Undiplomatic Diplomacy

Isn’t a diplomat supposed to be–you know–diplomatic? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to think so. On her current visit to Pakistan, she managed to insult both her own government and Pakistan’s in the space of a few minutes.
The Associated Press has reported on interviews and a Q and A session that Clinton gave in Islamabad. I came across it via The Corner, where John Hannah was appalled by this partisan attack by Clinton on her own government:

As a way of repudiating past U.S. policies toward Pakistan, Clinton told the students “there is a huge difference” between the Obama administration’s approach and that of former President George W. Bush. “I spent my entire eight years in the Senate opposing him,” she said to a burst of applause from the audience of several hundred students. “So to me, it’s like daylight and dark.”

One can only agree with Hannah’s comment:

Does anyone advising President Obama and the secretary of state really believe that this kind of partisanship and trash-talking abroad about another American president is going to buy us much long-term goodwill among either our friends or our adversaries? Do they imagine that this sort of thing really helps to advance U.S. national interests?

Interestingly, that paragraph has now been deleted from the version of the AP account to which Hannah linked, although it can still be found elsewhere. But the linked version adds this report of Clinton slandering the government of Pakistan, which is equally appalling, but for different reasons:

While U.S. officials have said they believe Osama bin Laden and senior lieutenants have been hiding in the rugged terrain along the border with Afghanistan, Clinton’s unusually blunt comments went further as she suggested that Pakistan’s government has done too little to act against al-Qaida’s top echelon.
“I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,” Clinton said in an interview with Pakistani journalists in Lahore. “Maybe that’s the case. Maybe they’re not gettable. I don’t know.”

Is it really the position of the U.S. government that Pakistan’s leaders could kill or capture bin Laden et al. if they wanted to, but they have chosen not to do so? That is an explosive charge, and one that to my knowledge is false. Moreover, Clinton doesn’t seem to make the charge seriously, as she immediately sort-of-retracted it by saying “Maybe they’re not gettable. I don’t know.” So was she just idly musing when she accused Pakistan’s government of deliberately harboring al Qaeda’s top leadership?
Does either of the above instances represent how a competent, professional diplomat would behave? I don’t think so.

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