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One Year Later, Hillary’s Legacy Still Foggy

- February 1, 2014

It’s Been A Year Since Hillary Clinton Left Foggy Bottom And She Is Still Struggling To Define Her Legacy

One Year Ago Today, Hillary Clinton Stepped Down As Secretary Of State. “Hillary Rodham Clinton formally resigned Friday as America's secretary of state, capping a four-year tenure that saw her shatter records for the number of countries visited. John Kerry was sworn in to replace her. …Her resignation became effective at 4 p.m. EST, when Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan swore in John Kerry as the top U.S. diplomat.” (Bradley Klapper And Matthew Lee, “Hillary Clinton Resigns Formally From Secretary Of State Post, John Kerry Sworn In,” The Associated Press, 2/1/13)

As She Prepares For A Second Presidential Run, Clinton Is Rushing To Finish Her Memoir Of Her Time As Secretary, “An Urgent Mission To Frame A Key Part Of Her Legacy.” “Hillary Rodham Clinton is rushing to finish a memoir of her time as secretary of state, something friends see as an urgent mission to frame a key part of her legacy as she readies for a possible presidential campaign.” (Philip Rucker, “As Clinton Finishes New Memoir, The Battle To Define Her State Department Legacy Heats Up,” The Washington Post, 1/19/14)

  • “Timing, Fate And The White House May Have All Conspired In It, But The Truth Is That Hillary Clinton Never Did Find A Way To Turn Foggy Bottom Into Her Ticket To History.” (Susan B. Glasser, “Was Hillary Clinton A Good Secretary Of State?” Politico Magazine, 12/8/13)

ONE YEAR LATER, HILLARY IS STILL STRUGGLING TO POINT TO A SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT

The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson: “What’s [Clinton’s] Biggest Accomplishment As Secretary Of State? We Don’t Really Know That.”  NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: “I think it does get to what Hillary Clinton actually did as Secretary of State, right. Does she have a sort of counter narrative? You know, what's her biggest accomplishment as Secretary of State? We don't really know that. And at this point, Benghazi is standing in for her term as Secretary of State.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 1/19/14)

Former Bill Clinton Advisor Douglas Schoen: Hillary “Can Point To No Significant Accomplishments As Secretary Of State.” “Another major obstacle is Mrs. Clinton’s foreign-policy record: She can point to no significant accomplishments as secretary of state. Now that her successor, John Kerry, has forged an interim agreement with Iran, good or bad, to limit its nuclear program, questions will inevitably be asked about why Mrs. Clinton failed to achieve anything on that front—or to strike a similar bargain with North Korea or make any progress with the Palestinians and Israelis.” (Douglas E. Schoen, Op-Ed, “Mastering The Bill And Hillary Two-Step,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/12/13)

  • Clinton Left The State Department With “No Major Diplomatic Achievements On Par With Those Of Other Well-Known Secretaries Of State.” “Clinton leaves with a mixed record: She has garnered wide admiration around the world but has no major diplomatic achievements on par with those of other well-known secretaries of state, such as Henry Kissinger or George C. Marshall.” (Anne Gearan, “What Is Clinton’s Legacy At State—And Her Future,” The Washington Post, 1/31/13)

Clinton “Left Office Without A Signature Doctrine, Strategy, Or Diplomatic Triumph.” “But neither Obama’s gratitude nor Clinton’s graciousness should cloud history’s judgment. By any standard measure of diplomacy, Clinton will be remembered as a highly competent secretary of state, but not a great one. Despite her considerable star power around the world, her popularity at home, and her reputation for being on the right side of most issues, she left office without a signature doctrine, strategy, or diplomatic triumph. It is a stretch to include Clinton in the company of John Quincy Adams, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, and Henry Kissinger -- some of the great secretaries of state who profoundly changed U.S. foreign policy.” (Michael Hirsh, “The Clinton Legacy,” Foreign Affairs, May/June 2013)

