On Friday’s Now with Alex Wagner, BBC State Department correspondent Kim Ghattas discussed her new book about Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state.
In The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power, Ghattas argues that Clinton was instrumental in rehabilitating America’s image overseas after eight years of “go-it-alone” diplomacy. One strategy she employed was to practice on-the-ground diplomacy, meeting with regular people even in places where security might be an issue.
On Friday’s show, the author recounted an episode from the book in which Secretary Clinton held a town hall in Lahore, Pakistan in 2009 and took questions from skeptical students “with lots of pent-up anger and resentment” about the United States.
“She told her aides she didn’t want to just engage with leaders,” Ghattas recalled. “She didn’t want to give up on engaging with the Pakistani people.” Despite the hostile atmosphere, Clinton believed the diplomatic exercise would end up being constructive in the long run. “Make me a punching bag,” she told her aides.
“The fact that she was able to take those questions, answer them calmly and show that these people had someone in front of them who understood where they were coming from, and tried to understand their perspective, it helped to defuse the tension.”