As is far too often the case, I think the mainstream media is getting the story wrong following Hillary Clinton’s interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic in which she took a different position from Obama. We expect to see Clinton separate herself to some degree from Obama.The real significance is that this has been a wake up call for many on the left who really haven’t thought about Clinton’s hawkish world view. Many liberals who ostracized Joe Lieberman still embrace Hillary Clinton despite holding very similar foreign policy views. I doubt that this will change the outcome of Clinton winning the nomination, assuming she runs, but if by chance she is stopped by a successful challenger, in retrospect we might see this week as the time when things changed for her. David Brooks, while largely agreeing with Clinton from the right, speculates that “I’d bet she is going to get a more serious challenge than people now expect.” These questions are bigger than Politico discussing whether Hillary Clinton is comfortable in her own skin.
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Clinton has received criticism for her views on intervening in Syria and for her general disagreement with Obama’s approach:

Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

“Don’t do stupid stuff” sounds like a good idea. It reminds me a lot of the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. Both good ideas, as opposed to Clinton’s history of making big mistakes and not realizing it until later, after the damage is done.

The Weekly Standard did have an amusing take on this, running a story composed of quotes from the interview under the headline, “Special Guest Editorial: Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures By HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON”

Response to Clinton’s statements on getting involved in the quagmire in Syria were largely negative from the liberal blogosphere. Digby’s response to the interview:

This is a very scary interview. Much more hardcore than I expected…

It’s possible she’s doing this to speed things up so an agreement can be struck before Obama leaves office — kind of a Reaganesque madman move — but considering her hard line on everything else, I’d guess not.


Booman looked at the substance of Clinton’s argument and concluded, ” Had we made that mistake, too, we’d be in an even deeper hole.”

From Balloon Juice:

…my major concern about HRC is her hawkishness. That’s why I supported Obama instead of HRC back in 2008 — he recognized the Iraq War as “stupid shit” from the beginning; she didn’t.

The remark highlighted above doesn’t tell us much about Clinton’s organizing principles. When Goldberg questioned her directly on it, her response was “peace, progress and prosperity,” which could have come from a Miss World pageant script.

A supporter of Clinton in 2008 at Cannonfire wrote, “It’s Obama vs. Hillary — again — and this time, I’m on HIS side”

Not surprisingly, Andrew Sullivan was quite hard on Clinton:

And the greatest throwback to 2003 in this respect is Hillary Clinton. So far as one can tell from her interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, there is no daylight between her and John McCain or even Benjamin Netanyahu – but a hell of a lot of space between her and Barack Obama. The interview confirms my view that she remains neoconservatism’s best bet to come back with bells on. It appears, for example, that her boomer-era pabulum about foreign policy on the Jon Stewart show – “We need to love America again! – was not an aberration. She actually means it. And once we believe in ourselves again – don’t look at that torture report! – it will be back to the barricades for another American century of American global hegemony. And why not start in Syria and Iraq? I mean: she’s already hepped up about the threat of Jihadism – and what could possibly go wrong this time? If only we believe in America!

You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward. One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.

Just forget that this country destroyed its military deterrence and its moral authority by the war that Clinton favored and has never fully expressed remorse for. Forget the trillions wasted and the tens of thousands of lives lost and the brutal torture we authorized and the hapless occupation that helped galvanize Jhadism, let’s just feel good about ourselves! And do it all again!

And so try and find a real difference between John McCain and Hillary Clinton on these topics. It’s certainly the same “fight them over there so we don’t fight them over here” fear-mongering:

One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States. Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’etre is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories. How do we try to contain that? I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat.

Well, actually, their raison d’etre is not to be against the West. Right now and for the foreseeable future, it is about defeating the apostates of Shia Islam and wimpy Sunni Islam. It’s about forcing other Muslims to submit to their medieval authority – with weapons left behind from the last American interventionist project. The West for these Jihadis is a long, long way away. But not for Clinton or for McCain who see every struggle anywhere as involving the US because … America! And that’s when you realize how fresh Obama was and how vital he has been – and how in foreign policy, a Clinton presidency is such a contrast to his.

MoveOn issued this warning to Clinton:

Secretary Clinton, and any other person thinking about seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today. These hawkish policy stances are also threatening to undermine the peaceful international resolution of Iran’s nuclear program.

Voters elected President Obama in 2008 to bring the war in Iraq to an end. MoveOn members will continue to stand with elected officials who oppose military escalation that could put us back on a path to endless war.

