Reviews of "The Hillary Doctrine"

The Hillary Doctrine

“Decades of research reveal that the subjugation of women is directly linked with state and non-state armed violence. When women are left out of peace building—as in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Sudan—the likelihood of a country sliding back into armed violence increases dramatically.” — Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl

This week our featured book is The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy, by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, with a foreword by Swanee Hunt. In this final post of the week’s feature, we are happy to present a roundup of some of the glowing praise that Hudson and Leidl’s book has received.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Hillary Doctrine!

From a review by Micah Zenko that originally ran on the Council for Foreign Relations blog and was subsequently picked up by both Quartz and Newsweek:

During her confirmation hearing to become secretary of state, Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in no uncertain terms, “I want to pledge to you that as secretary of state I view [women’s] issues as central to our foreign policy, not as adjunct or auxiliary or in any way lesser than all of the other issues that we have to confront.” A thoughtful and nuanced new book by Valerie M. Hudson and Patricia Leidl, The Hillary Doctrine: Sex & American Foreign Policy, evaluates to what extent Secretary Clinton has fulfilled this pledge.

Unsurprisingly, they find many examples where Clinton’s rhetoric does not meet U.S. foreign policy reality. Rather than simply denounce the former secretary of state for this, they try to understand what explains this reoccurring disconnect. For example, the authors contend that a component of Clinton’s hawkish support for intervening in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya was the belief that women’s lives would be markedly improved. Hudson and Leidl disagree, noting, “Military action in and of itself against regimes violating human rights will not protect women. If anything, it unleashes new and usually even more vicious male-bonded groups intent on stripping them of even the most basic human rights.” It is this sort of refreshing analysis that makes this book so important, and one that I highly recommend to anybody interested in elevating women’s voices in world affairs, as well as the practicalities of day-to-day U.S. foreign policymaking.

From a review by Karyn Bruggeman in the National Journal‘s One Good Book section:

Clinton skeptics eager to attack her on foreign policy should check out the sections of the book that highlight the Hillary Doctrine’s nonpartisan roots and lay out the quantitative and empirical evidence that supports its central proposition. These include the portion of Chapter 1 on George W. Bush’s “aggressive interpretation” of the theory behind the Hillary Doctrine in Afghanistan, and the part of Chapter 2 that presents Hudson’s original research around the idea that the level of violence against women is the greatest predictor of peacefulness within and between countries.

From a review by Jordan Michael Smith in New Republic:

[D]id she devote most of the considerable resources of her office toward implementing her rhetoric surrounding this issue?

Professors at Texas A&M and Michigan State, respectively, Hudson and Leidl make significant efforts to suggest that she did. After a brief history of the evolution of gender’s place in American foreign-policymaking, they present research demonstrating the relationship between a nation’s stability and its gender equality. Some of this pioneering research was conducted by Hudson herself; she examined 141 nations and found that the best predictor of a state’s internal and external peacefulness was its level of violence against women. The Hillary Doctrine presents Guatemala as a case study in the argument that there is a “link between gendercide and genocide,” and Saudi Arabia as a case for the argument that there is a link between a nation’s attitudes toward its women and the risk that the country poses to the international community.

Finally, from a starred review from Kirkus Reviews:

Hudson (Bush School of Government and Public Service/Texas A&M Univ.; Foreign Policy Analysis: Classic and Contemporary Theory, 2006, etc.) and Leidl (Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations/Michigan State Univ.) investigate what is known as the Hillary Doctrine, bringing to bear scholarly research, fieldwork, case studies, and interviews. They argue persuasively that in societies that permit and encourage violence against women, men develop “a willingness to harm, kill, and enslave others.” … As much as they endorse the Hillary Doctrine, the authors see problems in instituting change: establishing a legal and regulatory framework, making gender central to federal programs, and “the actual implementation of initiatives in-country.” They offer myriad, dismal examples of sexism among contractors and USAID workers; exclusion of women from conferences, planning, and positions of power; and a lack of accountability for programs that are enacted. The authors criticize the Obama administration for its failure to include women in Sudan–South Sudan negotiations and for allowing women to be marginalized during peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Leadership on women’s issues, they argue, must come from a deeply committed White House.

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