“Yet Even Some Clinton Admirers Acknowledge The Absence Of A Breakthrough, Headline-Grabbing Accomplishment—No Marshall Plan, No Détente With The Soviets, No Dayton Accords.” (Jill Lawrence, “What If John Kerry Outperforms Hillary Clinton As America’s Top Diplomat?” National Journal, 8/1/13)

Clinton’s Diplomacy Was “Derided As Soft, And Marginal To Real Foreign Policy.” “Clinton’s true legacy might be the countless public events that she held from Lahore to Kinshasa, where thousands of ordinary people got to question the U.S. Secretary of State, and where the topic was often something like women’s rights or access to clean water. These efforts were sometimes derided as soft, and marginal to real foreign policy, but Clinton—who is, after all, a politician—knew that she would have to be seen listening in order to help regain the world’s respect. That and four years of carefully calibrated Presidential rhetoric and support for multilateralism have gone a long way to restoring America’s legitimacy as the leading global actor.” (George Packer, “Long Engagements,” The New Yorker, 2/11/13)

  • The Most Important And Toughest Foreign Policy Issues Weren’t Resolved Under Her Tenure—Some Grew More Intractable. “At the same time, the most important and toughest foreign policy issues of the day — Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan-Pakistan, the Arab-Israeli standoff — weren’t resolved during the four years. Some grew more intractable. Though none of that may be Clinton’s fault, the lack of diplomatic breakthroughs on her watch limits her legacy.” (Paul Richter, “Hillary Clinton’s Legacy At State: Splendid But Not Spectacular,” The Los Angeles Times, 1/28/13)

As Secretary Of State, Hillary Clinton Avoided Tough Tasks And Was “Too Cautious.” “Others are less harsh, and I have heard many establishment eminences in recent months give Kerry high marks for his willingness to at least take on the hard tasks they fault Clinton for avoiding. Clinton, one such veteran told me, was ‘too cautious,’ while Kerry, he added, risks being ‘merely frenetic.’” (Susan B. Glasser, “John Kerry Vs. The ‘Babble,’” Politico Magazine, 11/18/13)

“Certainly, Even Many Of Her Most Ardent Defenders Recognize Hillary Clinton Had No Signal Accomplishment At The State Department To Her Name, No Indelible Peace Sealed With Her Handshake, No War Averted, No Nuclear Crisis Defused.” (Susan B. Glasser, “Was Hillary Clinton A Good Secretary Of State?” Politico Magazine, 12/8/13)

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius: “My Biggest Knock On Clinton Is That She Didn’t Find A Way To Get More Done In Her Role As The President’s Diplomatic Emissary, Broker, And Fixer.” (David Ignatius, “Debating Hillary,” Foreign Policy, 6/22/12)

AND BENGHAZI IS STILL THE DEFINING MOMENT OF CLINTON’S TENURE AS SECRETARY OF STATE

“The Most Memorable Moment Of Her Tenure Was A Tragic One, The Killing Of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens And Three Other Americans In Benghazi.” “Yet even some Clinton admirers acknowledge the absence of a breakthrough, headline-grabbing accomplishment—no Marshall Plan, no détente with the Soviets, no Dayton Accords. The most memorable moment of her tenure was a tragic one, the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. Republicans intend to use the incident to attack Clinton if she runs for the White House in 2016, and there is no single achievement that would be a counterbalance.” (Jill Lawrence, “What If John Kerry Outperforms Hillary Clinton As America’s Top Diplomat?” National Journal, 8/1/13)

  • The Benghazi Attack “Was The Biggest Debacle” Of Her Term As Secretary Of State. “Clinton accepted responsibility but not blame for the deaths of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya last year. It was the biggest debacle of her term and became a white-hot political issue for Republicans.” (Anne Gearan, “What Is Clinton’s Legacy At State—And Her Future,” The Washington Post, 1/31/13)

Although Over A Year Has Passed, New Details About Benghazi And State Department’s Role Continue To Emerge