I rarely agree with The American Conservative to the degree I agree with much of this analysis:

Clinton has “brilliantly” identified herself as the hawk that she has always been, which puts her sharply at odds with most people in her own party and most Americans of all political affiliations. That’s not triangulation at all. The old Clintonian triangulation was driven by an obsessive focus on public opinion and on finding mostly minor issues that obtained support from a large majority. The purpose of it was to co-opt popular issues and deprive the opposition of effective lines of attack. The goal was not to poke the majority of Americans in the eye on major issues and tell them that they’re wrong. Clinton’s foreign policy posturing politically tone-deaf and focused entirely on what will please people in Washington and a few other capitals around the world. It is evidence that Clinton thinks she can get away with campaigning on a more activist foreign policy on the assumption that no one is going to vote against her for that reason. She may be right about that, or she may end up being surprised–again–to find that her horrible foreign policy record is still a serious political liability.

Now it’s true that the vast majority doesn’t vote on foreign policy, and most Americans normally pay little or no attention to it, but one thing that does seem to get their attention is when they are being presented with the prospect of new and costly conflicts. If Obama is faulted in Washington for being too cautious, Clinton is making clear that she will err on the side of being too activist and aggressive, and she gives us every reason to expect that she will err quite often on that side. That isn’t going to gain Clinton any votes, and it could easily lose her quite a few. Her twin hopes at this point have to be that she won’t face a significant challenge from the left on these and other issues and that the next Republican nominee will be even more irresponsibly hawkish than she is. That’s not brilliant. It’s called wishful thinking.

Clinton’s current hawkish views today are hardly new, as in 2002 when she backed the Iraq war based upon claims of a tie between Saddam and al Qaeda:

Indeed, in Clinton’s October 10, 2002, speech about her vote she said of Saddam: LINK

“He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.”

As Don van Natta and Jeff Gerth have written in their book about Clinton and the New York Times, Clinton’s linkage of Saddam and al Qaeda was unique among Democrats and “was unsupported by the conclusions of the N.I.E. and other secret intelligence reports that were available to senators before the vote.” LINK

Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, said it was a spurious claim: “I don’t think any agency pretended to make a case that there was a strong linkage between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. It wasn’t in the N.I.E.”

“Nevertheless,” van Natta and Gerth write, “on the sensitive issue of collaboration between Al Qaeda and Iraq, Senator Clinton found herself adopting the same argument that was being aggressively pushed by the administration. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials had repeated their claim frequently, and by early October 2002, two out of three Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. By contrast, most of the other Senate Democrats, even those who voted for the war authorization, did not make the Qaeda connection in their remarks on the Senate floor.”

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., “actively assailed the reports of Al Qaeda in Iraq, calling them ‘much exaggerated.’ Senator Dianne Feinstein of California described any link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda as ‘tenuous.’ The Democratic senator who came closest to echoing Clinton’s remarks about Hussein’s supposed assistance to Al Qaeda was Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. Yet even Lieberman noted that ‘the relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam’s regime is a subject of intense debate within the intelligence community.’”

How could Clinton get this key point so wrong?

“My vote was a sincere vote based on the facts and assurances that I had at the time,” she said in February.

But what facts and assurances?

It is not just a single view. The problem is Hillary Clinton’s entire history on foreign policy. I trust Obama far more than Clinton in answering that hypothetical 3 am phone call.

Cross posted from Liberal Values

Ron Chusid
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Copyright 2014 The Moderate Voice
  • I didn’t support Hillary Clinton in 2008 for this very reason. Clinton may not be a neocon in name but she holds all or most of their views. Her opinions on Syria were just plain wrong and it would appear she wants to attack Iran. I did a blog post back in 2006, Neocon Hillary. The idea of a president Hillary Clinton frightens me but unfortunately the Republicans will probably nominate someone even worse.

  • dduck

    I don’t agree or disagree with her “statements” during the Goldberg Interview, but I am flummoxed by the strategy or complete lack thereof.
    I thought she was supposed to be really sharp when it came to politics. How could she expect to get away with the I could have done a better job and other jabs. Could she have lost her political edge?

  • “I thought she was supposed to be really sharp when it came to politics”

    I believe that answer to that is that you were mistaken on that impression of her. She is calculating politically, but in the end hasn’t been all that sharp.

  • From The Week

    What Democrats always forget about Hillary
    Hillary Clinton has the perfect résumé, but she’s a terrible politician

  • sheknows

    “Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is backing President Barack Obama’s call for Congress to approve military action in Syria, Politico reports.”

    “Secretary Clinton supports the President’s effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong and targeted response to the Assad regime’s horrific use of chemical weapons,” a Clinton aide told Politico.” ______Sept. 2013

    John Kerry claims support for Syria plan
    Describes ‘a movement’ overseas, as he and Obama lead an all-out push.

    Secretary of State John F. Kerry spoke with the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, in Paris on Saturday.

    PARIS — Secretary of State John F. Kerry declared here Saturday that he is winning international support for the “US effort to launch strikes against Syria”, an announcement that underscored his growing role as the administration’s chief salesman for military action.

