Clinton’s ‘quiet statecraft’ profiled in Christian Science Monitor cover story

Secretary Clinton is profiled in the cover story of the Sept. 27 issue of the Christian Science Monitor under the headline, “Hillary Clinton: A quiet brand of statecraft.”  The piece notes that Clinton’s approach to foreign policy and diplomacy draws from her “unique curriculum vitae”: The unflagging advocate for women and girls traveled the world ...

Christian Science Monitor thumbnail image/Drew Angerer/AP

Secretary Clinton is profiled in the cover story of the Sept. 27 issue of the Christian Science Monitor under the headline, "Hillary Clinton: A quiet brand of statecraft." 

The piece notes that Clinton's approach to foreign policy and diplomacy draws from her "unique curriculum vitae": The unflagging advocate for women and girls traveled the world as first lady, honed the art of brokering deals as a senator, and ran against the U.S. president she now serves.

Clinton's experience as a politician is especially valuable because she understands the political constraints under which her counterparts in other countries -- foreign ministers -- are operating under. "People forget that most foreign ministers are also political leaders, especially among our allies," James Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, told the Monitor. "She can relate to politicians. She knows the particular pressures they face, and that allows her to be particularly effective."

Secretary Clinton is profiled in the cover story of the Sept. 27 issue of the Christian Science Monitor under the headline, “Hillary Clinton: A quiet brand of statecraft.” 

The piece notes that Clinton’s approach to foreign policy and diplomacy draws from her “unique curriculum vitae”: The unflagging advocate for women and girls traveled the world as first lady, honed the art of brokering deals as a senator, and ran against the U.S. president she now serves.

Clinton’s experience as a politician is especially valuable because she understands the political constraints under which her counterparts in other countries — foreign ministers — are operating under. “People forget that most foreign ministers are also political leaders, especially among our allies,” James Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, told the Monitor. “She can relate to politicians. She knows the particular pressures they face, and that allows her to be particularly effective.”

Still, one unknown is how strong and nimble of a negotiator she is. Of course, as I pointed out last October, her diplomacy did save the day on the Turkish-Armenian accord, and as a senator she sharpened her negotiating skills while brokering deals to get legislation passed. Still, that’s not enough to convince everyone. “Consequential secretaries of state are great for one of two reasons, and one of them is that they solve problems,” Aaron David Miller, who was an advisor on the Middle East to six secretaries of state, told the Monitor. “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 mindset?”

Then there’s the question of what unique stamp, if any, will Clinton leave as her legacy. “Frankly, it’s hard for me to place her,” George Herring, a University of Kentucky professor emeritus and expert on secretaries of state, told the Monitor. “She does not appear to have put her trademark on anything at this point.”

Perhaps that trademark will be her advocacy for women and girls, her e-diplomacy efforts, the new multilateral global architecture she mentions so much, or a new way of U.S. leadership in a changing world, which she referenced in her Sept. 8 speech when she said the United States is at a “new American Moment, a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways.” Maybe Clinton’s tenure will be that pivot point when U.S. foreign policy reorients in the face of rising centers of influence — China, India, Brazil, Turkey, etc. — and better adapts to a rapidly changing, more interconnected world. If so, though, Clinton has just over two years left in Obama’s first term to do so.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.