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  |   September 4, 2012    9:06 AM ET

CHARLOTTE -- Four years ago in Denver, Bill Clinton was given the assignment of making the world believe that he liked Barack Obama and wanted him to be president.

Building a World of Greater Freedom and Less Violence, Mr. Romney

Frank Vogl   |   September 2, 2012   10:58 PM ET

Speaking to the Republican Party Convention, Mitt Romney said, "A free world is a more peaceful world." He provided no explanation. In fact, there is a lot of evidence to support his assertion.

Where there is scant freedom, there is also abundant violence and rampant governmental corruption. Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, consistently trail in the global rankings of freedom by Freedom House, of perceived corruption by Transparency International, and in the Global Peace Index published by the Vision of Humanity organization.

Mr. Romney has failed to provide how he will promote greater freedom across the world, while Condoleezza Rice, speaking to the Convention in Tampa, ridiculed the Obama Administration for failing to provide leadership. In fact, President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have taken a courageous stand in supporting civil society campaigners in very difficult, autocratic countries, to the anger of the host governments.

Indeed, there was no mention in prominent speeches at the Republican Convention of the Arab Spring -- a seminal event that inspired public protests in dozens of countries. Tens of thousands of Tunisians and Egyptians started it, overcoming their fears of vicious state security forces, to denounce their illegitimate governments. Their courage has given anti-corruption, pro-democracy campaigns unprecedented momentum in many parts of the world.

Supporting this momentum is vital. When it comes to backing civil society's ability to speak truth to power, the Obama administration has displayed vital leadership. The president set the tone and the strategy early in his administration when on a visit to Moscow in July 2009, he attended a high-profile meeting of civil society leaders.

Typical of the leadership, for example, was a meeting with international civil society groups that Secretary Clinton had in Krakow, Poland in mid-2010, where she stressed, "For the United States supporting civil society groups is a critical part of our work to advance democracy." And, on the same overseas trip a few days later in Yerevan, Armenia, she told another group of civil society activists that, "Democracy requires not just elections, but open dialogue, a free exchange of ideas, government transparency and accountability, and above all, an empowered citizenry, who constantly work together to make their country fairer, juster, healthier and freer."

The rising energy behind many civil society campaigns for justice and personal freedom owe an enormous amount to the efforts of rising numbers of activists, investigative journalists, public prosecutors and swelling ranks of academics in dozens of countries. They have been raising public awareness of corruption, building networks to pool research and ideas, and exploiting the full potential of social media, to encourage protest and reform. U.S. support for those leading campaigns for democracy and against corruption is important.

Too often we fail to fully recognize the courage of those on the front lines. In 2000, as the Vice Chairman of Transparency International, the global anti-corruption non-governmental organization, I had the honor to present our annual integrity award to investigative reporter Lasantha Wickrematunge of Sri Lanka. On Jan. 8, 2009, he was gunned down when driving to work. He was 52. His last article, penned the day before his death, was titled, "And Then They Came For Me."

Lasantha had consistently investigated and reported on government corruption. His friend, J.C. Weilamuna, who has faced kidnapping, death threats and office bombings, heads Transparency International, Sir Lanka. He knows the dangers, yet he and his team of colleagues persevere convinced that their efforts will secure rising public support and contribute to both freedom and peace in his country.

I believe that in a rising number of countries today we are at a tipping point where bribe-takers and bribe-payers have ever fewer places to hide, where the prospects of sustainable reforms to curb corruption are improving significantly, and where the skeptics can now be sent packing. Yes, huge challenges remain and none are greater than sustaining civil society movements in many countries, from Russia to Egypt, where democracy and personal freedom are under serious threat; and in countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Venezuela, where activists are under daily threat.

The Obama administration has understood how important it is for the U.S. to support civil society, despite risks to government relationships. At stake is the prospect -- now more real in many countries than ever before -- of reducing barriers to freedom and creating less violent societies. Mr. Romney was right to connect freedom and peace; now he needs to show that he will follow the Obama example, if elected, and boldly support civil society led movements for freedom and against corruption.

MATTHEW LEE   |   August 10, 2012    3:40 PM ET

COTONOU, Benin — On an epic journey through Africa, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton braved an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Uganda, escaped a swarm of angry bees in Malawi and witnessed a rare snow in South Africa. She even shimmied on a dance floor, gaining the nickname "Secretary of Shake."

