Authored by: Reza Jamali

Reza Jamali (PhD/Strategic Management, Independent Scholar)

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From the perspective of Americans, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are still among the most admired women and men in the world. From the viewpoint of Asians, however, how is Hillary regarded?

As written in her book, Hard Choices, Hillary sees herself as a nationalist who moves heaven and earth to improve the status of her country. Yes, she does whatever is possible, even at the expense of millions of people in other countries. A politician in the current world needs to know that the fate of one group of people affects the fate of others and that a global perspective must be prioritized over a local one. On the basis of these principles, then, Hillary is not different from other Americans. Within the American School of Education, every US citizen learns three approaches to confronting other countries: dialogue (conditional or non-conditional), threats and sanctions, and war and attack. In other words, human rights are respected by Hillary and every American only insofar as problems are resolvable by dialogue. Otherwise, people are kept in poor conditions for America to gain more profits. This orientation is reflected in Iran’s drug sanctions, which have caused Iranian patients to suffer considerable pain and nuisance because of Hillary’s ambitions, concealed under her lovely and calm face.

Hillary Clinton can be argued as constantly resorting to time-worn strategies for increasing her popularity. First, she implements policies, including sanctions that have caused poverty and misfortune. These problems, in turn, have driven citizens to revolt against their governments. This is where her second strategy comes into play—the entry of the US into a territory as a savior to rid people of misery and thereby increase America’s influence over them. Once again, Hillary Clinton and other American politicians need to revisit the noble definition of human rights for them to understand that the human rights they consider for countries such as Iran and North Korea merely constitute a dirty policy. Today’s increased sanctions against North Korea are a result of Hillary’s strategies. The country has become America’s most serious enemy given the strategic decisions of Hillary Clinton, who followed in the footsteps of George Bush in her approach to dealing with North Korea.

As US secretary of state during Obama’s first term as president, Hillary accorded Asia a very important place in US foreign policy. Although the general nature of this decision was correct and realistic, some criticisms arose when it was carefully analyzed. For instance, Clinton failed to exert efforts to deepen ties with the most democratic Asian countries, such as India, Japan, and especially Indonesia. Because of the US’s neglect in encouraging strategic partnerships with Asia Pacific democracies, Japan (its ally) instead entered into bilateral security agreements with India and Australia. US foreign policy decisions on China, North Korea, and Iran were also debated, as discussed in the succeeding section.

An Unrealistic Picture of China’s Economic Strength

Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy was based on unnecessary growing concern about China’s flourishing economic power in Asia. Meanwhile, China realized during a historical process that the use of collaborative and cooperative leverage to compete with other huge players can be the most effective way to achieve its strategic objectives and protect its security interests. As a reconstructing government, China also considered the fact that acquiring greatness requires deep focus on increasing production and participation in economic globalization. Thus, the country acted on the basis of a rational calculation, indicating that the US had no reason to be afraid of a strong and growing China. Moreover, the Chinese endeavor to resolve territorial disputes, engage in cooperative activities, acquire membership in multilateral organizations, encourage regional integration or convergence, and improve bilateral relations to create a stable environment around the vicinity of China and consequently create an image of itself as a rising power. These actions are evaluated as reflective of goodwill.

Despite all these indications, why did Hillary Clinton project a false image of an emerging China? China’s cooperative strategy could have contributed to regional peace and stability. By contrast, interference by the US in East Asia and reiterating its lack of confidence in China because of the latter’s increasing economic and, subsequently, military power could have led to rising tensions in the region. There is no compelling reason for an emerging power to fuel war. Evidence over five years showed that China has been more interested than the US in cooperative relations to end international conflicts and environmental problems, among other issues. With the ever-increasing economic power of China and its interactions with neighboring countries, this country naturally became the most important nation in East Asia—a development that needed to be accepted by the US, whether willingly or unwillingly, despite being regarded by many countries in Asia, such as Japan and South Korea, as a power that guarantees security in the region. Even though severe economic crises had swept the entire world economy, the US secretary of state insisted on viewing China as a competitor in establishing influence in East Asia and Southeast Asia.

