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Hard Choices

The memoir of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

By Hillary Clinton
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton

Hard Choices offers a first-hand account of the trials and impressive diplomatic successes of the early years of the Obama administration. In this telling memoir, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton places you at the administration’s negotiating table where key policy decisions were made.

Key idea 1 of 9

Strengthening relations with Asia was a key component to Obama’s foreign policy.

When US President Obama assumed office, American foreign policy shifted from a focus on the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region.

What inspired this transition?

First and foremost, the administration was eager to reassert the United States’ position as a power in Asia. Important allies in the region, such as Australia, Japan and South Korea, needed nurturing.

Second, East Asia offers huge economic and strategic opportunities for the United States. More than half of the world’s population is centered there, and across the continent, countries are developing rapidly as economies boom.

Some of these emerging powers maintain democratic governments, like Malaysia and Indonesia. The United States sees these as interesting potential partners, both in terms of economic and military alliances.

In contrast, the rogue, nuclear-armed North Korea continues to threaten global security, while China's rising military potential and its expansive politics in East Asia need a counterbalance.

Seeing the need for renewed political efforts in Asia, the Obama administration did a number of things.

One initiative was a proposed trade agreement with Asia and Latin America, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The administration claims the TPP is intended to lower trade barriers and raise labor standards as well as protect the environment and intellectual property. At the time of writing, negotiations over the TPP were still ongoing.

In addition, the United States has renewed its engagement in multilateral organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), by participating in most ASEAN meetings.

America has also flexed its military muscle, maneuvering the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to Asia in response to North Korea’s continued threats against South Korea.

Furthermore, the administration (including both Clinton and Obama personally) met with Japanese leaders some 14 times in 2010, and offered assistance to Japan for recovery efforts following the disastrous earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

In fact, Clinton’s very first official trip as secretary of state was to East Asia; what’s more, she visited the Pacific Region some 36 times during her first three years in office. She made seven trips to China alone, as this rising superpower posed quite a diplomatic challenge.

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