As she wrapped up her nine-nation African tour Friday in Benin, Clinton shattered her own travel record, logging 865,000 miles and stops in 108 countries – 10 more countries than her nearest competitor, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

MATTHEW LEE   |   August 7, 2012   11:06 AM ET

PRETORIA, South Africa — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, visiting the country with the world's highest rate of HIV infection, said Tuesday that American-sponsored efforts to stop the virus "have saved hundreds of thousands of lives" in South Africa.

In the capital of Pretoria, Clinton met with Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and other senior officials in the second cabinet-level strategic dialogue between the two nations. She also participated in a summit of leading U.S. business executives and their South African counterparts with the aim of boosting trade between the two countries.

MATTHEW LEE   |   August 4, 2012    1:39 PM ET

NAIROBI, Kenya — Looking ahead to Kenya's national vote in March, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday warned leaders and citizens in the East African nation not to repeat the deadly violence that plunged the country into chaos after disputed presidential elections five years ago.

Clinton said Kenya had the potential to be prove its democratic maturity and be an international model for free, fair and transparent elections. But she made clear that further election unrest would damage Kenya's economy and global standing.

MATTHEW LEE   |   August 3, 2012    7:34 AM ET

ENTEBBE, Uganda — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she hopes drones will soon be able to see through jungle cover so they can locate warlord Joseph Kony.

Clinton made the remark in Uganda as she watched a small U.S.-made drone that the Ugandan military uses in Somalia to fight al-Qaida-linked militants.

KEVIN FREKING   |   July 27, 2012    3:48 PM ET

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama raised nearly $2.5 million Friday at three fundraising events, including one where he crossed paths with President Bill Clinton. The other two were hosted by a Virginia businessman and philanthropist who helped hundreds of struggling Americans attend Obama's inaugural in 2009.

Obama met Clinton at a hotel where Obama was attending an intimate fundraiser with 25 donors that brought in $1 million for his re-election bid. Clinton was there hosting a fundraiser for Rep. John Lewis, the Democratic congressman from Georgia. The White House said the two presidents had the opportunity to say hello.

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  |   July 13, 2012    8:23 AM ET

WASHINGTON — Former President Bill Clinton said Mitt Romney's financial record is a matter of legitimate campaign scrutiny because he's been selling himself as a fix-it man on the economy.

Clinton told NBC's "Today" show Romney's hesitation to release all of his tax returns "struck me as a little odd." Romney has released a full tax filing only for 2010.

He explained, "I am a little surprised he only released a year's worth of tax returns. That kind of perplexed me, because this is the first time in, I don't know, more than 30 years that anybody running for president has only done that. you know, it's typical we all release 10, 11 years. I think Senator McCain released over 20 years of tax returns."

Clinton said Romney's record as the head of private equity firm Bain Capital is fair game and says taking a microscopic look at Romney's finances is "just as relevant as going over my record as governor when I ran for president."

He said voters "ought to make up their own mind" whether they support someone who apparently sought to minimize his federal tax liability by parking large sums of money overseas.

On extending the Bush-era tax cuts, he said, "If we're going to have long-term debt reduction, we're going to have to have some spending cuts and some more revenues and that's the fairest place to get it. What the Republicans are trying to do is to put him in a position of giving all that up for another year, which I think would be a big mistake."

  |   July 12, 2012    9:49 AM ET

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and "pattern of provocations" are a serious threat to Asian and world security.

North Korea released a statement later Thursday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' annual conference in Cambodia saying Washington's "never-ending nuclear threat" against the North has forced Pyongyang to build atomic weapons.

BRADLEY KLAPPER   |   July 11, 2012    1:23 PM ET

VIENTIANE, Laos — Decades after the U.S. gave Laos a horrific distinction as the world's most heavily bombed nation per person, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged Wednesday to help get rid of millions of unexploded bombs that still pockmark the impoverished country – and still kill.

The U.S. dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on the North Vietnamese ally during its "secret war" between 1964 and 1973 – about a ton of ordnance for each Laotian man, woman and child. That exceeded the amount dropped on Germany and Japan together in World War II.

  |   June 12, 2012    3:21 PM ET

From Fox News came the exultant headline: "Once shunned Clinton emerges as GOP's election year ally."

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