In response to a special request from SophieCT for a post about Hillary’s accomplishments, I thought of this one from March when Jennifer Rubin went on the attack. Originally intended as a rampart against Rubin’s onslaught, it also focused on Hillary’s legacy. (Note: there was a follow-up a few days later in response to an additional Rubin attack, but this is the one that appears most appropriate to Sophie’s request.)
In her signature style of random, shallow cuts inaccurately delivered, Jennifer Rubin makes a pathetic attempt, in today’s Washington Post, to slash and burn Hillary Clinton’s legacy at the State Department. The problem with her attack is that Hillary Clinton was not at the helm driving the policies that Rubin targets in this order.
1. In the case of Benghazi, she didn’t quite make it out the door unscathed.
2. Confidence in Obama in Muslim countries dropped from 33% to 24% in his first term.
3. … fecklessness with regard to Iran.
4. … doing nothing to end the suffering in Syria.
5. … embracing Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohamed Morsi.
6. On Clinton’s watch, a U.S. ambassador was killed … (Yes, Benghazi again).
7. The administration was largely mute at a critical time in the Green Revolution.
8. The Palestinian Authority, against our express wishes, went to the United Nations for a declaration of statehood, while we were able to round up fewer than 10 “no” votes.
9. Syria’s chemical weapons were not secured….
10. Russian reset was such a bust that Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, was compelled to dump it as he was taking office.
Rubin’s major obstacle in lodging these complaints is the job description of the Secretary of State as presented at the State Department website.
The Secretary of State, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the President’s chief foreign affairs adviser. The Secretary carries out the President’s foreign policies through the State Department, which includes the Foreign Service, Civil Service, and U.S. Agency for International Development
The policies were not Hillary’s. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at what she did manage to accomplish.
1. The Benghazi “scathing” – her soaring poll numbers fly in the face of that one.
2. Aside from a much-trumpeted speech in Cairo in 2009, the Obama administration early on focused attention on East Asia providing no follow-up to Cairo. This was not Hillary’s decision. Hillary stood firm in Spring of 2009 against continued construction in East Jerusalem. No support was forthcoming from the White House. By Fall of 2009 the White House had pulled her back from this issue. When Netanyahu issued a 10 month freeze on construction she had to welcome it with open arms … not a popular endorsement in the Arab world, and not her policy.
I want to take 3 and 7 together. Rubin is also ill-organized. Aside from Iran policy being in the hands of the White House, the State Department did what it could in the face of a silent, hesitant President during the Green Revolution. Aware that people in the streets of Tehran and other cities were depending on Twitter to communicate life-and-death information and learning that Twitter intended to close down for maintenance, Hillary Clinton prevailed upon Twitter to leave the lines of communication open. They did, as those of us who spent those weekends retweeting important tweets from Iran can attest.
4. Since the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential candidate did not know that aside from negotiating at the U.N. on Syria, we were energetically participating in a group called Friends of the Syrian People, I suppose I cannot expect Rubin to be aware of this either. From April until she fell ill in December of 2012 Hillary Clinton attended at least five meetings and was scheduled for another which she could not attend due to her illness.
5. She did not embrace the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief. He is the democratically-elected President of Egypt and stepped down from the leadership of the Brotherhood when elected. She visited a president, as she had many, in this case to ensure that Egypt would continue to respect agreements with Israel.
6. Yes, we lost an Ambassador, one who was a friend of hers, and that was tragic. To blame Hillary for this when Congress twice chopped her Diplomatic Security budget and given the conventions under which mission security operates is patently political gamesmanship.
8. With regard to the Palestinian resolution at the U.N. It is not the job of the Secretary of State to “round up votes” at the U.N. That is why we have an ambassador to the U.N.
9. Syria’s chemical weapons – why it is perceived to be the job of one sole person, the Secretary of State, to achieve this escapes me. The Friends of the Syrian People have been working together on international sanctions. It is not in the hands of an individual person.
10. Russia. Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov worked exceedingly well together and achieved the very crucial New START treaty. This was immense, a great victory for both diplomats and both countries. Their relationship remained solid throughout her tenure.
Here are a few other things she did.
>For the first time in its history she completely overhauled the State Department , USAID, and interagency cooperation with her Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).
>For the first time in history she called all of the chiefs of mission together at the State Department for annual conferences.
>She instituted an Office of Global Women’s Issues.
>In June 2009 she provided benefits to domestic partners of foreign service diplomats for the first time.
>She brought previously neglected countries back to the table with numerous memoranda of understanding and countless business initiatives.
>She kept the alliance between Afghanistan and Pakistan stable despite enormous challenges.
>She reopened the vital supply route from Pakistan into Afghanistan.
>She ensured U.S. access to the vital Manas airstip in Kyrgystan.
>She Salvaged the Turkey-Armenia accords which she was supposed to simply witness when they suddenly nearly fell apart.
>She brought issues like human trafficking as well as violence against women and LGBT communities to the international table.
These are simply a few things that come to mind at the moment, and I probably have left out some important events. Nonetheless, I believe these accomplishments stand well in the face of nouns like “fecklessness.” Clearly Rubin is wrong and way off-base. Hillary Clinton has left an indelible mark on the State Department and has brought its operations into the 21st century with her integration of social networking into our outreach to the world. She has been a tremendously effective Secretary of State and a hero to many, our own troops at war among them. We can be appreciative of her selfless service and proud of the job she has done.
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