Hillary's State Department Resume
New Year's Resolution # 1 - No Hillary posts until something really happens. Just this one exception (kind of like the resolution about creme brule.)
The December CNN poll showing Hillary Clinton and Chris Cristie to be statistically tied as the leading candidates for 2016 reflects the importance of name recognition, but this far in advance, not much more. What is worth a bit of attention is the formation of the "Ready for Hillary" PAC which will be a better test of whether the Clintonistas who have been in the wasteland for 13 years can scare off potential Democratic opponents - younger (Maryland Governor O'Malley; NY Governor Cuomo; Massachusetts Senator Warren) and older (VP Biden; California Governor Brown who may just have some gas left in the tank.) The answer - highly unlikely. She will have to win a real contest within the Democratic Party.
In the Democratic primaries or against a Republican opponent, a major question will be about her accomplishments as Secretary of State. Beyond the miles, where's the beef?
The first test is Benghazi. Media friends at the Times have started running articles about those Republicans who "long ago abandoned common sense and good judgment in pursuit of conspiracy-mongering and an obsessive effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham." Long before 2016 the machine would have us forget that Hillary's State Department left the consulate poorly defended, that senior Washington leaders chose not to send reinforcements, and that the investigation was delayed and desultory. Eventually, however, the Democrat or Republican debate opponent will be able to answer the Secretary's question of "what difference does it make" whether her ambassador's killers were terrorists or "some guys out for a walk." Does the Secretary know that we still have organized deadly terrorist opponents?
More importantly, Secretary Clinton missed all of the big international developments of President Obama's first term:
- The Arab Spring. Indecision lost opportunities in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria.
- Spying. From the 2010 Bradley Manning/Julian Assange Wikileaks disclosures of thousands of State Department cables to the 2012 Edward Snowden release of NSA's trove of information, the Secretary was a silent observer as American diplomacy was pummeled.
- Wars. A failure to negotiate a "status of forces" agreement with Iraq resulted in the complete withdrawal of NATO forces and a resurgent conflict between the Sunni's and the Shia. The expanded Afghan war dragged on through Hillary's term with no clear objectives, exit plan, or diplomatic agreement with President Karzai.
- Russia. Hillary's term coincided with Vladimir Putin's assertion of Russian influence as we backed off on missile defenses in Eastern Europe, winced as Putin granted asylum to Snowden, gave up leadership in Syria, and eventually saw Ukraine's leadership decide to throw in their lot with Russia rather than the European Union. So much for the "re-set".
- East Asia. The "pivot to Asia" has had little substance as China has expanded its confrontation with Japan and Vietnam in the South China Sea. Dennis Rodman was the de facto ambassador to North Korea.
- Iran. We missed the chance to diminish Iran's allies in Syria and Hezbollah while the nuclear program inched along until after she left office.
- Primary allies. Relations dropped substantially with Israel, the UK (the Churchill bust as an indicator), and Canada (XL Pipeline nominally a State Department decision.)
There is room to argue that the passive withdrawal around the world has been the result of President Obama's view that American presence abroad is more of a problem for the world than a benefit, and that Hillary could not contradict the Commander in Chief. In some circles that will work, but "I was just following orders" does not make a great campaign slogan.
This week's video is a reminder of what comes with Hillary.