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Clinton’s Consistently Bad Foreign Policy Judgment

The New York Times digs [1] 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.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Clinton’s Consistently Bad Foreign Policy Judgment"

#1 Comment By WB On April 21, 2016 @ 2:29 pm

No surprise that NYT waited until the day AFTER the NY primary to post a mildly critical piece on Hillary.

#2 Comment By Kurt Gayle On April 21, 2016 @ 3:13 pm

I’d like to make a couple of points:

First: Mark Landler is a Hillary Clinton insider and apologist. He was given extensive, prolonged inside access to both Clinton and Obama for his recently-released book “Alter Egos: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the twilight struggle over American Power.” The book puffs Clinton and takes no serious issue with her misjudgments or shortcomings as Secretary of State. In return for being granted special, inside access to Clinton, Landler has for years repeatedly taken a soft line in his reporting on Clinton.

Back in early 2013 Media Research Center posted articles critical of New York Times reporter Landler’s soft reporting of Hillary Clinton’s exit as Secretary of State:

“NYTimes Skips Benghazi to Laud Hillary Clinton’s ‘Legacy’ and Frequent Flier Miles While Secretary of State”


“New York Times Says ‘Role Model’ Hillary Clinton Just Works Too Darn Hard: ‘Herculean Work Habits’”


Second: Landler and the New York Times both actively promote Hillary Clinton for President. The current New York Times Magazine article by Landler “How Hillary Became a Hawk” is more than anything an effort to aid the Clinton campaign in “positioning” her in terms of foreign policy for the November election. The Clinton campaign believes – a belief shared by the New York Times and Landler – that as a Democrat and a woman Clinton needs to project the foreign policy stance that she has cultivated since the end of her husband’s presidency.

I’m not suggesting that what Landler, a veteran correspondent, writes about Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy views are necessarily inaccurate – just that they (like the current Landler article) are “selective” and are “staged” to build a Hillary Clinton stance and resume that will help her in her run for President.

The New York Time and Mark Landler are de facto Hillary Clinton campaign operatives.

#3 Comment By Dread On April 21, 2016 @ 3:29 pm

Is she that much different from anyone else in Washington in this regard?

Outside of the Pauls, I’m having difficulty thinking of anyone who isn’t hawkish and doesn’t ascribe to the viewpoint that America should be the world policeman.

I’m not happy with her, but she still appears to me to be the least bad of the plausible candidates.

#4 Comment By Chris Chuba On April 21, 2016 @ 4:40 pm

Dread, “Is she that much different from anyone else in Washington in this regard?”

Actually Dread, she is the equivalent of a foreign, policy establishment, Neocon, interventionist Golem.

She never shows restraint and when the mud hits the fan she is already trained on how to deflect the next catastrophe.
1. ‘The alternative would have been worse’.
2. ‘Our brilliant intervention was undermined by these bad actors [fill in the blank] and we are now imposing sanctions on them’.

Hillary has an atrocious record on foreign policy, Iraq, Libya, Syria, she even messed with elections in Haiti and got involved in the coup in Honduras. She is now dying to smite the Russians, with her ‘Christmas in the Kremlin’ comment and comparing Putin to Hitler. I can’t see how you can call her the least bad.

#5 Comment By Hopeless On April 21, 2016 @ 4:44 pm

She’s the Establishment candidate par excellence. Sanders voters and Trump voters may disagree about a lot, but they absolutely agree that the Establishment has wrecked the country.

I’d be almost as surprised to see Sanders voters end up voting for Hillary as I would be if GOP voters did. The prospect of 8 more years of Hillary Clinton spreading wars, ratcheting economic inequality, Wall Street and globalist corporations running roughshod over the rest of us, and millions of immigrants brought in to compete with our own citizens for jobs and resources is almost too much to bear. For anyone.

#6 Comment By bt On April 21, 2016 @ 7:11 pm

Name any pending candidate who’s not all tough and for military intervention all the time.

But I’m sorry to say, no matter how bad Hillary might be, you can count on the Republicans to be worse. It’s a part of the brand at this point for Republicans to always favor more military action than the weak, limp-wrist Democrat party, no matter what is under discussion.

If the Democrat proposes bombing 2 countries, the Republican will say how we should be bombing 3 or 4 countries. It is pathological.

#7 Comment By War Donkeys On April 22, 2016 @ 12:12 am

“It’s a part of the brand at this point for Republicans to always favor more military action than the weak, limp-wrist Democrat party, no matter what is under discussion. “

I don’t know about that. I grant that the Republicans generally talk a bloodthirstier game, but the Democrats have a positive genius for taking bad Republican ideas and exacerbating or even replicating them. I need not mention Vietnam, I hope. And then there’s Obama and Clinton spreading Bush’s Iraq chaos and failure to Libya, Yemen, and Syria (I pass over their bloody “Arab Spring” failures elsewhere), and of course O has reneged on his solemn vow to get us out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

#8 Comment By Hankest On April 22, 2016 @ 9:11 am

“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.”

True, but perhaps more telling – one would be hard-pressed to find an instance when Clinton supported diplomacy over military action. Which is especially disturbing as she was America’s chief diplomat at the time.

#9 Comment By Fred Bowman On April 22, 2016 @ 11:10 am

No doubt, Hillary will be the next Bush in the White House. Pretty much all the neo-con advisors that advised Dubya, are already starting to climb aboard the “Hillary Express”.

#10 Comment By bt On April 22, 2016 @ 4:22 pm

War Donkeys,

I sort of agree with you.

But while we were wrecking Syria and Libya, I seem to recall hearing lots and lots of calls for us to also attack Iran and ‘confront’ the Russians in Crimea, and that President Obama is weak, weak, weak. That Obama hates the military and has made it weak too.

And I recall hearing from one Ted Cruz that we need to make the sand glow. And let’s get back to water-boarding and torture, let’s not be sissies about this. Dick Cheney, just Dick Cheney.

You see my point don’t you? It’s pathological.

#11 Comment By Hersh On April 25, 2016 @ 6:03 pm

I don’t know about Cruz but Trump is different and the neocons know it. Know him by his enemies, the neocons.