You would think someone accused of opposing vital military action for political reasons would be eager to clear her name. You’d think if the department you oversaw were found to have been grossly derelict in its obligations and obstructionist when investigators came calling that its chief would want to be heard out. But then Hillary Clinton is not your average person, or even an average politician.
She has remained inaccessible and indeed mute on Robert Gates’s revelations and, so far, on the Benghazi reports. In one sense, who can blame her? The press didn’t do a very good job bird-dogging her about Benghazi while she was in office, so more than a year later, why give the story legs? And as for Gates, so long as the administration is out defending Vice President Joe Biden and the press pontificates about the timing of the book, she figures she might slip by once again by being out of sight, out of mind.
However, an enterprising reporter may get some access over the next year or so. In any case, she’ll have to face off against an opponent or moderators or interviewers if she wants to run for president. What, then, should she be asked? Here is a start:
- Was Gates telling the truth that she opposed the surge to get through the Democratic primary? If not, what was her rationale for abandoning Iraq?
- When she told Gen. David Petraeus that it “required a suspension of disbelief” to think the surge would work, was she putting on a show for primary voters?
- If she could do it again, would she have supported the surge?
- If she could do it again, would she have come up with a means by which we would have left a residual force in Iraq?
- Was the Russian reset a mistake?
- Was focusing on the settlements in the Israel-Palestinian conflict an error? Why did she not acknowledge the existing of an understanding between the U.S. President Bush and then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the extent of settlements?
- Does she regret ambushing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the “1967 borders” pronouncement when he came to the U.S. to visit?
- Was it an error not to back the Green Revolution?
- What was her policy on the Arab Spring? Was there one?
- Did she formulate any policy on her own on any significant matter or did policy direction come from the White House?
- Was it an error to “engage” Iran? Why did the administration try to deter Congress from passing sanctions? Did she foresee that the United States would give up on the requirements of the United Nations resolutions to get a deal with Iran, leaving it with its nuclear weapons architecture? If not, why hasn’t she spoken up to denounce the current policy? Should Iran be left with its centrifuges, plutonium and uranium facilities and its enriched stockpile of nuclear materials? Did she or the president seriously consider a military option and, if so, why didn’t she take steps to enhance the credibility of military action?
- Did the president think the Afghanistan surge would work? Did she? Was the timetable for withdrawal imposed or accelerated due to political considerations?
- Did the artificial deadline for withdrawal of troops hamper our ability for success?
- Is al-Qaeda now stronger and more dispersed than it was when she entered office?
- Was it a mistake to “lead from behind” on Libya? After the war ended, did she monitor al-Qaeda’s progress and/or the evacuation of other countries due to security considerations? If she did, why did State not grant multiple security requests from its personnel?
- Did she have a system in place for flagging critical cables?
- If she had acted correctly, would four Americans have died? Has she apologized to the family? Did she consider resigning? In what way did she fail to carry out her obligations? Does she feel any guilt for her failure to protect her employees?
- Why were she and the president misleading for so long after the attack about its proximate cause?
- Why did she not submit to questioning by the accountability review board? Why were the people directly responsible for Libya not fired after the murders of our people?
- Why was Cheryl Miller dispatched to Iraq to tell people not to cooperate with a congressional delegation?
- Does it “make a difference” if leaders tell the truth about a policy problem or an attack on our citizens?
- Did she have any policy successes? If so, what were they?
There are others, I am certain. But the lack of answers to these suggests just how evasive she can be and incurious the press can be when it comes to Hillary Clinton.
It is hard to square Hillary Clinton’s reputation as a model of competence, an A student if you will, with the reality of her record. She certainly knew a lot of detail about a lot of places. But there is a real question about whether she ever had a bigger picture, a complete understanding of the world and America’s challenges. Perhaps she did, but she was prevented from acting on her views. If so, she should speak up. The truth does matter, especially when it goes toward evaluating the legacy of one president and the fitness for office of a presidential contender.