hillary clinton to step down as secretary of state today
Washington, Feb 1 : After more than two decades in public service and under the watchful public eye, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will reclaim her private life next week.
The former first lady, turned US Senator from New York, turned Democratic presidential candidate, turned Secretary of State, is stepping down on Friday as the nation's top diplomat.
And she's doing so with the highest public approval ratings of her career.
But while Clinton has garnered high acclaim from both the American public and the president she served, what type of legacy she leaves for the history books remains a question.
"While she's perceived to have done a great job - her approval ratings are among the highest for any US politician right now, of either party - at the same time, very few people can point to very concrete accomplishments that she's had in the job. To a certain extent, that reflects, what is the job of Secretary of State in this day and age?" explains Susan Glasser, Editor in Chief of Foreign Policy Magazine.
From Clinton's first days in office starting in January of 2009, she believed a big part of that job was restoring what she felt was a damaged US image abroad.
Her 4-year diplomatic whirlwind took her to 112 countries, and spanned nearly a million miles, often through global turmoil and international crises.
"That is an enormous list of countries. That's an awful lot of showing up. It shows a sort of indefatigable commitment to the world. If you meet with her, you'll see why she impressed so many of her counterparts, other world leaders, with her dedication to getting it right. But it's hard to chalk up and to say, 'Here's ten things that she did that wouldn't have happened without her showing up," said Glasser.
As Glasser and other diplomatic experts point out, most of the toughest foreign policy challenges on Clinton's watch remain unresolved.
From the instability in Syria, to Iran's nuclear capabilities, to the lasting effects of the Arab Spring and the Middle East peace standoff, concrete accomplishments have been elusive.
"I think there is no question that their aspirations in coming into office have met the hard test of reality on the ground," said Glasser.
"Lets look at it: We have not made very much progress certainly in talking with Iran. We have not, as far as we can tell, really succeeded in halting their progress on nuclear weapons; we haven't made much progress on Middle East peace, in fact, quite the reverse. There's a new hopelessness right now when it comes to prospects for the two state solution," she added.
Still, Clinton, points to other less visible projects as successes in progress.
She spent her tenure advocating for women's and children's rights and forcing global climate change to the forefront of international conversation.
"Women and girls, climate change, alternative energy, the kind of big projects that will have a tremendous impact on what kind of world we live in," Clinton said at a global town interview this week from Washington.
"There are a lot of unsexy accomplishments one can say diplomats are able to rack up that don't get a lot of coverage. I think that's the kind of stuff that she's been committed to," said Glasser.
As for what comes next, Clinton is predictably noncommittal, particularly about plans for another presidential run in 2016.
Earlier this week, she told reporters from across the globe that come Monday, she's just looking forward to a little R and R.
"I am looking to finishing my tenure as Secretary of State and then forward to catching up on 20 years of sleep deprivation," Clinton laughed. Polls show Clinton as the popular favourite among Democrats for a presidential run in 2016.
And if her public approval ratings stay where they are - somewhere near 70 percent - Clinton's four years as the nation's top diplomat may end up being a giant asset in a potential bid for four more years in the White House.