Hillary the Hawk

Much ink has been spilled regarding Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote supporting the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. Many news outlets mention it merely as an aside, as if only to pay lip service to the serious questions such a stance raises. To be fair, Mrs. Clinton herself admits her mistake: in her 2014 memoir Hard Choices, the former Secretary of State and current Presidential frontrunner writes “I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”

Such a candid admission of one’s mistakes is certainly refreshing. But unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, words are worse than worthless during election season. When every one of a candidate’s lines is being scrubbed clean by her campaign staff, the only accurate barometer of a candidate’s stance is her past record. And in Mrs. Clinton’s case, a glance at her record reveals a galling disconnect between her actions as Secretary of State and the anti-war attitudes to which she pays deference in hindsight.

In a May 2014 article, part of a series analyzing the foreign policy stances of likely 2016 presidential contenders, Bob and Barbara Dreyfuss of The Nation describe Mrs. Clinton — in terms of her foreign policy — as a “right-wing realist” who was among those in the Obama administration most keen on employing American military might. The authors extensively cite the memoirs of Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense under the Bush and Obama administrations. Gates writes that “on the crucial decision to escalate the Afghan war in 2009 and then to slow the drawdown in 2010, he and Clinton were on the same side.” The article goes on to detail Mrs. Clinton’s role in (successfully) persuading President Obama to order airstrikes in Libya and (unsuccessfully) arguing for the use of military force in Syria.

Hillary Clinton’s credentials as a war hawk were clearly established during her four-year tenure as Secretary of State. Nonetheless, it is expected that a great deal of President Obama’s supporters — who were urged time and again during Mr. Obama’s presidency that America’s best option was to tread lightly — will line up behind Mrs. Clinton. In today’s America, where voters are motivated more by partisan loyalty than by substantive values, liberals will gladly forgive the mistakes of their candidate as they have done so often in the past. Look no further than President Obama’s reversal on Senator Obama’s 2006 call for “a way forward to make sure that we can stop terrorists while protecting the privacy, and liberty, of innocent Americans.” With a Republican in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama was opposed to the expansion of the surveillance state; upon assuming the Presidency himself, he promptly shifted his stance.

This is the reality of a bipartisan political system such as ours, plagued by entrenched interests. Voters have divided themselves into one of two camps whose policies — particularly regarding foreign affairs, but also on subjects such as the national security state and economic globalization – have taken on a startling resemblance in recent years. We may have two parties, but they think with one mind on a whole host of vital issues. The limp American left’s inevitable embrace of Hillary Clinton’s right-wing realism reflects the current state of American politics. When advocated by both sides of the political aisle, the American military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan may become a model for the years to come.

Raghav Sharma
Raghav Sharma is a writer, filmmaker, and political activist studying at the University of Pittsburgh. He writes on electoral and campaign finance issues, foreign policy, and economic affairs.

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  • Sharon4562

    [>#

  • barada

    Fuck, Yeah! Amen to that.

  • lynchie

    Well we don’t do much producing in this country anymore. Better to have some brown people do that for 25 cents an hour. We are all about consumerism.

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  • Progressives can’t trust Hillary Clinton: What’s behind her bizarre alliance with the Christian right http://www.salon.com/2015/04/25/progressives_cant_trust_hillary_clinton_on_cultural_and_economic_issues_the_problems_are_stark_and_decades_long/

  • Eric

    “Much ink has been spilled regarding Hillary Clinton’s 2002 vote supporting the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq.”

    Hillary Clinton voted for the 2002 AUMF because President Bush’s case against Saddam was really her husband’s case against Saddam, President Bush’s enforcement procedure for the Gulf War ceasefire mandates carried forward her husband’s enforcement procedure for the Gulf War ceasefire mandates, and as was the case for her husband’s administration, Saddam was guilty across the board of breaching the Gulf War ceasefire.

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  • Bill_Perdue
  • Bill_Perdue

    Gore lost because of Clintons NAFTA, Clintons deregulation, because Clinton gutted welfare and because of Clinton’s massive and total betrayal of the LGBT community.

    People stayed home – good for them – because they couldn’t see any real differences between the parties. That will be a big factor in 2016, building on the anger people demonstrate in 2010 and 2014 when tens of millions abandoned the Democrats.

  • dave3137

    We know about Mrs. Clinton. I’m glad you wrote this, but the choices will be???? Right now we have the President accusing everyone else of being “wrong” about a secretly negotiated trade deal that he refuses to release the text of. So we have to take his word for it? Who was at the negotiating table? Not “we the people” by any means. Has Mrs. Clinton chimed i? Of course not.

  • Bill_Perdue

    LBJ was a bad guy – Vietnam, the state sponsored murder of African American militants, etc and he (and Nixon) created the antiwar movement that had the power, along with Vietnamese intransigence and the autonomous GI antiwar movement to compel US withdrawal from Vietnam.

    Carter was a bad guy who exported or destroyed hundreds of thousands of union jobs. Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton and Obama continued Carters union busting program which redirected so much income upwards that it helped ruin the economy and produce mass pauperization.

    These right wing policies of union busting and are all bipartisan.

  • My right wing idiot relatives will find some way to blame the Democrats when their disability or medicaid is cut off. They will not blame a Republican no matter what.

  • No he doesn’t. He fucked us over and we’re all still paying for it.

