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Much of Clinton’s outreach efforts have been international. During the contentious debt ceiling debates in July, when America’s attention was focused on Congress, the Secretary took a five-country tour that included trips to Turkey, India and Indonesia. The visits focused primarily on meeting with diplomats and leaders to discuss the conflict in Libya, regional security and economic development and trade in Southeast Asia.
In April, the Secretary hosted the eighth annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Washington — the first time the event was held in the United States after seven years in Qatar — where she spoke about the Obama administration’s goals to pursue diplomatic partnerships with democratic-seeking countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The year before, she was the first senior member of the U.S. administration to participate in the forum in Doha.
“She’s using multiple levels of engagement,” Pandith said. “We cannot work in isolation. We must work hand to hand with people around the world.”
The Secretary’s efforts, however, might not be enough, said Grand, who thinks the State Department should work harder to implement the idea of socioeconomic partnership that Obama addressed in his June 2009 speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.
“It’s so important that America be seen as a partner in solving those needs rather than the perpetrator of those problems,” he said.
If the State Department places importance on hosting events commemorating Islamic holidays, Brim said, it should also reevaluate its outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood. In June, the Obama administration chose to resume formal and limited contacts with the Brotherhood in Egypt.
“We believe, given the changing political landscape in Egypt,” Clinton said in a meeting with the Hungarian prime minister in June, “that it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence, that intend to compete for the parliament and the presidency.”
Grand said it is important to understand the distinction between everyday Muslims and those responsible for terrorism.
“That is a big issue for the United States. We have never quite developed a consensus as to who our enemy is. Is it a small group of radical extremists or is it 1.4 billion Muslims?” Grand said. “I think we’ve cast a very wide web of suspicion, and it’s undermined our efforts both at home and abroad.”