- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Clinton Can’t Hide Her Hawkishness

Michael Cohen comments [1] on Clinton’s foreign policy speech from last week:

Indeed, for all of Clinton’s identification as a foreign policy hawk, she sounded downright dovish in San Diego.

I definitely wouldn’t go that far, but I agree [2] that Clinton made a point of talking about the diplomatic successes of the Obama administration and tried to take credit for many of them. Her reliable support for military intervention over the decades was not mentioned, and the word Libya was never mentioned once. She omitted these things because they didn’t fit with the theme of painting Trump as reckless and prone to starting wars, and perhaps because she didn’t need to remind us of something we already know very well. She didn’t need to emphasize her hawkishness because it was already well-established, and it wouldn’t provide the kind of contrast with Trump that she wanted to make.

That said, it was not remotely a dovish speech. As Jeet Heer observed [3] yesterday, even when Clinton endorsed a diplomatic solution she framed it in confrontational terms:

Even when taking pride in the diplomatic success of the nuclear deal with Iran, Clinton framed it in military terms, assuring listeners she would use military force if the deal was violated: “Now we must enforce that deal vigorously. And as I’ve said many times before, our approach must be ‘distrust and verify.’ The world must understand that the United States will act decisively if necessary, including with military action, to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Even when Clinton is deliberately downplaying her hawkishness, she can’t avoid threatening to use force to ensure something that is already being achieved without it. She was trying to define herself as much more of a supporter of diplomatic engagement than she really is, but she remains too much of a reflexive hawk to make that credible. I agree with Cohen that “reasonable discussion of foreign policy free of martial rhetoric is not something to be sneezed at,” but after Clinton has spent decades indulging in that martial rhetoric in most major foreign policy debates it is hard to take seriously that she isn’t the reliable hawk that we all know her to be.

Heer went on to say this:

The Clinton of the San Diego speech hasn’t internalized any of the lessons of the Iraq War. She’s given every indication of being more likely, as president, to use large-scale military force than Obama.


Clinton is more likely [4] to use [5] large-scale military force than Obama, and I agree that she hasn’t internalized any lessons from Iraq (or Libya). Assuming that the speech was intended to distract attention from these things, it failed.

12 Comments (Open | Close)

12 Comments To "Clinton Can’t Hide Her Hawkishness"

#1 Comment By John On June 8, 2016 @ 10:23 am

I think her statement on consequences for Iran was less about the policy and more about assuring certain large-scale donors that their general election campaign dollars would not be ill spent on Hillary Clinton.

#2 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On June 8, 2016 @ 10:57 am

All the progressives who are jumping on the Clinton bandwagon and saying that she apologized for Iraq, are completely ignoring other serious foreign policy blunders and missteps by Clinton, and are ignoring most importantly the fact the Clinton’s Iraq war “apology” comes with no explanation, no “lesson’s learned” and no break with the dreadful Washington foreign policy consensus, that is a bi-partisan problem that Clinton wouldn’t do jack to fix. If you disagree, you’re the biggest naïf ever. Period. I mean, if Clinton was really seriously thinking about the Iraq war in 2002, why didn’t she talk to Lincoln Chaffee when he was in the Senate, and gather some opinion from the anti-war side. Or was it that she was at that time plotting her way back to the White House and didn’t care? Attack Iran. Attack Syria. Arm the rebels; up the ante in the Ukraine. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

#3 Comment By Chris Chuba On June 8, 2016 @ 11:02 am

By insulting Trump’s ‘fascination with tyrants’ she reminded me of her provocative, and juvenile rhetoric against Putin. How is that dovish?

Putin was elected, as Secretary of State she should be able to differentiate that from say, the King of Saudi Arabia who she ingratiates herself to.

The speech reminds me of why I hate her so much.
1. The lies. Iran was NOT racing towards a nuclear weapon. They were making a lot of enriched uranium at fuel grade, well below weapons grade and a little bit at medical grade, still well below weapons grade. Why? This was an obvious act of defiance as a result of sanctions. If they were ‘racing to make a nuclear weapon’ they would have concentrated their efforts on making weapons grade plutonium.

2. The sanctions that she put in place didn’t ‘bring Iran to the table’. Iran was already at the table. They were always willing to negotiate provided they were allowed to enrich uranium. Our insistence on no enrichment is what kept us and them away from ‘the table’. We could have had a deal with their centrifuges frozen at 300 or at least at 3,000 centrifuges had we negotiated earlier. The current deal allows them to operate 5,000 centrifuges.

Really, I can’t stand her. She is a self-promoting, blowhard of the worst kind.

