Tales from the Trail

Tweet like an Egyptian — Hillary Clinton tries it out

AFGHANISTAN-USA/

Young Egyptians, who famously used Internet services like Facebook and Twitter to launch their recent revolution, turned their focus to Hillary Clinton on Wednesday. They peppered the top U.S. diplomat with skeptical questions about longtime U.S. support for former  President Hosni Mubarak and what many felt was its slow embrace of the movement to topple him.

Clinton, taking a personal spin at what she has called “21st Century Statecraft”, fielded a selection of some 6,500 questions that young Egyptians posed through Twitter,  Facebook and the Arabic-language website www.masrawy.com — and many reflected deep suspicions about the U.S. role in Egypt.

“My question is: Does America really support democracy? If yes indeed, why the U.S. was late in its support of the Egyptian revolution?” one questioner asked Clinton.

“The attitude of the U.S. during the Egyptian revolution was to support the Egyptian regime first.  Then, when the revolution turned successful, the U.S. switched sides and supported the Egyptian youth and the youth revolution, and the U.S. said that we learn from Egyptian youth.  Why was such delay?” another wondered.

Clinton gamely took them on, stressing that the United States used its influence in Egypt to help press for a peaceful resolution to the crisis and the launch of a reform process that would lead to “an Egyptian model of democracy.”

Washington Extra – Revolutionary wrath

Revolutionaries have a tough time dealing with revolutions.

LIBYA-USA/When Muammar Gaddafi took power in Libya in 1969, he was not yet 30. Today he faces an uprising from youthful protesters who want him gone. His response: You deserve the death penalty. So far it appears about 300 have been killed in the protests.

The United States has little leverage with Libya — the countries have not been on the friendliest of terms for most of Gaddafi’s rule.

So the administration is left issuing words like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s repetition that Libya immediately stop “this unacceptable bloodshed.” Is that enough? Others are calling for sanctions to military intervention.

Washington Extra – Royal news

bahraintowerCalling Bahrain.

As is increasingly the case, the United States is finding that talking pro-democracy is one thing. Dealing with the aftermath of uprisings another.

U.S. officials have been on the telephone with officials in Bahrain urging restraint after police attacked anti-government protesters.

The tiny Gulf kingdom that is home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet becomes another U.S. ally in the Middle East seeing unrest with protesters wanting their leaders gone.

Hillary wants a break, but maybe just a little one

RTXUT4X_Comp-150x150Hillary Clinton is committed to remaining U.S. secretary of state through Barack Obama’s first term. What will she want then? The answer seems to be “spare time”. But maybe just a little.

Hillary’s future has long been the subject of swirling speculation. Would she run for president against Obama in 2012? Join his ticket as the vice presidential nominee? Replace Bob Gates at the Pentagon?

The only sure bet is that she’s content to remain in the Obama administration through 2012.

Clinton jokes about Yemen stumble

Call it the Trip.

USA-YEMEN/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wrapping up a high-stakes trip to Yemen to discuss counter-terrorism cooperation on Wednesday, stumbled briefly upon re-entering her airplane. Clinton was unhurt and newswise it was a non-event — except that it was captured by television cameras.

Clinton’s video misstep ended up going out on YouTube and became a minor Internet sensation, prompting snarky headlines from some of the world’s headline writers (“Unexpected trip on Clinton plane!” joked one).

It’s the kind of pointless fingerpointing that public figures (and sometimes journalists) loathe because it distracts from real news, in this case Clinton’s effort to broaden the U.S. relationship with Yemen, which is gaining notoreity as one of the world’s main incubators of al Qaeda.

AfPak — It’s his baby now

ruggiero

On a day when the most powerful people in Washington were discussing Afghanistan and Pakistan, there was one man who might be excused for looking a little shell-shocked.

Frank Ruggiero, who stepped in as acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) following the sudden death of his boss Richard Holbrooke on Monday, had little time to prepare for his first big outing as President Barack Obama’s  pointman for the biggest foreign policy headache facing the administration.

Ruggiero spoke to the press after Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates formally unveiled  their official review of the year-old Afghan strategy, which said enough progress was being made to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in July despite fragile and uneven gains against the Taliban insurgents.

Reuters/Ipsos poll: Obama steady, Republicans get higher marks on economy

President Barack Obama’s job approval rating held steady at 45 percent since late October despite last month’s “shellacking” of Democrats in the midterm elections, a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Dec. 2-5 showed.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scored the highest favorability rating on a list of prominent officials and politicians, followed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a potential Republican presidential contender, and General David Petraeus. USA-TAXES/

At the bottom of the list were conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh with the lowest favorability rating, followed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

WikiLeaks spill reveals diplomats’ water cooler gossip

Some of the tidbits from the secret U.S. diplomatic cables unleashed by WikiLeaks show that diplomatic analysis can sometimes sound a whole lot like gossip. 

And just as when any private conversation goes public, it can be embarrassing for all involved. USA-CLINTON/

In the Case of the Compromised Cables, the unflattering descriptions of some of the world leaders will require all the diplomatic skill that U.S. officials can muster to soothe some of the world’s healthiest egos.

Clinton’s happy to be out of the running

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seen here in a Nov. 9, 2009 file photo of an event marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  REUTERS/Christian Charisius

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seen here in a Nov. 9, 2009 file photo of an event marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. REUTERS/Christian Charisius

Former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she is done seeking votes.

Clinton, who is secretary of state under President Barack Obama, said on Sunday she is not planning to run again for president or any other political office.

Clinton dispels bikini wrestling myths in Australia

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would like the world to know: the United States is not about wearing bikinis and wrestling all day.

Clinton took her personal diplomacy to Australia’s airwaves,  braving a popular radio comedy team who grilled her on potato chips, reality tv and the diplomacy of barbecues.

Clinton’s appearance on the Hamish and Andy show was part of her effort to get in front of as many foreign audiences as possible, and the official transcript released by the State Department makes for some bizarre reading.