BAKU: Official Baku very keen on who will be next US president

Azerbaycan Newspaper, Azerbaijan
April 1 2008

Official Baku said to be very keen on who will be next US president

by Rustam Qaraxanli

"A team of traditions" and subheaded "There are many people with
close ties with Azerbaijan around presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton"

Today the USA has become such a superpower where the presidential
elections or the balance of forces in the Congress hardly go without
effect on any state. To put it differently, not a single state
remains indifferent to the election race that will determine who will
be the next in the White House in the USA.

Azerbaijan, whose relations have reached the level of strategic
partnership over the recent 10 years, is also no exception. It is not
only exception but on many parameters, power change in the USA is of
paramount significance for Azerbaijan. First, they are the Nagornyy
Karabakh conflict, the energy cooperation, a joint fight against
global terrorism, the Armenian Diaspora and lobbyism and a
partnership in the democratic reforms. From these standpoints, it is
also of great importance for an ordinary Azerbaijani citizen who will
be the next president of the world’s superpower.

At present there are three contenders for the post of president:
Republican John McCain and Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
although the primaries have become a process hard to predict its
outcome. One should not forget that Ronald Reagan’s popularity rate
was two per cent when he kicked off his election campaign.
Nevertheless, this did not hinder him to become one of the most
successful presidents in the US history. Now everything is obvious in
the Republican camp with a single presidential contender McCain who
defeated his rivals in the party primaries with overwhelming majority
and gained President George Bush’s official backing. However, not
everything is clear with the choice of the Democrats: Mrs Clinton and
Obama are in a fierce competition in the primaries with no quarter
given to each other.

It is likelihood that the matter will be resolved in April.
Obviously, the party congress will have to have a final say. Guided
by the interests of its readers, the newspaper of Azarbaycan has
decided to familiarize its readers with the US presidential
contenders. We referred to foreign media and other sources while
preparing this article. First, we want to start with Hillary Clinton.

Like-minded persons

According to western media, Mrs Clinton is very conservative with
respect to her retinue. She has known many of her friends for 10
years. Amongst them are mainly people she has been known since her
husband’s time as the governor of Arkansas. Women are without
exception her closest people. Her group made up of 14 aides is
formally called Hillaryland. This is somehow a political brand of Mrs
Clinton’s election campaign. The ongoing election campaign is also
being supervised from the Hillaryland. Her campaign manager Maggie
Williams is also among them. But the author of the brand is Patty
Soli Doyle who recently quitted from this post.

Reports claim that members of the Hillaryland will hold responsible
posts in the Cabinet if Clinton wins the vote. The government for
sure will be formed by the Mrs Clinton’s advisers. These men on many
occasions are former officials who used to work with Bill Clinton
during his second term in office when exactly Mrs Clinton’s influence
on policies of the White House grew. People of different ages are in
the retinue of Hillary Clinton, 60. She is very considerate of her
friends and has never left anyone in the lurch even when she herself
was in trouble.

"Grey cardinals" of Mrs Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s closest aide on foreign policy issues is former
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. There are reports that she was
offered the post of the state secretary in 1996 thanks to her
personal friendship with Mrs Clinton. Albright’s coming to the State
Department made fundamental changes to the US foreign policy. As Bill
Clinton was engaged in domestic problems during his first term in
office, the focus in the foreign policy was mainly on conciliatory
measures.

After she took the post with the support of Hillary Clinton, Albright
made the American diplomacy more aggressive and pro-active. Another
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell recalls that while trying to
persuade Bill Clinton to bomb the former Yugoslavia, Albright said:
"Why do we need our military capacity of we are unable to use it?"
Mrs Albright’s another saying is as followings: "We resort to force
because we are America!"

Madeleine Albright has always been for tough relations with Iraq. On
her last day in the post, she phoned to [now former] UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to say that the next US administration
would be tougher in the issue of Iraq. However, as the military
intervention approached, she came outright against the military
operations. Over the recent period Albright is head of the National
Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Ms Albright visited
Azerbaijan, in general, her relations with Baku is at the highest
level and had meetings with the national leader Heydar Aliyev.

Incidentally, there are people with direct and indirect ties with
Azerbaijan in Mrs Clinton’s team. They preserve their ties with
official Baku even now and we should say that some of those people
have played fundamental roles in the building of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and, as a whole, in the
implementation of Azerbaijan’s oil strategy.

We hope our readers remember their names. The reason I highlight this
point is that Mrs Clinton is being presented the most active
pro-Armenian presidential candidate among the current contenders.
Although, US Armenians have officially voiced their support for
Barack Obama. However, the fact is that like Mrs Clinton, who now
recognizes the "Armenian genocide", her husband and later Bush gave
similar pledges to Armenians but took a different line in real
politics.

