Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has “set back” China’s ambitions to invade Taiwan, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.
In an extensive interview at the FT Weekend festival in Washington on Saturday, the former Democratic presidential candidate, who served as America’s top diplomat under Barack Obama, offered harsh assessments of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US-China relations and the United States. President Joe Biden’s re-election prospects next year.
Clinton warned that Donald Trump’s re-election in 2024 would mean “the end of democracy” in the United States and the “end of Ukraine”.
She described Putin as a “complicated, messianic, narcissistic authoritarian”. The Russian leader had believed that if Trump won the 2020 presidential election, he would have pulled the United States out of NATO, she added.
“It would have literally been a cake walk for him, and so when Trump didn’t win, he figured he had to move on.”
This turned out to be “absolutely the wrong calculation”, she added.
Clinton said she believed Xi was reassessing his approach to Taiwan in light of Putin’s failure to quickly take control of Ukraine.
She said she had previously assumed that Xi would “act against Taiwan” within three or four years of consolidating his power in China. But she added: “I think Ukraine has really rolled that back. I mean, what happened in Ukraine had a significant impact, in my opinion, on the Chinese leadership.
“Look, Trump was the gift that kept giving to people like Xi and Putin,” Clinton added, in an attack on the man who beat her in the 2016 election. “He was . . . so much in love with the authoritarians, he was incompetent in any strategic approach to China, and you know, he was clearly going to do whatever Putin wanted on NATO.
Clinton said she doesn’t “believe” Trump will win the presidential election in 2024. But she warned that if he did, it would be “the end of democracy in the United States” and the “end of Ukraine,” warning that Trump would pull the United States out of NATO.
Clinton acknowledged that at 80, Biden’s age was “an issue” that voters had “every right to consider.” But she paraphrased the president’s oft-quoted phrase: “Don’t judge him by running against the Almighty, but against the alternative.”
Clinton also endorsed Biden’s efforts to push the Democratic National Committee to overhaul the party’s nominating process after the 2020 Iowa caucuses were marred by delayed results due to a flawed counting app.
“Thank goodness they’re over, at least for the Democrats, because they deserve to be over,” Clinton said of the Iowa caucuses. “I won Iowa, but it’s still not a good idea. You know, let my people vote.