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Liberated Clinton tackles ‘Hard Choices,’ U.S. diplomacy and Iraq

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoted her new book "Hard Choices" at Lisner Auditorium Friday. Desiree Halpern | Senior Staff Photographer
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoted her new book “Hard Choices” at Lisner Auditorium on Friday. Desiree Halpern | Senior Staff Photographer
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Zunara Naeem.

Hillary Clinton wrapped up the first week of a whirlwind book tour with an event Friday at GW.

In an interview about her new book, “Hard Choices,” with her former speech writer Lissa Muscatine, the former secretary of state discussed her extensive travel and the web of alliances she worked to improve during her four years as the U.S.’s chief diplomat, even weighing in on current events in the Middle East.

Clinton said writing her memoir challenged her to revisit intense moments from her four years as the U.S.’s chief diplomat.

“It was difficult because it was hard to relive some of what happened, and also to make sense in retrospect of what had occurred,” Clinton told the sold-out crowd.

But the Lisner Auditorium audience was most energized when Clinton gave a vague reply to a question about her legacy, and the crowd picked up on what they thought was a reference to a 2016 campaign.

Clinton said she doesn’t think about her legacy, but will continue to work on issues close to her heart “through my work at the Clinton Foundation and in other ways,” which immediately prompted cheers and a standing ovation.

The talk at GW followed a week of events and interviews in which Clinton was notably – and some have said uncharacteristically – blunt.

“It feels a little bit liberating,” she said. “There are occasions when people gulp a little.”

Clinton also talked about a current crisis unfurling in the Middle East, voicing her views about how the U.S. should address the situation in Iraq. Islamist militants overtook several major Iraqi cities in the last week, ringing alarm bells in Washington as experts have warned that Iraq may be headed toward civil war.

The former secretary of state criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and said while the U.S. should try and prevent the collapse of the Iraqi regime, American lives should never be at stake and any U.S. military support should be conditional on political reforms.

“There’s no reason that I know of that we would ever sacrifice a single American life for that,” she said.

In “Hard Choices,” Clinton also writes that her 2002 senate vote that led to the Iraq War was the wrong call.

She shared anecdotes Friday of her travel to more than 100 countries during her time leading U.S. diplomatic efforts, such as when she navigated the dicey disagreement with China over blind dissident Chen Guangcheng.

The crisis involving Guangcheng emerged just as Clinton was preparing to head to Beijing for an annual strategic meeting. But Clinton said the U.S. had to stand up for its principles.

“At the end of the day, I believe our strongest position, our best argument for who we are as Americans and what we stand for are the values that we have stood on and exemplified and have struggled to fulfilled from the very beginning,” Clinton said. “At the end of the day, it was the right decision to make.”

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