What basically did happen on Clinton’s watch as Secretary of State? Short term it was Arab Spring, toppling dictators, hot headlines. Long term it was G.W. Bush downsized, the US interfering in stable, workable situations where there was no threat to the US.
The real alphas dogs avoid pointless conflict. FDR bobbed, weaved, and deceived before WW2, avoiding confrontation with isolationists and getting enough supplies to the Brits to hold off Hitler until Pearl Harbor sealed our deal. He was not after headlines, he knew he had to win.
When terrorists blew up our Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon, Ronald Reagan had the prescience and guts to see a no-win, and pulled out. When GHW Bush had a clear path to get rid of Hussein, he left him in place, neutered and with a relatively stable near-east. When President Clinton got us involved in Bosnia it was a horrible mess, but he didn’t go in alone, and in the end, the genocide ended, with its leaders in court. And when he got us involved in Northern Ireland, somehow it worked out against the odds, ending a deadly feud the Brits couldn’t handle on their own.
These patient, quiet victories involved something Mrs. Clinton never seemed to grasp, a sense of where things could go bad. Another thing she failed to grasp was NIMBY. We’ve got the Monroe Doctrine, but in fact all great powers are generally understood to have a special involvement when things get close to home, as with Ukraine and Russia.
Mrs. Clinton is a skilled politician with an affinity for convenient alliances that can be dangerous long term. She gave Asst. Secretary Victoria Nuland very free rein in European affairs even after some giveaway phone calls that damaged relations with Germany and Chancellor Merkel’s standing there and revealed chicanery to come in Ukraine. Many would take it as a warning sign that Nuland entered government as a protégé of VP Cheney and is married to an influential dual-citizenship neocon writer. But Clinton and Nuland are cut from the same cloth – powerful women who don’t mind a fight. Nuland repeatedly interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs over a long period, working with local heroes (Vitaly Klitschko, world champion boxer), the CIA, Greystone (formerly Blackwater) mercenaries, and a cooperative oligarch. She then she installed Hunter Biden as a senior executive in the energy industry and American banker Natalie Jaresko as finance minister. Like those famous phone calls, this was in-your-face stuff. In Putin’s face, actually, and it forced his hand. He reacted much the same way Kennedy did to Khrushchev in Cuba, but without an ocean in the way.
As the smoke clears, we see the results of what Clinton permitted, and it places Benghazi and Congressman Gowdy where they belong, in a sideshow. Benghazi was a classic screw-up followed by a sloppy cover-up. The big show was yet another bloody ethnic civil war, with Ukraine as another Humpty-Dumpty we can’t put back together. But Mrs. Nuland’s actions there had many effects, all damaging to Ukraine, EU, Russia, and now us.
As we know from Iraq, ethnic feuds are long lasting, and Ukraine as it existed is gone. But the damage goes much further. Economically injured, Putin acted with dispatch and effect, emerging with greater prestige and no inclination to cooperate with the US, which he had been doing more often than not. Also, EU trade was badly damaged, and its energy supply endangered. Worst of all, Putin emerged very popular at home, and with a new world reputation as a tough, practical leader. He may or may not stabilize Syria, but our puttering in the region has been revealed for what it is.
Combined with preceding middle east events, Ukraine is part of Mrs. Clinton’s legacy, and Obama’s. If Trey Gowdy’s party wanted to, they could look into this like grown-ups and ask some large pointed questions. They won’t, because, like Mrs. Clinton, they enjoy expensive pointless aggression and the notion of American Exceptionalism uber alles. It’s 20th century thinking, and it was running out of gas even then.