Hillary Clinton: A quiet brand of statecraft
Hillary Clinton has been loyal to President Obama, her one-time rival. Now she's seeking to redefine U.S. foreign policy for a new century, even as the latest mideast peace talks test her skills as a negotiator.
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Mr. Herring says Clinton has been a "team player," but he adds that this does not mean she has been "marginalized" the way Mr. Powell was. Indeed, Secretary Albright says the cold-war-era scenario of one dominant player in the promotion of US foreign policy is over, replaced by a "constellation" of participants and influences.Skip to next paragraph
"Her role is to exert power by being a team player, knowing when to delegate and when to take the driver's seat," Albright says. "It's a different modus operandi from a Dean Acheson or a Henry Kissinger."
In Clinton's case, it may be a sense of security about who she is as a global personality that has allowed her to stand back and make way for other high-powered figures to take on the day-to-day management of key portfolios. The idea of naming Senator Mitchell as Middle East envoy came from Clinton, aides say: Obama wanted someone working on the Middle East peace issue full time from the beginning of his presidency, and Clinton knew she wouldn't be able to dedicate the time required as she learned her new job and focused on other priorities like China and Asia, where she symbolically chose to make her first major trip as secretary.
"Maybe it doesn't matter to her; she's already a star," says Aaron David Miller, a Middle East expert who has worked under six secretaries of State. "She's a very smart leader with a real persona." But he says Clinton nevertheless has two formidable obstacles in her path: an "unforgiving world where diplomatic breakthroughs are very hard to come by," and a bureaucratic structure that "leaves her on the outside of ownership of the big issues."
That second factor may be about to change, as Clinton dives into the Middle East peace process.
But Mr. Miller, now at Washington's Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, says Clinton is a blank slate when it comes to being a negotiator – a talent that he considers one of the defining attributes of a great secretary of State.
"Consequential secretaries of State are great for one of two reasons, and one of them is that they solve problems," he says. "You either look at the world as a chessboard or you don't; it's not something learned. It remains an open question: Does Hillary Clinton have the negotiator's mind-set?"
UNDER ALUMINUM-GRAY SKIES, Clinton was riding in a limousine through the streets of Zurich when the phone rang. The news wasn't good. It was the beginning of a trip to Europe last October that was to include crucial talks with Russian leaders. Clinton was stopping off in Switzerland to witness the signing of a diplomatic accord between longtime rivals Turkey and Armenia. This was supposed to be the pro forma part of the trip.