Responses such as that beg the question, "Where were you, and what were you doing while Africa and the Middle East were going to hell in a handbasket?" It turns out the answer is in a speech Clinton gave at the Newseum last November. Just weeks after Benghazi, she congratulated herself on being America's most traveled secretary of state -- 112 countries and 956,000 miles. That's a whole lot of Ambien and a Keystone XL pipeline full of jet fuel.
She calls it "shoe-leather diplomacy," and in her Newseum remarks, she stressed the importance of international travel in representing the interests of the American people. In that, she's spot on.
Throughout our history, secretaries of state have traveled overseas to open new markets for American products and expand trade. They have negotiated peace among warring countries, forged alliances of strategic importance and created opportunity for American citizens and U.S. businesses in places that benefit our nation. To illustrate her point, she proudly told the audience that she was the first U.S. secretary of state to visit -- hold on to your seat -- Togo.
No, that's not a typo. Togo. With remarkable bravado, Clinton explained her achievement: "No secretary of state had ever been to Togo before." The crowd applauded.
Some foreign policy experts who've spent their careers studying international affairs might say, "Well, there's a reason for that." Togo is a disease-infested country of 7 million, with no strategic importance to the United States. Well, if that's what you are thinking, you are wrong.
According to Clinton, going to Togo had "a real strategic purpose." Her visit didn't result in new trade agreements or access for U.S. forces contending with an explosion of radical Islam in sub-Saharan Africa. But she pointed out that while she was there, Togo held one of the rotating seats on the U.N. Security Council. And, as our most traveled secretary of state explained, when "you look at the voting dynamics in key international institutions (such as the U.N. Security Council), you start to understand the value of paying attention to these places."
There you have it, a real record of accomplishment. As the New Guard -- Kerry, Chuck Hagel and John Brennan -- assumes the watch in Washington, keep your expectations low. The new crowd undoubtedly will live down to them.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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