Mon, September 24, 2012
World > Asia-Pacific

Clinton’s farewell performance could be both successful and regretful

2012-07-12 02:22:03 GMT2012-07-12 10:22:03(Beijing Time)

By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English

With at least four months left on the job, Hillary Clinton is by no means going to an unimpressive end as the U.S. top diplomat. At least, she will have become the most traveled Secretary of State in US history, touring more than 100 countries while serving in her international role.

She is now on her globetrotting again, perhaps, the last time before returning to the United States and hitting the campaign trail in support of Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Mrs. Clinton has so far wrapped up her travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos upon leaving Washington on July 5. She is expected to start her journey Thursday to the Southeast Asian security forum in Cambodia.

As Barack Obama’s term is nearing its expiry, so does the diplomatic career of Hillary Clinton who promised to quit politics at the end of the year. So, it is just about time to start summarizing Mrs. Clinton’s achievements and failures in her nearly four years at the helm of the U.S. Department of State.

Unfortunately, the balance is not as impressive as it looks. The much praised deal that Barack Obama cut with Hillary Clinton in 2008, parceling out to her the all-important sphere of foreign policy, proved to be a mixed blessing, both of a success and some regret.

The beginning was pretty atrractive: Mrs. Clinton seemed to be a good “carrier” for Obama’s olive branches. One of them was tended to the Muslim world in his Cairo speech in 2009, the second one took the form of “reset” in Russia-US relations, which continued throughout 2009 and 2010.

The results were in fact not bad. Despite Obama’s failure to shut the Guantanamo detention center, relations with the Muslim world vastly improved in comparison with the crisis years of George W. Bush’s administration. Russia also reciprocated Obama’s outstretched hand, signing a new START treaty with the US in 2010 and offering a number of initiatives on building security in Europe and its adjacent regions.

But in her later years in office Mrs. Clinton failed to develop upon these initial successes. Historians will probably have a hard time deciding why a return to some of George W. Bush’s catastrophic policies occurred in 2011-2012. But a fact remains a fact: initially “dove” Mrs. Clinton became a “hawk” in foreign policies, often insisting on other countries’ accepting the American value in the name of “democracy” or “human rights.”

It seems that is that Mrs. Clinton often got involved in wishful thinking, thus so accustomed to forcing others to believe what the U.S. believes is true. For instance, in the cases of Libya and Syria, Mrs. Clinton absolutely insisted that other countries, including China and Russia, accept her vision of events with good “democrats” against the “evil” Ghaddafi and Assad.”

Back in 2008, when she lost the presidential election to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton told her staffers that “not in a million years” would she consider the Secretary of State job, now almost four years elapsed, she has become the most traveled top diplomat in the U.S. history, but far from the most influential one.


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