In Praise of Hillary Clinton

12/02/2010 01:22 pm 13:22:03 | Updated May 25, 2011

Ironically, the Obama Administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular are the primary beneficiaries of Wikileaks' release of 250,000 US diplomatic cables. Certainly, this was not Wikileaks intention but that is the effect.

The cables reveal a State Department operating near top form and clearly in the best interests of the American people. Leaders in Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Mid-East nations, we learned, have repeatedly urged the U.S. to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. Apparently, those countries failed to learn one of the major lessons of the Iraq war, namely that starting a war is easy, but stopping one can be a long, deadly and costly process.

Secretary Clinton clearly understands that those urging war will not be doing the fighting, paying and dying. Instead, she has created alliances that are pressuring Iran through various means. Interestingly, even as she negotiates, someone has been sabotaging Iran's centrifuges and killing its senior nuclear arms makers.

We also learned that although Turkish leaders seem to hate the Israelis, the U.S. has forged a working relationship with the two nations.

Quietly but successfully, our diplomats have been removing prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison and placing them in countries that will not automatically imprison or kill them.

As the cables also reveal, U.S. relations with Europe have been vastly improved since the end of the Bush Administration. Who would have imagined five years ago that France would have a charismatic leader who was not only an admirer of the United States, but who even vacations here with his famous wife?

Under Secretary Clinton's leadership, China is now involved in efforts to control the unpredictable government of North Korea. In the most recent crisis, the bombing of a South Korean island, China took the initiative in calling for a six-power conference.

Diplomacy is about politics and politics is ultimately about understanding other cultures and people. From these cables, we get a sense that our diplomatic personnel are very good at that and understand the countries where they are stationed. I particularly loved the comments about how a big, blond Ukrainian "nurse" always accompanies Libya's leader. Who could have guessed that he was in such bad health?

While some of the cables contain a subtle maliciousness when describing some foreign leaders, the cattiness is nothing compared to what happens in U.S. elections and on our cable news shows. Who could have imagined that so many foreign leaders are so delicate and sensitive?

There is much about U.S. foreign policy and its implementation to despise, and I do. But the point is that the leaked cables reveal a corps of diplomats operating sensibly and most often in the best interests of our country. It reveals a Secretary of State who is working hard, effectively, and who is in control of U.S. foreign policy and the State Department, something no one could say about her immediate predecessors.

Indeed, if Mrs. Clinton performs as well in the next two years as she has in the prior two, she will be the most effective Secretary of State of our era.