Where is the Secretary of State? Hillary Clinton has gone AWOL on the Iranian front

by Nile Gardiner
Telegraph [UK]
30 December 2009

The White House should send a search party to track down Hillary Clinton. America’s foreign policy chief has been missing from the world stage for several days, and has become as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel at the height of the French Revolution. I wrote earlier in the year that Clinton had become the invisible Secretary of State, and her current absence certainly reinforces that impression.

One would have thought that with a potential revolution on the streets of Tehran, and with scenes of horrific and savage brutality against protesters by the Iranian regime, that Washington’s official voice on international affairs might at least have expressed an opinion. Even Barack Obama took time away from the golf course in Hawaii to comment (albeit rather weakly) on the latest developments in the Middle East’s biggest power, which included over 1,500 arrests by the brutal Iranian security forces and Revolutionary Guards, and the murder of at least ten dissidents.

I’m not aware however of a single statement from a senior official at the State Department on the latest situation in Iran – a disgraceful state of affairs and a huge abdication of responsibility.

As far as I can tell there is no foreign policy leadership at all in Washington at the moment, at a time when the United States is faced with a grave nuclear threat on the horizon from the Iranian dictatorship, and the world is anxiously watching as pro-democracy protesters are being beaten to a pulp and in some cases killed.

I don’t buy the view that because this is the Christmas/New Year holiday, senior figures in the Obama administration can’t be expected to react rapidly to major international developments. There are millions of police officers, nurses and other vital personnel on duty at this time – why not top government officials when the need arises? It’s also significant that several of Hillary Clinton’s counterparts in Europe have already been vocal in condemning the actions of the Iranian government, and that includes even the usually meek David Miliband, hardly known for picking a fight with the Mullahs.

It’s time for Hillary Clinton to make an appearance and project a strong US voice on the Iranian issue, condemning the sickening violence meted out by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s jackbooted thugs against Iranian protesters, and sending a clear signal that the United States is on the side of those fighting for freedom in Iran. Her striking absence from the world stage is a damning indictment of the lack of American leadership at a time of tremendous upheaval on the streets of Tehran, and when the United States is facing a mounting threat from an increasingly dangerous and hostile Islamist regime.

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