88 Choices in Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices

Photo: Simon & Schuster

All of us face hard choices in our lives,” begins Hillary Clinton’s new book. While considering what to call it, her favorite suggestion was The Scrunchie Chronicles: 112 Countries and It’s Still All About My Hair, Clinton writes in the opening author’s note. However, “the title that best captured my experiences on the high wire of international diplomacy and my thoughts and feelings about what it will take to secure American leadership for the 21st century was Hard Choices.”

Over the next 600 pages, she lays out several dozen of these choices — many of them hard, others tough — along with 82 “decisions,” 27 “options,” 26 “alternatives,” and one “course of action.” For those only concerned about 2016, a spoiler: The last sentence of epilogue (see: No. 88) calls the decision to run for president again “another hard choice,” bringing us full circle from the first line, but also back to where we started. Below are all the ones in between.

  1. All of us face hard choices in our lives.
  2. Life is about making such choices.
  3. Our choices and how we handle them shape the people we become.
  4. My head urged me forward in my education and professional choices.
  5. I’ve tried not to make the same mistake twice, to learn, to adapt, and to pray for the wisdom to make better choices in the future.
  6. Keeping America safe, strong, and prosperous presents an endless set of choices 
  7. This book is about choices I made as Secretary of State 
  8. Of course, quite a few important choices, characters, countries, and events are not included here.
  9. As Secretary of State I thought of our choices and challenges in three categories 
  10. As is usually the case with the benefit of hindsight, I wish we could go back and revisit certain choices.
  11. In the end, the title that best captured my experiences on the high wire of international diplomacy and my thoughts and feelings about what it will take to secure American leadership for the 21st century was Hard Choices.
  12. One thing that has never been a hard choice for me is serving our country.
  13. And although the campaign was long and exhausting, and cost way too much money, in the end the process succeeded in offering voters a real choice about the future of the country.
  14. I heartily approved of Barack’s choice and knew Joe would be an asset in the election and in the White House.
  15. Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska was [John McCain’s] choice for running mate.
  16. … recounting Abraham Lincoln’s choice in 1860 of William Henry Seward 
  17. … it helped me make the hard choice to leave the Senate 
  18. On Monday, December  1, President-elect Obama announced me as his choice to serve as the sixty-seventh Secretary of State.
  19. The President’s choice for UN Ambassador was Susan Rice 
  20. … I decided that the smart power choice was to meld all three approaches.
  21. I explained why a democratic future for Asia was the right choice.
  22. I am pleased that we were able to facilitate Chen Guangcheng’s stay and departure from the U.S. Embassy in a way that reflected his choices and our values.”
  23. China has some hard choices to make, and so do we.
  24. At home, many thoughtful observers believed I was making the wrong choice 
  25. … we had concluded that “engagement versus sanctions is a false choice.”
  26. “As you know, there will be hard choices and difficult obstacles to overcome” 
  27. … direct engagement against the advice of many friends back home had been a risky choice 
  28. These were some of the hardest choices he would have to make as President.
  29. I was determined to do exactly that when facing future hard choices, with more experience, wisdom, skepticism, and humility.
  30. It was exactly this tenacity that made him the best choice for this urgent mission.
  31. … finding this path will require you and your country to make choices.
  32. … that rests on the choices that you make going forward.
  33. It had been a difficult deliberation, but I believed that the President had made the right choice 
  34. … all things considered, I believed that the president had made the right choice 
  35. The letter said that now was the time for both dies to make tough choices 
  36. Pakistanis had some hard choices to make 
  37. Hard men present hard choices 
  38. … false choices 
  39. I had no choice 
  40. … we made the choice to continue American’s bipartisan support for 
  41. I didn’t see any choice 
  42. … a natural choice 
  43. Not every partner makes that choice but we do and we will.
  44. … good choices could lead to good outcomes 
  45. …the choices facing Africa’s people 
  46. … he knew he had a choice to make 
  47. … the hard choices 
  48. … the challenge was mobilizing the political will on both sides to make the choices 
  49. … we had to make tough choices 
  50. … there are always choices we regret 
  51. … they needed to make the necessary choices 
  52. … khat leaves, the Yemeni narcotic of choice 
  53. … wiser choices 
  54. Even if we did decide that was the right choice 
  55. The choices were never harder than after 9/11 
  56. “… the use of force is not our first choice …”
  57. “… it’s not a choice that I make lightly.”
  58. … a natural choice 
  59. Sending those who serve our nation into harm’s way is one of the hardest choices our country and leaders ever have to make.
  60. The events of September 2012, and the choices made 
  61. There are some who believe that is the better choice; I am not one of them.
  62. … their only choice was to evacuate.
  63. I emphasized that the first choice should be diplomacy 
  64. … a clear choice 
  65. In retrospect I’m not sure our restraint was the right choice 
  66. He had no choice 
  67. … it was time to ramp up the pressure and sharpen the choice facing Iran’s leaders.
  68. We urge you to make that choice 
  69. … they would have no choice 
  70. Iran’s major customers faced difficult choices 
  71. …their leader’s choice 
  72. … the Ayatollah’s preferred choice 
  73. Going forward, Iran’s leaders … face real choices.
  74. “We all have a choice,” I told the Council 
  75. … our first choice was blocked at the UN.
  76. Both choices would bring unintended consequences.
  77. … this was the hardest choice Netanyahu had faced as Prime Minister.
  78. … the choice and trade-offs confronting us would be difficult.
  79. We tried to level with the American people about the hard choices to come 
  80. Building this kind of coalition, especially when the policy choices involved are so difficult, is much harder than herding cats.
  81. … a stark choice…
  82. … the old false choice 
  83. Nigeria could be a G-20 member and an influential global voice if it made the hard choice 
  84. … there are certainly hard choices to make 
  85. The choices we make about war 
  86. Citizens and leaders alike have choices to make 
  87. … the easiest choice I made 
  88. The time for another hard choice will come soon enough.