    “We have a movement,” Kerry said about an international coalition for taking action to punish Syria for allegedly using chemical weapons on its own people. “There is a building element of support.” _______Boston Globe Sept, 2013

    Why…they said the EXACT SAME thing! Hmmmm…..

  • No they didn’t. Not at all the same. If they were saying the same thing we wouldn’t have all this talk about Clinton taking a position opposed to that of Obama, and of attacking Obama from the right.

  • Or at least they aren’t saying the same thing if you look at their actual positions rather than cherry picking quotes out of context to make a false point.

  • sheknows

    “Or at least they aren’t saying the same thing if you look at their actual positions rather than cherry picking quotes out of context to make a false point.”

    The entire article is available online and anyone reading it will see it is not a “cherry picked” example. I encourage all who wish to read t for themselves go to the article in the Boston Globe online. Sept 2013..

    There is actually an entire interview with Kerry as well with Howard Fineman readily accessible ,about his feelings on why Obama might even consider going against congress to stress his point of taking military action in Syria.
    Title of the article:
    “John Kerry: Obama Can Bomb Assad Even If Congress Votes No”

    FASCINATING for those interested in the actual truth QUOTED straight out of Kerry’s mouth..in full context…and continuity of thought throughout the entire interview.

  • That is a rather selective look at the facts, totally ignoring key points such as that it was also Kerry who provided a way out of the conflict to avoid military intervention, that Clinton wanted far more military involvement than Kerry advocated, and that Clinton is now attacking the Obama/Kerry decision to not get involved militarily.

    The positions of Clinton and Kerry/Obama remain far apart on this issue, just as on many other issues.

  • sheknows

    NO it’s not .Both examples contain direct quotes IN CONTEXT to his position Ron.
    Your refusal to accept what is right before your eyes in factual content is as I said..a very high indicator that you would make a really staunch Republican. Denial of facts is a prerequisite to join the party I believe.

  • dduck

    Instead of he said she said from the past, I’m focusing on the present remarks of HC. I think I have my theory on the Goldberg deal. She is actually Dick Cheney’s secret half sister and also a secret half Rep to boot. There are plenty of politicians, IMHO, who just jump on the party that gives them the best chance to win. HC being married to Bill, whose favorite party was the one the state troopers arranged for him, is a Dem, and since he pulls in the big bucks, she stayed with him and the Dem party. I could be wrong however, and will wait until this theory is confirmed in a WSJ OE piece. 🙂

  • sheknows,

    Again, you are cherry picking statements rather than looking at their full views. We would not have all the uproar this week if Clinton wasn’t taking a position far to the right of that of Obama and Kerry.

  • dduck,

    1) Clinton is in a position comparable to Joe Lieberman in terms of ideology and party. On foreign policy, like Lieberman, Clinton belongs with the Republicans. However, while she is weak on some issues, other domestic positions such as abortion keep her from fitting in with the Republicans.

    2) Is there any definitive answer to the stories regarding Bill and the state troopers? Some of my earliest memories of Bill were of such claims, and his behavior in office sure was consistent with this. I have also seen Clintonistas claim that the claims were totally untrue. Any evidence either way-? An opinion piece in the WSJ does not count as evidence.

  • sheknows

    BTW…the talk of her opposing Obama? Kerry also has said “we must do more now” because Assad hasn’t halted and “things are getting worse, not better”. He has said a “limited action” at this time may help.

    Did you know we have sent over $45M to the rebels so far and arms and it is clear we are throwing our money away. Hundreds are still dying and thousands homeless.
    Maybe if we had done more at the time, we wouldn’t have a madman still wreaking havoc with the lives of thousands.

    Article from the Washington Post 2013…all should read it.

    “John Kerry makes forceful case for U.S. military intervention in Syria”

    Ron…I can pull these up all day and site numerous sources.and the reason is because …it is reality!! Deal with it.

  • sheknows,

    But you are only pulling up things which agree with your position and tell part of the story, and are ignoring all the facts which don’t agree with your view. Again, if Clintons’s views are really no different from the policy of Kerry and Obama, why are there so many stories this week about Clinton attacking them from the right?

  • sheknows

    “That is a rather selective look at the facts, totally ignoring key points such as that it was also Kerry who provided a……..”

    No..it is direct quotes out of Kerry’s mouth during an interview. Not selective at all….perhaps reading the ENTIRE interview would help you to see that…but it won’t matter to you.
    You believe what you want to believe and ignore inconvenient truths and interfering facts.

    “But you are only pulling up things which agree with your position and tell part of the story, and are ignoring all the facts which don’t agree with your view”

    Excuuuuuse me?? LOL. please..lets not talk about ignoring the facts Ron. 🙂 Hilarious.

