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Clinton’s Consistently Bad Foreign Policy Judgment

Clinton can be counted on to endorse the more aggressive option available.
Hillary Clinton strong defense

The New York Times digs into Clinton’s foreign policy hawkishness:

Her affinity for the armed forces is rooted in a lifelong belief that the calculated use of military power is vital to defending national interests, that American intervention does more good than harm and that the writ of the United States properly reaches, as Bush once put it, into “any dark corner of the world.” Unexpectedly, in the bombastic, testosterone-fueled presidential election of 2016, Hillary Clinton is the last true hawk left in the race [bold mine-DL].

It would be more accurate to say that Clinton is the most consistently hawkish candidate left in the race, but that doesn’t mean she’s the only one. As we can see from Kasich’s statements on foreign policy during the campaign, he can easily match her in irresponsible and short-sighted aggressiveness, and Cruz and Trump both have had occasion to do the same. What distinguishes Clinton from the rest is that she is by far the most conventional hawkish candidate still running and the one most likely to endorse whatever the prevailing wisdom in Washington happens to be. Because of her many years in Washington, she has learned the jargon that foreign policy professionals expect to hear, and she has internalized what one of her aides calls “a textbook view of American exceptionalism.” Despite having a record of reliably bad decisions on major issues, she is hailed for her foreign policy experience and supposed acumen because she has a good idea of what people in Washington want to hear.

In virtually every foreign policy debate, Clinton can be counted on to endorse the more aggressive option available, and she is the least likely to favor making significant changes to the way the U.S. acts overseas. Her judgment has been reliably bad because she buys into conventional, wrong assumptions about the U.S. role in the world and the ability of the U.S. to “shape” events in other countries, and when Obama has come around to her view he has made some of the worst mistakes of his presidency. One would be hard-pressed to find a single instance from her time as Secretary of State when Clinton was on the winning side of a major internal policy debate that didn’t produce poor or disastrous results. If Obama had always sided against Clinton’s preferred course of action, he would have had fewer foreign policy failures and embarrassments.

The article also goes into some depth about her relationship with Gen. Jack Keane. Among other things, it was a briefing from Keane on establishing a “no-fly zone” in Syria that won Clinton over to that reckless position. This is one of Clinton’s main weaknesses: she typically assumes that military options are more efficacious and capable of “solving” problems in foreign conflicts than they are, and it doesn’t seem to take much persuading to get her to endorse an aggressive policy. Clinton normally errs on the side of using force or threatening to use it, and because of that she repeatedly takes the wrong side in debates over whether the U.S. should intervene in another country.