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Clinton and the Neoconservatives (II)

Michael Tomasky argues that Clinton isn’t a “neocon,” which is true enough, but he also draws attention to the most hawkish parts of Clinton’s recent interview:

There were two issues, though, in addition to the much-discussed Syria example, where Clinton’s comments were alarming. The first was her balls-to-the-wall defense of Benjamin Netanyahu. First of all, as Peter Beinart wrote for Ha’aretz, she left a lot of inconvenient facts out of her narrative. She sounded like she was reading from an AIPAC press release—particularly surprising, said Matthew Duss, the new president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, given the way the Netanyahu government has been trashing Clinton’s own successor, John Kerry. “To completely back Netanyahu both on substance—about having control of security in the West Bank—and to do so after several weeks in which the Netanyahu government has really gone out of its way to embarrass and humiliate your successor…that’s really troubling,” says Duss.

The other issue on which Clinton got pretty far out there was on Iran and the current nuclear negotiations.

Clinton’s preference for a “zero enrichment” position in negotiations with Iran is not only at odds with what the administration has been doing (as well as being a non-starter with the Iranians), but it is exactly the same view held by Iran hawks that pretty clearly want diplomacy with Iran to fail. Like them, she doesn’t come out and say that she wants diplomacy to fail, but she would like to set an impossible goal for the negotiations so that any agreement that might be reached can be tossed out for not including enough Iranian concessions.

As Matt Duss observes here, her complete endorsement of Israeli tactics over the last month after the very public antagonism between Kerry and Netanyahu is scarcely any different from the rebukes that “pro-Israel” hawks have been directing at Obama and Kerry for weeks. It’s not an accident that these answers pleased people at The Weekly Standard so much that they republished them with approval, since their writers have made many of the same lousy arguments. So much of the coverage of the interview has focused on Clinton’s Syria remarks that her much more pointed disagreements with the administration’s record and her much more hawkish positions on these other issues haven’t received the attention they should. Clinton isn’t a neoconservative, but her remarks on these issues remind us that she doesn’t need to be a neoconservative to reach many of the same awful conclusions that they do. That is what liberal hawks do. She sides with the hard-liners on these issues because she is a hard-liner, and it’s important to keep that in mind.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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