Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be ready to hit the ground running on foreign policy if she is elected president in 2016, American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen said in a weekend interview.
Rosen came to Israel for the Genesis Awards after AJC hosted her first major event with the Jewish community since returning to the public eye ahead of the next US presidential election. Based on his frequent discussions foreign policy with Clinton – with whom he has been close friends for decades – he things that her policies would be different from President Barack Obama’s and more similar to those of former president Bill Clinton.
“Hillary will have a different view of the world and America’s role,” Rosen said. “Her experience will impact her in a way that Obama wasn’t impacted. She’ll continue her husband’s view of the world.
She doesn’t have to be tested by the players like others would and Obama still is. She knows [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu quite well.
They can get right to the table and start the discussion from Day One.”
Rosen noted that presidents often lack experience with foreign policy when they enter the White House, because they were previously governors.
But he said Americans would recognize that Clinton has the experience to step right in and make tough decisions without hesitation.
On the issue of the Palestinians, Rosen said any American president would try to make the peace process work, but Clinton may try a different approach due to the lack of results until now. He said he did not believe that Bill Clinton would accept a role as Middle East mediator, as has been speculated.
“I don’t think so, because mediators continue to fail,” he said. “I don’t think Bill wants to be set up for an impossible job where he could fail. I think he’ll be the ‘first man.’” Referring to Iran, Rosen said the tough sanctions that originally forced the Islamic Republic to negotiate were Clinton’s accomplishment, and if there are failures in Obama’s second term after he chose to go in a different direction, she was not responsible.
Asked whether he believes Clinton will commute Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence if she becomes president, Rosen said every president since Bill Clinton has thought about Pollard and tried to find a path to his release.
“Pollard is an explosive political issue in the intelligence community,” he said. “I don’t doubt that Clinton, Bush and Obama considered releasing him, but came under pressure from the intelligence community not to. But the views in the intelligence community are changing. As that pressure eases, it could help a president find an avenue to release Pollard for humanitarian reasons, which I think it’s time to do.”
Rosen said Clinton was doing what is necessary to be prepared to run and would consider the timing of the announcement of her candidacy appropriately. He said he did not believe her gender would be a key issue in the campaign.
“There are Americans who think it’s time for a woman president, but they’ll make their decisions on what’s right for their lives and their children’s lives,” he said.
“She’s smart, engaging and has good political sense. I think she learned something in her loss to Obama [in the Democratic primaries ahead of the 2008 presidential election], and she won’t repeat the mistake of assuming she’ll be crowned president. There was an assumption six years ago that it was hers for the losing. I don’t think she’ll be let down this time.”