Hillary As Secretary of State

by Dave Schuler on May 31, 2014

You might want to take a look at Walter Russell Mead’s assessment of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State over at the Washington Post. I found it quite fair and even-handed. Here’s a sample:

How did Clinton understand the interplay of America’s power, its interests, its resources and its values? Was she able to translate that vision into policies that won enough support throughout the government to be carried out? Was she able to gain or keep the president’s confidence, and was the State Department under her leadership able to hold its own in the bureaucratic battles of the day? To the extent that her policy ideas were adopted, how effective were they? How well did she manage on the inevitable occasions when things went horribly wrong?

The quick synopsis of Dr. Mead’s assessment is that Sec. Clinton is an optimistic realist (Hamiltonian) with a strong global meliorist streak, unlike many foreign policy realists. What that means stripped of jargon is that she believes in pursuing American interests through “sea power, commercial expansion and a focus on strategic theaters in world politics” and that she believes that we have an obligation to use our power and influence to make the world a better place. Since I incline towards being a pessimistic idealist with a strong non-interventionist streak, you can hardly be farther from my views than she.

As to how well she held the office, Dr. Mead thinks she was a middling Secretary of State—better than some, not a titan of the office:

Historians will probably consider Clinton significantly more successful than run-of-the-mill secretaries of state such as James G. Blaine or the long-serving Cordell Hull, but don’t expect to see her on a pedestal with Dean Acheson or John Quincy Adams anytime soon.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

steve May 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Sounds about right. She strikes me as liberal interventionist with neocon tendencies, but willing to rely more upon commercial relationships and soft power than a true neocon. To promote openness on the internet. She looks good by recent standards, but I think he right that she does not a have a place at the very top.

That said, even if she was a better than average Sec State we really dont need another Clinton as POTUS.

Steve

mike shupp May 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Is it possible to be a “great” Secretary of State without backing from a great or simply good President without a decent philosophy of foreign affairs and a supportive, or simply acquiescent Congress? My suspicion is No.

So maybe we should cut Hillary Clinton some slack. Or just agree that assessing her performance is an unanswerable question.

Dave Schuler May 31, 2014 at 5:03 pm

That said, even if she was a better than average Sec State we really dont need another Clinton as POTUS.

I honestly don’t know who the Republicans could run against her that was so bad he’d induce me to vote for Clinton in self-defense. Ted Cruz?

I’m more likely to vote third party.

Guarneri May 31, 2014 at 5:45 pm

“I honestly don’t know who the Republicans could run against her that was so bad he’d induce me to vote for Clinton in self-defense.”

I don’t know. If a boffo cattle futures trader is what you want she’s right there. That’s the kind of rare intuitive ability that could save the world.

Dave Schuler May 31, 2014 at 6:34 pm

When it’s a sure thing, it’s not gambling.

steve June 1, 2014 at 6:03 am

““I honestly don’t know who the Republicans could run against her that was so bad he’d induce me to vote for Clinton in self-defense.”

There are a bunch. Cruz, Bachmann, Cain, West, Palin. If they decide to go ultra conservative and pick a complete neocon hawk on defense, invade everything and double the size of our military kind of hawk, I guess I wouldnt have much choice, but surely they arent that stupid. Sigh.

Steve

jan June 1, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I don’t think the republicans will chose an ultra conservative to head their 2016 presidential ticket. It will most probably be a ‘moderate,’ who will nonetheless be cast as a “neocon hawk,” who will wreck havoc on the world. That’s the liberal way of defining any republican opponent!

steve June 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm

And every Democrat is the most liberal person who ever lived. I tend to discount these claims on both sides and look at their chosen advisors. Romney pretty much brought back the Bush II team.

Steve

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