Single-mindedness defines Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton speaks at an event in Alberta, Canada on 18 June, 2014. Image copyright AP
Image caption Peter Beinart says Hillary Clinton is terrific at planning but not so adept at improvising

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The key to understanding how Hillary Clinton would govern as president, writes the National Journal's Peter Beinart, is to realise that her greatest strength - and weakness - is single-mindedness.

"She's terrific at developing and executing a well-defined plan," he writes. "She's less adept at realising that a well-defined plan is not working and improvising something new."

Ms Clinton is mentally tough and is skilful at cultivating political relationships, he writes. Unlike her husband, Bill Clinton, she doesn't vacillate and lean toward telling people what they want to hear. Unlike Barack Obama, she "grasps the value of rewarding one's supporters and paying attention to people whose support you may need down the line".

"Hillary will never be the orator Obama is, and how well she'd rally the public to her side in policy disputes is an open question," he writes. "But inside the Beltway, she'd likely do a better job of both rewarding her friends and making people fear being her enemy."

He says Ms Clinton is most effective when she combines these skills with "her passion for public policy, her formidable analytical ability and her near-legendary work ethic".

On the flip side, he continues, this single-mindedness can make her inflexible and unwilling to change strategies to adjust to new circumstances. Such was the case with her failure to pass healthcare reform in 1993, her support of the Iraq War from 2003 onward and her failed presidential bid in 2008.

He concludes that all this means Ms Clinton's presidency would have different kinds of successes and failures than her two Democratic predecessors:

Bill's failures often owed to indiscipline. Obama's have stemmed in part from aloofness. If past is prologue, Hillary's would stem in significant measure from unwillingness to change course. Hillary does learn from her mistakes. But only after the damage is done.

Her successes as president, on the other hand, would likely result from the kind of hands-on, methodical, unyielding drive that both Bill Clinton and Obama struggled to sustain.

Afghanistan

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Media captionHossai Wardak: Taliban have a "clear agenda against women"

A thin line between peace and chaos - The international donor community needs to continue to support the Afghanistan government if it wants to keep Islamic militants from filling the void once the US military withdraws, Hossai Wardak, deputy executive director of Equality for Peace and Democracy, told BBC's World News America.

Afghan women could be one of the first victims of a lack of international support, she said. They have made great strides in representation and freedom in the years since the Taliban regime was toppled, but those gains are at risk.

The Taliban have been "very straightforward" in their "clear agenda against women", she said. "They do not want women to be on the table during peace negotiations", which makes it clear that they will be marginalised once again if the Taliban returns to power.

Ukraine

Iraq can't be a distraction - It's natural for humans to want to only deal with one crisis at a time, writes Martin Woollacott for the Guardian. A month ago, we were all worried about a new Cold War in Ukraine, but now Iraq has captured our attention.

He cautions, however, that the Ukraine crisis is far from over. Newly elected President Petro Poroshenko's dual-track policy of fighting in the east and negotiating puts Russian President Vladimir Putin in a difficult situation.

"President Putin's priority now should be damage limitation," Woollacott writes. "He has scooped up Crimea and reinforced his nationalist image at home."

China

A Middle Eastern expansion - The current unrest in Syria and Iraq has made the region an increasingly important focus for China's foreign policy, writes Peking University's Minghao Zhao.

As part of its "march west" strategy, he argues for Project Syndicate, China is seeking to forge closer relations with Arab countries and safeguard the energy resources on which it relies.

"The US is gradually disengaging strategically from the greater Middle East, creating a vacuum that China seeks to fill," he says. "To succeed, China will need to become more attentive to the region's complex dynamics; find creative ways to participate in conflict-resolution efforts; and respond enthusiastically to Middle Eastern governments' growing desire to connect to Asia."

Spain

King Felipe VI's limited power - Although newly crowned King Felipe has shown that he understands the problems facing his people - a lack of "hope and self-confidence" - there is little the new monarch can do, writes El Pais's Natalia Junquera.

"While he works hard to keep in touch with Spanish society, inviting business leaders, politicians and even figures from the world of entertainment to his official residence at the Zarzuela Palace," she writes, "he lacks the charisma and intuition of his father, instead seeming to take after his mother, a more disciplined, thoughtful figure."

She says this can be a strength, however, as the king has proven to be knowledgeable on the issues and a good listener. Given the lack of public faith in Spanish institutions, including the monarchy, the king knows he cannot afford any missteps.

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Regional commentators weigh in on the latest developments in Iraq, as Sunni militants led by the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) move closer to Baghdad.

"Terrorism sweeping Iraq is an extension to this country's suffering as a result of the US invasion… America, through its policies, is the cause of the trouble." - Sayyah Azzam in Syria's Tishrin.

"[Iraqi Prime Minsiter Nuri] al-Maliki has no other option but to step aside and call for the formation of an inclusive national unity government away from sectarianism… It is also vital to distance the prospect of foreign military intervention or any other intervention in the Iraqi crisis." - Editorial in Qatar's Al-Rayah.

"The solution lies in Mr al-Maliki's resignation and the formation of an inclusive national unity government to prevent Iraq from sinking in an abhorrent sectarian war which will lead to either disintegration or to federalism at best." - Rajih al-Khuri in Lebanon's Al-Nahar.

"Arabs will have only themselves to blame if they are going to once again abandon Iraq. Iraq will not be the only country to leave the orbit of Arabism; several other Arab countries will be leaving too." - Fawziyah Rashid in Bahrain's Akhbar al-Khaleej.‎

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