Hillary Clinton Praises ‘Brave’ Saudi Women in a Half-Brave Statement

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference with the Japanese foreign and defense ministers at the Department of State June 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are co-hosting a meeting of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/2011 Getty Images

Hillary Clinton, who has long made global women's rights one of her signature issues, spoke out today on the ongoing efforts of Saudi Arabian women to defy the country's driving ban. Clinton parsed her words carefully: "What these women are doing is brave, and what they are seeking is right, but the effort belongs to them. I am moved by it and I support them," she said, but repeatedly made it clear that the driving ban is "an internal matter for Saudi Arabia to sort out," reports Reuters. The statement came after Saudi women lobbied for Clinton to do something more public — and more personal — than the "quiet diplomacy" she'd been engaged in behind the scenes. Apparently it didn't fall on deaf ears: Even a caveat-filled condemnation of the policy sends a hugely meaningful signal. Clinton has good reason for her lawyerly phrasing; Saudi Arabia is an important U.S. ally in a turbulent region. And, of course, it's an important source of the oil that American women need to drive our cars anywhere and anytime we please.

Clinton backs "brave" Saudi women fighting drive ban [Reuters]