If there was one constant through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's appearances before congressional committees Wednesday, it was that lawmakers fell all over themselves heaping praise on her for the job she has done. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., was typical, saying: "Madame Secretary, you have represented us with tremendous strength and poise. You have won us friends."
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., gushed, "We don't have time to give a full listing of the achievements you deserve credit for." And Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., began his remarks by saying that he shares the "tremendous respect" of his colleagues for the job she has done.
What on Earth are they referring to? American foreign policy under Secretary Clinton has been one disaster after another. She may not deserve blame for all of them -- or even most of them -- but it defies common sense to call her tenure a success.
Let us review the record. Obama said in his inaugural speech that the failure to address global climate change "would betray our children and future generations." His administration, represented by Clinton's department, presided over the complete breakdown of international talks on the subject in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009, and failed to accomplish anything of substance in Doha, Qatar, last year.
America's relations with its two main allies in the Middle East -- Israel and Egypt -- have worsened during Clinton's tenure. The new Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, is a fundamentalist who believes Egyptians should "nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred" toward Israel and who is now acting to consolidate his power. Obama, who at one point publicly doubted whether Egypt was our ally anymore, has continued the practice of providing arms to Egypt.
After the questionable intervention in Libya, a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a terrorist attack, thanks in large part to the failure by Clinton's department to take seriously repeated requests for additional security at the consulate in Benghazi. For weeks after the attack, Secretary Clinton participated in deceiving the public about its nature and cause. Despite her testimony to the contrary, she did speak on at least two occasions (one at Andrews Air Force Base and another time to the father of one of the victims) as though the Benghazi attack had something to do with a YouTube video.
Clinton's last visit to China was met with open hostility by Beijing. The U.S. has made no progress in curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. After a much-ballyhooed "reset" -- which came at the cost of alienating our allies in Eastern Europe -- relations with Russia are as bad as they have been since the Cold War. They are so bad, in fact, that Russia has just banned the American adoption of Russian babies. As Obama nominee Chuck Hagel has pointed out, our Libyan intervention provided Russia with an additional ironclad excuse to keep working against us in Syria, where the ongoing civil war has killed 60,000 and a serious danger exists of the regime's chemical weapons falling into terrorists' hands.
One of the few areas where U.S. foreign relations have not deteriorated seems to be North Korea, whose U.S. relations remain as terrible as they were in the Bush and Clinton eras.
Last June, a Pew Research Center study of global attitudes toward the U.S. found that they have worsened in pretty much every country except Japan. Approval of the Obama administration's polices have dropped by double-digit margins everywhere in the world since 2009.
It's all well and good for chummy senators to congratulate Secretary Clinton, their former colleague, on her accomplishments. It's a lot harder to name any of them, let alone enough good ones to outweigh the bad.