On paper, Karzai’s talks with Clinton are historic. A famed American political figure is helping negotiate the end of the longest war in U.S. history – a 12-year odyssey that has claimed 2,100 American lives and more than $600 billion in treasure.
But Karzai’s visit is being greeted with a yawn. There has been more media coverage of Clinton’s exhaustive travel, physical appearance and political prospects in recent days than her wartime diplomacy.
Clinton is partly to blame for this dynamic. She has been a very good but very cautious secretary of state, who kept her distance from Afghanistan and other seemingly intractable conflicts. Clinton established a strong relationship with President Barack Obama, was innovative and worked tirelessly, but her position as a potential 2016 presidential candidate clearly influenced her performance.
One State Department official praised Clinton’s tenure, but talked about looking forward to the arrival of her presumed successor, Senator John Kerry.