Hillary Clinton’s legacy of mismanagement abroad

The mainstream media assume that, if Hillary Clinton wants the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, all she need do is give an imperial wave, accept the crown and then begin her effortless procession to the White House. Perhaps. The same was said before the 2008 election. Now Clinton has a foreign-policy record, which political reporters unschooled in the issues and too nervous to dissect accurately (she’s going to be president, don’t you know) would have us believe is positive. Rubbish.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on the Benghazi attack before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)

Here are her top 10 disasters:

1. She insisted we side with Hugo Chavez’s stooge in Honduras, creating a rift in our relationship and putting us at odds with the democratic forces in that country, including the church and middle class. She was forced to retreat.

2. She touted a Russian “reset.” It was such a colossal failure that it did not survive her successor’s first week in office. Russia’s human rights violations have multiplied.

3.  She couldn’t manage to figure a way to reach agreement with Iraq on a status-of-forces deal. Iraq, mainstream media now tell us, is awash with sectarian violence. Secretary of State John Kerry had to plead with its prime minister to stop allowing Iranian support for the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

4. Speaking of which, Clinton assured us for months that Assad was a “reformer.” She dragged her feet and then was rebuffed three times by the un-reset Russians at the United Nations. She delayed in reaching out to the Syrian rebels and in providing aid. She left a human catastrophe of 70,000 dead Syrians and millions of refugees streaming into Syria’s neighbors.

5.  Also among the dead in the Middle East, of course, was Ambassador Chris Stevens, whose pleas for more security, Clinton says, never reached her desk. And whose responsibility was it to set up a system in which critical cables reached her desk? She also missed the warning signs of revived al-Qaeda activity in North Africa. And then there is her classic “What difference does it make?!” wail. Well, for one thing, it makes a difference in evaluating how competent and honest she was.

6.  She dispatched George Mitchell as her special envoy for the Middle East, who promptly became persona non grata with both Israelis and Palestinians. Her shrieking about settlements only alientated the administration from both sides. (This approach was renounced by the president in his recent Mideast trip.) She ambushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the eve of his trip to the White House to tell him, that oh yes, the president would be publicly announcing that U.S. policy was to begin negotiations at “1967 borders” with land swaps.

7. The administration was largely mute during Iran’s Green Revolution in June 2009, a missed opportunity of enormous consequences, both in humanitarian and strategic terms.

8.  Her reaction to the Egyptian revolution, and indeed to the entire Arab Spring, was incoherent and meek. She never managed in four years in office to come up with a framework for dealing with revolutions in the Middle East or for the repressive regimes that clung to power.

9. She did not restore our “standing in the world,” as she vowed to do. In the Middle East, in particular, America’s image is worse than when Obama took office.

10. Early in her term she sent a terrible message by informing the Chinese that human rights shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of relations between the countries. Unsurprisingly, China’s human right atrocities multiplied.

Any fair assessment of Clinton’s tenure in office would conclude that she was among the weakest and least successful secretaries of state in recent memory. It is only by virtue of Clinton’s PR machine and an ignorant, compliant mainstream media that she gets rock-star treatment.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.
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Jennifer Rubin | March 26, 2013