Smart power: Hillary dumps on Bush, accuses Pakistanis of protecting Al Qaeda

Like Geraghty says, get used to this. Never mind that The One’s kept up Bush’s policy of aggressive drone strikes inside Pakistan and is set to deploy thousands more U.S. troops right next door. If she can buy some cheap comity with her Pakistani audience by dumping on the crazed wingnut hawk who preceded him, she’ll do it every time. Message to foreign nations from the secretary of state: Be sure to check the president’s party affiliation before deciding whether anti-Americanism is justified.

As a way of repudiating past U.S. policies toward Pakistan, Clinton told the students “there is a huge difference” between the Obama administration’s approach and that of former President George W. Bush. “I spent my entire eight years in the Senate opposing him,” she said to a burst of applause from the audience of several hundred students. “So to me, it’s like daylight and dark.”

That’s from an AP report quoted by former Cheney advisor John Hannah, who wonders, “Does anyone advising President Obama and the secretary of state really believe that this kind of partisanship and trash-talking abroad about another American president is really going to buy us much long-term goodwill among either our friends or our adversaries? Do they imagine that this sort of thing really helps to advance U.S. national interests?” Answer: Who cares? The more long-term goodwill they buy, the more it might redound to the advantage of future Republican presidents. Better to make goodwill conditional on the president’s party so ye olde talking point about “improving America’s image in the world” can be trotted out for each and every election going forward.

But that wasn’t her only diplomatic masterstroke of the day:

In Lahore, Pakistan, today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a blunt message to six prominent Pakistani newspaper editors.

Asked by Asha’ar Rehman, an editor of Dawn, why the US war on terror is so localized to Pakistan, Clinton did not mince words.

“Al-Qaeda has had safe haven in Pakistan since 2002,” she said. “I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to.”

Clinton allowed, “maybe that’s the case; maybe they’re not gettable. I don’t know.”

The State Department’s already gone into damage control mode as the buzz over what she said builds in Pakistan. In her defense, if by “government” she means Pakistan’s intelligence service, which is notorious for colluding with jihadist nutbag groups like Lashkar e-Taiba, then this isn’t a crazy charge to make at all. But if you’re going to make it, why on earth would you make it so offhandedly, without backing it up with evidence? And why on earth would you make it now when the Pakistani leadership’s just ordered a risky military offensive in South Waziristan to hammer the Taliban? Pakistani troops are dying in an effort to liquidate these cretins, much to the consternation of citizens over there, and here’s this idiot publicly accusing the government of basically hiding Osama. Like Powerline says, “Does either of the above instances represent how a competent, professional diplomat would behave?”

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