Clinton may have been right about certain things and may have been wrong about others, but I haven’t read many accounts of decision-making in this administration where her opinion caused the scales to tip one way or the other. (For more on Clinton’s role, it is worth reading Robert Gates’s excellent memoir.)
If you want to get a sense of how puny Clinton’s accomplishments at State were, you should read not her haters but her admirers. On Sunday in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof devoted a whole column to praising Clinton’s record, and yet was unable to list anything that wasn’t a broad generalization. Kristof began by noting that, “Clinton achieved a great deal and left a hefty legacy—just not the traditional kind.” What was this legacy, you might ask?
“Clinton recognized that our future will be more about Asia than Europe, and she pushed hard to rebalance our relations. She didn’t fully deliver on this ‘pivot’—generally she was more successful at shaping agendas than delivering on them—but the basic instinct to turn our ship of state to face our Pacific future was sound and overdue.”
So Clinton “recognized” what is surely the single most noted thing in every discussion of American foreign policy, and even in Kritstof’s opinion wasn’t really able to do anything about it.