Skip to comments.Hillary Clinton was loyal soldier but no great shakes at policy
Posted on 02/03/2013 12:50:57 PM PST by neverdem
When Hillary Clinton took office, much of the world had been alienated from the United States by the policies of the Bush administration. Expectations were high that President Obama's team would change the tone, and Clinton delivered. She put a glamorous, smart, politically astute face on American policy.
Yet Clinton produced no diplomatic breakthroughs nor any new strategic doctrine. And when it comes to issues of war and peace - in the Mideast, South Asia, and North Asia - she leaves a minimal legacy.
In large part, that's because policy-making was tightly controlled by the White House. It's hard to know whether Clinton would have acted differently if President Obama had, in the manner of Richard M. Nixon, anointed her as his Henry Kissinger. But that was never in the cards.
Instead, Clinton appeared to endorse Obama's view of America's more limited role in an age of austerity, defined by other rising global powers. As a loyal soldier, she used her stellar political skills to strengthen old alliances in Europe and promote new ones in Asia as part of a "pivot" in that direction. She mended diplomatic fences and conducted negotiations, notably on Iran sanctions.
But she has no major foreign policy success she can call her own.
Initially, Clinton did try to carve out a greater role by appointing three "special envoys," loyal to her, as policy overlords on key issues. Richard Holbrooke got the AfPak brief, George Mitchell the Arab-Palestinian issue, and Dennis Ross, Iran. But Holbrooke's mercurial personality so alienated Afghan and Pakistani leaders that the White House finally cut him out of the process, while Mitchell failed to make any headway and resigned. Ross, sensing where power lay, left the State Department and moved to the White House.
Meantime, the Mideast peace process died, the Syrian civil war dragged on, Iran's nuclear program continued, and the dangerous AfPak mess remained unresolved (except for Obama's pledge to withdraw U.S. troops).
Clinton turned her prodigious energy to soft-power issues. She chose as her head of policy planning Anne-Marie Slaughter, who argued that U.S. power in the future would be based on our supreme talent for networking - creating linkages of government and private organizations to deal with issues that cross conventional boundaries, such as Internet security or climate change.
The secretary threw herself into public diplomacy, famously visiting 112 countries - and conducting town hall meetings with students, journalists, and civil society activists as far afield as Moscow, Manila, and Phnom Penh. When I visited Islamabad in 2009, I heard Pakistanis rave about how she had won over skeptical students in Lahore with her tough, honest responses.
Yet her magnetic personal qualities, while winning her accolades, didn't guarantee successful policy-making. Her several visits to Islamabad did not persuade Pakistani politicians and generals to stop providing safe havens to the Taliban. Nor did they necessarily change America's image abroad; Polls still show that America is less popular in Pakistan than its own archenemy, India, and its reputation is still sinking in the Middle East.
The secretary also carved out signature areas of special interest. One was development aid, where Clinton tried to revamp our troubled policies, especially in conflict areas - arguing that diplomats and civilian-aid officials should control aid delivery rather than leaving it to the military.
Sadly, the dangers in conflict zones mostly kept aid officials from leaving their bases, and the use of civilian contractors still leads too often to rank corruption. These problems, which originated in the Bush administration, still remain unresolved.
Then there is Clinton's most passionate commitment - to the promotion of women's issues, which she inserted into every sphere of policy. She appointed a special emissary for women's affairs, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, who traveled the globe seeking to determine where U.S. policy could improve women's status and boost economic development.
This emphasis is important and should be continued. Yet I can't help wondering about its lasting impact. The signature country where the United States has promoted the advancement of women is Afghanistan. U.S. officials, Clinton included, have pledged not to abandon Afghan women.
There is a disconnect here. If Obama withdraws nearly all or all U.S. troops, and limits the U.S. role there to special forces and drones, all the gains women and girls have made in the last decade will be rolled back. In this case, as in so many, soft power can only have an impact if it is backed up by hard power - meaning concrete evidence of continued U.S. support.
Here is where Clinton's legacy may prove most ephemeral. She has promoted soft power, and showed she can represent American splendidly abroad, but - unless she becomes president - we won't know how she would exercise hard power.
Allow me to be the first to say BULL SH!T!!!
“When Hillary Clinton took office, much of the world had been alienated from the United States by the policies of the Bush administration.”
Nice try. Straw Man Argument, right out of the chute!
Other countries respected and FEARED us; knew we’d reign BLOWS down upon their heads if they messed with us.
How I miss those days. We shall never see them again, I fear. *SIGH*
I second the motion
She’s another Chicago phony , an Alinskyite POS , able to lie straight faced , at the blink of an eye .
” What difference does it make !??? At this point...”
It makes A LOT of difference lady , and we will never forget .
How apropos that John F-ing Kerry follows on her high heels . One day we are going to take this country back . One day ...
You could always count on the Clintons for series bodycount.. unfortunately, it was usually more US citizens/allies than belligerents/terrorists.
to see her sashay off the stage like she is,, sickening..
Trudy Rubin is living in fantasyland!
Oh, yeah, right. She was a “soldier” in the “male” “war” against women. The metaphors of the socially abominable are disgusting and off-putting.
Yes, we do.
(This article needs a BARF ALERT!)
Other than giving students in Pakistan tough responses or something.
It was a good arrangement.
She could be on the road with Huma most of the time.
And ole BJ was back home tending to business.
Question-—How can one be pretty good with no accomplishments?
Answer:-—You cannot. she was lousy and the Middle East is Boiling because of she and The One.
Shouldn't that be: Turdy Rubin?
“What difference does it make now?”
Hillary as Sec. of State did what she was told to do, just as Barack Hussein Obama a/k/a Barry Sotero has done as president. There are people and forces controlling both and these people and forces do not have in mind the best interests of our America and its citizens.
Hillary was allowed to do photo opps and rack up frequent flyer miles, but not improve American interests in the Mid-East or other world hot spots. She was allowed to bow down and defer to the UN, EC, Red China and toady up to third world despots. Trade agreements that put America’s economy and businesses second were fast tracked.
Barry Obama is all in on this agenda and so will Hillary in her next smartest woman’s job, US President in 2016.
The last time Hillary flew commercial, Lyndon Johnson was POTUS, LOL.
What difference, at this point, does it make!!?
She looks like one of the Hanson brothers from the movie “Slap Shot.”
And Trudy Rubin, all I can say is: You are a true ass!!
The word "glamor" really doesn't come to mind when I think of Mrs. Clinton/PIAPS.
She wasn't very "glamorous" during her college years, or her years as First Lady of Arkansas, or when she ran the operation at Waco...just ask Vince.
She was in over her head as much as Obama is in over his. Both of them...way beyond their pay grades .