Hillary Clinton has stepped down from President Obama’s Cabinet. After battling health problems, she has been replaced as Secretary of State by John Kerry.
With so much of international diplomacy conducted behind closed doors, it’s very difficult to gauge the performance of any Secretary of State until the years pass and secrets become public. In Clinton’s case, we know that the United States has managed to avoid become embroiled in any new wars during her tenure and that our roles in Iraq and Afghanistan are finally winding down. We also know that efforts to “reset” relations with the Russians haven’t made much progress, North Korea, Iran, and Syria remain rogue states, and Pakistan seems to be teetering on the brink of chaos. And the Holy Grail of American diplomacy — brokering a conclusive Middle East peace deal — eluded Secretary Clinton just as it eluded every one of her predecessors. Her legacy as Secretary of State may be dependent, in significant part, upon what historians conclude about how, if at all, her stewardship affected the takeover of the American compound in Benghazi and the killing of the Ambassador and three other Americans.
What we can also say about Secretary Clinton, however, is that she was a good soldier for the President. She didn’t make any trouble, didn’t try to upstage him, and by all accounts worked hard at her job and developed good relations with the career diplomats at the State Department. She didn’t seem to let her ego get in the way — and in these days of celebrity politicians, that’s saying a lot. When John Kerry’s tenure at the State Department has ended, I wonder whether we will be able to say the same thing about him?