Hillary Clinton: 10 Things She Did as Secretary of State

What did Hillary Clinton do as Secretary of State, from 2009 to 2013? During her unexpectedly contentious primary run for the White House, her time as head of the State Department has gotten very little exposure. Clinton seems to be avoiding establishing much of any narrative until she absolutely has to, leaving her opponents less time to organize attacks on her.

The most pressing topic at hand is Syria and the rise of the terrorist organization ISIS. While seeking a UN Security Council resolution regarding Syria in 2012, she warned Russia and China their backing of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad could lead to a much larger civil war and refugee crisis.

Similarly, her urgency to create more immediate alliances in Syria was rejected by President Barack Obama. She experienced more success with Libya, forcing a civil war in that country into being a European matter rather than an American one. Given more freedom by Obama, she guaranteed U.S. support only in the event of considerable European involvement. Libya was, after all, a beast more Europe’s creation than the United States’.

The U.S. would help in material ways, as well as fly missions over the country, but relied on a plan of European involvement and arming allied groups already within the country. In other words, the U.S. provided leadership and organization without becoming involved with boots on the ground. Clinton called this kind of involvement “smart power.”

That it was used so effectively in Libya, but then rejected as a solution in Syria, could be one reason Syria has failed.

In regards to the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, seven investigations and 13 hearings haven’t turned anything up while the American people have increasingly begun to consider the pursuit of Clinton as politically motivated.

Many voters at least know something of these events, however. What are some other things Clinton has done?


1. During a 2009 Constitutional crisis in Honduras, she brokered a series of agreements and re-negotiations that kept the nation from devolving into civil war. Ousted president Manuel Zelaya (overthrown by a military coup) and President Roberto Micheletti were the two key figures. While they circled an agreement that would see neither run in the next election, the elections were allowed to take place and Porfirio Lobo Sosa became Honduras’s 54th president.

2. Hillary Clinton is also credited with saving the Turkish-Armenian accord. In addition to laying a great deal of groundwork, when each side balked at the last minute, Clinton held simultaneous conversations with both sides on separate mobile phones. She held the hand of each negotiator across the finish line, helping to prevent war, avoid yet another Armenian genocide, and establish diplomatic relations and open borders between the two countries.

The deals she finds aren’t always perfect, but they often avoid further bloodshed on multiple sides.

Climate Change & Pollution

3. During the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009, Hillary Clinton ran an end-around during a failing series of negotiations between several countries. Recognizing any agreement coming out of the conference would fail to be the game-changer many countries were hoping for, Clinton still salvaged victory. One of the biggest inclusions in the Copenhagen Accord was a fallback proposal she shepherded through negotiations, providing $100 billion of aid to developing countries to help them deal with the effects of global warming.

4. After it was found that smoke inhalation was an invisible danger to impoverished people’s due to the open nature of cooking, she partnered with the United Nations to deliver 100 million cook-stoves into the hands of impoverished people around the world, many of whom lack the equipment to cook safely and cleanly. The smoke reduction also has a noticeable environmental effect.

Women’s Rights and Feminism

5. Perhaps most importantly, Clinton pushed what’s been called the Hillary Doctrine. This is a new set of parameters for assisting unstable regimes. They are dependent on removing gender inequality as a component in being given aid. In order to do install this approach successfully, the State Department demonstrated a link between violence against women and gender inequality typical of regimes that fail to secure themselves. Aiding any such nation under her tenure was dependent on requiring that state to markedly and measurably improve the opportunities and safety of women. She included similar requirements for LGBTQ citizens of aided nations. The State Department under Kerry has continued treating this as a requirement of new aid delivery. Her strong-arming of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai into economic and feminist reform is one of the better examples of this.

6. Along a similar vein, Clinton folded women’s rights and violence against women considerations into the national security agenda, and provided new space in the State Department’s employee applications where applicants could avoid specifying gender. Clinton repeatedly encouraged other nations to post women as ambassadors to the U.S., resulting in a record number of women ambassadors from foreign nations.

7. She started the Women in Public Service Project, and devoted a considerable portion of the State Department’s budget ($1.2 billion) to it. Its aim is to improve women’s health access worldwide and bring into equality the number of women and men volunteering worldwide, partly by making volunteering for women safer.


8. Hillary Clinton also became the first Secy. of State in decades to take the South China Sea off the table as a bargaining chip with China. China expressed displeasure, and she decline to react.

9. She later calmed during Congress’s debt ceiling standoff with Obama. While China considered pulling major investments during this time, Clinton gave the country extra attention. Essentially, she once more held another country’s hand through a difficult process, saving what could have been considerably more economic damage as a result over the debt crisis than what ultimately occurred.

10. She also negotiated with China the effective defection of dissident Chen Guangcheng. Initially, Guangcheng was only seeking guarantees of safety in China. In the country on other business, by the time she was done, Guangcheng not only had guarantees of safety, he was even allowed to leave China for the United States.


Do you admire or dislike what Hillary Clinton did as Secretary of State? Do you plan on voting for her?




Gabriel Valdez
Gabriel Valdez
Gabriel is a movie critic who's been a campaign manager in Oregon, an investigative reporter in Texas, and a film producer in Massachusetts. His writing was named best North American criticism of 2014 by the Local Media Association. He's assembled a band of writers who focus on social issues in film. They have a home base.