Clinton's Goals Detailed

By Walter Pincus
Monday, January 19, 2009

While Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke primarily in generalities during her four-hour confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, her formal introductory statement and her 79-page written answers to questions for the record laid out some specific programs and goals that offer clues and insight on the incoming administration's foreign policy.

In the battle of ideas, she said, the United States would go on the offensive implementing President-elect Barack Obama's pledges to open "America Houses" in cities across the Arab world. These facilities, fashioned after a Cold War-era program, would have Internet libraries, English lessons and stories about Muslims in America. An initiative labeled "America's Voice Corps" would recruit young Americans with language and public diplomacy skills to speak with and listen to people in the area. Completing the package would be a Global Education Fund to provide $2 billion for primary education around the world. But, she said, there would not be a return of the independent U.S. Information Agency.

Clinton said the incoming administration wants to end the Cold War practice of keeping intercontinental ballistic missiles ready for launch "at a moment's notice," though she added the proviso that it must be done "in a mutual and credible manner." Calls for previous administrations to take weapons off the "hair trigger" alert have failed because the Air Force thought its missile launch officers would lose their edge if they no longer did alert duty.

While the Bush administration unsuccessfully sought approval for a new warhead, under the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, Clinton said the new administration would "set a new direction in nuclear weapons . . . one that reflects the changed security conditions of the 21st century." But she said that "new direction" would await the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review, which will not be completed before December.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration would continue negotiations with Russia to replace the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expires in December, with a legally binding document that includes monitoring and verification provisions not included in the June 2003 Moscow Treaty signed by President Bush and Russia's president at the time, Vladimir Putin. That treaty set warhead limits of 1,700 to 2,200 for each side's deployed weapons, to be reached by 2012. Clinton said the Obama administration would seek to negotiate "deep, verifiable reductions in all U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, whether deployed or non-deployed, strategic or non-strategic."

Clinton and Obama were "committed" to Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and would encourage India to join it. Remembering that the treaty was voted down by a Republican-led Senate during the Clinton administration, she said they want to ensure that lawmakers were briefed this time on how the treaty could be verified and how reliability of the U.S. stockpile could be maintained without testing. To support verification, she said, the United States would fully support funding of the International Monitoring System, whereas the Bush administration in past years failed to pay its total assessed share of the costs.

Clinton said the new foreign policy team would work to negotiate a treaty banning production of fissile material for nuclear weapons use and end the Bush administration's position that such a treaty should not contain international verification provisions. She said the United States would seek to double the budget of the International Atomic Energy Agency over the next four years and also support a $50 million U.S. contribution for an international nuclear fuel bank so nations with nuclear power plants did not need to have their own reprocessing facilities.

On some issues, Clinton hedged about what would be done. On the controversial matter of the International Criminal Court, she said the United States would continue the Bush policy of aiding in the Darfur investigation and others, while keeping in mind that there are more American troops stationed abroad than any other nation. "Whether we work toward joining or not," Clinton said, "we will end hostility toward the ICC and look for opportunities to encourage effective ICC action in ways that promote U.S. interests by bring war criminals to justice."

National security and intelligence reporter Walter Pincus pores over the speeches, reports, transcripts and other documents that flood Washington and every week uncovers the fine print that rarely makes headlines -- but should. If you have any items that fit the bill, please send them to

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