Hillary the Hawk: Clinton's foreign policy may surprise her opponents--and her supporters.

Author:Breger, Marshall


Poll-reading liberals may be starting to feel confident that, come January, they will have a like-minded liberal in charge of America's foreign policy. Poll-reading conservatives, even those who declare themselves Never-Trampers, likewise offer dark predictions of what will happen if there is a continuation of the Obama foreign policy "legacy." Both are missing the Hillary Clinton who is in plain sight.

Liberals tend to see Hillary Clinton through their own eyes--as someone who will support a more nuanced and humble foreign policy, operating in a multilateral context, with an emphasis on diplomacy. In choosing another Democrat to succeed President Obama, they think, they are getting rid once and for all of the neoconservatives who gave us the Iraq War. But they are wrong. Clinton is a hawk who channels neocon values, even if she won't use the word--or perhaps can't, because it has become so closely associated with Republicans.

Look at the record. First, any way you look at it, she voted for the Iraq War. While she opposed the Iraq troop surge in 2007, she told then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates that she did so for political reasons. Once she became secretary of state, she supported the 2009 surge in Afghanistan to the max, pushing for the president to send the largest possible number of troops.

In general, Clinton has shown herself willing to use a muscular approach to the military--both to use our troops and to threaten to use them. She leaned in early on support for the Syrian rebels and supports a no-fly zone in Syria. She supported intervention and then regime change in Libya. And regime change leads inevitably to the notion of nation-building.

Compare this to Obama, who has largely tried to promote diplomatic solutions, multinational solutions and the idea that America can't do it alone. When he has deployed the military, he has appeared to be forced into it. None of this is part of Clinton's worldview.

In some ways, Clinton is even more interventionist than the neocons, because she accepts the idea of "Responsibility to Protect," or RtoP, which was the basis for our intervention in Libya. And when you look to other parts of the world, Clinton is on the front lines for imposing sanctions on Russia over its behavior in Ukraine. True, early in the Obama administration she supported a "reset" of relations with Russia, but she has since moved dramatically toward a militant stance.

It's hard to draw a serious...

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