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Hillary the hawk: Clinton’s vast international experience has taught her some wrong lessons

REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Hillary Clinton speaking at a campaign event at Rutgers University's Newark campus in Newark, N.J., on Wednesday.

I have one big problem with the idea of Hillary Clinton as president and commander-in-chief.

She’s a hawk. She believes in the — to me — ridiculously self-serving and self-blinding notion of American exceptionalism. In domestic and historical terms that phrase means something else, but in foreign policy terms it means that the United States is justified in going to war, against nations that have not attacked us, and that the rest of the world should accept our doing so because we are an exception to the rules that otherwise govern international relations.

Today, according to this Washington Post piece, she will give a speech in California arguing that Donald Trump is unfit to be commander-in-chief. And unnamed aide told the Post of the speech: “Clinton will rebuke the fear, bigotry and misplaced defeatism that Trump has been selling to the American people. She will make the affirmative case for the exceptional role America has played and must continue to play in order to keep our country safe and our economy growing.”

We don’t want to get too involved in word choices from an unnamed spokester, although I question whether Trump can be accurately described as a defeatist. He seems to want to pick a fight with anyone who won’t give him what he wants at the price he wants it at. Clinton herself has called him an “unqualified loose cannon,” a far more defensible line of attack. My problems with Clinton’s hawkishness have nothing to do with a belief that Trump would be a better choice.

Clinton has far more traditional qualifications, having served as a senator and secretary of state (and first lady, too, although that is not a traditional qualification). I’m sure she can mop up the floor with Trump on the history of the U.S. role in the world, the current alliance structures, the names of the leaders of our allies and adversaries and the background of the various crises. But Clinton’s experiences in these roles seem to have taught her some wrong lessons, at least according to someone like me who believes that the United States has gotten itself into far more wars than it needed to, many of which have done great harm to ourselves and millions of innocent victims of our “exceptionalism.”

Iraq War vote

She voted to authorize the Iraq War. That was a disastrous misadventure. (First, for Iraqis who have lived in a hell of permanent war now for 13 years, and yes, I know, Saddam Hussein was a despicable murderous tyrant; second, for the entire region around Iraq; and third, for the United States, which continues to spend blood and treasure with no end in sight.) It took Clinton until 2015 — a date suspiciously close to her current candidacy — to label the vote a “mistake.” She previously used other murkier words to express regret, mostly blaming President George W. Bush for starting the war she voted to authorize him to start. (It was called “Authorization for the Use of Military Force.”)

Her Senate floor speech announcing and explaining her vote (video of it here), was a disaster of murkiness. She spoke against a unilateral U.S. action without U.N. authorization but voted for exactly that. She expressed hope that such a Senate action might make it more likely that the U.N. would authorize the action, which she hoped would force Saddam to allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq. But her “aye” vote on the resolution authorizing force did not attach any strings, and Bush started the war even though the U.N. had not authorized it and even though Saddam had allowed the inspectors back in and was giving them full cooperation and they could not find any weapons of mass destruction. When Bush warned the inspectors to leave Iraq because the U.S. bombing was about to begin, Clinton did not object then or for many months afterward.

It’s possible that when Clinton’s vote on the Iraq resolution comes up, you think to yourself: Well, everyone voted for it. But that’s a major exaggeration. This was no Gulf of Tonkin Resolution situation. The Tonkin resolution, which authorized the use of force in Vietnam, passed the House unanimously by 416-0. It passed the Senate by 88-2. In contrast, the Iraq War Resolution drew opposition from a majority of Democrats in the House who voted no by 126-82. In the Senate, all Republicans but one — Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island — voted to authorize the use of force. But the vote among Democrats was close, with  29 voting aye and 21 voting no. Both Minnesotans — Paul Wellstone and Mark Dayton — voted no. When I look at the list of those who voted aye, I always notice that almost every Democrat who harbored presidential ambitions — including Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards and Joe Biden — voted aye.

As I mentioned above, Clinton waited a decade before saying that her vote had been a mistake. In the meantime, she had been defeated for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 by Barack Obama, who had publicly opposed the war in Iraq before it started. (Trump, by the way, claims to have opposed it, but that is untrue.)

Secretary of state

Obama made Clinton his first-term secretary of state. He also developed a doctrine on the use of U.S. military power that he summarizes as: “Don’t do stupid stuff.” (There’s an uncensored version in which a different s-word replaces “stuff.”) Obama is not a pacifist (nor am I) but I have taken his slogan to mean that the United States should be reluctant and cautious about letting loose the dogs of war.