It is true that we are facing a power shift in the world—a factor that preceded the US’s decision to direct its strategic planning toward the Asia Pacific. Hillary Clinton could have adopted a pragmatic foreign policy that shuns tension toward China to increase economic interdependence, advance the formation of an institutionalized structure, and establish permanent bases for a bright and stable future in the region. Instead, the competition between China and the US accelerated the incidence of destabilizing security challenges, including North Korea’s nuclear military capability, the ambiguity of unification in the Korean Peninsula, ethnic conflicts, lack of democracy, and territorial disputes. As much debate continued among American policy makers and the US media over China’s growing power and the concern that it wants to challenge the US within the not-too-distant future, the security, political, and social dilemmas and other latent crises in America, along with its economic and mounting military power, have passed unnoticed. If a war happens between China and the US in the future, such a conflict will not have been caused by the increasing economic power and subsequent expansion and strengthening of China’s military power. Rather, such a war will have been imminent because of the miscalculations of decision makers in the US (and even China) and the path followed by Hillary Clinton in the course of her tenure as US secretary of state.

Management of the “Perpetuating” Crisis of Iran’s Nuclear Program

During her service as state secretary, Hillary Clinton could be best described as managing the “perpetuating” crisis of Iran’s nuclear program. At the same time, the US extended minimal effort to build trust in the resolution of Iran’s nuclear issues. Note that efforts to reach international consensus against Iran’s nuclear case was only one part of Clinton’s approach. All at once, the US Congress’s imposition of unilateral sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran in 2011 could have pushed the crisis of Iran’s nuclear program toward a new phase and dimension. Such actions, in many ways, violated the principles of sovereign equality among states and non-intervention as two legitimate principles of international law. The actions subjugated global economic obligations, international economic rights, and international free trade.

In this period, the US was not simply attempting to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but its main purpose was to manage Iran’s power in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region—a goal to which Iran negatively responded. Historical experiences and extreme distrust between both parties brought about irrational behaviors in relation to US foreign policy against Iran’s nuclear program during Hilary Clinton’s tenure. This situation made it difficult to imagine an end to the conflict.

Clinton always tried to put pressure on Asian and Middle Eastern countries to do away with Iran. This approach stemmed from the US’s desire to be prioritized over Iran in the foreign policy of the aforementioned countries; such prioritization can influence the nature of decision making by the states in the region and pull them away from Iran. For example, sanctions imposed during Hillary Clinton’s presidency and a permanent diplomatic pressure to isolate Iran eliminated any real possibility for Iran’s neighbors to maximize the potential for trade and investment transactions. This can ultimately prevent the establishment of a diplomatic channel.

Rhetoric and Lack of Serious Efforts to Resolve the Korean Crisis

When news about North Korea during Hillary’s term as state secretary are reviewed, we can see that much of the information broadcast by the media centered on rhetoric and verbal confrontation with North Korea’s leaders and authorities. Less time was devoted to a serious diplomatic quest to resolve the North Korean crisis and achieve the idealistic goal of a “unified Korea.” Of course, the presence of more than 32,000 American forces in South Korea is going to further drive the Korean Peninsula toward militarization. Thus, North Korea cannot be optimistically expected to solve its conflicts with South Korea or the US with good intentions. Despite emphasis on Asia in the 21st century, the US could not have been truly willing to unify the two Koreas because if such unification occurred, there would be no reason for the continued presence of US forces in South Korea. As usual, the US was looking to maintain its leading role in the international system and did not consider much benefit from this unity for itself given that the economic instability resulting from this process would have been unpredictable for America. Resolving Korea’s crises also necessitated an endogenous scenario. Measures for Hillary Clinton to impose economic and military sanctions on North Korea and efforts to attract major regional powers, including China and Russia, were disregarded as realistic solutions.


Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy, which emphasizes changes in the domestic and international milieu of America, could have been based on multilateral international cooperation. Having “hard choices” but possible ones within her foreign policy and adopting a more optimistic approach, she could have created a favorable future in the 21st century—a goal that was not fulfilled in Asia.


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