February 4 2013
What we won’t ever know about Hillary Clinton’s legacy
The media have allowed the Obama administration and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary “Smartest Woman in the Room” Clinton to get away with straight-up lying about the cause of the deaths of Americans in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012. Some of us have been so focused on that issue that we may have missed an even bigger journalistic abdication.
We will only know what really happened that night in Benghazi, and why the Obama administration chose to use a Youtube video as a scapegoat – as opposed to anything else they might have said – when people in the room start coming forward. That should be in about 35 years, if ever. These are very secretive people, the Obamaites, and they all believe the ends justify the means. So lying to the nation is not something they lose sleep over. Nor do the journalists who cover them and share their goals. Because, as we heard during Mrs. Clinton's Senate hearings, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
It is clear we will not learn the truth any time soon. In fact, with the media kowtowing and deferring to both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, we aren’t even going to learn what Mrs. Clinton actually feels she accomplished, running the foreign policy of the world’s most powerful nation.
It would have been nice if, in his celebratory puff piece of an interview with Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, Steve Kroft of “Sixty Minutes” had shown an interest in the substance of Mrs. Clinton’s views, goals and accomplishments in foreign policy. That, after all, is what secretaries of state in challenging times do: They promulgate doctrines. They come up with grand strategies for defeating, containing or subtly undermining America’s enemies. They come up with brilliant plans for winning the peace, by supporting nations and factions that share our values of democracy and open markets. They think about the big picture and work towards making it real.
To be sure, a grand strategy is probably easier when a nation faces a coherent, unified threat, such as Hitler’s war in Europe, or Soviet hegemony and the Cold War, or even the threat of expensive oil, which required dealing with the despotic leaders of unpleasant, oil rich countries. But wait – the United States does face such a threat. We face a threat from radical Islamist insurgencies destabilizing moderately functional nations, many of which are long time U.S. allies, while threatening us at home and abroad with terror and asymmetrical warfare. What doctrine does Mrs. Clinton leave behind to deal with that?
Had Mrs. Clinton been serious, she might have, in the course of her million miles on the plane, told an audience what our goals were for post-war Iraq and Afghanistan, in the context of those destabilizing Islamist forces we have spent blood and billions to remove from power in those two places.
After the surprising, and potentially promising, Arab Spring, Mrs. Clinton might have outlined her understanding of those People’s Revolutions, and where the United States hoped to see them go. A speech outlining what assistance, under what conditions, with what particular hopes, she and the administration thought appropriate for those nations would have been genuinely important.
We have had to ferret out the information that murdered Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was in charge of running guns to some of these same Islamist revolutionaries and insurgents. Ironically, as the substance-free encomia to her tenure pile up in what is left of the nation’s newspapers, those guns keep turning up in the hands of people bent on killing Americans and our allies. Mrs. Clinton was an enthusiastic supporter of arming the Libyan rebels. It would be nice if Wellesley’s most famous graduate (and second secretary of state) could share her thought process.
The Egyptian people, and anyone else who roots for freedom, are disappointed with the incompetent, repressive regime of Mohammed Morsi, the longtime Muslim Brotherhood leader who now rules Egypt. It would be nice to know what the administration thinks. How about a coherent explanation of this administration’s goals for Syria, as the regime massacres its people and unnamed insurgents with unclear goals fight back? Has Mrs. Clinton formulated any kind of consistent guidelines about when the United States should get involved, and when it should not? What has she learned – beyond the condescending platitude that “the world is a complicated place”?
In fact, Mrs. Clinton seems to have delivered messages, shown the flag, traveled a lot and talked about rights for women in many places where women have few, if any, rights. If there was coherent policy or doctrine or anything not fundamentally piecemeal that came out of the seventh floor of the Department of State during her tenure, the abject failure of most journalists to ask about it guarantees we won’t know.
All we know is that they still call her brilliant.
Lisa Schiffren is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.