Hillary Clinton’s appointment as the third woman U.S. secretary of state is likely to deepen the crisis of the once-venerable institution at Washington’s Foggy Bottom, to which her two female predecessors have contributed in different ways.
Madeleine Albright will be remembered for her hubris, coupled with studied callousness. (“If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”) Asked on 60 Minutes about the death of a half-million Iraqi children, she promptly responded, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it.” Her crowning glory was her premeditated 1999 war in the Balkans. (“The Serbs need a little bombing.”) Her State Department contributed to Bill Clinton’s doctrine of “humanitarian intervention.”
Condoleezza Rice, who is less evil and more obtuse, will be remembered for nothing. She was an auxiliary tool of the Bush-Cheney team, with all key decisions made elsewhere.
Mrs. Clinton will try to rebuild the relative importance of the department, but her labors will not be for the better. Her appointment to the Obama administration, the most significant among several major figures from the Clinton era, belies Obama’s rhetoric of “change” when it comes...