Farewell Hillary, for now

Farewell Hillary, for now
Mrs Clinton understood that a stateswoman’s real legacy is not found in today’s headlines and opinion polls, but in lasting policies and institutions. Photo: AP
Published: 3:59 AM, January 31, 2013
Updated: 9:40 PM, January 31, 2013
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F Scott Fitzgerald famously said that “there are no second acts in American lives”. Hillary Clinton’s stunning (and, I trust, unfinished) career — from First Lady to United States Senator to presidential candidate to US Secretary of State in the administration of the man who defeated her — proves that Fitzgerald could not have been more wrong.

Today, as Mrs Clinton prepares to leave office, there is widespread speculation that she will seek to succeed President Barack Obama in 2016. She has had not only a second act, but a third as well — and millions of Americans want her to write a fourth.

Mrs Clinton’s four years as America’s top diplomat have given her iconic status around the world — and deservedly so. On her watch, two of the longest wars in US history have been wound down, America’s alliances have been reinvigorated, and young women everywhere have been encouraged to pursue their dreams — whether in academia, business, or politics.

Hers is a record that ranks her among the great post-war US Secretaries of State — Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger, and James Baker.

The position of Secretary of State is truly global in scope. It demands not only a coherent conception of how the world works and the place of US national interests within the international order, but also extraordinary political skill, stamina, timing, and, above all, courage. Mrs Clinton used all of these virtues to their highest possible effect.

In the midst of two wars and Asia’s rise, Mrs Clinton confronted the three great tasks that any US Secretary of State must face: Pinpointing the challenges at hand; developing a viable strategy that attracts the support of the entire US government and public opinion; and managing the actual practice of US diplomacy.

Here, she was aided by the great confidence that Mr Obama placed in her — a remarkable outcome, given their rivalry in the 2008 presidential campaign. Mr Obama’s decision attests not only to his judgment, but also to her character.


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