Huffpost Politics

Clinton New Zealand Joke The Latest In Series Of Foreign Policy Slips

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Hillary Clinton offered Newsweek an off-putting joke that has the New Zealand press in a tizzy:

You have any good jokes?

Here's a good one. Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand: her opponents have observed that in the event of a nuclear war, the two things that will emerge from the rubble are the cockroaches and Helen Clark. [Laughs]

In addition to it not being nice to tell jokes about former heads of states, it is also not nice to refer to Helen Clark -- the current prime minister of New Zealand -- as the former prime minister.

Of course one bad joke doesn't derail a campaign. But this season, Hillary has had a series of gaffes that hurt her image as a foreign policy guru.

Britain: Clinton makes Gordon Brown a spokesman for Tibet

During the heyday of Clinton's call for leaders to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beiing Olympics, Hillary declared an unwilling ally:

Gordon Brown became an unintentional standard-bearer for pro-Tibet campaigners today after being wrongly praised by Hillary Clinton for boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

The British media have treated the confirmation by No 10 yesterday of his plans not to attend the opening ceremony as an important foreign policy move, leading to reports around the world that he had snubbed China.

Pakistan: Clinton suggests Musharraf was behind Benazir Bhutto's death

Following the death of Benzair Bhutto, Clinton received a sharp response from the president of Pakistan after these comments:

And for the second time in as many days, she cast doubt on Musharraf's contention that the suicide bombing that led to the death of the country's most popular opposition leader was masterminded by al-Qaida.

"There are those saying that al-Qaida did it. Others are saying it looked like it was an inside job -- remember Rawalpindi is a garrison city," she said.

Russia: Clinton claims that Putin has no soul

She was riffing on the danger of inexperience, and reliance on personal relationships, in foreign affairs, indirectly comparing Obama to George W. Bush, who notoriously looked into Vladimir Putin's soul and liked what he saw.

"I could have told him -- he was a KGB agent. By definition he doesn't have a soul," Clinton joked.

The statement prompted Putin's response: "At a minimum, a head of state should have a head."

Russia redux: Hillary refers to Medve-whatever

In one of Tim Russert's famous gotcha moments, Clinton is caught not knowing the name of Russia's recently elected president, Dmitry Medvedev.

Iran: Clinton says U.S. would "obliterate" them

Not a gaffe, per se, but certainly a comment that pricked the ears of the foreign policy community. Clinton warns Iran before the Pennsylvania primary:

Clinton further displayed tough talk in an interview airing on "Good Morning America" Tuesday. ABC News' Chris Cuomo asked Clinton what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

ABC also points out that the rhetoric contradicts earlier statements by Clinton not to engage in hypothetical speculation.