The Washington Post

Wolfowitz questions Hillary Clinton’s legacy

Will Secretary Hillary Clinton’s legacy be characterized by Syria or Libya?

That's the question American Enterprise Institute scholar Paul Wolfowitz is asking in a piece he co-authored for with Ambassador Mark Palmer, a member of the board at Freedom House.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (ILMARS ZNOTINS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Clinton, they write, “can take some quiet satisfaction in the elections” in Libya because she won the battle for military action within the Obama administration against the advice of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

All of this, “makes it all the more difficult to understand Clinton’s lack of serious action on Syria.”

Ultimately, for Wolfowitz and Palmer:

Secretary Clinton was able to prevent Libya from becoming a stain on the Obama administration’s record, the way that Rwanda was for President Clinton and that Bosnia was for both him and the first President Bush. Why, then, is she repeating those earlier mistakes in Syria?

But is this it? Are these the two poles in how history will judge Clinton’s years as secretary of state?

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.

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