“Women take more readily to the ‘smart power’ approach to foreign policy,” pioneered by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, says a prominent analyst.
“In a nutshell, this approach entails using a wide spectrum of tools in addition to the hard power of military and economic might to address global problems,” says Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning for the State Department:
It is an open secret in Washington that national security meetings in government or think tanks are overwhelmingly male; development meetings are at least 50 percent female. For whatever reasons, men focus more on state-to-state issues, while women pay a great deal of attention to broader social matters. It is thus not unreasonable to think that a female secretary of state would be more adept at handling the full portfolio.
Call it multitasking foreign policy: the ability to look at what is happening across the Middle East, for example, and to recognize that addressing unemployment, resource scarcity and the oppression of women is just as important for the safeguarding of U.S. interests as monitoring geopolitical rivalries between Shiite and Sunni states.
Another prospective female Secretary of State is coming under fire for allegedly showing “a surprising and unsettling sympathy for Africa’s despots”?
Before thousands of mourners and more than 20 African heads of state in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ms. Rice, the United States’ representative to the United Nations, lauded the country’s late prime minister, Meles Zenawi (right). She called him “brilliant” — “a son of Ethiopia and a father to its rebirth.”
This record dates from Ms. Rice’s service as assistant secretary of state for African affairs under President Bill Clinton, who in 1998 celebrated a “new generation” of African leaders, many of whom were ex-rebel commanders; among these leaders were Mr. Meles, Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Jerry J. Rawlings of Ghana, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Yoweri K. Museveni of Uganda.
“In fairness, in her eulogy, Ms. Rice said she differed with Mr. Meles on questions like democracy and human rights,” writes Solomon, an Eritrean-American journalist who runs the Africa Talks website:
But if so, the message did not get through; under Mr. Meles during the past 15 years, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia steadily deteriorated. Ethiopia imprisoned dissidents and journalists, used food aid as a political tool, appropriated vast sections of land from its citizens and prevented the United Nations from demarcating its border with Eritrea.
Rice’s relationship with Rwanda’s authoritarian regime is also the subject of a New York Times report today, alleging that she has frequently intervened to protect Rwandan president Paul Kagame from criticism for backing the Democratic Republic of Congo rebel group M23, which has been accused of gross human rights abuses, including mass rape and the use of child soldiers.
In a private meeting with her French and British counterparts, Rice reportedly objected to the idea of “naming and shaming” Kagame, saying, “This is the D.R.C. If it weren’t the M23 doing this, it would be some other group.”
“The M23 would probably no longer exist today without Rwandan support,” said Jason K. Stearns, author of “Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of Congo and the Great War of Africa.” “It stepped in to prevent the movement from collapsing and has been providing critical military support for every major offensive.”
Anne-Marie Slaughter is a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.