February 5 2013
We’ve been hearing a lot of glowing stuff about Hillary Clinton’s legacy as Secretary of State (including this--yuck). But what is the actual legacy?
Unlike the mainstream media, Lisa Schiffren would like to pin down just what it is that Mrs. Clinton accomplished as the nation’s top diplomat. In a must-read piece in today’s Washington Times, Schiffren writes:
It would have been nice if, in his celebratory puff piece of an interview with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, Steve Kroft of “Sixty Minutes” had shown an interest in the substance of Mrs. Clinton’s views, goals and accomplishments in foreign policy. That, after all, is what secretaries of state in challenging times do: They promulgate doctrines. They come up with grand strategies for defeating, containing or subtly undermining America’s enemies. They come up with brilliant plans for winning the peace, by supporting nations and factions that share our values of democracy and open markets. They think about the big picture and work towards making it real.
To be sure, a grand strategy is probably easier when a nation faces a coherent, unified threat, such as Hitler’s war in Europe, or Soviet hegemony and the Cold War, or even the threat of expensive oil, which required dealing with the despotic leaders of unpleasant, oil rich countries. But wait – the United States does face such a threat. We face a threat from radical Islamist insurgencies destabilizing moderately functional nations, many of which are long time U.S. allies, while threatening us at home and abroad with terror and asymmetrical warfare. What doctrine does Mrs. Clinton leave behind to deal with that?
Had Mrs. Clinton been serious, she might have, in the course of her million miles on the plane, told an audience what our goals were for post-war Iraq and Afghanistan, in the context of those destabilizing Islamist forces we have spent blood and billions to remove from power in those two places.
After the surprising, and potentially promising, Arab Spring, Mrs. Clinton might have outlined her understanding of those People’s Revolutions, and where the United States hoped to see them go. A speech outlining what assistance, under what conditions, with what particular hopes, she and the administration thought appropriate for those nations would have been genuinely important.
Schiffren also predicts when we will get answers to our serious questions about Benghazi: either in about 35 years, when people start coming forward, or never. I can’t help thinking of Mrs. Clinton as more of a celebrity than a diplomat.