When asked about that recently, Clinton replied: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

As secretary of state, Clinton continued to advocate for hawkish positions, even in situations where she differed from Obama. New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler recently published a book-length review of the Obama-Clinton partnership during those years, titled “Alter Egos,” in which he makes clear that Clinton was the hawk of the two and even that her first reactions to world events were guided by what he called her “inner hawk,” compared to Obama whose reaction is generally to view military action as something closer to a last resort.

This makes me very nervous. Not so nervous that it makes Trump an acceptable alternative. But I believe that especially in the current era of no-compromise across party lines, where presidents have difficulty taking action that requires legislation, it’s more important than ever to try to understand what a potential president would do with his or her commander-in-chief powers.

I’ll be interested to see what Clinton does with her speech differentiating her view of those powers with Trump’s.

Comments (47)

  1. Submitted by Jim Million on 06/02/2016 - 09:11 am.


    One might better consider the HRC saga to be lessons not learned. Why would that be?

  2. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 06/02/2016 - 09:48 am.

    To Sum It Up

    We’ve used our military in a very unwise manner on numerous occasions in recent decades, and HRC wants to double down on the losing bets we’ve made. Since WWII, we’ve had a permanent war time economy. But for much of that time we didn’t actually use most of the weapons we bought and paid for (still paying for when you consider the debt we incurred buy the stuff). Lately, we find ourselves constantly in actual shooting wars.

    Memorial Day has just passed us again. If you want to honor a vet who gave his or her life, stop voting for politicians who start wars. Like HRC.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/02/2016 - 09:55 am.

    You don’t know the half of it

    What about Libya? – She personally pushed for the ousting of Muammar Gadhafi, which led to the debacle in Benghazi, a sequence of events she’s been running from and lying about ever since. All because a Sydney Blumenthal email convinced her of the importance of pressing for a “final win” by ousting Gadhafi in order to boost U.S. President Barack Obama’s then low approval ratings.

    The very experienced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed President Obama to begin bombing Libya five years ago. Today, Libya is a failed state and a haven for terrorists.

    What about Syria? – It was Clinton who pushed for the overthrow of Assad. The U.S. (Clinton) policy has been a massive failure. Assad did not go, and was not defeated. Russia came to his support. Iran came to his support. The mercenaries sent in to overthrow him were themselves radical jihadists with their own agendas. The chaos opened the way for the Islamic State, building on disaffected Iraqi Army. And the ambassador and alleged personal friend, Chris Stevens in Benghazi was killed as he was running a CIA operation to ship Libyan heavy weapons to Syria. Today, Syria is a failed state and a haven for terrorists.

    What about Iran? – Thanks to her negotiations with Iran, they now have official permission and the funds to build and deploy the nuclear weapons they’ve always wanted to destroy Israel.

    What about North Korea? – Thanks to her negotiations with North Korea, they now are testing submarine-launched nuclear missles that they claim are intended for us.

    And what about Russia? – This is perhaps the most troubling of all because it involves corruption at the highest levels. The Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, has taken over a Canadian company, Uranium One, with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. Rosatom is now one of the world’s largest uranium producers and it brought Vladimir Putin closer to controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

    As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

    And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

    If your opinion is based on her Iraq war vote, you don’t know the half of it.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/02/2016 - 10:31 am.


      John Kerry would be very surprised to hear that Clinton negotiated the Iran deal. Clinton is ripe for criticism, but it has to be based on facts, not imagination.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 06/02/2016 - 10:34 am.

      Dennis, your complaint would ring more true…

      …if you also listed the Iraq war. I think a reasonable position is that both sides of the aisle are too hawkish, democrats generally less so. By not listing Iraq, most likely because it was a “republican decision”, you bring the rest of your argument into question for bias.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 06/02/2016 - 11:01 am.

      Decisions are never in a vacuum of other options.

      If the other option is to abandon our historic alliances and complete the bromance with Putin and Kim Jung (you should know they have both endorsed Trump as their preferred candidate) , meanwhile igniting a trade war with all others, who knows what the future holds in store.

      With a man famous for “the art of the deal” who is seemingly unaware of current events, history and law, why shouldn’t everything be on the table ?

