They see her patiently rebuilding America's image in the world and expanding US diplomatic reach by securing more resources for the State Department from former colleagues in the US Congress. While some still question her creative vision and negotiating skills – a hallmark of successful secretaries of State – others laud her for embarking on a redefinition of American foreign policy that gives new weight to diplomacy and development alongside defense.
"Where she could leave her mark is in putting into practice this idea of smart power," says former secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a longtime friend and close associate of Clinton's who describes the "plethora of issues" facing the secretary of State today as "more complex than anything I've ever seen." To respond to that, she adds, Clinton "sees the potential of using a variety of tools in the diplomatic tool box."
But others who have no less admiration for Clinton's accomplishments in her short time see this moment as a threshold for her – and not only because of the Israeli-Palestinian talks and the test those talks will pose to her skills and propensity for problem solving. They also point to the major foreign-policy review – the so-called "QDDR" or Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review she initiated by adapting a Pentagon policy evaluation process – that she is set to unveil next month.
Both the Middle East negotiations and the policy review will provide a measure, these critics say, of Clinton's ability to think in new ways and to fashion a foreign policy for 21st-century America.