The “The Global Hillary” Interview
with Kam Williams
Sharma Sets Sights on Hillary, Poised to Make History
Dinesh Sharma is a social scientist, marketing consultant and an acclaimed author with a doctorate from Harvard University. He is an Associate Research Professor at the Institute for Global Cultural Studies at SUNY-Binghamton; an adjunct Professor in Organizational Psychology at Fordham University; and a senior fellow at the Institute for International and Cross-Cultural Research in New York City.
Dr. Sharma's biography of the 44th President of the United States, entitled "Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President," was rated as among the Top 10 Books of Black History for 2012 by the American Library Association, Book List Online. His next book, "The Global Obama," was published by Routledge Press and received Honorable Mention on this critic's Ten Best Black Books of 2014 as published by the African-American Literary Book Club (AALBC) and widely syndicated across the country.
Sharma's recent articles and opinions have appeared in the New Republic, UPI, AP, Real Clear Politics, Raw Story, Asia Times and numerous other newspapers. Here, he discusses his new book, "The Global Hillary: Women's Political Leadership in Cultural Contexts."
Kam Williams: Hi Dinesh, thanks for the interview.
Dinesh Sharma: Thanks, Kam, for this opportunity to speak with you about my new book.
KW: What about Hillary Clinton interested you enough to edit a book about her global image?
DS: I think she is by far the most qualified person running for the White House right now -- Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, First Lady -- who also happens to be the first woman candidate, pretty close to securing the nomination.
KW: Tell me where you got the idea for “The Global Hillary.”
DS: This is a follow-up to "The Global Obama" book which you reviewed. The same publisher, Routledge Press, wanted me to write a book about Hillary Clinton's leadership.
KW: How would you describe the main thesis of this opus?
DS: In this book, we explore the linkage between "Smart Power" and Hillary Clinton's leadership style. Can she advance American leadership and women's development worldwide? "The Global Hillary" addresses these questions and many others. Bringing together two key aspects of Clinton’s ongoing career--her advocacy for international women’s rights and the mission to foster democratic development around the world--I argue Clinton is a transformative leader of global influence.
KW: What message do you think people will take away from the book?
DS: The essays in this collection provide insight into Clinton’s leadership style, particularly her use of American "Smart Power" in foreign policy, while examining her impact on the continuing worldwide struggle for women’s rights. Using an international perspective on the historical and cultural contexts of Clinton’s leadership, this book also looks toward the future of women’s political leadership in the 21st Century with special attention to the prospect of electing a woman to the United States' presidency. The big takeaway is the idea of "smart power."
KW: How would you define Smart Power?
DS: The idea of Smart Power was proposed by Joseph Nye, a political scientist at Harvard University. He has argued that the United States needs to rely on the combination of both 'hard' military power and 'soft' cultural power to deal with the host of new challenges we face in the post-9/11 world. Hillary Clinton has been a champion of this idea at the State Department
KW: How does Smart Power relate to women's development?
DS: The project for women's development is one of the stronger initiatives pushed by the U.S. government in different parts of the world. It is a key component of the Smart Power approach advanced by Hillary Clinton. She believes that in parts of the world with high degrees of unrest and instability, women's development tends to be abysmally poor.
KW: Is there a link between terrorism and women's development?
DS: Yes, they are negatively correlated. In parts of the world where women's development is poor, terrorism seems to fester unabated.
KW: Can you eradicate conditions of terrorism by improving the conditions of women?
DS: In summary, yes, that is the theory behind the claim.
KW: Has this idea been fully tested?
DS: There is lots of evidence to suggest that this idea is internally consistent, but it needs more empirical testing. For instance, increase women's education leads to better conditions for young girls and families.
KW: Does the book deal with this issue?
DS: Yes, the book presents essays and evidence from different parts of the world--Africa, Asia, Europe, and the US--to suggest that this is one of the main issues Hillary Clinton has been advancing throughout her career.
KW: Is this book at all biographical?
DS: Yes, at the margins, we delve into her biography to the extent it impacts her social policy ideas. We have tried to show in the book that some of these policy ideas she has been advocating for a long time--at Yale Law School, the keynote speech at a Women's Rights conference 20 years ago in Beijing ["Women's Rights Are Human Rights"], and recently as Secretary of State--are focused on democracy and women's development, and the three big D's: Democracy, Development and Diplomacy.
KW: Finally, would you say the US is "exceptional" when it comes to women's rights?
DS: Yes, it is "exceptional" in advocating for women's rights worldwide. But it still lags in terms of political representation of women in elected offices, and it is really an exception to the rule in not having elected a female head of state or a woman president.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Dinesh, and best of luck with the book.
DS: Thank you, Kam.
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