      I wonder on what basis you think Trump will confront Putin when Trump has had nothing but praise for Putin and his “strength” and power.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/02/2016 - 02:26 pm.

      Historical rewrite correction

      “The chaos [in Syria] opened the way for the Islamic State, building on disaffected Iraqi Army.”

      The basics of that are correct but your location and culprit is incorrect and your time frame is off by 10 or so years.

      The chaos that led to the creation of the Islamic State was created by a guy named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the witless cooperation of Dick Cheney who, thanks to the CIA, knew all about Zarqawi: who he was, where he was, how dangerous he was and why, the CIA said, he should be “taken out” immediately.

      But, as with Tora Bora in 2001, Dick and the other military geniuses at the White House said, “No,” because they didn’t want to start the “war” in Iraq before they’d had the time and “proof” they needed to sell the invasion to the American public. So they told the CIA to leave him be and go to work finding the link between Zarqawi (the “terrorist’s representative”) and Saddam Hussein instead which, the CIA told them, was not possible because that wasn’t the way it was, but who cared? The White House had a war to sell!

      Zarqawi was some kind of evil genius (who got his jihad start in the 1990s and) envisioned the creation of the Islamic state (with himself as its ruler, of course) and developed a detailed plan of how to create it BEFORE the U.S. invaded Iraq.

      He wrote to Osama bin Laden asking for an interview so he could talk to him about it, bin Laden told him to stop on by, which he did, but bin Laden thought he was nuts so said, “Thanks but no thanks” and told him to go away.

      So he went to Iraq, settled into some obscure town with his buddies (the town the CIA knew he was in when they talked to Dick about “neutralizing” him) and waited for the U.S. to invade (which he was sure would happen because he watched TV).

      He figured that after the U.S. did that he and his pals could go to work lighting the fuse (roadside bombs for the Americans, lots of grisly murders and car bombs for the Shiites) that would drive the Shiites wild enough to:

      A) Convince them it was the Sunnis that were killing them; which would

      B) “Inspire” the Shiites to take big time revenge on the Sunnis; which would

      C) Leave the Sunnis with no other option but to seek the help and protection of Zarqawi and company which they were more than happy to provide as long as the Sunnis agreed to;

      D) Help them create the Islamic State; and

      E) Whalla! Full blown Iraqi civil war with the U.S. military hung up smack dab in the middle of it.

      In other words, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s plan — the one bin Laden had rejected — worked like a premeditated charm to the extent that bin Laden reconsidered his earlier decision and not only offered Zarqawi a job, but made him the “Head of al-Qaeda in Iraq,” a position he held (even though bin Laden fired him for killing too many Muslims) until the U.S. tracked him down again (three years after Dick told the CIA to leave him alone) and sent him a smart bomb in 2006.

      I don’t know about the rest of your facts, but when it comes to giving credit where credit is due, if he was still alive I’m pretty sure Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would not be happy with you for giving Hillary Clinton the credit for creating the Islamic State.

  4. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 06/02/2016 - 10:08 am.

    Hillary: a true believer in destructive foreign adventures

    Her willful blindness on her disastrous advocacy for regime change in Libya is best expressed by her own words:

    “…they’ve got to get over their internal disputes. And the United States, Europe, and others are helping them to try to do that…” and

    “…we didn’t lose a single person…” in Libya.

    Her spokespeople have added that she doesn’t see her Libya policy as a failure at all, but as a “work in progress”.

    When her advocates point to her “experience” as a qualification for the Presidency, I’m pretty sure they don’t want us to think of her vote on the Iraq war, her ruinous policy on Libya, or her desire to install a no-fly zone in Syria. But this kind of “experience” can be viewed as disqualifying just as well.

    Her foreign policy “experience” is why some of us fear a Clinton Presidency.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/02/2016 - 05:35 pm.


      I see Sanders critIcizing Clinton today on supporting regime change in Libya, ignoring the fact that he also supported that policy.

      At this point Sanders chronic dishonesty and hypocrisy is pretty clear. Clinton has her flaws, but when the option is a candidate so utterly free of integrity as Sanders, its an easy choice.

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 06/03/2016 - 07:45 am.

        Clinton’s gross deception is all too familiar.

        Here’s what the article ACTUALLY says:

        “Sanders supported a non-binding Senate resolution that called on Gaddafi to resign his post in a peaceful, democratic transition of power.”

        In fact, it’s literal text asked Gaddafi to “resign” – Sanders made it explicit that he was not proposing any violent overthrow, citing the fact we had 2 wars going already, and didn’t need a 3rd.

