Sunday, January 12, 2014

Questions the Gates revelations raise about Hillary Clinton

It has become conventional wisdom that any liberal challenge to a potential run for president by Hillary Clinton in 2016 will come from the populism championed by people like Senator Elizabeth Warren and NY Mayor Bill di Blasio on the issue of income inequality. But I would suggest that there is an equally (if not more) troubling set of concerns that are raised by excerpts from the book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Before getting to those, its important to remember that then-Senator Hillary Clinton voted in favor of giving Bush/Cheney the green light on going to war with Iraq. Less discussed is her 2007 vote on a bill sponsored by Joe Lieberman that most believe would have allowed Bush/Cheney to invade Iran.

And now come the Gates revelations. We know by know that, while Gates claims to agree with the final decisions made by President Obama, he was seriously disturbed that Obama was suspicious of military leaders and questioned their motivations. Gates interprets that kind of civilian oversight as "controlling." And he says that Hillary Clinton joined him in that concern.
I never confronted Obama directly over what I (as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then-CIA Director Leon Panetta and others) saw as his determination that the White House tightly control every aspect of national security policy and even operations.
Gates even goes on to suggest that Secretary Clinton was "offended" by this as much as he was. What we know from this and other sources is that during the whole discussion about Afghanistan, Secretary Clinton always came down on the side of military leaders over their disagreements with President Obama and VP Biden.
Whatever Petraeus did in the early weeks of 2011 to raise the ire of Obama in regard to the withdrawal [from Afghanistan] issue, it was against the backdrop of repeated indications that Petraeus was hoping to use both his alliances with Gates and Clinton and pressures from the Republicans in Congress to push back the previously agreed date for beginning withdrawal and handoff of responsibility to the Afghan government.
Finally, we know that in the fall of 2012 at the height of the presidential campaign, Secretary Clinton once again teamed up with Petraeus to pressure President Obama to arm the Syrian rebels (Sen. McCain's bright idea as well).

Given free reign, all of this could have resulted not only in the useless war we waged in Iraq, but never-ending involvement in Afghanistan as well as potential war in Iran and Syria. The question becomes: will Hillary Clinton ever say "no" to the hawks?

During her last run for president, Hillary Clinton made much of her stature as the one who was most capable of answering that 3:00 am phone call about an anonymous crisis somewhere in the world. Five years later, we are beginning to have a glimpse into what her response might be. I'm not so sure it paints a pretty picture. At minimum, it raises a lot of questions about what kind of foreign policy president she would be.

12 comments:

  1. Please, please, please let this woman do the world a favor and decline to run for President. My dislike of her knows no bounds. She's a straight-up moderate Republican.
    Nice work, Nancy.

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    1. What's interesting is that a lot of the push-back some of us get for supporting Obama is people telling us that we simply do so because we are Democratic Party loyalists. There is going to be a rude awakening if Hillary runs and gets the nomination. I suspect most of us will vote for her. But the enthusiasm we've had for PBO will be gone.

      Anyway, I'm still hoping for a decent primary opponent if Clinton runs. I don't think Elizabeth Warren is going to go for it. But what so many of her supporters miss is that she has been almost completely silent on foreign policy. She can keep that up as a Senator - but should she ever decide to run for POTUS, she'll have to speak up.

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    2. She has always been too Republican for me. Makes you wonder whether President Obama, fired her, as the Secretary of State. Or asked her to resign. He would never say this publicly.

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    3. I suspect that made a deal at the end of the 2008 primary that she'd be SoS for one term - and one term only.

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    4. I can agree with the one-term. So that she might have some experience in the area if she decided to run for President. But I also, believe that they were still in disagreement, regarding the foreign policies. As they were, doing the Presidential-nomination debates. President Obama, said that he consults with VP Biden, on foreign policies.

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  2. How may Clinton's militarism be a push-back to the dictum that women are soft and too emotionally unstable to deal with hard conflict?

    How many Clinton's views have been changed by her experience in the State Department? Is it possible that Obama appointed her to the State Department because he believed that not only could she be competent and beneficial, but to give her the kind of foreign policy awareness to make her a better POTUS?

    Also, I think we all know that in order to get liberal legislation, we need a liberal House and Senate. Presidential authority has it's limits, though those on the far right exaggerate its power and those on the far left demand that it use its power beyond those that are Constitutionally enumerated.

    It's a bit early, I think, to write off Hillary Clinton. She is not stupid and has had a world of experience during Obama's first term. She is likely far more complex than she is being made out to be, and I find it hard to believe that a lot of pushback from the left against her is not as implicitly sexist as the "disappointment" with Obama is implicitly racist.

    What better way to disqualify than to put her into a double bind, in which she has a choice of being too soft to defend the U.S. and too hard to avoid unnecessary conflict? Is she being judged as a POTUS or as a woman? I think we should at least give her credit for her experience, give her the benefit of a doubt when she demonstrates that her thinking has been changed by her experience, and listen to what she has to say for herself instead of disqualifying her a priori, because of a few decisions in her past. She's traveled the world and has negotiated with world leaders and diplomats from all walks of life, it's a bit knee-jerk to assume that hasn't changed her mind as if she were inherently a totalitarian ideologue.

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    1. I can't speak for anyone else, but my concerns are not about her being a woman - but her record of deferring to the hawks. When/if I see any indication that she has demonstrated that this tendency has changed, I'll be more than open to it.

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    2. My opinion of her has nothing to do with her gender. I didn't care for her politics, prior to, 2007. She was born and raised a Republican. She has not changed in her ways or views. I would not vote for her.

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  3. Personally, I like Governor O'Malley of Maryland. I happened to turn on CNN and he was being interviewed by Candy Crowley. After mentioning the many progressive initiatives that have passed in Maryland, Crowley had the audacity to ask him if he is considering running for President because, you know, the country is majority Republican or moderate? In other words, equality for gays, stricter guy control laws, great public schools, etc. are all issues that Americans won't support. I felt like slapping her. Every poll I've seen show high approval for the majority of progressive/liberal positions. Crowley just made me realize once again why I stopped watching 95% of so-called news/political programs on TV.

    So, I'd like to see O'Malley in the race. I no Hillary fan. She is hawkish and frankly if she won it would be a third term for Bill. I'm sick of the Bushes and Clintons.

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  4. I am 44 and for 22 of the years I have been on the planet, there has been a Bush or Clinton in the White House representing the President of the United States. I truly am hopeful that our country does not have to endure 4 to 8 more years of Clinton. Why? Hiliary would not be president, Bill would and that man lacks self control and discipline; he is a complete narcissist. I want them (Bill and Hiliary) to both retire because I am tired of the dynasty. Wait, in a few years Chelsea will want to run too.

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    1. What makes you think that Bill would be POTUS and Hillary would just be a public face?

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    2. That's exactly what everyone will say if she wins: that Bubba is President and she's just window dressing. The media won't take her seriously. Even the ones that support her candidacy now. They'll all turn on her because they can't be seen supporting a Democrat in the White House. What is amazing to me is how blinded to all this her supporters are.

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