States exercised American leadership,” she adds. “Now, it’s a very intangible legacy. It’s a very intangible contribution, but it does go a long way — and I have seen first-hand how her ability to connect with people and relate to people wherever they are actually does make quite a message to the way the United States is perceived.”
But Clinton had virtually no breakthroughs with Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and North Korea during her tenure — and the Mideast peace process stalled on her watch, too, Ghattas acknowledges.
“It’s so hard these days to get big diplomatic breakthroughs whether on Iran or North Korea. There haven’t really been many breakthroughs that you can point at over the last few decades. They are there, but there aren’t that many.”
And, as for the Middle East, “It’s not that easy. The world is complex and the parties on the ground, President [Mahmoud] Abbas on the Palestinian side and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had their own agendas, their own interests and their own domestic policies and their own domestic ordinances that they had to respond to,” Ghattas says.
Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff who now is Chicago’s mayor, didn’t help much, either.
“Rahm Emmanuel, who was very close to the president within the White House, tried to push Prime Minister Netanyahu to make some concessions — and when they couldn’t get that, they decided to push the Arabs to make concessions in the hope that that would bring Israelis back to the table,” Ghattas says. “We saw that that didn’t really lead anywhere, because on the ground neither side was really willing to make concessions.”
There is Benghazi, of course.
“I don’t think it’s going to change drastically the approach that the administration is taking to the Middle East,” Ghattas tells Newsmax. “I spoke to Anne Stevens, the sister of Chris Stevens, the ambassador who was killed in Libya, soon after he was killed — and I was very struck by her calm, determined demeanor after one of her meetings with the president.
“She told me: ‘I really hope that this administration is not going to give up on the Middle East, is not going to give up on the work that Chris was doing in Libya – a country that he loved so much,’” she adds. “If you look at the bigger picture, this was a tragedy but, unfortunately, whether you’re a diplomat or whether you’re a journalist, tragedies are part of the cost of doing diplomacy in dangerous places.
“It’s very unfortunate but that is how it is — and if the United States wants to continue to engage in countries and advance its interests or connect with people around the world, that’s something that they will have to, in a way, factor in, unfortunately.”
Described as “the hand of experience by the side of the president,” Ghattas characterizes Clinton’s relationship with Obama as one of deep loyalty.
“Everybody was very intrigued by the interview that they gave together to CBS. It was an interesting book end to that working relationship, as president and secretary of state. They were rivals on the campaign trail, but before that, they were colleagues in the Senate. So there was a working relationship there already.
“She really was very loyal,” Ghattas adds. “She was a good soldier. She weighed in whenever she could, when she felt it was important. She won some battles and lost some others. She weighed in, for example, very heavily on Libya and switched the balance in favor of action there in 2011 with NATO.”
That year, Clinton joined other world diplomats in calling for longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down — and she backed increased NATO air strikes and rebel ground actions that ultimately led to Gadhafi’s death.
“But, again, loyalty and, in a way, the closing of the ranks, because there was a sense that it was important for this administration to show that they were all on the same page,” she says. “They had their debates, some of them very heated behind closed doors — and then they made up their minds and presented a united front to Washington and to the outside world, which goes a long way in shoring up America’s credibility.”
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