We may be observing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s last trimester in this pivotal and strategic post. Hillary became a household name during her husband’s presidential years. Her subsequent six year tenure as New York Senator, along with her “break the glass ceiling” campaign for the U.S. Presidency, has made her one of the most influential leaders in the world. This will be apparent at UN week in New York.
Until Barack Obama burst onto the scene, the probability of Hillary as President was highly likely. To this day, there remains speculation that she will be a candidate in the 2016 Presidential election. Presidential politics seem to go well with the current Secretary of State. The fact that President Obama was able to convince her to accept being his Secretary of State says much about the President, but it says much more about the kind of public servant Hillary Clinton is.
Canadians have generally shown greater affection for Democrats in the White House over Republicans since the JFK assassination. Most Canadians would have preferred a second Clinton Administration under Hillary’s stewardship than any other choice in 2008. While President Obama remains highly popular north of the border, Secretary Clinton is seen as very effective on her own, and very much a co-architect of the Obama foreign policy. Canadians appreciate her moderation, her civility, her approach to diplomacy and her overall civic engagement.
Relations between Canada and the U.S. under the Obama Administration are built on mutual respect and mutual interests. Clinton has worked closely with two successive Foreign Affairs Ministers, Lawrence Cannon and John Baird. The Canada-US partnership remains the closest on the planet both commercially and strategically.
Lately, events in the Middle East which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens have brought foreign policy and national policy into a presidential campaign that was supposed to be all about the economy and job creation. Seizing an opportunity, Republican candidate Mitt Romney went on the attack while events were unfolding in both Libya and Egypt following the release of an unauthorized anti-Muslim film. Romney’s ineptness probably saved the day for the Obama Administration. Yet, a close look at foreign policy and national security since 2008 shows the synergy and the proximity between Clinton and Obama. And this is one area that the American voter seems to approve of the Administration’s performance.
Secretary Clinton has helped steer the Obama foreign policy in new directions. The war on terrorism, the international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, the drawing down on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fall of Kaddafi in Libya, relations in post-Mubarak Egypt, as well as relations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America are very much within the purview of the Obama-Clinton diplomacy. No Secretary of State has travelled more, and her legacy will transcend very much her departure from the scene next January.
Diehard Clinton supporters probably feel vindicated in their conviction that she would have been a fine president, had she won in 2008. History will record that she placed country and principle above partisan politics. It will also record that she used intelligence, skill, and perseverance to make her tenure remarkable in itself. She made America appear more humane and principled in its foreign policy. And it is done with an admirable sense of civility. This is why we in Canada continue to admire Hillary Clinton.
John Parisella is a contributing blogger to AQ Online. He is the former Québec delegate general in New York and currently an invited professor at University of Montréal’s International Relations Center. His Twitter account is @JohnParisella.