Posts Tagged ‘Kori Schake’

Well school is out just about everywhere.  The heat wave has induced some school districts to apply unused snow days of the mild winter as heat days in order to close early.  But if  you thought that left you with no homework, think again.  Here is the reading list consisting of reactions in Foreign Policy Magazine to its own publication of an assessment of Hillary Clinton’s performance as Secretary of State by Susan Glasser.  Stay tuned.  There is sure to be more to come.

David Ignatius:

…Glasser is probably right when she says of Clinton’s bargaining in Beijing over the fate of a relatively unknown and low-impact dissident, Chen Guangcheng: “This had been the most intense high-stakes diplomacy of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.”

Can this really be true? Was the Chen negotiation as good as it will get for Clinton? I fear the answer is yes.

I disagree with Ignatius on the Chen negotiation.  There was the success of the “reset” with Russia as evidenced by the bilateral victory of  New START – ratified in both legislatures and signed to great fanfare by Obama and Medvedev (while I preferred to concentrate that day on the one who effected the work).  HRC will meet with Lavrov in St. Petersburg next week and you can be sure that something substantial re: Syria will be an outcome.  If she gets LOST (Law of the Sea Treaty) ratified before she leaves Foggy Bottom her legacy will be sealed.

Martin Indyk:

Of course, there were failures too. Diplomacy is really hard, especially these days.  Clinton so wanted to finish the job of Middle East peacemaking that her husband had been unable to do at the end of his presidency. Skeptical of Benjamin Netanyahu’s intentions, she used her envoy George Mitchell to test the waters. But in the summer of 2010 she weighed in and by the fall she was spending eight hours straight with Bibi negotiating an agreement to extend the settlement moratorium that might have given the peace negotiations more time to succeed. We will never know what she might have achieved. The White House pulled the plug on that agreement and then the president walked away from the larger effort, leaving his “implementer” without a “decider.”

Wow!  Really nothing to disagree with at all in Indyk’s entry.  The point made by Shimon Peres at Brookings  on June 12 at the event Indyk moderated surely marks the giant step HRC had to negotiate into the 20th century with her tenure.

Ken Adelman:

Imagine the historic achievement Secretary Clinton could have made had she actively pushed and succeeded in fostering home-grown regime change (the best type there is) in key Middle East countries. Imagine if she had helped reform such dreadful places, all vigorously opposed to U.S. interests in the region, in Iran, Libya, and Syria. That, had it happened, would have placed her solidly in the first rank of secretaries of state.

AHEM! Mr. Adelman apparently missed her Forum for the Future speeches:  this one in Morocco in November, 2009  which pre-saged the Arab Spring by more than a year, and this in one in Doha in January, 2011 as Tunisia stood on the precipice stand as clear evidence that she better understood the frustrations and aspirations of the people far better than their own leaders and elders did.  While the former may have been a prod from behind for the elders, the Doha speech most certainly stood as an endorsement for peaceful and persistent demonstration for the disenfranchised youth.   She got it, and they understood that.  It was never our Spring.  It was always The Arab Spring.

Danielle Pletka:

Like this president or hate him, like Hillary Clinton or hate her, the marginalization of the State Department to the National Security Council is a development to be regretted. NSC staff can’t do it all; indeed, it seems they can’t do most of it. Foreign governments complain incessantly that State doesn’t know what the White House is thinking and, in turn, they can’t get a meeting at the White House. Ironically, much of State’s apparat is inclined to be sympathetic to a Democratic president, but can’t get a word in edgewise because they’re not in the political inner circle. Centuries of professional experience have become irrelevant to a foreign policy fashioned around the question “What will this do for me in November?”

Pletka reverts to fears and jeers never iterated on this blog since they date back to the days in late 2008 when prognostications of exactly how much power HRC would wield at Foggy Bottom were being hotly debated at the now long-defunct Hillary’s Village Forum while being studiously avoided on these pages so as not to hurt our girl’s chances of confirmation or success as SOS.  Fair enough criticism – not of HRC but of the White House.

James Dobbins:

… the decisive American contribution to Libya’s successful revolution must be seen as a major achievement, one that has begun to validate America’s democratic credentials in the Arab world. American diplomacy was particularly adept at putting together and maintaining the broad international coalition that conducted this intervention, for which Hillary Clinton and her team deserve considerable credit.

Much more credit than she has been allocated.  We who have long followed her work and career know that our  girl favors success of action over credit for having achieved it.   That said, we hope her important role in this process, as almost the entire month of February 2011 attests,  will not be forgotten.

Kori Schake:

President Obama seems to exclude his cabinet and military leadership from major national security decisions; journalistic accounts of this administration routinely describe NSC meetings at which Secretary Clinton and others speak, then the president retires with political aides to make decisions. When prompted by Foreign Policy to describe Clinton’s contribution, deputy national security advisor Denis McDonough called her the “implementer in chief,” which is pretty faint praise. This is simply not a president who likes to share the limelight.

While this is pretty negative,  that last paragraph speaks volumes.  I would argue that the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) was a major undertaking.  For a first-time (ever) effort it deserves credit.  Reviews like this take some time to mature, gain routine, and become streamlined.  One must bear in mind the anxiousness the announcement of this review instilled in long-time foreign and civil servants at DOS and USAID.  The   fact that the first QDDR ever met successful receptions at DOS and USAID counts for something.

Aaron David Miller:

Most Popular Woman on the Planet: New dialogues were created and old ones improved in the Persian Gulf, in East Asia, in Africa, and in the Arab world. And she charmed America, too. Earlier this year her personal approval ratings stood at 62 percent.

Foggy Bottom May Not Be As Foggy: … this kind of coordination and strategizing was monumental. The notion of a blueprint for highlighting America’s civilian power by coordinating the resources of the nation’s civilian agencies and better partnering with the military in advancing the national interest abroad is critically important. We can only hope that many of the changes it has ushered in get institutionalized in the department’s policies and practices.

Planetary Humanism: She did, however, begin the process of adapting the State Department’s structures, processes, and personnel policies to the demands of 21st-century diplomacy; (e.g. the use of new social media to modernize U.S. diplomacy) and brought much greater attention to nontraditional or soft security issues, notably gender integration in U.S. development and security policies, food security, management of natural resources (e.g. water), and dealing with youth problems in the Arab world and beyond. That stuff doesn’t get you headlines, but it matters.


It may not be fair or right. (The last thing America needs right now is owning Syria, which would cost billions of dollars and require thousands of peacekeepers.) But she will take the hit along with the president. Syria isn’t Rwanda. It’s a political uprising, not a genocide. Still, Clinton may someday regret not acting in the face of violence and atrocities.

I anticipated Miller’s review with the most trepidation given the degree of criticism he has leveled at Mme. Secretary throughout her tenure, but three out of four ain’t bad, and we are not finished with Syria yet.  It is a complex situation with a lot of moving parts.  She may yet manage to pull them together into a moving vehicle.  We will watch St. Petersburg and her work with her colleague Sergei Lavrov with hope.

Read all the evaluations and draw your own conclusions.  These will not be the last assessments of HRC as SOS, but given the breadth and range of the benchmarks she appears to have done quite well.  Biased as I am, I award her major gold stars all the way around.

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