A former British diplomat has claimed that Hillary Clinton oversaw a "dysfunctional" U.S. diplomatic mission in Iraq during her tenure as Secretary of State in a book due to be published next month.
Britain's Daily Telegraph reported late Tuesday that Emma Sky, a former political adviser to U.S. Gen. Ray Odierno, writes that Clinton's choice as the Obama administration's first ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, had "lacked regional experience and was miscast in the role in Baghdad. In fact, he had not wanted the job," but was persuaded to accept it by Clinton. Sky writes that Odierno told her that Clinton had admitted as much when she met the general in Washington in early 2010.
Sky continues that Hill's main focus while ambassador appeared to be monitoring the activities of the U.S. military, as opposed to engaging with Iraqi leaders or his fellow diplomats. In fact, Sky claims that Hill repeatedly "made clear how much he disliked Iraq and Iraqis." She also says that Hill tried to get the fortified embassy to look more like a "normal" U.S. diplomatic mission, a task which apparently required importing rolls of sod "on which the ambassador could play lacrosse".
Sky's book, called "The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq," covers her seven years in Iraq beginning in 2003. Her thesis is that the hasty U.S. withdraw overseen by President Obama thrust then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki into the arms of Iran and exacerbated sectarian tensions that boosted support for what she calls "extreme sectarian actors, including the Islamic State, [who turned] local grievances over poor governance into proxy wars."
Clinton is not the only member of the administration whom Sky criticizes in her book, which was excerpted in Politico Magazine last week. Vice President Joe Biden is also described as making "totally inappropriate" comments during a meeting with members of the Iraqiya coalition following Iraq's disputed 2010 parliamentary elections.
Sky describes Biden as "clearly irritated" with her attempts to explain Iraq's kaleidoscopic political landscape and the ongoing tension between secularists and Islamists. Biden, according to Sky responded "Look, I know these people. My grandfather was Irish and hated the British. It’s like in the Balkans. They all grow up hating each other."
Biden made a similar observation when meeting with members of the multi-religious, multi-ethnic Iraqiya coalition. Ultimately, Sky says, Biden and Hill fell into place alongside Iran and backed al-Maliki to remain as Prime Minister. This was all carried out with the tacit approval of Obama, whose "only interest in Iraq, it appeared, was ending the war."