The second important aide is Sandy Berger. He has been on friendly
terms with the Clintons since their years in Arkansas. Sandy was
national security adviser during the second term in office of Bill
Clinton. Berger is a stockholder of Amoco Oil Company, which is very
active in Azerbaijan. While in the post, he paid much attention to
oil problems and played an exclusive role in lobbying the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. However, neither Albright nor
Berger seems persuasive to occupy posts. Albright is 70 years old
while Berger’s name was mentioned in a scandal connected with theft
of documents from the National Archive. Nevertheless, they both are
irreplaceable aides of Mrs Hillary.

Who will be in charge of foreign policy

The most likely candidate to the post of the Secretary of State is
considered to be a prominent diplomat Richard Holbrook. He started
his professional activities in Vietnam, however, he achieved his
greatest successes under the presidency of Clinton. He is considered
to be the architect of the Dayton Peace Accord. Holbrook once
described [former] Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic the guarantor
of peace in the Balkans. During 1999-2001, in his capacity as the US
permanent representative in the UN, Holbrook said Iraq was a key
source of danger.

He is known as one of the "falcons" of the Democrats, or a..k.a. "An
ox of the American diplomacy", "the Democratic analogue of
Kissinger", "a Republican in the camp of the Democrats". Unlike
Albright, he justified the intervention into Iraq. However, after
five months, he described the war as "a major US tragedy after the
Vietnam". Holbrook considers that the next US president has to throw
into a dustbin many elements of President Bush’s team and his
policies, the Guantanamo prison should be closed and preventive wars
must be abandoned.

He believes the most dangerous threat for the United States is posed
by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad. Holbrook has been recently
contributing to Washington Post and propagates the idea of tough
relations with Russia, supporting Tbilisi and speeding up Kiev’s
accession to NATO.

President’s "right hand"

Gen Wesley Clark, who is considered the most prospective running mate
for Clinton, is also in her retinue. In 1999, he commanded the
military operations against Yugoslavia. Clark had to formally be
subordinate to then US Defence Secretary William Cohen. However,
taking advantage of his relations with Clinton and Albright, he was
acting wilfully which annoyed the Pentagon. He was discharged from
the army as soon as the war was over, however, the general has always
been considered a closest man for the Clintons.

During the Yugoslav operation Clark got angered at the seizure of the
Pristina airport by the Russian contingent and demanded that the
Russians leave the facility. A clash was almost there and only words
of British general Michael Jackson that "I do not want to start the
third world war for you" ended the confrontation.

Clark is few military who condemned the US intervention into Iraq. In
his opinion, this war has nothing in common with the fight against
terror. In 2003, Clark decided to run for the presidency. Bill
Clinton said that the Democrats have two stars now Hillary and Gen
Clark.

Although he was also having a good chance to nominate his candidacy
this time again, he made up his mind to support Mrs Clinton. In all
his speeches, he says that "Bush’s foreign policy is nonsense and
rubbish". Bearing in mind his prominence, military experience and
most of all being a native of southern states (where democrats are
traditionally weak author), he may be considered a key running mate
for Clinton.

Cabinet

Lee Feinstein’s name is often mentioned for the post of the national
security adviser. Before Clinton’s presidency, he used to work for
the Pentagon and then at the State Department and was a closest ally
of M. Albright. Feinstein blames Bush for inconsistent foreign
policy. For instance, he blames Washington for unwillingness to
prevent the humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

There are reports that namely he persuaded Mrs Clinton to vote for
the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. This document recognized the Iranian
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. At
the same time, Feinstein does not support a military intervention
into Iran.

If Mrs Clinton wins the election, it is expected that Richard
Morningstar would occupy one of the leading posts (may be the post of
the energy secretary) in the government. Morningstar is a well-known
man in Azerbaijan and has close businesslike relations with the
Azerbaijani authorities. Morningstar can also be assessed as an
active member of our lobby in the USA.

Morningstar was Clinton’s special envoy for the Caspian region and
played an exceptional role in lobbying the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil
pipeline. During his years at the Department, he was assigned to deal
with the issue of realization of the Transcaspian gas pipeline. The
project is designed to deliver Central Asian gas to Europe via
Azerbaijan. In his capacity as the special envoy, he visited
Azerbaijan time and again and had meetings with the national leader
Heydar Aliyev.

Names of the former Secretary of Navy John Dalton and the former
deputy chief of the Pentagon, Rudy de Leon, are mentioned for the
post of the defence secretary. They both have serious backings from
the business circles. Another candidate is Lt-Gen Claudia Kennedy,
the highest-ranking woman ever in the US army.

Ideology

According to American experts, Mrs Clinton’s ideology does not differ
much from Bush’s political course. If she is elected, she would
pursue her husband’s policies implemented in 1996-2000.
Interestingly, it is claimed that Bush also continued policies
pursued under the second term of office of Bill Clinton. However, in
a resolute and radical way. Although Clinton bombed Afghanistan and
Iraq during his second term in office, he avoided ground operations.
However, Bush further developed his ideas and decided to intervene in
militarily in both countries. Therefore, if Mrs Clinton is elected
president, she would actually continue George Bush’s policies by
going back to 1990s, but in a cautious way.

[translated from Azeri]

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