Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks on American leadership Jan. 31 at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.(Photo: MANDEL NGAN, AFP/Getty Images)
By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - As Hillary Rodham Clinton bids farewell to the State
Department Friday, she steps down from her post somewhat circumspect
about what the future may hold for her - but with a fairly detailed
critique of her time in the Obama administration and what the future
holds for American diplomacy.
In farewell remarks on Thursday
before the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton used her final public
address as secretary of State to offer a robust defense of her four
years as the nation's chief diplomat.
what we faced in January 2009: two wars, an economy in free fall,
traditional alliances fraying, our diplomatic standing damaged," Clinton
said. "And around the world, people questioning Americans' commitment
to core values and our ability to maintain our global leadership."
leaves her post after a turbulent four years for American foreign
policy. Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was killed, the war in Iraq was
ended and the U.S. ambassador to Libya became the first chief envoy to
be killed in the line of duty in more than 30 years.
Even as she
chronicled U.S. foreign policy successes during her tenure, she said the
United States needs to build "smart power" in a world where the levers
of influence are changing rapidly.
"We need a new architecture for
a new world - more Frank Gehry than formal Greek," Clinton said,
referring to the modern architect. "Now some of his work at first might
appear haphazard, but in fact, it's highly intentional and
sophisticated. Where once a few strong columns could hold up the weight
of the world, today we need a dynamic mix of materials and structures."
reflected that while the world has become smaller as the result of
advances in technology, most notably the Internet, it has also required
diplomats to be more personally engaged. In four years on the job, she
logged more than 950,000 air miles and visited 112 countries, including,
she noted, being the first secretary of State to visit the small west
African nation of Togo, which holds a rotating seat on the United
Nations Security Council.
"In today's world, when we can be anywhere virtually, more than ever, people want us to actually show up," Clinton said.
who has written one memoir, says she plans to pen a second and spend
time with her daughter, Chelsea, and husband, former president Bill
The outgoing secretary of State insists she hasn't given
serious thought to making a second run for the White House, and even
went so far to say during a forum this week that she was "not inclined"
to take a shot in 2016.
John Kerry, whose nomination to be the
next secretary of State was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, will be
sworn in to office Friday and takes over as the Obama administration
faces several hot button issues on the international stage:
- Civil conflict in Syria that has left more than 60,000 dead rages on.
- Obama must decide whether to leave a residual troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
- Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Africa are a growing threat.
Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, joked Thursday,
"John Kerry has some fairly large Manolo Blahniks to fill."