Monday, February 11, 2008
[More astute analysis from Jack at AfterTheFuture]
Clinton the Hawk and Her Advisors
Again, in case you needed reminding about one of the most important differences between Obama and Clinton:
It should come as no surprise that during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, Obama spoke at a Chicago anti-war rally while Clinton went as far as falsely claiming that Iraq was actively supporting al-Qaeda. And during the recent State of the Union address, when Bush proclaimed that the Iraqi surge was working, Clinton stood and cheered while Obama remained seated and silent.
Clinton's advisors are similarly confident in the ability of the United States to impose its will through force. This is reflected to this day in the strong support for President Bush's troop surge among such Clinton advisors (and original invasion advocates) as Jack Keane, Kenneth Pollack and Michael O'Hanlon.
Clinton's top foreign policy advisor -- and her likely pick for Secretary of State -- Richard Holbrooke, insisted that Iraq remained "a clear and present danger at all times." He rejected the broad international legal consensus against such offensive wars and insisted European governments and anti-war demonstrators who opposed a U.S. invasion of Iraq "undoubtedly encouraged" Saddam Hussein.
Clinton advisor Sandy Berger, who served as her husband's national security advisor, insisted that "even a contained Saddam" was "harmful to stability and to positive change in the region" and insisted on the necessity of "regime change." Other top Clinton advisors -- such as former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- confidently predicted that American military power could easily suppress any opposition to a U.S. takeover of Iraq.
By contrast, during the lead-up to the war, Obama's advisors recognized as highly suspect the Bush administration's claims regarding Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" and offensive delivery systems capable of threatening U.S. national security. Read more.
Obama's advisers include Zbigniew Brezinksi, Joseph Cirincione, Susan Rice, Larry Korb, Samantha Power, and Richard Clarke. This isn't the group Dennis Kucinich would likely pick, but they are people who have been much more clearheaded about the folly of our Middle Eastern adventurism.
These differences in the key circles of foreign policy specialists surrounding these two candidates are consistent with their diametrically opposing views in the lead-up to the war, with Clinton voting to let President Bush invade that oil-rich country at the time and circumstances of his choosing, while Obama was speaking out to oppose a U.S. invasion.
Hillary Clinton has a few advisors who did oppose the war, like Wesley Clark, but taken together, the kinds of key people she's surrounded herself with supports the likelihood that her administration, like Bush's, would be more likely to embrace exaggerated and alarmist reports regarding potential national security threats, to ignore international law and the advice of allies, and to launch offensive wars.
By contrast, as The Nation magazine noted, a Barack Obama administration would be more likely to examine the actual evidence of potential threats before reacting, to work more closely with America's allies to maintain peace and security, to respect the country's international legal obligations, and to use military force only as a last resort.
This late 20th Century foreign-policy mentality embraced by both Clinton and the Republicans should be mothballed ASAP. See also the article mentioned in The Nation for more details on Obama's people.
See also this Matt Yglesias post and comments on the meme that Obama doesn't have