Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher has died. He lived a life of fame and fortune. He was a successful Los Angeles lawyer and Democratic political operative--he is widely credited with saving Bill Clinton's career. He was also an abysmal Secretary of State. He would certainly rank near the very top in the DiploMad's list of "Genuinely Horrible Secretaries of State."
At one time he would have been the uncontested number one. We would cite his cravenness towards the Syrians, and other enemies of the United States, and remind ourselves that this was the man who thought Jimmy Carter was too tough. He had a remarkable inability to understand even the basics of how the world works, and America's unique role in it. He was a incredibly bad manager and judge of people, surrounding himself with a coterie of incompetent politicos and careerists. He ended up leaving as head of the State Department, a job he should never have had, in frustration and as a figure of ridicule within the organization, and the world.
What prevents him from having the uncontested number one slot in our ranking of terrible Secretaries of State? As noted, normally he would have no competition; the problem is that since he left State he has had a succession of competitors for the title "Worst Secretary of State." You have, for one, the reprehensible, bombastic and crude Madeleine "I am Here to Shop" Albright who certainly gives him a run for the title. Let us not forget Colin Powell, who, while a better manager and speaker than Christopher, also seemed to have limited understanding of the world, and was more concerned about his domestic image as a fighter against the Republicans. Condi Rice? Weak, indecisive, lousy manager who allowed the Department's liberal-Democrat machine to run the organization. Hillary? She's just mailing it in. No vision, no idea of how and where to use American power. A sad, sad list of Secretaries . . .
Warren Christopher, R.I.P.