Here's what I wrote quickly off the top of my head for the comments on this article in the National Review which was reciting a mantra I hear from my GOP friends now all over. If I worked at it more or was a professional foreign policy wonk in good faith, I probably could come up with more. But here's a start.
I find lately the "Hillary accomplished nothing" meme is just a mindless mantra of Republicans and Hillary-haters and I'd challenge those regurgitating this meme to tell us what they think Bush accomplished, seriously. Or Obama in his first term. Mainly, all American leaders are in reactive damage control mode because most of the world's forces, whether tyrants like Putin or mass-murderers like Assad or terrorists just aren't under their control and they have little affect on them.
But here are some accomplishments one can book to Hillary:
o Worked with then-President Medvedev to get concession from Iran in 2009, which included the Russian moratorium on selling S-300s. To be sure, Putin is undoing all this now, but it held while Hillary was in office. Someone might prefer to book this to Obama, but it's Hillary and her staff that had to slog through this so it counts.
o Ran the Russian reset -- I personally don't think this is an accomplishment and I think we shouldn't have had it, and should have had deterrence, but part of the theory of getting Russia to help on Iran and getting progress there was to reward Russia with "reset" detente, which had a certain run for awhile in exchanges and such - before again, Putin undid it.
o Getting most of the OSCE members to sign the digital freedom act which Russia opposed -- which of course Snowden undid by hacking the NSA and making the hoax that the problem in the world is US intelligence instead of Russian hacking and the evils of Russia and its allies. But to her credit, Hillary backed the OSCE, which paid off in that it was available and robust enough to come and monitor the war in Ukraine. This is far from perfect, but it has actually been important for emergencies from MH17 to monitoring the ceasefire and the world is better with OSCE than without it.
o Dealing with Karzai and Afghanistan, personally travelling there and dealing with the surge. Again, the surge isn't something everyone supports and I have my own doubts about it but it's there as an accomplishment in some sense.
o Dealing with the Central Asian governments that the US was forced to bring on as partners with the Northern Distribution when Pakistan blocked access to ground logistics for the war in Afghanistan. And she had to do this right after WikiLeaks which revealed her ambassadors' very frank and critical reports on these tyrants. She extracted a few human rights concessions, she advanced some American business in this region like the GM plant, and she tried to gain cooperation from this collection of autocrats. Nothing spectacular, but good enough. By contrast, John Kerry has been absolutely uninterested in this vital part of the world and even messed up the name of one of the countries, a gaffe that would have been endlessly ridiculed in the leftist/liberal press if he hadn't been a Democrat.
o Benghazi is something many will blame on Hillary, but I think the problem goes higher/deeper which starts with Obama's mea-culpa in the Cairo speech and also frankly ends with Amb. Stevens himself not leaving the area after the UN convoy was shot at in which Ian Martin, the experienced UN official, was travelling. It was a belief that technocratic solutions to these countries, US good will and language knowledge, would "fix things" instead of relentless deterrence. "Engagement." Hillary partakes of some of that culture too, but to blame Benghazi solely on her is not to understand how the State Department works and to refuse to admit that the State Department, whatever its problematic USAID culture, bends to what the current president wants most of all.
o Hillary is able to deal with the UN, which like it or not, is important for getting some things done in the world. She headed the delegation to the Beijing conference on women's rights and had a record of promoting women's rights and opportunities around the world. She had numerous dealings with UN leaders and the Security Council; obviously the State Department's IO section deals with UN headquarters and other UN agencies. On Hillary's watch, the US came back to the UN Human Rights Council, which was the right thing to do, because despite the presence of tyrants and thugs there, you have to be in it to win it.
o Hillary has traveled to most of the countries of the world -- that counts. A lot of the world's workings are behind-the-scenes, and as I started out saying, having to do with reacting, putting out fires, maintaining. This counts. Having to start fresh with Rubio or some other GOP candidate with no experience or very little experience overseas outside of Cuba/Latin America for example, will be awful. Hillary has been there, done that.
o Hillary does stand up to the Russians because she gets them in a very basic way that Obama, with his youthful pro-Soviet DSA ideological constraints could never get. She quite rightly pointed out that the Russian Eurasian Customs Union is largely fictional and so far only has 2 former Soviet republics willing to join it -- others dominated by Russia won't join because they don't want to reassemble the Soviet Union. I think experience and practice with Russians is vital because they are a primary evil actor in the world -- they back Assad in Syria; they back Iran; they back the anti-American third-world movement wherever they can; they do not support international institutions like the ICC, which the US does more of not even being a signatory; they undermine and destroy OSCE, UN HRC, etc. and I think Hillary grasps this and can hold the line.
o Under Hillary, gay rights also became an official part of US foreign policy and were promoted internationally in every way.
Do these items not sound like world-burners? Does this list seem like a lot of hollow bureaucratic achievements that matter only to insiders in the world's civil servant class? Well, perhaps, but they matter. This is how the world works -- holding the line, advancing American interests incrementally, getting along with other countries, being professional about managing disputes because they will never be resolved.
By contrast, I can't think of anything that Kerry has accomplished, because I don't think undermining our national security with the Iran deal is an accomplishment, I think it's an alarming disaster. Contrast what Hillary got -- a moratorium on S-300s out of Medvedev -- with what Kerry got -- Putin selling them to Iran the very next day.
I also think his handling of the relationship with Israel -- and Obama's hatred of Israel is back of that -- has been disastrous. Again, say what you will about Hillary -- she does not hate Israel and does not hate the Jews. That is a plus. I value that, and you should too.
Now on domestic issues, what's very important about Hillary is that she isn't a socialist and you will never hear from her socialist "you didn't build that" rhetoric as you do from Warren. That counts for a lot with me; say what you will about the Clintons, but they aren't hostile to business and that matters. I think they represent the difference between socialism and *social justice* which is different -- and a distinction you will not get out of the hard left/"progressives" of the Democratic Party who should just leave and form a Socialist Party with Bernie Sanders and see who shows up. That will not be me.
I notice a number of people whining that Hillary has increased her own wealth. This bothers me not in the slightest, although I am a poor person myself. What on earth is wrong with increasing wealth?! This hasn't been done illegally nor in some way that his harmful to the environment with oil spills or something. There really is no *good* ideological reason for slamming this other than spleen and free-floating hatred of the rich that belongs at The Nation, not this magazine.