#4 Comment By Nothern Observer On June 8, 2016 @ 11:14 am

The Iraq War destroyed the Presidency of GW Bush and as we can now see the Republican Party itself. The fiasco unleashed waves of resentment and confusion across the right that are playing out to this day. What I don’t understand about Hillary is how can she not see this? How can she not see what a danger large scale military action poses to her Presidency and the health of her party? I pray that her hawkishness is nothing more than a rhetorical strategy aimed to please her doners and freeze her potential neocon critics. That when the briefing paper hits the desk, she doesn’t get excited at the prospect of using the 101 Airborne. I much prefer the cynical Hillary to a true believer Hillary.

#5 Comment By El Alcázar On June 8, 2016 @ 11:17 am

Clinton sees to be echoing LBJ’s strategy in 1964: Paint the opponent as too reckless to be trusted with the White House.


The sad part is that most people will probably fall for it. Clinton will probably win, and we’ll probably soon find ourselves suck in another Vietnam-like quagmire.

I sure hope Trump can pull off a surprise win. At least he would have a mandate to improve relations with Russia — unlike Hillary.

#6 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 8, 2016 @ 12:11 pm

Democrats and liberals never cease to amaze. They bemoan the refuge crisis in public, but promote the actual conditions that create them by supporting the Sec. Clinton’s of the world whose policies actually breed the issues they bemoan.

They don’t even have the courage to say enough is enough because it feeds their whine.

#7 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On June 8, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

Listen I have been saying this about Hillary Clinton for years now: Her apology about her 2002 vote for the Iraq War is utterly meaningless and devoid of content. It seems to me purely situational. It’s: “I’m sorry because it became a liability for me.” Normally, an apology comes with some recognition of wrongdoing, but I think for Clinton it was purely political. She learned absolutely nothing. You can see this now with how even on the campaign trail she is mystifyingly celebrating the Libyan War she was the ringleader (along with the other Valkyries, Power and Rice). She has pandered on everything else. She sounds tone deaf. But it is illuminating. No one who learned from Iraq would advocate destabilizing another Arab country. It’s very bad harbinger. If liberal Democrats are going to vote for Clinton … fine. But please don’t give me this rationalization that she learned from Iraq. She clearly hasn’t.

#8 Comment By jk On June 8, 2016 @ 2:26 pm

“I’m with her!” – Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz

#9 Comment By Donald On June 8, 2016 @ 5:19 pm

I’m a lefty, but largely agree with the criticisms of libertarian and elite. Admittedly I will vote for Ckinton in November on lesser evil grounds, but I will do so with a sense of nausea. Basically all the so called progressives who tout Clinton’s foreign policy record are really telling us that their criticisms of Bush in Iraq were mostly partisan hypocrisy. If they really meant them then Clinton would have stood no chance of getting the nomination.

I don’t understand the emotional commitment people have to the Clintons. I suppose it is a tribal thing– the Republicans hated them, sometimes for bogus reasons, so the Clinton’s must be liberal heroes.

#10 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On June 8, 2016 @ 6:02 pm

Outside of swing states you can vote 3d party without consequences. Good thing to build those parties up.

I would never vote Hillary under any conditions and I’d need anti-nausea medicine to vote for Trump.

#11 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 8, 2016 @ 6:16 pm

” will vote for Ckinton in November on lesser evil grounds, but I will do so with a sense of nausea.”

I appreciate this comment. I would only encourage you to take a goo look at Mr Trump’s website.

But even before that, what should send shivers down anyone is a look at the correspondence between the State Dept and the the Libyan Embassy. And what seals it is the utter contempt with which Sec Clinton that Sec Clinton had for the process. And if that isn’t enough, her using a video tape of a US christian organization for the cause of the violence when she knew full well, it was the direct result of her intervention.

That is not an example of political and managerial toughness. That is managerial mismanagement that cost lives.

The politics of personal destruction in all of its manifestations. A coincidence that that taped depositions are being released —

The mendacity of the establishment to ignore any boundary is no longer a shock. But it should explain why Mr. Trump plays the game as he has. His opponents are not angels – not even close. The attempt to assign my defense as some manner of moral failing from people whose morality is barely visible, is a nonstarter.

Akin to violating border laws and demanding to be treated as a citizen and willing to engage in every manner of filth to get one’s way. Nausea is mild to what one ought to be experiencing in the democratic party.

#12 Comment By Swap Meet On June 9, 2016 @ 1:00 pm

So Clinton, reckless starter of wars par excellence, accuses Trump of being a reckless war starter. I would add “Incredible.” if it weren’t so predictable.

She’s such a bore. It’s always about evasions, diversion, blame-shifting, smokescreens, and lying with her. Here she ellides her own recent and well-documented history and accuses Trump of planning to do what she herself has already done!