And in her response (last question on this webpage), Clinton made a significant mistake:
"So we’re going to try some different approaches. No illusions about who we’re dealing with or what the issues are. But I think it’s worth a try, because what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked very well. And, in fact, if you look at the gains, particularly in Latin America, that Iran is making and China is making, it’s quite disturbing. I mean, they are building very strong economic and political connections with a lot of these leaders. I don’t think that’s in our interest."
This was absolutely unneeded. There is no reason to -- on the record -- explicitly associate America's more cooperative posture toward Latin America with countering the "disturbing gains" that another country is making in the region. Briefly, here are some primary reasons for excluding such language:
1. First, it can be debated whether or not more cooperation (i.e. more aid and economic assistance) between China and countries in L. America is necessarily a bad thing.
2. Even if it were, it goes unsaid. Anybody who cares to know about US foreign policy knows that America would engage more readily with the world in order to have a greater degree of influence. It's implicit. And what is also implicit is that if America has more influence, then other countries necessarily have a lesser ratio of influence.
3. Clinton herself -- as well as President Obama -- will openly agree that a healthy US relationship with China is and will continue to be one of the most important US foreign policy priorities. Publicly stating, then, that Chinese influence is "disturbing" is counter-productive. It both slaps China in the face and expresses a significant lack of trust of China. This is intensified when China is being compared to Iran, which is far more inflammatory in its rhetoric and deed than China.
Ironically, Clinton ends her remarks with this: "My bottom line is: What’s best for America? How do we try to influence behavior that is more in our interest than not? And that’s how we’re looking at it."
I would turn the question back on her. Apparently, her behavior and her bottom line are misaligned.
Let's hope the Chinese overlook this one...