Hillary Clinton Reflects On Challenges Of Office

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves her position Friday after four years on the job, handing over duties to her successor, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

As secretary, Clinton is credited with restoring alliances that were frayed during the Bush years. She put women and girls' issues at the forefront of international policy and oversaw a new U.S. focus on Asia. But she also faced fast-breaking revolutions in the Arab world, and consequent instability that would later claim the lives of four American diplomats in Benghazi, Libya.

Clinton discusses her time in office as well as future U.S. challenges with NPR's Michele Kelemen. (You can read a full transcript of the interview here.)

Interview Highlights

On the lessons to be learned from Benghazi

Ultimately, I think we all have to do a better job. The threats have evolved. We've seen different kinds of threats affect our military, affect our intelligence community and affect our diplomats. So I think we'll do our part here in the State Department to try to implement all of the recommendations, and we'll work with our partners in the government to just make sure that we're not missing anything going forward.

On the rising threat of militancy in North Africa

I think that it's going to take some time to sort out what these governments are able to do to secure their own borders and protect their own people. The Arab revolutions and the new efforts to build democracies are not well established yet. So we have a multitude of challenges that we're meeting simultaneously.

On the violence in Syria

I think there is a lot of concern, not just by the United States but by other countries as well. I mean, we are certainly not alone in being cautious about what more we can do without causing more death and more destruction, and the unintended consequences of helping to foment an even more deadly civil war. No one is in any way satisfied with what the United States or the entire world community has done, which is why we keep pressing for U.N. action and keep being disappointed and blocked by the Russians.

On possible plans for a White House run in 2016

I'm not even posing those questions. I am really looking forward to stepping off the fast track that I've been on. I've been out of politics as secretary of state. I don't see myself getting back into politics. I want to be involved in philanthropy, advocacy, working on issues like women and girls that I care deeply about. I want to write and speak. I want to work with my husband and my daughter on our mutual foundation interests. So I'm going to have my hands full. I don't quite know how I'm going to adjust to not having a schedule and a lot of work that is in front of me that is expecting me to respond to minute by minute. But I'm looking forward to that and I have no other plans besides that.

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