“Talk of America’s decline has become commonplace, but my faith in our future has never been greater. While there are few problems in today’s world that the United States can solve alone, there are even fewer that can be solved without the United States,” Hillary Clinton wrote in the author’s note that begins her latest memoir, Hard Choices.
And Clinton is “proud” of her diplomatic accomplishments.
Excerpts from the memoir describe her time in the United States Department of State in sweeping terms. “I approached my work with confidence in our country’s enduring strengths and purpose, and humility about how much remains beyond our knowledge and control,” Clinton wrote. I worked to reorient American foreign policy around what I call ‘smart power.’” She also expounded on her world view. “We have to use all of America’s strengths to build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries, more shared responsibility and fewer conflicts, more good jobs and less poverty, more broadly based prosperity with less damage to our environment,” the former Secretary of State explained. And while she acknowledged that “as is usually the case with the benefit of hindsight, I wish we could go back and revisit certain choices,” she is “proud of what we accomplished,” referring to the Obama administration.
But, given Clinton may be a presidential candidate in 2016 and that she served as Secretary of State during Barack Obama’s first term as president, her “accomplishments” are worthy of detailed examination. She notes that the book was written for those “who who want to understand how leaders and nations can work together and why they sometimes collide, and how their decisions affect all our lives: How a collapsing economy in Athens, Greece, affects businesses in Athens, Georgia. How a revolution in Cairo, Egypt, impacts life in Cairo, Illinois. What a tense diplomatic encounter in St. Petersburg, Russia, means for families in St. Petersburg, Florida.” That excerpt does little to bolster Clinton’s image as skilled diplomat or to highlight her diplomatic savvy. And while she explicitly states that the autobiography (memoir) was not written for the “followers of Washington’s long-running soap opera,” there is a line between those who will see it as evidence of the Obama administration’s failings in foreign policy and those who will comb its pages for her accomplishments in order to better understand the stateswoman Hillary Clinton was.
Her autobiography, released on June 10, provides the opportunity to review both her diplomatic accomplishments as Secretary of State and her legislative successes as a senator for New York state. The glaring question is how did she specifically reorient American foreign policy.