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Monday, December 07, 2009

Hillary Clinton In The War Council

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was conspicuous at the President's speech at West Point, projecting, simultaneously, an aura potent with high seriousness, party loyalty and political power. She was also, we cannot fail to note, according to Peter Baker's masterful article in yesterday's New York Times, as muscular a presence there as at the President's war council. Clinton -- along with "The Generals" -- was on the winning side in that policy turf war; Vice President Joe Biden the loser. From The NYTimes:

With Mr. Biden leading the skeptics, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen increasingly aligned behind a more robust force. Mrs. Clinton wanted to make sure she was a formidable player in the process. “She was determined that her briefing books would be just as thick and just as meticulous as those of the Pentagon,” said one senior adviser. She asked hard questions about Afghan troop training, unafraid of wading into Pentagon territory.

After a meeting where the Pentagon made a presentation with impressive color-coded maps, Mrs. Clinton returned to the State Department and told her aides, “We need maps,” as one recalled. She was overseas during the next meeting on Oct. 14, when aides used her new maps to show civilian efforts but she participated with headphones on from her government plane flying back from Russia.

Most curious: Does the Secretary of State's hawkish demeanor -- more Kissingerian than, say, Albrightian -- suggest another Presidential run in 2012 or is this merely the crystallization of the hawkishness already evident in her record on the Senate Armed Services Committee (supporting the Second Persian Gulf War) as well as the toughness shown on the campaign trail in 2008.

Maybe its both?

Politics is the gladiatorial fundament, the Darwinian struggle for power writ large. Insecurity and avarice is what drives nations into Empire in political macrocosmos and individuals towards thumotic excess in everyday life. National security hawks, at their finest, speak directly with forked tongue to the reptilian brains of the insecure. Must a woman, however, be particularly hawkish to be considered of Presidential -- and Prime Ministerial -- calibre to offset society's inherent sexism? Is that a Faustian compromise, achieving power at the cost of the natural counterbalance of the the eternal feminine to masculine hyperaggression? Do women have to perfect a hawkish, masculine demeanor to be successful at the highest levels of politics? (Did Obama have to adopt the "No Drama Obama" persona to dissolve sterotypes of African-American males?) Or am I being too much of a cynical Clintonologist here?

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