Hillary Clinton defends her record as secretary of state

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed her diplomatic record on Thursday night, saying her time atop the State Department played a role in "restor[ing] America's leadership in the best sense."

Some Republican critics have charged that Clinton's tenure as the nation's top diplomat was heavy on jet-setting but thin on tangible accomplishments, but Clinton said that much of her work -- with Russia, with Iran, and elsewhere -- laid the groundwork for efforts that have now kicked into high gear.

In her forthcoming memoir, Clinton said, she devotes an entire chapter to the negotiations on Iranian sanctions that many have since credited with bringing the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table over its nuclear program.

"I write obviously a whole chapter about this, because this is the kind of...painstaking, microscopic advantages and putting together the international coalition" that eventually yields results," Clinton said, according to Politico.

That effort "changed the calculus inside the Iranian government," she said. "It took an enormous amount of effort on the part of a lot of us."

Clinton's remarks came during a panel discussion kicking off the "Women in the World" summit in New York City. Earlier on Thursday, she helped launch a new program from the U.S. Agency for International Development that hopes to harness new developments in science and technology to combat poverty.

More generally, Clinton said, she and the rest of the administration played a role in restoring American leadership in the world after two controversial wars and a global financial crisis.

I'm "very proud of the stabilization and the really solid leadership that the administration" in 2009 when she and President Obama took the reins, she explained, saying that leadership helped the U.S. "deal with problems like Ukraine" and other recent international crises.

As she has before, Clinton blamed the crisis in Ukraine, which was ignited by Russia's annexation of the formerly-Ukrainian Crimean peninsula, on Russia's attempt to "redraw the boundaries of post-World War II Europe." She said Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to "restore what he views as the proper place of Russia in the world order" and to create a competitor to the [European Union]." And she counseled U.S. leaders to be "strong and patient" as they grapple with the evolving situation.

Turning to domestic politics, Clinton bemoaned the state of hyperpartisanship in Washington, saying "compromise is an essential part of running a great democracy."

"We cannot afford to have people who deny the right and the need for compromise," she said, warning that the polarization is moving the country "backwards instead of forward."

She discussed what she dubbed the media's "double standard" on women in politics, saying unfair treatment on the basis of gender is unfortunately "alive and well."

"And I think in many respects the media is the principal propagator of its persistence," she added. "And I think the media needs to be, you know, more self-consciously aware of that."

She advised young women to take criticism seriously but not personally. "You can't let it crush you, and you have to be resilient enough to keep moving forward despite the personal setbacks," she said. "Believe me, this is hard-won advice I'm putting forward here."

And on the question in everyone's thoughts - whether she will run for president in 2016 - Clinton, as she has repeatedly, offered only coy demurrals.

"Not right now," she replied when she was asked whether she has her eye on another job now that she's left the State Department.

"You run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton," she said of her time as secretary of state. And in a bit of a tease, she added, "Some of what hasn't been finished may go on to be finished."

Clinton sat for the discussion alongside International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, and when the moderator pointed out that both women may soon be presidents - Clinton of the United States, Lagarde of the European Commission - the two women shared a high-five.


  • Jake Miller

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