Hillary Clinton blasted Vladimir Putin as a relic from a bygone era on Thursday night as she called on the U.S. and its allies to stand up to Russia’s aggression.
The former Secretary of State said Russia's seizure of Crimea was an attempt to restore the might of the collapsed Soviet Union, a faded ambition that should be consigned to history. "We have to say no to somebody like Putin,” she said.
Clinton, the front-runner to be the Democrats' next presidential nominee, was speaking on the opening night of the fifth annual Women in the World Summit alongside Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund.
Lagarde, a former French finance minister, promised that the IMF would continue to support Ukraine amid the crisis in Eastern Europe. Asked if the United States was doing enough to help, she replied: “You want the truth? No.”
Clinton, who derided the partisanship in Washington, accepted that it was sometimes difficult for the U.S. to speak with a united voice, but she insisted that the Kremlin’s aggression was ultimately doomed to failure. "Putin is motivated by the past, to recreate it, reclaim it, restore the proper place of Russia in the world order,” she said. "I believe over the long run this is a losing strategy, but U.S. and allies have to be both strong and patient. Part of our problem is we are a raucous democracy. But we have to say no to somebody like Putin in a smart way.”
Some critics have characterized her time at the State Department as a period of American caution in overseas disputes but Clinton said she was "very proud of the stabilization and the really solid leadership that the administration provided."
"I think we really restored American leadership in the best sense," she said. President Obama’s second Secretary of State, John Kerry, has appeared to make more progress with negotiations in Iran and the Middle East. "You run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton," she said. "Some of what hasn't been finished may go on to be finished."
For Clinton that sense of teamwork is rarely seen elsewhere in D.C. “I just don’t want to lose that [global leadership] because we have a dysfunctional political situation in Washington,” she said. "There is just pure ideology, pure partisanship. We disguise a commercial interest behind a political facade and the result is that we're kind of marching backwards instead of forward," she said.
The symposium at New York’s Lincoln Center was packed with fervent Clinton supporters who cheered every time moderator Thomas Friedman of the New York Times tried, in vain, to get her to announce her intention to run for president.
After circumnavigating another round of questions-- “Not right now,” she said when asked if there might be a new job on the horizon -- the former First Lady said there was still a “double-standard” when it came to the scrutiny of women in politics.
She said women who wanted to be major players had to “grow a skin as thick as the hide of a rhinoceros.”
“We have all either experienced it or at the very least seen it,” she said. “The double standard is alive and well and I think, in many respects, the media is the principal propagator of its persistence.”
When Friedman suggested Clinton and Lagarde would both reach even higher office; Clinton as the first woman president while Lagarde ran the European Commission, the hall erupted in whoops. The two women didn't say anything, but high-fived and clasped hands--which was response enough.