Sunday, September 13, 2015

Is Hillary Clinton Too Hawkish To Be The Democratic Party Nominee?


Does it comes as news to anyone that establishment Democrat Hillary Clinton is an unabashed hawk?

It shouldn't. She may be in the party that favors-- or at least pays lips service to-- peace, but she's really always been ready to prove how tough she is by sending American kids off to fight for corporate interests. It's fair to call her policies militaristic and aggressive and to point out that she hasn't learned a lesson after her defeat the last time she ran for president, when many Democrats refused to vote for her because of her support for George W. Bush's unprovoked attack on Iraq. She opted to get involved-- and in as big a way as she could persuade Obama to-- with the disastrous Libyan civil war, which has been catastrophic for that country and for the region, from Mali to Italy.

Glenn Greenwald, writing for The Intercept, pointed out that the neoliberal Brookings Institution was the perfect place for her to stake out her militaristic turf last week. "Brookings," he wrote, "served as Ground Zero for centrist think tank advocacy of the Iraq War, which Clinton (along with potential rival Joe Biden) notoriously and vehemently advocated. Brookings’ two leading 'scholar'-stars-- Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon-- spent all of 2002 and 2003 insisting that invading Iraq was wise and just, and spent the years after that assuring Americans that the 'victorious' war and subsequent occupation were going really well."

Since then, O’Hanlon in particular has advocated for increased military force in more countries than one can count. That’s not surprising: Brookings is funded in part by one of the Democratic Party’s favorite billionaires, Haim Saban, who is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel and once said of himself: "I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel." Pollack advocated for the attack on Iraq while he was "Director of Research of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy." Saban became the Democratic Party’s largest fundraiser-- even paying $7 million for the new DNC building-- and is now a very substantial funder of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In exchange, she’s written a personal letter to him publicly "expressing her strong and unequivocal support for Israel in the face of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement."

So the hawkish Brookings is the prism through which Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy worldview can be best understood. The think tank is filled with former advisers to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and would certainly provide numerous top-level foreign policy officials in any Hillary Clinton administration. As she put it today at the start: "There are a lot of long-time friends and colleagues who perch here at Brookings." And she proceeded to deliver exactly the speech one would expect, reminding everyone of just how militaristic and hawkish she is.
Her inability to just come out and admit she's as much a hawk as a garden-variety Republican is part of what makes her seem so inauthentic to so many Democratic voters. She is the most unlikable front-runner I have ever seen. Bernie is both authentic and straight-talking... and very likable. And not a warmonger.
Bernie Sanders took to the floor of the Senate on Wednesday to outline his support of the Obama administration's Iran nuclear deal, likening its critics to those who backed the Iraq War in 2002.

In doing so, Sanders drew a sharp contrast with Hillary Clinton, who earlier Wednesday made her own case for supporting the deal.

"Those who have spoken out against the Iran agreement, including many in this chamber, and those who have made every effort to thwart the diplomatic process, are many of the same people who spoke out forcefully and irresponsible about the need to go to war with Iraq, one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the modern history of our country," Sanders said.

Sanders did not mention his vote against the war in 2002, but he has frequently cited his early opposition to the bill that authorized military force, and, like other Democratic candidates, has used the issue to highlight differences between him and Clinton.

In the speech, Sanders characterized the GOP as war-mongering.

"I fear that many of my Republican colleagues don't fully understand that war must be a last resort not the first resort. It is easy to go to war. It is not so easy to fully comprehend the unintended consequences of that war," Sanders said. "Yes, the military option should always be on the table, but it should be the last option."

Sanders' remarks came hours after Clinton delivered a forceful yet cautious backing of the Iran nuclear deal in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, saying it helps protect Israel and pledging that, if elected, she would strengthen the security bond between the Jewish state and the U.S.

The Senate is currently debating a resolution to disapprove of the administration's agreement. Forty-two Democratic members of the Senate have come out in favor of the deal, giving President Barack Obama enough votes to prevent a likely GOP-led resolution disapproving of the deal.

"It is my firm belief that the test of a great nation with the most powerful military on earth is not how many wars it can engage in, but how it can use our strength and our capabilities to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way," Sanders said. "I believe it is incumbent upon us to give the negotiated agreement the chance to succeed."

Clinton's vote to authorize the war in Iraq has nagged her political career for years, most notably during her 2008 bid for president, when then-Sen. Barack Obama, who publicly opposed the war, cited Clinton's support to claim he was better suited to lead on foreign policy.

Clinton has since said her Iraq War vote was a "mistake."
Yes, but why does she now see it as a mistake? Because it proved to be powerfully unpopular enough to deny her the Democratic presidental nomination in 2008? She's already saber-rattling against Iran, a posture far more popular among GOP primary voters than among Democratic primary voters.
Addressing Iran directly today, Hillary Clinton said unequivocally that she “will not hesitate to take military action” as president if the country attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.

“The United States will never allow you to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Clinton said during remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C Wednesday morning, in a message aimed directly at Iran’s leaders. “As president I will take whatever actions are necessary to protect the U.S. and its allies. I will not hesitate to take military action.”

The democratic presidential candidate, who says she supports the Iran nuclear deal as “part of a larger strategy” for dealing with Iran, explained that military action would only be a last resort after trying diplomatic routes first.

“Because we’ve shown our commitment to diplomacy first, the world will likely join us,” she predicted.

...Clinton also sympathized with Israelis who she said have “every reason to be alarmed by a country that both denies its existence and seeks its destruction.”

“I would not support this agreement for one second if I thought it put Israel in greater danger,” she said, adding, “I say it with humility…I’m not Israeli.”

In addition, Clinton pledged to sell Israel sophisticated F-35 pilot aircrafts and to invite the Israeli Prime Minister to the White House during her first month as president.
James Bouie, writing for Slate, referred to Clinton as a wise hawk. The public, he asserts-- and he's armed with polls-- wants a more hawkish foreign policy than Obama's. And she's not as bad, never as bad, as Republicans. "[T]he public," he wrote, "wants a more active foreign policy. But it isn’t interested in reckless confrontation."
People remember the last war, and aren’t thrilled with the chance for another one. To that point, 59 percent of Americans still think the Iraq war was a mistake, and 55 percent oppose putting ground troops back in the country. What’s more, about half of Americans are wary of too much foreign involvement. Put differently, the public wants an alternative, and it isn’t the GOP. Which brings us back to Clinton. If Republicans represent the right wing of the mainstream debate on foreign policy, and if Obama represents the left, then Clinton is well-placed to stand in the center as a tough but diplomatic leader.

Clinton’s approach may be the right tack for a general election. Again, voters want change. But they support diplomacy and don’t want another war or occupation. Clinton offers a third way: Obama-style policies merged with hawkish rhetoric. It satisfies the public but keeps Clinton to the left of the Republican Party, and clears her path for attacks on GOP candidates. Which, incidentally, is what she did. “That’s not leadership, that’s recklessness,” said Clinton of Republican rhetoric. “It would set us right down the very dangerous path we’ve worked so hard to avoid. … Great powers can’t just jump agreements and expect the rest of the world to go along with us.”

Hillary has a new attack line, and she owes it all to her (and Obama’s) opponents in the GOP.
If you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils-- as I am and don't plan on ever doing again-- we're blessed to have a real alternative to that Beltway trope right now: Bernie Sanders, worth supporting based on his record and his platform.

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