        To equate THIS with the violent policies Clinton has espoused, causing myriad deaths while destabilizing civil societies and costing our country trillions – as in her Libya policy – shows her contempt for her audience and her confidence in its ignorance.

        Her approach and Sanders’ could hardly be more different, yet she seeks to drag him down to her level, as you have here. It is pitiful.

  5. Submitted by Doug Gray on 06/02/2016 - 10:12 am.

    History of US Foreign Policy 1776-present

    Here you have it: “..the United States is justified in going to war, against nations that have not attacked us, and…the rest of the world should accept our doing so because we are an exception to the rules that otherwise govern international relations.” Our rationale for this doctrine has changed over the years, but it begins with the US being white and Protestant. The corollary to this Yankeefied version of “the strong do as they can and the weak suffer as they must” is that the US must do something when any nation not allied with the US goes to war against a nation that has not attacked it or risk being perceived as “weak.” But it’s hard to lay all of the blame for the late misadventure in the Middle East at the feet of Hillary Clinton or any of the Democrats who voted to approve the 2003 AUMF, as Colin Powell recently let that cat out of the bag in an unaired interview for PBS Frontline (at the decision to go to war with Iraq had been made before his cover-seeking, tendentious address to the UN.

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/02/2016 - 10:16 am.

    Yet again

    …William Fulbright’s “The Arrogance of Power” comes to mind. He was writing about Vietnam and the Cold War, but the lessons therein still seem apropos.

    I’d be willing to accept either Jim Million’s point or Eric’s as a title, but in the end, where Hillary ends up seems to be much the same mistaken place. Ms. Clinton seems to be a Cold Warrior at heart – taken at least in part, no doubt, from watching her husband’s foreign policy, and that of his predecessors. We can’t help but be creatures of our times and environment, and there are plenty of people who still view Russia (sometimes even still referred to as “The Soviet Union”) as Public Enemy #1, even though the Soviet Union disappeared a generation ago and Mr. Putin, bare chest notwithstanding, has his own problems to deal with.

    Part of the problem of spending much of one’s life in the somewhat rarified atmosphere of the Imperial Capitol is that one is subjected to far more military-industrial propaganda and self-service than are most people. Sometimes, that shows. As Eric has said, significant drawback(s) aside, I still find Ms. Clinton far preferable to the global catastrophe-in-waiting now representing the GOP on the world stage. Ms. Clinton is at least a grownup.

  7. Submitted by Rodgers Adams on 06/02/2016 - 10:32 am.

    Hillary’s vote

    A detail, perhaps in Hillary’s overall history, but my recollection is that Hillary’s “mistake” regarding Iraq was in believing George Bush’s claim/promise that he needed the authorization for war as a bargaining tool in genuine negotiations to constrain Saddam Hussein. So Hillary may have been trying support negotiations more than supporting war. But it turned out the Bush’s intent (or at least the interest of his advisers) was not to negotiate, but to “get” Saddam. Some Democrats saw through that gambit, and Hillary’s real mistake was that she did not. And perhaps a further mistake in not realizing how damaging it could be to her in the future if Bush turned out not deserve her trust.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 06/02/2016 - 11:49 am.

      The point is not the impact of her “mistakes” on HER future

      …but on OUR future, the country’s future.

    • Submitted by Marcia Wattson on 06/02/2016 - 02:28 pm.

      I agree

      That is exactly how I remember it, thank you. The criticisms of Hillary have long been way out of proportion to the egregiousness of her alleged “crimes.”

  8. Submitted by David Markle on 06/02/2016 - 11:24 am.


    Am so sorry that Joe Biden decided not to run.

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 06/02/2016 - 01:53 pm.

      Me too

      Bernie would have taken his ties to the predatory banking and Credit Card industry and his support for NAFTA and wiped the floor with him.

  9. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/02/2016 - 11:29 am.

    Hillary Clinton has at least thought through these international issues involving war. Donald Trump, who says his high school years at a military academy were the equivalent of active military service, has not thought them through. She is not a hothead, while he is.

    The choice is there, in real alternatives, not in Eric’s fear of a hawk at the helm.

    Ask yourselves: Could a female presidential candidate dare to present herself as a Peace Candidate? An “I Won’t Use Military Force” candidate? Of course not. Everything is inflected by gender considerations, my friends.

