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Hillary Hits the Mark

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
October 14, 2011
The Daily Beast

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In a long speech drowning in State Departmentese that will not garner the attention it deserves, Hillary Clinton said something of surpassing importance on Friday—in today's world, economic power counts more than military punch. That point has been obvious to most leaders around the world for 20 years now, since the end of the Cold War. But it has not registered in Washington. There, in the home of the non sequitur, the inaccurate fact, the seven-second “truth bite,” and the economics-challenged, the talk is all about how much will be cut from the precious Pentagon budget over the next 10 years.

That budget is all the Washington political and media elite know about. For legislators, it's their political honey pot. For foreign-policy experts, it's their way to show their toughness. For media, the planes and tanks are visual lollipops.

But in the 21st century, money talks louder than the size of one's military budget. So as not to offend anyone in Washington, Hillary's speech on Friday to the Economic Club of New York did not rhetorically nail this point down. Indeed, she almost buried the applause line in diplo-speak: “Today, our foreign and economic relations remain indivisible. Only now, our great challenge is not deterring any single military foe, but advancing our global leadership at a time when power is more often measured and exercised in economic terms.”

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