Judging Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State

State Department Photo

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers opening remarks at the 2012 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum to mark Global Economic Statecraft Day at the U.S. Department if State in Washington, D.C. on June 14, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • The simple consensus about Hillary Clinton’s tenure at state is: Meh.

    Tweet This

  • Benghazi throws the spotlight on Clinton in two particularly unflattering ways.

    Tweet This

  • By Clinton's own standards, she accomplished little in the areas she highlighted as most important to her.

    Tweet This

The simple consensus about Hillary Clinton’s tenure at state is: Meh.

By her own standards, she accomplished little and in the areas she highlighted as most important to her – rights for women and religious minorities, Israeli-Palestinian peace and halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program – she batted zero.

Women and religious minorities now have fewer freedoms across the Middle East and North Africa. In Afghanistan, where they might have enjoyed hope, the Obama administration is committed primarily to a “scheduled” exit.

Israel-Palestine? Need you ask?

And Iran is now closer to a nuclear weapon than ever before, notwithstanding ongoing efforts to talk them out of it. For some of this, Clinton is not to blame. She was named to office by a president who viewed her as little more than a threat, and who was determined to run foreign policy with a tiny coterie of trusted West Wing advisers. Clinton was far from the center of decision-making on Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East or much else.

Consequently, it’s hard to blame the woman for the lameness of “leading from behind,” the unprincipled decision to watch Syrians die by the tens of thousands, or any of the other myriad foreign policy errors of Obama’s first four years.

Indeed, it has been suggested that Clinton recommended arming the Syrian rebels (along with then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and then director of Central Intelligence David Petraeus), a more courageous and principled policy than the one now being pursued by President Obama. Similarly, it was she (among others) who reportedly persuaded the president of the wisdom of backing NATO intervention in Libya.

But Benghazi throws the spotlight on Clinton in two particularly unflattering ways.

We can surmise that Clinton falsely insisted that the terrorist attack was related to an offensive anti-Muslim video because she wished that terrorists had no role in a country she had advocated liberating.

But the actions of her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, who reportedly ripped the diplomat Gregory Hicks for stepping out of line, reveal a woman more interested in insulating herself from criticism than in truth or principle. This is the Hillary many remember from the Bill Clinton presidency.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author



What's new on AEI

Love people, not pleasure
image Oval Office lacks resolve on Ukraine
image Middle East Morass: A public opinion rundown of Iraq, Iran, and more
image Verizon's Inspire Her Mind ad and the facts they didn't tell you
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
Monday, July 21, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Closing the gaps in health outcomes: Alternative paths forward

Please join us for a broader exploration of targeted interventions that provide real promise for reducing health disparities, limiting or delaying the onset of chronic health conditions, and improving the performance of the US health care system.

Monday, July 21, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Comprehending comprehensive universities

Join us for a panel discussion that seeks to comprehend the comprehensives and to determine the role these schools play in the nation’s college completion agenda.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | 8:50 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Who governs the Internet? A conversation on securing the multistakeholder process

Please join AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy for a conference to address key steps we can take, as members of the global community, to maintain a free Internet.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Expanding opportunity in America: A conversation with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan

Please join us as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility throughout America.

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
Is it time to end the Export-Import Bank?

We welcome you to join us at AEI as POLITICO’s Ben White moderates a lively debate between Tim Carney, one of the bank’s fiercest critics, and Tony Fratto, one of the agency’s staunchest defenders.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.