    • Submitted by Bert Sheal on 06/02/2016 - 01:15 pm.

      “Could a female presidential candidate dare to present herself as a Peace Candidate? An “I Won’t Use Military Force” candidate? Of course not. Everything is inflected by gender considerations, my friends.”

      It’s a little disingenuous to suggest that she is merely presenting as a hawk because she is being forced to because of her gender when the whole article is listing the ways in which she has actively pursued a hawkish agenda throughout her political career. She says it because she believes it. She doesn’t claim to be a peace candidate because she isn’t one.

  10. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 06/02/2016 - 12:03 pm.

    This may go all the way back to HRC’s time as a Young Republican.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2016 - 12:25 pm.

    The Iraq vote revealed many things.

    To begin with, Eric is absolutely right about Clinton’s predilection for military force, it’s who she is on a very basic level. Second, I tend to assume the worse about the actual vote for the Iraq war, I’m not so sure Clinton was misled in the sense that she claims to have been duped, I don’t think she’s that stupid. I think she knew the WMD rational was weak but she believed in the war anyways and THAT’S why she voted for it. Finally, and maybe most damning, like Eric points out it took her an awfully long time to admit what most us realized within months and I don’t think that was about triangulating, I suspect she actually believed in the war until ISIS emerged and the Arab Spring collapsed, and even then, she’s ready to go back in.

    It really just comes down to one basic principle in life: Some mistakes and bad actions are simply too big. Some actions are big enough to destroy one’s credibility and the Iraq War vote was one of those things. We don’t really need to talk about anything else (although we certainly could) that vote was wrong enough to destroy Clinton’s foreign policy credibility permanently. It sunk Kerry, it will sink Clinton.

    I think “don’t do stupid stuff” is one of the best organizing principles anyone could adopt, anyone who rejects it simply cannot be trusted to do smart things. Look, we’ve tried “stupid” from climate change to bathrooms. Stupid doesn’t work and we need to stop trying it as if it could.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 06/02/2016 - 02:40 pm.

      Sauce For the Goose

      It also should have cost Bill Kristol and a bunch of other righty pundits all of their credibility too. Why it hasn’t could be a case study in why this country is not a meritocracy.

      If this dumb blue collar guy in fly over land could see through the Bush-Cheney charade, they all should have too.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 06/04/2016 - 11:50 am.

      It was way too easy to support the Iraq War

      During Paul Wellstone’s last time in Minnesota, a friend of mine spoke with Sheila Wellstone, who told her that the Senators had come under tremendous pressure from the Bush administration to support the Iraq War Resolution. They were told again and again that the American people would hate them if they didn’t vote for it. To his everlasting credit, Paul Wellstone voted against it, even while fearing that Minnesotans would reject him. His wife told my friend that he was surprised and delighted when he made his first public appearance in Minnesota after the vote and was met with with applause and cheers.

      Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, to their everlasting shame, chose to believe the lies. Literally 100,000 people marched against the war in New York City, and there were massive demonstrations in every major city in the U.S.

      Since then, I have wished that there was a Constitutional amendment that 1) forbade the overseas deployment of combat troops without a 2/3 vote of Congress, 2) automatically triggered a military draft, and 3) put the first- and second-degree, age-appropriate relatives of the president, the vice-president, the Cabinet, the House, and the Senate first in line.

      At the time, Clinton, Kerry, and Bush all had children between the ages of 18 and 25. Would they have voted for the IWR if it had meant that their own children would be going off to boot camp the next week? Of course, there was no such danger. The Iraq War was fought by rural, working-class, and poor people, some of whom had joined the military simply because there were no jobs in their communities or because, as was true in the case of Oregon’s first soldier killed-in-action (the 19-year-old only child of a small business owner), they wanted money for college.

      During World War II, almost all members of Congress had children or grandchildren in the armed forces. I am pretty close to being a pacifist, but from now on, members of Congress who are considering a war vote should ask themselves, “Is this important enough that I would want my own children fighting this war? If not, do I have the right to ask someone else’s children to risk their lives?”

  12. Submitted by Clete Erickson on 06/02/2016 - 02:30 pm.


    Secretary Clinton may have more experience in world affairs than any other candidate but too bad that experience has not led to many success….