The New York Times Headline: “Benghazi Attack Called Avoidable In Senate Report” (Mark Mazzetti, Eric Schmitt, And David D. Kirkpatrick, “Benghazi Attack Called Avoidable In Senate Report,” The New York Times, 1/15/14)

The Senate Intelligence Committee Released A “Scathing” Report, Which Found The Attack In Benghazi Could Have Been Prevented. “The Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday released a scathing new report on the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, charging the attack could have been prevented and that the Obama administration used inadequate intelligence in initially blaming it on spontaneous protests.” (John Stanton, “Senate Intelligence Committee: Benghazi Attack Was Preventable,” BuzzFeed, 1/15/14)

  • “The P-Word – ‘Preventable’ – Is What Stings Most For Clinton.” (Aaron Blake, “For Clinton, Benghazi Report Has Some Good, Mostly Bad—But No Ugly,” The Washington Post, 1/15/14)

The Report Found That The State Department, Then Under Hillary Clinton, Refused Requests To Increase Security Despite Warnings. “The report was done by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and found that State, then under Hillary Clinton, refused requests to boost security despite warnings from the CIA and its own staff about the danger of militant attacks.” (Oren Dorell, “Democrats Join GOP To Blame State In Benghazi,” USA Today, 1/15/14)

  • “‘The State Department Should Have Increased Its Security Posture More Significantly In Benghazi Based On The Deteriorating Security Situation,’ The Report Argues.” (John Stanton, “Senate Intelligence Committee: Benghazi Attack Was Preventable,” BuzzFeed, 1/15/14)

Former Deputy Chief Of Mission Greg Hicks: The Blame For Benghazi “Lies Entirely With Washington.”  “Some have been suggesting that the blame for this tragedy lies at least partly with Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack. This is untrue: The blame lies entirely with Washington.” (Gregory N. Hicks, “Gregory Hicks: Benghazi And The Smearing Of Chris Stevens,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/22/14)

  • Hicks: Ambassador Chris Stevens’ Requests For Additional Security Were Denied Or Ignored. “To sum up: Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security. Sen. Lindsey Graham stated on the Senate floor last week that Chris ‘was in Benghazi because that is where he was supposed to be doing what America wanted him to do: Try to hold Libya together.’ He added, ‘Quit blaming the dead guy.’” (Gregory N. Hicks, “Gregory Hicks: Benghazi And The Smearing Of Chris Stevens,” The Wall Street Journal, 1/22/14)

Over One Year Ago, Clinton Promised To Bring Those Responsible For The Benghazi Attack To Justice – A Promise That Remains Unfulfilled

Hillary Clinton: “We Will Not Turn Our Back On That, Nor Will We Rest Until Those Responsible For These Attacks Are Found And Brought To Justice.” “The friendship between our countries, borne out of shared struggle, will not be another casualty of this attack. A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interest and security, and we will not turn our back on that, nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice. We are working closely with the Libyan authorities to move swiftly and surely. We are also working with partners around the world to safeguard other American embassies, consulates, and citizens.” (Hillary Clinton, “Remarks On The Deaths Of American Personnel In Benghazi, Libya,” Washington, D.C., 9/12/12)

U.S. Officials Say Efforts Have Stalled To Capture “About A Dozen People Secretly Charged In The 2012 Attack.” “U.S. officials say efforts have stalled to capture about a dozen people secretly charged in the 2012 attack on the American compound in Benghazi that claimed the lives of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.” (Adam Goldman And Sari Horwitz, “U.S. Efforts Stall In Capturing Suspects In 2012 Benghazi Attacks, Officials Say,” The Washington Post, 12/5/13)

  • So Far, None Have Been Brought To Trial And The Lack Of Progress Has Frustrated Intelligence Officials. “So far, none have been brought to trial and the lack of progress in capturing Khattala has frustrated U.S. intelligence officials and lawmakers who want to see him and the others prosecuted.” (Adam Goldman And Sari Horwitz, “U.S. Efforts Stall In Capturing Suspects In 2012 Benghazi Attacks, Officials Say,” The Washington Post, 12/5/13)

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