Cabinet Doors Flung Open: First, Hillary Clinton

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares to step down, how will history judge her performance?
"Cabinet Shake Up," by Artist/Contributor Katherine Trunk

“Cabinet Shake Up,” by Artist/Contributor Katherine Trunk

As the President’s principal advisor on U.S. foreign policy, she carries out his policies through the State Department and Foreign Service of the United States. She is tasked with: advising the President on the appointment, recall and dismissal of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls and other diplomats; personally participating in, or directing U.S. representatives to, international conferences, organizations and agencies; ensuring the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property and interest in foreign countries; informing Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. Foreign Relations; and negotiating, interpreting and terminating treaties and agreements, among other things.Her acceptance of the position was a surprise to many, considering it meant working under the political rival who defeated her in the 2008 Democrat Primary. At the time, Barack Obama disparaged her “lack” of foreign policy experience and castigated the press for its failure to thoroughly investigate her claims to the contrary. There was a general sense that this cabinet appointment was sure to provide a generous amount of tension and fireworks. But those expectations never materialized. Instead, Clinton has proven to be extremely loyal to Obama’s foreign policy vision.

In September 2010, she created the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership spearheaded by the State Department and led by the United Nations Foundation. According to the State Department’s website, the initiative aims to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance’s “100 by 20” goal calls for 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020. The Alliance works with public, private, and non-profit partners to help overcome the market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment, and use of clean cookstoves in the developing world.

Toxic smoke from outdated cookstoves causes an estimated 2 million premature deaths a year, impacting women and children the most.

In April of 2012, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who had been placed under house arrest in 2010 for protesting forced sterilizations and abortions, escaped from his home in eastern Shandong province, then sought and was granted asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. At the time, Clinton traveled to China in an attempt to repair its relationship with that nation and garner support for U.S. foreign policy on Iran and North Korea. Guangcheng contacted Clinton and made it known he wanted to come to the U.S. She managed to obtain a promise from China that he and his family would be allowed to safely leave and come to America as a student. While this incident caused embarrassment for China, Clinton was able to broker the deal and complete her original mission.

More recently, Clinton traveled to Egypt and met with President Morsi, who brokered a ceasefire in the current actions between Israel and Hamas. This has been something of a double victory for Clinton and the Obama administration, who have been under fire for their decision to support the Muslim Brotherhood in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring. This support led to charges that U.S. influence in Egypt has diminished and the U.S. would be unable to garner support for Israel in the Middle East should tensions erupt.

Clinton has also made some incredible missteps along the way. On November 26, 2011, an American AC-130 flew two miles into Pakistani airspace and returned fire after Pakistani troops attacked an American-Afghan ground patrol across the border in Afghanistan. Due to difficulty in determining the border between the two countries and Pakistan’s failure to notify NATO of two new military outposts in the area, the U.S. military had been unable to identify the troops as friendly forces, leading to the wounding or death of 37 Pakistani soldiers.

Prior to this incident, resentment on the part of Pakistan had been growing after the American raid that killed Bin Laden. When President Obama expressed only “regret” for the loss of life, Pakistan shut down the NATO supply lines. Those lines were responsible for 40 – 60 percent of the supplies going to Western troops in Afghanistan. Only on July 3, 2012 did Hillary Clinton publicly apologize for the mistake. When the supply lines were finally reopened, the diplomatic relationship between the two countries had all but reached the breaking point and Pakistan demanded a higher price per container for transport through the country than previously.Perhaps due to the tenuous relationship with Pakistan, the State Department has remained silent on the sentencing of the Pakistani doctor who helped the Central Intelligence Agency in the hunt for Bin Laden. In Syria, she has publicly stated that President Bashar al-Assad must go but has seemingly done nothing more to support his removal. Furthermore, she faces criticism for her and the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on international agencies such as the UN for legal and moral authority to defend America’s interests abroad.Her biggest blunder by far has been her handling of the situation in Benghazi, Libya. Immediately after the September 11, 2012 attacks, she condemned the video Innocence of Muslims, claiming it caused an uprising of offended Muslims and was responsible for the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, computer expert Sean Smith, and former SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Standing in front of the coffins of the four dead Americans, she continued to blame the video. But evidence has surfaced that the Administration was aware within hours that the attacks were perpetrated by al Qaeda and not in response to an obscure film no one had heard of or seen before September 11. Since then, she has said she accepts responsibility for the security of the men who died that day, but has steadfastly refused to provide an explanation for the lie perpetrated on the American people.

With Clinton’s departure, there has been speculation that Obama will nominate Susan Rice to fill the post. Critics believe Rice to be complicit in the Benghazi cover-up and will likely face an uphill battle for confirmation. Another name that has surfaced is Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.




  1. With the recent announcement of Palestine’s vow for new violence and an end to the cease-fire with Israel, the question must be raised as to what effect this will have on Hillary’s legacy, and will it affect it may possibly have on any future run for President.

    • One of the things I thought of while writing this article is that, if she was charged with “ensuring the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property and interest in foreign countries,” she has failed miserably in her duty to do so. How does that qualify her for a run for President in 2016?


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