Last Friday, after four tumultuous years, Hillary Rodham Clinton cleared her
desk at the US State Department and officially completed her term as
Washington’s top diplomat.
Not surprisingly, much of the mainstream
American media promptly went out of its way to swoon over Clinton, giving her a
send-off replete with the usual flattery and fawning.
example, glorified Clinton on its cover, describing her as “the most powerful
woman in American history” and wondering just how “the world after Hillary” will
look. Not to be outdone, NBC’s Today show decided to tackle the question that
was surely on everybody’s mind: “Sleep In Saturday: How is Hillary Clinton
Spending Her First Day Off the Job?” Few journalists actually bothered to take a
look at Clinton’s record during her tenure at Foggy Bottom, preferring to treat
her with kid gloves.
Or, as veteran media critic Howard Kurtz put it, the
media “are almost portraying her exit as walking on water.”
yourself be fooled by the organized love-fest. The fact of the matter is that
never has one woman gotten so much credit for accomplishing so little over such
an extended period of time.
Indeed, Hillary Clinton was the Seinfeld
secretary of state; her term little more than a show about nothing – other than
highlighting the main character’s personality, of course.
following: Clinton made no major contributions to America’s foreign policy
doctrine, she did not formulate or even articulate any memorable vision of where
the country is headed, and she presided over numerous failures and
Remember the much vaunted “reset” of US relations with Russia
that Hillary touted? That went nowhere. Or how about when she referred to Syrian
Butcher-in-Chief Bashar Assad as a “reformer” back in March 2011, even as his
forces were brutally attempting to quash opposition to his rule. The Iranian
ayatollahs are now four years closer to a nuclear bomb than they were at the
beginning of Hillary’s tenure while North Korea continues to threaten American
allies in the Far East with impunity.
Clinton also presided over the
September 11, 2012, Benghazi debacle, when four Americans were killed, including
the US ambassador, in an attack on the US consulate in eastern Libya. The State
Department she ran bungled security at the Consulate and ignored repeated
requests to improve it, and then could not or would not level with the American
people about what actually had happened.
IN LIGHT of the above, it hardly
seems proper to suggest that Clinton belongs in the pantheon of outstanding
secretaries of state. Clearly, she was no George Kennan or Henry
And that is precisely the reason why her spinmeisters have
been stressing the fact that she visited 112 countries and traveled nearly a
million miles, as if that were an accomplishment in and of itself.
four years as America’s top diplomat, is the number of nations one managed to
visit really a good barometer of one’s achievements? Simply because Hillary
graced a record number of airport lounges, or sipped more cappuccinos abroad
than anyone in recent memory says nothing about her professional qualities or
To be sure, her time in office was not a complete flop. She
helped to push forward a diplomatic opening with Myanmar, encouraging that
country to pursue continued democratic reforms. And Clinton did play a role in
America’s pivot towards East Asia as a way of countering China’s
But that is hardly much of a record to gloat about, and even some
of her defenders admit as much. As Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution
acknowledged in an otherwise favorable account, Clinton’s “positions were not
usually remarkably imaginative.”
“Even an admirer,” he added, “must
acknowledge that few big problems were solved on her watch.”
And when it
came to Israel, her performance was also far from stellar.
portrayed as a close friend of the Jewish state, Hillary’s record belies such a
Take, for example, the speech she gave at the Saban Center
just two months ago, on December 2, where she lambasted Israel for a “lack of
generosity” and “lack of empathy” toward the “oppressed” Palestinians, as though
two decades of Israeli territorial concessions had slipped her mind.
Clinton has repeatedly criticized Israeli housing construction in eastern
Jerusalem as “provocative” and also labeled Jewish communities in Judea and
Samaria as “illegitimate.”
So no matter how one looks at it, there really
is not much reason to lament Hillary’s departure from the State Department,
although it could mean she will now start preparing for a possible 2016
In any event, I don’t feel any ill-will toward her, and
I truly do hope she enjoys her retirement. So much so, that just like Seinfeld,
she will remain a relic of the past.