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Hillary Clinton: A quiet brand of statecraft

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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.

"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.

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