  • sheknows

    I could quote Washington Post, Boston Globe, NYT, Huff PO, AP and WSJ among others…and according to you…they are taking things out of context. 🙂 ( even if they have actual quotes and interviews by the man himself), Whereas an article in the Cincinnati thrifty nickel about HC would be a golden truth of the gods to you.
    NO. no one there takes anything out of context… or fails to look at the whole story..They just do it for Kerry. or I do. How dare I quote him. LOL……too funny!~

  • sheknows,

    It is one interview with Kerry, in which he took a position supporting less military intervention than Clinton has called for. The article you cite clearly shows Kerry advocating far less intervention than Clinton has advocated, undermining your argument.

    This also ignores other key facts such as that Kerry’s diplomacy ultimately led to avoiding military intervention, and Clinton is now attacking Obama (who agreed with Kerry) for not following her views on military intervention.

    You are ignoring Kerry’s full views and you are ignoring Clinton’s views to make the fallacious argument that the two had the same view.

  • sheknows

    “The article you cite clearly shows Kerry advocating far less intervention than Clinton has advocated, undermining your argument.”

    No, it doesn’t Ron. I can read too. Please don’t insult my intelligence. The difference is, I read without blinders on to interpret what I am reading.

    The main difference now in his position as opposed to HC’s is that he is an employee of Obama. It is his job to implement the administrations policies…not dictate them.
    When he was a senator he could say whatever he wanted as an opposing or condoning voice. Now he has a job to do. HC does not. She can disagree freely…and she is saying nothing Kerry has not said before. In fact..she NEVER said this:
    “Title of the article:
    “John Kerry: Obama Can Bomb Assad Even If Congress Votes No” In the interview he gave with Feinman.

  • sheknows

    Anyway…I am tired of this nowhere discussion. Knowing your penchant for having to get the last word I will leave this lopsided mess and allow you to have it…gladly. Sorry guys.
    This constant back and forth is a drag for everyone else including both of us.

  • dduck

    I give up. About time too. Oh shut up, there are serious discussions going on here. Yeah, I bet people reading here really give a rat’s a___, aren’t they just trying to prove there point. So, isn’t that important? It would be if they would see the other guy’s viewpoint instead of winning the point. There you go again, demeaning intelligent people trying to figure out important stuff. You’re right, there’s no room for humor, this is a serious world.

  • Look at what Kerry specifically advocated at the time. It is far more limited than what Clinton has called for, and Kerry found a diplomatic solution in place of even this.

    It is hardly just me saying this. Look at all the quotes in the post alone which indicate how people of both parties are surprised by how right wing Clinton is on this, and there is far more discussion saying the same throughout the media.

  • ordinarysparrow

    It too soon to make analysis of Hilary Clinton at this point in time….. Not for sure if the base has turned against her, but the media is sure trying to brand and take her down even before makes a statement of her intent….At this point it is all water under the bridge….

  • ordinarysparrow

    Thanks dd for the laugh… Rodney Dangerfield Fan Club, right?

  • dduck

    You’re welcome, but I don’t belong to any clubs, they all rejected me, and any one that would accept me I wouldn’t want to be a member of.

  • sheknows

    dd…lol.. it’s true, that’s what we sound like. Too funny 🙂

  • The_Ohioan

    The rest of this article might accurately paint Ms. Clinton as being hawkish, but the Syria question was a major policy fight between the White House, State, and DoD. Non-hawks in all three departments also felt the FSA should be helped and Kerry finally convinced Obama to arm some carefully vetted groups, but not to any great extent.

    The State Department warned as early as 2012 that extremists in eastern Syria would link up with extremists in Iraq. We warned in 2012 that Iraq and Syria would become one conflict,” said former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. “We highlighted the competition between rebel groups on the ground, and we warned if we didn’t help the moderates, the extremists would gain.”

    But the warnings, which also came from other senior officials—including then-CIA chief David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta—fell on deaf ears. Obama’s small circle of White House foreign policy advisers resisted efforts to make connections with rebel fighters on the ground until 2013, when the administration began to train and equip a few select vetted brigades. For many who worked on Syria policy inside the administration, it was too little, too late.


    Another country (Political Science Professor) heard from:

    The FSA was always more fiction than reality, with a structure on paper masking the reality of highly localized and fragmented fighting groups on the ground. Charles Lister’s comprehensive recent survey of the current Syrian military battlefield should quickly dispense with the simpler versions of the conflict. Syria’s civil war has long been a dizzying array of local battles, with loose and rapidly shifting alliances driven more by self-interest and the desires of their external patrons than ideology. Even at the height of the conflict between the Islamic State and its more secular rivals, local affiliates fought side by side in other theaters of the war.


  • You got to love this stuff. Jimmy Fallon cannot compete.