Using historical data on the State Department Web site, our colleague Emily Chow of the Graphics Department has helped us put together a nifty graphic that shows where each of the last six secretaries of state have traveled on official business. We decided not to go back further than James A. Baker III because nearly two dozen countries have been formed since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
There are lots of stories hiding in these data. You can see when countries were in the diplomatic doghouse (no trips to India by Baker or Warren Christopher; no trips to Syria after Colin L. Powell). You can see when Middle East peace was on the agenda (34 trips to Israel by Christopher, 25 trips by Condoleezza Rice). You can also see where certain secretaries concentrated their priorities: Baker virtually ignored South America but concentrated on Russia and the former Soviet republics; Madeleine Albright spent a lot of time in Europe.
Follow this link to see the complete graphic. The graphic will also take you to the State Department data for each country.
Here are some other insights:
■ While Hillary Rodham Clinton visited more countries than any other secretary, she essentially practiced “Woody Allen” diplomacy: “80 percent of success is just showing up.” In other words, she went to many countries just once or twice, so she covered the globe — but with the exception of China and surrounding countries, she appears to have had no strong area of focus.
■ Condoleezza Rice has the most number of individual visits — largely on the strength of her many trips to Israel.
■ 28 countries — nearly half of which are in Europe — earned a visit from all six secretaries of state. (John Kerry, take note — you will likely have to visit these countries too, even if you are determined not to try to beat any travel records.)
■ 20 countries were visited only once by the last six secretaries — eight by Clinton alone.
■ Israel earned the most visits by far — 90. The runners-up were: Egypt (61); Britain (56); Belgium (56); France (55); Germany (49); Syria (48); Russia (47). Why does little Belgium rank so high? It is the headquarters for NATO.
Check out our candidate Pinocchio Tracker