  13. Submitted by Paul Copeland on 06/02/2016 - 02:41 pm.

    Historical Influences on Hillary

    The perceived negative results of non-intervention during the Rwandan genocide and the Bosnian war up thru Srebenica and the mostly positive results of military interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti all look like they pushed Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy in the hawkish direction during the Bill Clinton administration. The Somalia/Blackhawk down episode mostly taught the Clintons to keep troop commitments low and to use airpower and allies.

    The results of the Bush and Obama eras show that for every Rwanda where intervention may (or may not) stop an immediate humanitarian disaster, there is a Libya where preventing an initial massacre eventually results in a greater disaster for the country and region. For every Bosnia/Kosovo where outside intervention can help achieve a cold peace, there is an Iraq/Syria where intervention unleashes an uncontrollable region wide conflagration.

    The real question is what Hilary Clinton learned from her up-close view of American Foreign policy over the last 24 years. She may still have hawkish instincts but she is certainly smart and experienced enough to know that intervention can turn out bad and have very negative foreign and domestic implications.

  14. Submitted by Mark Voorhees on 06/02/2016 - 03:47 pm.

    Clinton Hawkish?

    Wasn’t Clinton’s position on Syria’s battles to send in troops and to be more aggressive? I admire Obama not to fall into this line of thinking of the republicans and some democrats and stay out of the fighting.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 06/02/2016 - 04:54 pm.

      Yes, you are correct.

      We should also remember that Obama’s decision came after France refused to join the Syrian intervention, followed by British Parliament’s embarrassment of PM Cameron by resoundingly voting down the proposal. I watched that historic rebuff thanks to C-SPAN. Regardless of the President’s predisposition,
      he was well-covered by those two former colonial powers–who knew better than to invade anyone again.
      “Not this time, and certainly not that place, America” was their response. I’m sure Mr. Obama and company were quite relieved.

      I suppose “What If” books will be written about theoretical results had France and Britain voted in the affirmative. Can we imagine the total chaos created by such invasion?

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/02/2016 - 06:13 pm.


        Of course, Clinton was no longer Secretary of State when the British Parliament voted and Obama made that decision.

        I noticed you chided someone else for going off the topic of HRC. Unless you think she is somehow responsible for decisions that she was not a part of after she left the administration, I am going to tell you the same thing.

        • Submitted by Jim Million on 06/03/2016 - 10:13 am.


          It was an HRC initiative, wasn’t it? That’s certainly on topic, unless you dispute her doctrine. That’s OK, too.

        • Submitted by Jim Million on 06/03/2016 - 12:02 pm.

          Another Fact Check

          I placed the official British decision after the French action, when in fact, French PM François Hollande (strongly in favor, but with public opinion significantly against him) declined to order action a few days after British rejection. He could have done so without consultation after his Parliament debated the issue without formal voting. Perhaps I was remembering Hollande’s concern for support prior to that debate.


  15. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/02/2016 - 11:23 pm.

    But after all the doubts are expressed

    It appears that pretty much all the readers (and writer) will still pull the lever for Clinton, so why all the handwringing? Future cover perhaps?

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 06/03/2016 - 01:55 pm.

      The “false consensus” effect…

      …is overestimating the degree to which our own attitudes and beliefs are shared by others.

      Gotta watch out for that one.

  16. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 06/03/2016 - 08:31 am.

    It’s wake up time..ah yes…

    Thank you Mr Black…a good one indeed.

    And come to think of it, we, you, me if following the campaign, we essentially have become mere followers then, if we accept the voices of the delegates and super delegates?

    Choice and free will have been shuffled into the dust on the way to election day?

    The delegates have shoved the vote of the many into their wee back pockets and smugly tell the people and the press,” This is it Joe and Joanna” as we walk to the voting booth and vote to be with the ‘winner’ whomever, however one receives it?

    Two candidates the only way to go?

    Two candidates under- the-Affluence and we accept? There’s got to be a better way. Sanders I say again? You may think otherwise…so it goes…

    Maybe it’s time to critique the Delegates who hold the public hostage in their sweaty palms? .Telling us who will win and who will lose, and if we follow their lead like poor puppies looking for the mother’s milk; for the outcome, we will surely win then …but what, whom will it be?

  17. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/03/2016 - 09:11 am.

    Appeal to the neocons

    After Hillary’s “foreign policy” speech yesterday, I heard a commentor on one of the cable news channels say how she was appealing to the neocons with lines like:

    “And if America doesn’t lead, we leave a vacuum – and that will either cause chaos, or other countries will rush in to fill the void. Then they’ll be the ones making the decisions about your lives and jobs and safety – and trust me, the choices they make will not be to our benefit. That is not an outcome we can live with.”

