Hillary Clinton isn't the only author out with a new book about Hillary Clinton.
The former secretary of state’s highly anticipated memoir, “Hard Choices,” hits bookstands on Tuesday. And not-so-coincidentally, the Republican-aligned America Rising political action committee is releasing its own e-book, “Failed Choices,” about Clinton later this week.
The 140-page critique of Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, obtained by msnbc, assumes Clinton's presumed 2016 presidential run is all but guaranteed, and paints the former first lady as a terrible manager, a liar who refused to take responsibility for her actions, a calculating diplomat who took credit for successful policies she once opposed, someone who turned a blind eye to human rights abuses, and a diplomat who failed to make the country’s enemies any weaker or relationships with allies any stronger.
Surely, Clinton is imperfect. But the book seems to go out of its way to cast her in a brutally negative light. There is no mention of her role in backing the top-secret raid that took out Osama bin Laden or her involvement in ending the war in Iraq, and winding down the war in Afghanistan, which President Obama has partially credited the State Department with. Despite overseeing sanctions against Iran or a nuclear missile reduction treaty with Russia, the book contends Clinton had no signature achievements or strategy at the State Department.
In that sense, “Failed Choices” is a microcosm of the attacks and criticism Clinton will face, should she decide to run for the Oval Office. Clinton – who embarks on a country-wide book tour on Tuesday—has said she’ll make a decision on running for president by the end of the year. In the meantime, a slugfest is already in the works between opposition groups. Here are some key takeaways from “Failed Choices” – and how Clinton’s defenders are countering them.
Clinton’s extensive travel isn’t enough
The first chapter of the e-book notes that Clinton frequently touts visiting a record-setting 112 countries during her time at the State Department. Quantity doesn’t mean quality, America Rising argues. “No one would dispute Clinton’s familiarity with landing strips in foreign capitals … but what remains unclear is what policy benefits Americans gained from all her travels.” It adds, “In diplomacy, as in politics, building relationship by meeting people is important, yet for those relationships to matter, they need to deliver tangible results. When looking at Clinton’s time at the State Department, those results are hard to come by. Simply put, 112 is not enough.”
Meanwhile, the pro-Hillary group Correct the Record, which was launched by Democratic super PAC American Bridge, lists a slew of achievements on its website, insisting because of her “traveling nearly a million miles” to meet with foreign leaders, Clinton was able to help “restore America’s leadership and standing in the world.” Some of the listed achievements include the bin Laden raid, brokering a ceasefire with Israel and Hamas, overseeing the passage of the new START Treaty, and standing up for human rights in China.
Benghazi was her ‘defining failure’
“Failed Choices” asserts Clinton did not take the necessary steps to bring stability to Libya, insisting she appeared “unaware” or “unwilling” to acknowledge escalating violence in the country before the 2012 attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. “The secretary could not be bothered to hear out her own ambassador’s pleas for more security?...How could there be such a significant lapse in what was clearly one of the most dangerous outposts in the entire world?” the e-book asks. It argues that Clinton still refuses to take responsibility and notes none of the attackers have been brought to trial. Republicans have repeatedly accused the White House of a cover-up.
In “Hard Choices,” Clinton reportedly says in a chapter about Benghazi that it’s GOPers who are politicizing the issue and minimizing the “sacrifice” of those who died. She also reiterates her assertion that she never saw diplomatic cables asking to beef up security at the consulate. Correct the Record points to Clinton saying in interviews, “I take responsibility” and that she appointed an independent Accountability Review Board in the aftermath of the attack. The group notes Clinton adopted all 29 recommendations from the board.
Clinton emboldened Russia
The e-book points to Clinton famously presenting Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergei Lavrov a “reset button” during her first few months as secretary of state, but declares the reset backfired, resulting in Clinton trying to distance herself from the failure. America Rising faults the U.S. for offering diplomatic concessions to the Russians, including dropping a plan to expand a long-range missile defense system to Poland and the Czech Republic and reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal advantage over Russia. “For every inch conceded by Clinton, Putin took a mile” the e-book says, pointing to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine, the Kremlin's willingness to harbor NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and Putin signing a law banning the adoption of Russian children. It accuses Clinton of not being outspoken enough when Moscow targeted journalists, gay citizens, and opponents of Putin.
Correct the Record insists Clinton was able to advance America’s interests in Russia, despite lingering challenges. It lauds her for securing Russia’s cooperation to combat terrorism in Afghanistan, overseeing the passage of the new START treaty, and working to secure sanctions against Iran. In March, Clinton famously compared Putin to Adolf Hitler. But America Rising argues she was merely trying to “overcompensate for her failed record” after her departure from the State Department.
She “failed to act boldly” in the Middle East
“Failed Choices” asserts Clinton had an incredible opportunity to “shape the course of history” in the Middle East but she botched “a region-wide cry for democracy.” Clinton, the e-book asserts, was not vocal enough following Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009—and the ensuing protests from those who believed the voting was rigged. It criticizes the State Department for not condemning Iranian security forces who cracked down on demonstrators and for committing the U.S. to direct talks with whoever was declared president. The e-book contends the State Department did not capitalize on Tunisia protests, which resulted in autocratic ruler President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee. It accuses the U.S. of trying to “formulate a policy on the fly” and flip-flopping on supporting Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak , a one-time U.S. ally, and changing course only after days of protests. On Syria, Clinton is criticized for outreach efforts at the beginning of her tenure and for thinking President Bashar al Assad “despite his brutality, sponsorship of terrorism and close alliance with Iran, can somehow be turned into a western ally.”
In her book, “Hard Choices,” Clinton reportedly seeks to distance herself from some of the Obama Administration’s handling of the Arab Spring. She insists she pushed for Mubarak to transition power to his successor but was overruled by President Obama. Clinton also asserts she didn’t want America to be seen as pushing a longtime partner without a clear picture of what the future might look like for allies including Israel and Jordan. She also says she warned Middle Eastern leaders that “if they did not embrace reform their region is going to sink into the sand.”
Clinton was weak on Iran and refused to stand with Israel
The anti-Hillary book says despite her record as a pro-Israel senator, Clinton turned into one of the America’s leading critics within the administration, especially when she called on Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank. It also criticizes her “public dressing down” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And when it comes to Iran, the e-book asserts Clinton “actively worked against the passage of sanctions and then later claimed credit for the work of others” and criticized her for fighting a tougher sanctions approach from Congress.
Meanwhile, the group “Emergency Committee for Israel” – created in part by conservative Bill Kristol -- released a television ad Monday criticizing Clinton. It skewers her for not condemning attacks from her successor, John Kerry, who said Israel risks becoming an “apartheid state” if it doesn’t reach a peaceful agreement with the Palestinians. It’s the first television ad to skewer Clinton, even though it’s 18 months before the first 2016 contests begin.
Correct the Record lauds Clinton for brokering a cease fire between Israel and Hamas and working with Russia to secure sanctions against Iran. Last month, Clinton, defended her record on Israel at the American Jewish Committee’s D.C. summit. “I have been proud to do my part to keep our relationship rock-solid over the year,” she said, adding America’s commitment to Israel will “never waver.”