  • just_AC

    Allan Grayson for President

  • mirth

    I can. But, realistically, I could be wrong in thinking those now in control of the mic are a population minority. It could be that our trashy, ignorant, hateful, slothful, deviant, culture is more pervasive than I (semi-)believe it to be. I do firmly believe, though, that with someone like Walker or Cruz or any one of the others at the helm, even as a figurehead, eventually change gonna come. At the least, upheaval may cause actual and worthy leaders to step forward. And maybe we’ll have some better music.

  • Indigo

    I can’t visualize an upheaval that would stir the lethargic public into doing anything.

  • mirth

    Well, they will have plenty of examples before them of murder and on-going wars that cannot be won and in destroying their own country.

  • mirth

    I suppose that with the same people working the puppet strings, the same-old same-old continues regardless who is prez. Still, I would relish the likely upheaval in public discourse, with the hope of stirring that lethargic public into democratic action. That’s my hope for change.

  • mirth

    It isn’t so much what we deserve as what we might need.

  • mirth

    For me, respect does not die even when the object of it becomes unfashionable. I was at Camp Casey 1 & 2 and it was a profound experience.

  • Silver_Witch

    I often think that America deserves just that – a Cruz that will finally show the Republicans how truly horrible those they support are. On other days I think I could not bear to live in such a world.

  • mirth

    Throwing away my vote? I’ve said many times that is exactly what I’m not going to do.

  • emjayay

    I think if you look at history giving the bad guys a turn at the wheel doesn’t really do what some think it will do. Unless maybe they kill murder of their own people and wage wars in every direction that they cannot win and instead end up destroying their own country.

  • emjayay

    My comment was intended as a historical reference only, since we can all see how things actually turned out.

  • Indigo

    I don’t usually think in semi-apocalyptic terms, I see it all as just drooling along until some event forces the system out of senescence. There is neither salvation nor doom ahead, just same-old same-old until . . . maybe what we need is something juicy like another War to End All Wars. Then again, maybe that’s what’s been going on since 9/11/2001. We just don’t know it yet.

  • Indigo

    That’s an interesting choice.

  • mirth

    Nader is 81 years old. He deserves some peace and quiet and rest in his final years.

    If I make it into a voting booth, I’m writing in Cindy Sheehan. She’s only 57.

  • mirth

    Well, for sure voting for more of the same won’t bring change. The only hope I see is a Prez Walker or Cruz or any other one of that foul bunch. Maybe that will rouse us, but to salvation or doom is anyone’s guess.

  • mirth

    She is and she isn’t. Hillary 101.

  • emjayay

    That’s why for example having George W Bush for president was exactly like what having Al Gore for president with a Democratic congress would have been. Vote for Nader, the ideologically pure non-corporate choice for America.

  • Indigo

    It’s endlessly fascinating to me how many folks, commentators included, miss that fundamental point. Good, bad, or indifferent, that’s the way it is in these here parts. I don’t see any change on the horizon.

  • Indigo

    That’s a fair description of exactly who we are as a society/people, sweeping aside all ideological commitments except that economic albatross we continue to haul around.

  • Indigo

    ‘Twas ever thus:
    “After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. I am strongly of the opinion that the great majority of people will always find these the moving impulses of our life.”
    Calvin Coolidge, January 17, 1925.

  • Bill_Perdue

    A couple of definitions are in order.

    First, Democrats are not part of the left and never have been. They’ve always been pro-capitalist, pro-business and pro-bankster. The political program of the rich consists of driving down the wages of workers, busting unions, engaging in wars of aggression and gutting the Bill of Rights and that’s exactly what Democrats do. So do Republicans.

    Every President in both parties and virtually every member of Congress and every Supreme Court Justice for over a century has been a servant of the banksters, enacting policies that make the rich richer and secure in their wealth. The number of rich politicians is rapidly increasing, especially since the onset of the Long Depression. (1) “Congress worth $4.3B, individual median net worth $1M” (2)

    Here’s another definition. Both major parties are rightist parties, not centrist parties. The Republican Party is just your everyday collection of rich reactionaries – it’s not a fascist party. The Democrats are not centrists, much less leftist and if you look at their record in terms of the policies they pursue, they’re just as right wing as their Republicans cousins.

    The differences between the two parties are not political, they’re cosmetic. Both engage in wars of aggression, both bust unions and have since the Carter regime, both favor ‘Free Trade’ Agreements that give carte blacnhe for corporations and banksters to loot the wealth produced by working people. Both favor reinforcing the police state that been in existence since the Truman regimes loyalty oaths.

    The main differences between the two are tied to their partisan fights to control elections, legislatures and executive offices and the graft that comes from that control.

    The problem of right wing candidates is not limited to Hillary Clinton, it involves every candidate for President, every member of Congress, including Warren and Sanders, and every Supreme. No matter which of them gets elected or appointed we’ll have the same unacceptable and intractable problems.

    The only real strategy to defeat their warmongering, union busting and their police state is to build massive and militant movements like the burgeoning fight for a $15 dollar minimum wage and 40 hour work weeks with full benefits, to build the growing union left and to integrate all that work by building the socialist movement.

    The investment of any time or energy in ‘reforming’ the Democrat or Republican parties is a total waste of time.

    (1) CNN “Congress is getting richer” http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/12/news/economy/congress-wealth/
    (2) http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2015/01/13/Congress-worth-43B-individual-median-net-worth-1M/7501421167230/

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