    And …
    “Third, we need to embrace all the tools of American power, especially diplomacy and development, to be on the frontlines solving problems before they threaten us at home.” … “Now we must enforce that deal vigorously. And as I’ve said many times before, our approach must be “distrust and verify.” The world must understand that the United States will act decisively if necessary, including with military action, to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. In particular, Israel’s security is non-negotiable. They’re our closest ally in the region, and we have a moral obligation to defend them.”

    And …
    “Fifth, we need a real plan for confronting terrorists. As we saw six months ago in San Bernardino, the threat is real and urgent. Over the past year, I’ve laid out my plans for defeating ISIS.
    We need to take out their strongholds in Iraq and Syria by intensifying the air campaign and stepping up our support for Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground.”

    (We need a real plan for confronting terrorists’? Obama doesn’t have a real plan?)

    Hillary was preaching to the establishment choir.
    She doesn’t get it. The game has changed.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 06/03/2016 - 10:11 am.

      I forgot to add …

      Maybe Bill Kristol has found his dream candidate.

    • Submitted by Dan Berg on 06/03/2016 - 11:06 am.

      Hillary is a Neocon

      The Clintons and Neocons are basically aligned and came of age together as competitors on the same path. Both come from the Teddy Roosevelt branch of thinking where the aggressive projection of power is used to maintain their control over that power as well as shape the world as their egos demand. They are anti-populists and believe the public needs to be shaped and manipulated in to supporting the right decisions. They fundamentally believe that there needs to be a political class who make the decisions for the rest of us and that politics is the business of manipulating popular opinion to fit their “superior” visions.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 06/03/2016 - 12:10 pm.

        Interesting View

        Many realities certainly seem to support you. Manipulation of popular opinion is only one of those. Polling swings might indicate that.

  18. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2016 - 04:07 pm.

    Someone asked why we might wring hands?

    Two things: First, I actually think Clinton will lose the election if she’s the nominee. Clinton is just too disliked, distrusted, resented, and politically untalented as a candidate to prevail in the general election. Why a democrat would conclude that the candidate with the greatest liabilities is their strongest candidate will always baffle me, but there it is.

    Her endorsement of the Iraq War and invasion will be one significant factor in her defeat, it sunk Kerry, it will sink Clinton and she simply has no compelling response. She either claims she was duped, (which makes her stupid considering the fact that smart people were not duped) or she thought the invasion was a good idea for other reasons, in which case she’s prone to really bad judgement. There’s just no getting around this for anyone who cares about foreign policy.

    Here’s what will happen: Trump will pivot towards disengagement in foreign “entanglements” putting America first and Clinton will respond like a neo-con. Bam! suddenly the democrat is the neo-con endorsing more military action and the republican is the peace guy that wants to keep our troops safe and sound at home. Clinton loses that round pure and simple. This is why her hawkish nature makes a difference.

    And I hate to say it but to be honest, I actually think Clinton would be more prone to neo-con mentality and ill advised military actions than Trump. The thing about Trump as far as I can tell is he’s NOT ideological and it’s ideology that drives most military interventions one way or another. I’m not saying I’d vote for Trump, but I think in the end his message will be far more appealing to voters, he’ll actually come across as more trustworthy and centered on America’s best interests. So again, Clinton’s hawkishness matters.

  19. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/03/2016 - 11:34 pm.

    A bit gone terribly wrong…

    1998 KFAN listeners may recall Jesse’s radio sidekick, Jeff DuBay describing the Ventura for Governor campaign: “A radio bit gone terribly wrong”.

    Maybe Trump sees it the same way and now believes the last thing he wants is to actually win. With too big an ego to admit a mistake getting in, he instead decides to be his reality show most outrageous self: “to heck with preparing for the general election, I’ll tilt at the windmills of my choosing like Mexican judges who have it in for me.”

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 06/04/2016 - 08:02 am.


      I’ve wondered a bit about that, as well. I initially thought Trump got into the race to spend money on himself to shake things up rather than to back usual Republican suspects. Your thought about the reality show has validity to me in the respect that Trump seemed to be judging the other debate contestants rather than forwarding his own platform. As the field narrowed, he seemed to become more engaged. That possible motivation certainly fits one particularly cynical executive scheme: pitting managers against each other in some strategic contest to see who fails and who demonstrates merit.

