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Hillary Clinton departs State: What's her legacy as top US diplomat? (+video)

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Clinton recognized that Asia was going to be an economic priority for the US as well as a predominant national-security consideration, Mr. Inderfurth says, and “she set the standard” for US involvement. He cites her attendance and “tireless participation” in gatherings of the region’s multilateral institutions.

While many diplomats and foreign-policy experts give Clinton high marks, the glowing evaluation is hardly unanimous. As one national-security expert with Democratic leanings (and who requested anonymity in order to be blunt) says, “She’s been a fairly effective spokesman for the US government, but what has she done as secretary of State?”

Clinton’s critics argue that something like the Asia pivot, for example, was going to happen no matter who was Obama’s secretary of State. And they say they are hard pressed to find anything significant in the foreign policy of Obama’s first term that is Clinton’s signature work.

Yet even some ardent critics of the Obama administration say that Clinton’s lack of defining accomplishments can’t be blamed on her, but is rather a result of a White House that controls all major policy decisions.

“It’s been a difficult four years for Mrs. Clinton, because the State Department has been marginalized from the making of foreign policy,” says Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington. “I don’t think she was influential – not because she shouldn’t have been or didn’t want to be, but because in this White House, only the very few are influential.”

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