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Clinton helped restore US standing abroad

Publication Date : 04-02-2013


American credibility was boosted by secretary of state, after Bush wars When Hillary Clinton was asked to take the post of the US Secretary of State just four years ago by a recently appointed American president, Barack Obama, many saw it was a trade off.

The two had fought hard during the presidential primaries but none of that carried over into the first Obama administration. Could Obama have picked a better candidate? Perhaps.

But Clinton, too, was taking a chance as she was certain to take the top position in the Senate if she hadn’t accepted the nomination to be Secretary of State. She was also moving away from her comfort zone of social policy for something that was somewhat uncharted for her and her political career.

But things didn’t turn out so bad for the first Obama administraฌtion or for America for that matter. Although she leaves behind no major single achievement that all of us can easily point to, Clinton’s stamina and teamwork has helped smooth America’s troubled relationship with Pakistan.

Moreover, under her watch, the US standing in Asia was being restored. While being firm on China’s human rights record, Clinton did not damage the wider US relationship with China when she helped secure the release of the blind activist Chen Guangcheng.

In fact, engagement with civil society was an important part of her world tour. But while it may be too soon to judge US performance in its dealing with China, Russia and the Middle East, Clinton, without a doubt, helped restored America’s credibility and political capital that was damaged during the George W Bush administration.

Clinton’s job as the Secretary of State was largely defined as America’s ambassador to the world, which is not the same thing as director of America’s foreign policy. In other words, she was not Washington’s chief troubleshooter. Such positions went to people like Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell.

But this is not to underฌmine Clinton’s performance and contribution at all. Clinton came to the State Department at a time when the US was at two wars – Iraq and Afghanistan. From her time as the US first lady to her years at the Senate, she was already a global figure in her own right. It was important for the Obama administration to have somebody like her taking up the top diplomatic post to restore that confidence for America in the eyes of the world.

Clinton stood her ground at the recent Capitol Hill testimony about the attack last year on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and refused to be drawn into a blame game by some members of the Senate and abruptly reminded them that there is no place for partiฌsan politics when it comes to national security.

“When someone tries to put into a partisan lens, when they focus not on the fact that we have such a terrible event happening with four dead Americans but instead what did somebody say on a Sunday morning talk show? That to me is not in keeping with the seriousness of the issue and the obligation we all have as public servants”.

Clinton was referring to the Republicans attacking US Ambassador to UN, Susan Rice, who initially blamed the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi on a protest.

The biggest question right now is: Will she run for the White House in 2016? Although Clinton has not completely ruled out the idea, for the time being, the outgoing secretary of state said she is looking forward to going off the fast track and into public speaking and working alongside her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea on advocacy work on issues like women and girls.


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