      Perhaps still in that mode, Trump might now be mainly focusing on the conventions, particularly the contest between HRC and Sanders, waiting until that settles out, deliberately acting like a pinata for each of them to attack. Whatever Trump’s really doing right now, Sanders is gaining and HRC is losing strength. In the meantime, HRC gets it from both sides. Trump using Sanders as defacto ally on a second front?

      Trump is smart enough to perhaps be waiting for an official Democrat ticket to form, not getting too far ahead of the game. Who really knows? Trump, himself? In a step-wise strategy, he first ran for the primaries, now for the convention platform, after that for the presidency. Perhaps he would have stepped back had Cruz not risen to strength on the conventional right. This is the only order I can make of what he may be doing.

      Of course, if one believes Trump is fundamentally disorderly, no orderly speculation on anyone’s part means spit.

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/06/2016 - 08:34 am.

    Historical influences

    Mr. Copeland correctly observes:

    “The perceived negative results of non-intervention during the Rwandan genocide and the Bosnian war up thru Srebenica and the mostly positive results of military interventions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Haiti all look like they pushed Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy in the hawkish direction during the Bill Clinton administration. The Somalia/Blackhawk down episode mostly taught the Clintons to keep troop commitments low and to use airpower and allies.”

    This is exactly the point, HRC seems to have botched the lesson. Starting with Somalia the problem there was they transformed the mission unilaterally, yes, but, having done so they didn’t provide the necessary resources on the ground to protect the US troops. I remind everyone that the commander on the ground’s request for additional armor was rejected, so when the BH’s went down they had to hunker down under fire for over 12 hours until UN armor could rescue them.

    Iraq and Syria simply bear no resemblance to Bosnia or Rwanda, One was a ill advised regime change and the other a civil war. At the end of the day it’s clear that Clinton has decided against all historical evidence that US programs of regime change are appropriate and preferred military deployments. One can mount a compelling argument that if for no other reason, this mentality is sufficient reason to rule out Clinton as president.

  21. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/06/2016 - 05:44 pm.

    A reality check: Hillary Clinton has apologized for her vote on Bush’s Iraq ruse, saying again and again that she made a mistake.

    No Bush administration person (with the honorable exception of Colin Powell, who made that awful, lying U.S. speech about yellow cake and Weapons of Mass Destruction) has ever admitted being wrong.

    Hillary Clinton, unlike Donald Trump, considers the issue carefully, based on the best information she can gather. Maybe she uses the wrong precedents for her inclination for the U.S. to remain strong militarily and to remind other nations that we are ready. So, all you peaceful Republicans in this thread, those who never, ever would do what all the peaceful Republican presidential candidates in the primaries said they would do (things like “carpet-bomb” and kill whole enemy families, and so forth) with complicated war circumstances today, are suddenly backing. . . a playground bully who runs fraudulent businesses like Trump University and tries to get ahead of his court loss by attacking the judge’s ethnicity?

    Foreign policy, once we get beyond the No More Wars chanting, is an area where neither Bernie Sanders nor the clown Donald Trump can even come close to Hillary Clinton in knowledge and experience and grit.

  22. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/07/2016 - 08:12 am.

    Real reality check

    The real “reality” is that some “mistakes” are simply too big, they destroy ones credibility. An engineer who builds a bridge out of cardboard can’t simply apologize when it collapses and kills people and then go on to brag about what a great and experienced engineer he or she is.

    You can’t “apologize” for getting tens of thousands of US and allied soldiers and over a million Iraqi’s killed and wounded in a war of choice, no apology is sufficient. The idea that HRC ” could make a mistake of such magnitude and then claim to be a thoughtful and experience foreign policy expert is simply an irreconcilable contradiction.

    So she was Secretary of State… I’ve yet to talk to a single Clinton supporter that can point a major durable foreign policy accomplishment during her tenure. The most common one is the Israeli Palestinian cease fire, but many observers claim that there never actually was a cease fire, and at any rate it collapsed after a few months.

    Whats weird is that despite a mediocre tenure as SS, and the outrageous vote for the Iraq war, Clinton supporters have actually promoted Clinton’s foreign policy experience as one of her strongest attributes! There’s a fundamental disconnect there that EVERYONE else recognizes, yet democrats assume that voters will ignore this massive display of incompetence simply because it’s “HIllary”. Well, we’ll see.

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