Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at a women’s college in Saudi Arabia in 2010 on the condition that her hosts temporarily bend their strict Islamic customs by allowing men and women to sit in the audience together without a curtain between them.
Women and men would be allowed to ask questions, and the entire session would have to be broadcast live on television. The event ultimately went off without a hitch, something of a coup for Mrs. Clinton.
“You had women in full abayas [body cloaks] in the most conservative environment for women in the world, and they literally shrieked when she came in the room,” said P.J. Crowley, who was assistant secretary of state for public affairs at the time.
Mrs. Clinton’s admirers say the Saudi event shines as an example of her breaking ground by connecting directly and personally with foreign nationals.
Indeed, Mrs. Clinton has visited more nations — 112, according to the official count — and spoken to more foreign populations than any U.S. secretary of state in history.
Impressive as that may be, her critics say Mrs. Clinton has fallen far short of making much of an impact on several foreign policy challenges facing the United States, not to mention the fate of democracy around the world.
“I don’t think she’s been a very successful secretary of state by any measure,” said John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “I don’t know how her speeches have advanced American strategic interests in any way beyond maybe advancing her political career.”
The price of indecision
This is perhaps nowhere more evident, her detractors say, than in the Middle East.
With Mrs. Clinton at Foggy Bottom, the Obama administration waffled on whether to support pro-democracy activists seeking to overthrow Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. Many conservatives say the cost of that delay is one reason for Washington’s chilly relationship with Egypt’s new rulers, the Muslim Brotherhood.
If nothing else, the U.S. appears to have missed an opportunity to exert influence when it was still possible during the months surrounding Mubarak’s ouster.
The Obama administration — Mrs. Clinton included — took a similar posture toward pro-democracy activists in Iran during the so-called Green Revolution in 2009, and later in Syria, which has since deteriorated into a bloody civil war.
The State Department has sent more than $200 million in communications equipment to Syrian rebels and humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians. But that has not stopped Syrian civilians from complaining for months that the United States has been waffling on the war’s periphery and resisting a leadership role.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Guy Taylor rejoined The Washington Times in 2011 as the State Department correspondent.
As a freelance journalist, Taylor’s work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund For Investigative Journalism, and his stories appeared in a variety publications, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Salon, Reason, Prospect Magazine of London, the Daily Star of Beirut, the ...
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
The young drop coverage to avoid higher premiums
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
In a world that is increasingly complex, we need to seek greater awareness of the blending of cultures and America's changing role in a global community.
A look at what’s new and what’s worth driving, no matter the budget.
Finding health and health care is not easy. It is changing. Know what's on the rise.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc