Hillary Clinton had a strong take down of Donald Trump’s foreign policy today. She is right that his policy is incoherent and dangerous, but a dangerous warmonger such as Hillary Clinton is not the best one to deliver such a message. Common Dreams noted the “dangerous contradictions” in her speech.
But that was just one of several statements that raised observers’ eyebrows, in a speech that some said was full of fundamental contradictions—and hinted at Clinton’s own hawkish positions.
After all, as journalist Robert Parry wrote in April, “If Clinton becomes President, she will be surrounded by a neocon-dominated American foreign policy establishment that will press her to resume its ‘regime change’ strategies in the Middle East and escalate its new and dangerous Cold War against Russia.”
They cited several comments on the speech from Twitter:
Awkward: Hillary to give a speech on the very thing Dem pundits have spent a year desperately trying to ignore: her foreign policy.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 2, 2016
Listening to this speech & Clinton’s words on Iran, Russia, & Israel, SHE sounds like the neocon candidate. Why can’t Kristol run her?
— Anya Parampil (@anyaparampil) June 2, 2016
Hillary Clinton’s history of supporting interventionism puts her in a weird place to be portraying her opponent as trigger happy
— Yousef Munayyer (@YousefMunayyer) June 2, 2016
Like Clinton’s love for Henry Kissinger, Benjamin Netanyahu, the king of Saudi Arabia, and Dick Cheney. https://t.co/O1CA0X5QJv
— Shazad Hamid (@ShazadHamid) June 2, 2016
Hillary’s foreign policy rhetoric mimics that of the GOP candidates’ even in terms of phraseology and wording pic.twitter.com/VlZ45LouEo
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) June 2, 2016
This isn’t hard: if you’re an interventionist hawk like @BillKristol, Hillary Clinton is your candidate, try as you might to avoid it.
— Conor Friedersdorf (@conor64) May 31, 2016
As some of these have suggested, Hillary Clinton is making a strong case to be the mainstream Republican candidate against Donald Trump. Neoconservatives have already been indicating their support for Clinton over Trump, and a DLC Democrat such as Clinton is practically a Republican. As Jeffery Goldberg pointed out, this was more or less a Rubio speech.
We will have a terrible choice in November if the general election does turn out to be between Trump and Clinton. Clinton is right that “it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.” On the other hand, President Obama has described how hawkish Clinton was on Syria, and unwilling to accept a compromise to avoid war.
For some foreign-policy experts, even within his own administration, Obama’s about-face on enforcing the red line was a dispiriting moment in which he displayed irresolution and naïveté, and did lasting damage to America’s standing in the world. “Once the commander in chief draws that red line,” Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director and then as secretary of defense in Obama’s first term, told me recently, “then I think the credibility of the commander in chief and this nation is at stake if he doesn’t enforce it.” Right after Obama’s reversal, Hillary Clinton said privately, “If you say you’re going to strike, you have to strike. There’s no choice.”
This is a classic example of Clinton’s poor judgment. We should go to war only based upon security considerations, and only as a last resort when diplomacy will not work. To make someone who thinks we had no choice in such a situation Commander In Chief is a terrifying prospect.
The bombing of Libya which Clinton pushed for was also a catastrophe. Obama described how “it didn’t work” in the interview linked above, and in another recent interview called it the worst mistake of his presidency. Both Libya and Syria demonstrate that Clinton did not really learn from her mistake regarding Iraq.
There is certainly a considerable risk that Donald Trump could blunder his way into a war. There is also a considerable risk that Clinton will follow her own policies and get us involved in more wars, along with resuming the Cold War with Russia, if not starting another world war.