"She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
Like the horns of an angry bull"
The Wreck of the Hesperus
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Many years ago I was working on a very difficult project. After struggling for a week or two, my boss called me into his office for a status update. I confessed I was having a hard time. It was not for lack of effort - I was giving it my all. Expecting understanding, I heard this instead - "As this company, we pay for results, not effort". Wow! What a wake up call. I excused myself, redoubled my efforts, and completed the project to his satisfaction.
I thought about that incident in my past as I watched the send off for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While testifying at the Benghazi hearings, much of the discussion turned into a love fest, mostly by the Democrats. Even some Republicans also chimed in. "Madam Secretary, you will go down in history the best Secretary of State we have ever had!" "Madam Secretary, if not the best, very close to it!". When quizzed by one of the networks which of her accomplishments was the most noteworthy, the answer was "travel". No other Secretary of State has traveled more. After four years of nonstop travel, the world has got to be a better place - right?
Wrong. Lets look at the facts. We helped take out Muammar Gaddafi as part of the "Arab Spring ". In the world of bad guys, Gaddafi was a light weight. However, for reasons unknown to most, we decided to join the action and support the "rebels" in Libya. Our new friends, the rebels, now have their hands on U.S. supplied small arms and are suspected in being complicit in the slaying of our Ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi. In fact, some believe that Al Qaeda was part of the opposition to Gaddafi and now has established a foothold in the country. Libya is now a hot mess and we don't really know who is in charge, what the future is, and who is our friend over there.
The situation in Egypt is even stranger than in Libya. Whereas Gaddafi basically behaved himself since President Reagan ordered Naval forces to cross the "line of death" and bomb him, Hosni Mubarak has been a friend and a partner in peace. Even though we were not involved in his overthrow by rebels as in Libya, we turned a blind eye. The result - the Muslim Brotherhood are now in charge. Ever since Mohamed Morsi tried to grant himself unlimited powers, all hell is breaking loose. The only thing that stands between chaos and anarchy is the Egyptian Army. So far, they have kept the pot from totally boiling over. We are betting the long odds that Egypt will settle down with a stable government and will not menace its people nor Israel. How are we making that bet? By sending the latest upgrade of F-16 fighters and parts to manufacture M1A1 tanks. If we lose this bet, Israel will have to deal with yet another hornet's nest.
We can't forget about our old friend Bashar al-Assad of Syria. His brutality to his own people is nothing less than horrific. After almost 60,000 dead in Syria, the end is not yet in sight. However, the stakes recently got higher when it was disclosed that Assad might use deadly chemical weapons against his own people. Many think that Assad has quite the war chest hidden away in the Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. In addition, other believe (including Hillary's husband) that before the the Iraq War, Saddam also had quite a stash. Those too, might be hidden in the valley. In any event, after helping Libya get rid of Gaddafi, we have not lifted a finger to stop this slaughter of innocent Syrians.
Finally, we can't forget about the 600 pound gorilla in the room - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. The good news this week is he secured new centrifuges which can spin five times faster than the ones he currently has. The result - he will have material for a working nuke even faster. Time is running out quickly before Israel, with or without us, takes care of this clear and present danger. Many experts think the clock is ticking and action could start as soon as early spring. When it starts, it could involve the entire region, and beyond.
Well, there you have it. A legacy for our departing Secretary of State. There are more areas of concern, but for right now, I will just address the Middle East. Rather than swooning all over her at the Benghazi hearings, I would have preferred someone on the House or Senate panel tell her in America, we reward people for results, not travel.