Clinton’s Foreign Policy Is the Opposite of Triangulation
Matt Lewis is unduly impressed by Hillary Clinton’s predictable hawkishness:
It’s called triangulation. It’s a method perfected by Bill Clinton and Dick Morris. And it’s brilliant.
There are many things one could call Clinton’s recent foreign policy remarks in this Goldberg interview, but politically savvy or brilliant is *not* one of them. The foreign policy she outlined in the interview is one that would replicate all of Obama’s major errors (e.g., intervention in Libya, arming foreign rebels, etc.) while expanding on and adding to them. She is clearly currying favor with foreign policy analysts and pundits that already think Obama has been too passive on Syria, Ukraine, etc., and she is doing that by reciting many of their unpersuasive arguments.
Clinton has “brilliantly” identified herself as the hawk that she has always been, which puts her sharply at odds with most people in her own party and most Americans of all political affiliations. That’s not triangulation at all. The old Clintonian triangulation was driven by an obsessive focus on public opinion and on finding mostly minor issues that obtained support from a large majority. The purpose of it was to co-opt popular issues and deprive the opposition of effective lines of attack. The goal was not to poke the majority of Americans in the eye on major issues and tell them that they’re wrong. Clinton’s foreign policy posturing politically tone-deaf and focused entirely on what will please people in Washington and a few other capitals around the world. It is evidence that Clinton thinks she can get away with campaigning on a more activist foreign policy on the assumption that no one is going to vote against her for that reason. She may be right about that, or she may end up being surprised–again–to find that her horrible foreign policy record is still a serious political liability.
Now it’s true that the vast majority doesn’t vote on foreign policy, and most Americans normally pay little or no attention to it, but one thing that does seem to get their attention is when they are being presented with the prospect of new and costly conflicts. If Obama is faulted in Washington for being too cautious, Clinton is making clear that she will err on the side of being too activist and aggressive, and she gives us every reason to expect that she will err quite often on that side. That isn’t going to gain Clinton any votes, and it could easily lose her quite a few. Her twin hopes at this point have to be that she won’t face a significant challenge from the left on these and other issues and that the next Republican nominee will be even more irresponsibly hawkish than she is. That’s not brilliant. It’s called wishful thinking.