Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy: What Would It Be?

Introduction

In a recent piece, I looked at what Trump has said (so far) on US foreign policy. It contained several attractive features. Perhaps most appealing was his policy position on nation building. He is against it. Following a discussion with Trump, Senator Jeff Sessions characterized Trump policies as follows:

“It’s realism, it’s caution, it’s being more cautious about how we deploy our men and women in harm’s way, not to be involved in excessive efforts to alter, create democracies in countries that are not ready for it.”

It seems he would stop US crusades to promote democracy worldwide. He would be closer to what China and Russia do – limit in-country involvement and deal only with leaders.

Trump has also suggested that:

  • The Cold War is over, time for a new relationship with Russia;
  • Other nations should pay for more for their national security;
  • The US should push for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians;

This all sounds good, but how sure can we be that he would stick to these policies if elected? As with other Trump policy positions, who knows?

In what follows, I speculate on what Clinton’s foreign policies might be. Would she continue Obama’s policies? If so, she would get flack from those who think Obama has made a mess of things in the Middle East. Some view her as more of a “hawk” then Obama.

Perhaps Robert Parry has presented the most realistic picture of what foreign policy under Clinton would be. Robert Parry is a veteran newspaper correspondent. He has been covering foreign affairs for a long time, going back to the Iran-Contra cover-up. In a piece just completed, he paints a chilling picture of what US foreign policy would be under Clinton.

Do you remember the “Neo-Cons”, the people that got us into the war in Iraq? Look out. They are apparently well-established in the State and Defense Departments. And Parry sees them playing a major role in a Clinton administration. Annotated excerpts from his piece follow.

Parry’s Overall Assessment

“The State Department now seems to be a combination of true-believing Neo-Cons along with their liberal-interventionist followers and some careerists who realize that the smart play is to behave toward the world as global proconsuls dictating solutions or seeking ‘regime change’ rather than as diplomats engaging foreigners respectfully and seeking genuine compromise.”

It Started With Reagan

“…the descent of the U.S. State Department into little more than well-dressed, well-spoken but thuggish enforcers of U.S. hegemony began with the Reagan administration. President Ronald Reagan and his team possessed a pathological hatred of Central American social movements seeking freedom from oppressive oligarchies and their brutal security forces.”

The New Players

“As the old-guard professionals left, a new breed of aggressive neoconservatives was brought in, the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, Robert McFarlane, Robert Kagan and Abrams. After eight years of Reagan and four years of George H.W. Bush, the State Department was reshaped into a home for Neo-Cons…. By then, what was left of the old Republican “realists,” the likes of Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, was aging out or had been so thoroughly compromised that the Neo-Cons faced no significant opposition within Republican circles. And, Official Washington’s foreign-policy Democrats had become almost indistinguishable from the Neo-Cons, except for their use of “humanitarian” arguments to justify aggressive wars.

Media Failures

“Before George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, much of the “liberal” media establishment – from The New York Times to The New Yorker – fell in line behind the war, asking few tough questions and presenting almost no obstacles. Favoring war had become the “safe” career play.”

Obama’s Appointments

When enough time has passed to view the Obama presidency, I believe his selections for senior finance and foreign policy/defense posts will go down as major failures. Instead of taking the time to find people who shared his views, he went with establishment people. Here is what Parry says:

“Instead of cleaning house at State and at the Pentagon, he listened to some advisers…and kept in place Bush’s military leadership, including Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, and reached out to hawkish Sen. Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State…. Obama not only didn’t take control of the foreign-policy apparatus, he strengthened the power of the Neo-Cons and liberal hawks. He then let this powerful bloc of Clinton-Gates-Petraeus steer him into a foolhardy counterinsurgency ‘surge’ in Afghanistan that did little more than get 1,000 more U.S. soldiers killed along with many more Afghans.”

“Obama also let Clinton sabotage his attempted outreach to Iran in 2010 seeking constraints on its nuclear program and he succumbed to her pressure in 2011 to invade Libya under the false pretense of establishing a “no-fly zone” to protect civilians, what became a “regime change” disaster that Obama has ranked as his biggest foreign policy mistake….Under Secretary Clinton, the Neo-Con/liberal-hawk bloc consolidated its control of the State Department diplomatic corps. Under Neo-Con domination, the State Department moved from one ‘group think’ to the next. Having learned nothing from the Iraq War, the conformity continued to apply toward Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Russia, China, Venezuela, etc.”

For someone such as myself who spent most of the ‘seventies and early ‘eighties working in the Cold War (USAID) all over the world, Parry’s points ring true

The Ukraine

I believe Parry also has the correct read on the US involvement in the Ukraine:

“The new State Department star – expected to receive a high-level appointment from President Clinton-45 – is Neo-Con Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who orchestrated the 2014 putsch in Ukraine, toppling an elected, Russia-friendly president and replacing him with a hard-line Ukrainian nationalist regime that then launched violent military attacks against ethnic Russians in the east who resisted the coup leadership. When Russia came to the assistance of these embattled Ukrainian citizens, including agreeing to Crimea’s request to rejoin Russia, the State Department and U.S. mass media spoke as one in decrying a ‘Russian invasion’ and supporting NATO military maneuvers on Russia’s borders to deter ‘Russian aggression.’”

The US-led Ukrainian initiative has never made sense to me. Ukraine is a corrupt minor country in Russia’s sphere of influence. The US involvement there is as threatening to Russia as its involvement in Cuba was to the US.

Looking Ahead

A current manifestation of the Neo-Cons power is the “dissent” memo more than 50 U.S. State Department “diplomats” just sent to Obama urging him to launch military strikes against the Syrian army. Who knows what would result? A direct confrontation with Russia? A weakening of the Syrian army to the point that ISIS seizes Syria. It is nuts.

I finish with Parry’s view on what will happen if Clinton is elected:

“Anyone who dares question this latest “group think” – as it plunges the world into a dangerous new Cold War – is dismissed as a “Kremlin apologist” or “Moscow stooge” just as skeptics about the Iraq War were derided as “Saddam apologists.” Virtually everyone important in Official Washington marches in lock step toward war and more war. (Victoria Nuland is married to Robert Kagan, making them one of Washington’s supreme power couples.) …the Neo-Cons and liberal hawks who control the State Department – are eagerly looking forward to a Hillary Clinton presidency – will never stop coming up with these crazy notions until a concerted effort is made to assess accountability for all the failures that that they have inflicted on U.S. foreign policy.”

Conclusions

Parry’s realistic portrayal of foreign policy under Clinton is scary: more wars as if nothing has been learned. Trump’s foreign policy statements sound a lot better. How great it would be if the US could turn a page in recognition of the fact that the Cold War has ended. However, how certain can we be that Trump will stick to what he has said? Apparently, the Neo-Cons can be quite convincing.

The content above was saved on the old Morss Global Finance website, just in case anyone was looking for it (with the help of archive.org):
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