'Smart Power' Is Clinton's Vow at Hearings

"I believe that American leadership has been wanting, but is still wanted," she said. "We must use what has been called smart power, the full range of tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal, and cultural... With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy."

Clinton showed up at the hearing having crammed in recent weeks for the oral exam, easily handling in detail a wide range of subjects that included Darfur, Georgia, international women's rights, OPEC and energy policy.

She said the administration of President-elect Barack Obama will take a new tack on such thorny issues as Middle East peace and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Clinton also said an Obama administration will focus on issues the Bush administration wouldn't touch, including climate change as a threat to security.

And she assured the panel that under a Clinton-run State Department, no option is off the table regarding Iran.

"It is going to be United States policy to pursue diplomacy -- with all of its [tools] -- to do everything we can to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state. As I also said, no option is off the table," Clinton said.

While promising a "new strategy… that we believe will bear fruit," Clinton was careful to say that she has "no illusions that engaging Iran could predict results."

Clinton also commented for the first time on Israel and Palestinians, saying, "The president-elect and I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by Hamas rockets. However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of conflict in the Middle East, and pained by the suffering of Palestinian and Israeli civilians."

Addressing an issue that had been a point of contention between Clinton and Obama during the Democratic primaries, Clinton also spoke about whether she and Obama would meet with enemies without preconditions. At one point Clinton had called Obama's position to meet without preconditions "naïve."

Today, she said preconditions before talking to groups like Hamas or Hezbollah were a must -- and said she was on the same page with the president-elect in her stance.

"When it comes to non-state actors like Hamas, as I said at the very end of the morning session, there are conditions," Clinton said this afternoon. "Hamas must renounce violence. They must recognize Israel, and they must agree to abide by all previous agreements. There are conditions that are usually part of the preliminary discussion that would lead to any kind of negotiation. The president- elect believes that he has the right to claim the opportunity to speak with anybody at any time if it's in furtherance of our country's national interest and security. But he fully appreciates the preliminary work that has to be done in order to tee up any such discussion."

On Iraq, Clinton reiterated Obama's intentions to safety redploy troops, but signalled changes have already begun by announcing that the current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, would be leaving his post for "health and personal reasons."

And on another pressing problem, de-nuclearizing North Korea, Clinton said of the six party talks, "It is a framework that the president-elect and I believe has merit."

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