Clinton Continues to Clock up Air-miles……

15 Aug

The United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has become the most travelled US Government representative in history.  Between her appointment at the beginning of 2009 and 17 July 2012 she had visited 102 countries clocking up 843,839 air-miles on official business, using her military Boeing 757 ‘flying office’.  Since the figures were published Mrs Clinton has travelled to a further 7 countries.  Starting with a tour of Africa she visited Senegal, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa, finishing up with a trip to Turkey on 11th and 12th August to discuss the current situation in Syria.  I haven’t been able to calculate the distances involved in the latest block of travel but I would imagine that the Secretary of State has now exceeded the 1,000,000 mile mark; that’s more than 40 times around the earth.

Having spent 352 days in the air I do not envy Mrs Clinton’s schedule or question her dedication to the job but one does have to ask the necessity of travelling to these countries for face-to-face meetings, given the technology of video conferencing, a technique that the US machinery with it’s 3000 satellites is more that capably of achieving.

Given that Mrs Clinton’s travels on a private military Boeing 757, estimating the cost to the US tax payer is hard to establish but clearly, it is going to be considerably more expensive than using charter flights.  There is the cost of staffing the flights with Military Personal and the increased economic costs of flying an aircraft of such large proportions for one VIP and a small air crew and security staff.  This is bound to be much more expensive than flying a commercial aircraft loaded to capacity with paying customers.

Partly the reason for the sheer numbers of countries visited is as a part of the US charm offensive in its attempt to win support amongst the many countries who feel alienated by US foreign policy over the past 10 years since 9/11 and the heavy-handed tactics used in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Finally, the flights detailed are for official business and do not include Mrs Clinton’s domestic flights or those taken for personal reasons.  Given the costs involved in her travel arrangements, one has to wonder if the money would have been better spent relieving the suffering of the people in the countries she has visited.  Although, some would postulate that it has helped rebuild America’s standing in the world.

As more data is made available through the US State Department Website, http://www.state.gov/secretary/trvl/index.htm, I’ll continue to keep tracks on the Secretary of States travel arrangements.

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