James Mann, author-in-residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, has been one of the most perceptive and fair-minded commentators on foreign policy. I’ve found his books on foreign policy to be illuminating and a pleasure to read. So I thought it would be useful to share his verdict on Hillary Clinton’s service as Secretary of State, in an excerpt from a book review just out in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas.
“She did play a role in helping to restore America’s relations with the world after the Iraq War, although Obama and the sheer passage of time mattered more than she did. She had a hand in executing the Administration’s reorientation toward Asia and its intervention in Libya. But in the end, this was not her Administration. While a spotlight was always on Clinton as a leading actor, the script and direction came from elsewhere. The far better argument, from Clinton’s own point of view, would be that her four years running the State Department amounted to the best imaginable on-the-job training for anyone who wants to run foreign policy as President of the United States. She would come to the White House with more hands-on foreign-policy experience than anyone in the past half-century besides George H.W. Bush.
“She remains a firm believer—more so, in fact, than Obama—in the value and legitimacy of a powerful role for the United States overseas. As secretary, Clinton was progressive on issues like women’s rights and international development; however, on military issues and on questions of American power, she was far more in line with the centrist wing of the Democratic Party. Her strategic vision was and is for America to continue essentially along the same path as it has since World War II. ‘The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century,’ she declared in one of her major speeches.”