TOKYO – F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that “there are no second acts in American lives.” Hillary Clinton’s stunning (and, I trust, unfinished) career – from First Lady to United States Senator to presidential candidate to US Secretary of State in the administration of the man who defeated her – proves that Fitzgerald could not have been more wrong.
Today, as Clinton prepares to leave office, there is widespread speculation that she will seek to succeed President Barack Obama in 2016. She has had not only a second act, but a third as well – and millions of Americans want her to write a fourth.
Clinton’s four years as America’s top diplomat have given her iconic status around the world – and deservedly so. On her watch, two of the longest wars in US history have been wound down, America’s alliances have been reinvigorated, and young women everywhere have been encouraged to pursue their dreams – whether in academia, business, or politics. Hers is a record that ranks her among the great postwar US secretaries of state – Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger, and James Baker.
The position of secretary of state is truly global in scope. It demands not only a coherent conception of how the world works and the place of US national interests within the international order, but also extraordinary political skill, stamina, timing, and, above all, courage. Clinton used all of these virtues to their highest possible effect.