A former Bush national security figure had an interesting take on Hillary Clinton’s challenge, should she run for president in 2016, and her historical legacy, even if she doesn’t.
The observation has been made by numerous critics of the Obama administration that the real center of national security power has always been in the Oval Office, where political operatives played an inappropriately large role on national security matters. The former official says this is no excuse for Hillary: “She was perfectly happy to be an irrelevant secretary of state, racking up the frequent-flier miles, rather than engaging in a serious policy debate in Washington. A secretary of state has to do a lot of showing up, but that travel has to be restrained or one is never in Washington long enough to impact the important decisions.”
The ex-official attributes the Benghazi debacle in large part to Hillary’s globetrotting and lack of executive focus. He figures, “Perhaps if she had spent more time in Washington, she might have had time to ask some questions about the deteriorating security situation in Libya, and in Benghazi in particular. The excuse that she can’t be responsible for reading all the cables that come in to State is no excuse for her not paying enough attention to what’s happening in Libya — and it wouldn’t have taken much attention — to ask whether there was a security problem, and if so, what plans did we have to handle an emergency, particularly after the fiasco in early 2011 when it took forever to get Americans out of the country.” Needless to say, the failure to have a system in place for flagging critical memos is solely her fault.
Hillary’s famous 3 a.m. phone call ad turned out to be prophetic. Obama was not prepared for the myriad of foreign policy challenges. But neither was she.