Hillary Clinton’s departure was carefully orchestrated to preserve her chances of becoming the Democratic Party’s candidate for the next presidential election. The former first lady still contemplates returning to the White House and all the bets are on for a spectacular duel in 2016 between the two political dynasties, with Jeb Bush (GWB’s elder brother) as the other contestant.

Be that as it may, Clinton’s first headed for the Council on Foreign Relations where she presented her report to the country’s ruling class. She evaluated her performance in quantitative terms (number of travel days, number of countries visited, distances, etc.), figures which show that she hasn’t been idle, but which barely camouflage her mediocre achievements. She summed up her tenure in terms that boggle the mind: "Under President Obama’s leadership, we’ve ended the war in Iraq, begun a transition in Afghanistan, and brought Usama bin Ladin to justice (sic). We have also revitalized American diplomacy and strengthened our alliances. And while our economic recovery is not yet complete, we are heading in the right direction. In short, America today is stronger at home and more respected in the world. And our global leadership is on firmer footing than many predicted." Indeed, there is no doubt that the image of the United States has improved compared to the catastrophic Bush Jr years, but this is hardly enough.

Saying goodbye in the main lobby of the State Department’s Truman Building headquarters, Hillary Clinton was cheered by some one thousand employees, no doubt forgetting that the assassination of Chris Stevens, the defender inter alia of the Palestinian cause, was carried out under her watch. They all found her "brilliant" and "charismatic", while the rest of the world is left with the image of a hysterical shrew sniggering at the announcement of Muammar el-Gaddafi’s lyching. [1]

During this time, the Senate International Relations Committee was holding the nomination hearing of its outgoing president John Kerry to confirm him as successor to Mrs. Clinton. The meeting was nothing more than an exchange of niceties between people belonging to the same world.

Senator Kerry was careful not to unveil his intentions. He recounted his Vietnam experiences for the benefit of his friend John McCain and pledged to work closely with the Committee that he chaired for so long, if confirmed by the Senate in his new post. At the most, he emphasized that he intended to negotiate from a position of strength with Iran by way of continued sanctions, and that U.S. diplomacy would not be confined to international security, but would include development issues. But not a word on Syria and the personal relationship between the Kerry-Heinz and Assad couples.

The whole thing was wrapped in an unparalleled jargon to celebrate the nation that supposedly did more than any other for peace and human rights in the world. The only surprise was a totally unexpected reference to a quote by Henry Kissinger on the complexity of the modern world. John Kerry thus intended to distance himself from the ideological fanaticism of his recent predecessors, and to project an image of himself as an unscrupulous realistic, the way they like them on Capitol Hill. It was also a way of announcing without giving details the abandonments and upheavals to come.

Everything is being done to avoid offending the Israel lobby and to facilitate Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as Defense Secretary. In the shadows, the puzzle is progressively being put together. The White House continues to repeat that Assad must go, while Vice-President Joe Biden travels to Munich to negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood, represented by Moaz al-Khatib, and preparations for the Obama-Putin summit are underway. The sharing of the Middle East is not far off.

Al-Watan (Syria)

[1Clinton: ’We came, we saw, he died!’”, Voltaire Network, 21 October 2011.