The N.Y. Times reports that Hillary Clinton has accepted Barack Obama’s invitation to be his secretary of state. This development will no doubt rankle some on the left who campaigned hard for Obama’s election. I’m concerned too. I wonder which Hillary will be secretary of state: the bellicose, saber-rattling presidential primary candidate who threatened to wipe out Iran; or the pragmatic, flexible Hillary we’d prefer to see fill that position.
The Times notes my special concern regarding her views on the Israeli-Arab conflict:
On Israel, the other chronic foreign policy issue that will bedevil the next secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton would bring baggage as well. She is seen as fiercely loyal to Israel, which can be both a plus and a minus, Middle East experts say.
While her pro-Israel record as a senator from New York might cause her to be viewed with suspicion in the Arab world, it could give her credibility to ask Israel to make tough choices for peace.
The argument is the same as the one made in favor of Rahm Emanuel’s appointment. Because of his pro-Israel bona fides when he called upon an Israeli prime minister or defense minister to stop settlements Israeli pols couldn’t dismiss him as a Johnny-come-lately naive American pol. He would be a force to be reckoned with.
So which Hillary will we get? The one who never met a Separation Wall she didn’t like? The one beloved of Aipac? Or the one who can jawbone with the best of ’em, including top IDF brass? I believe she could be a very good secretary of state if she can distance herself from her campaign jingoism. But the jury is definitely out on this one.