I can’t sit here today and say that if we had done what I recommended...that we’d be in a demonstrably different place.There are several places where I disagree with Clinton - such as her unequivocating support of Israel's recent actions in Gaza and her suggestion that disagreement with that position is fueled by anti-Semitism. For many liberals like me - we have a much more nuanced view of that situation. But my tendency is always to look for the big picture. It was in her recounting of what we should learn from the Cold War that I saw where many of my issues with her approach to foreign policy lie.
One of the themes Clinton espouses was captured in the article's tag line: "Great nations need organizing principles." Citing an example for what that would mean in responding to current "jihadist" threats (her words) in the Middle East, she takes a lesson from our victory in the Cold War.
I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat. You know, we did a good job in containing the Soviet Union, but we made a lot of mistakes, we supported really nasty guys, we did some things that we are not particularly proud of, from Latin America to Southeast Asia, but we did have a kind of overarching framework about what we were trying to do that did lead to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism. That was our objective. We achieved it.I'll leave it for those with more knowledge than I have to discuss what actually led to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism. But she's right, along the way "we made a lot of mistakes and supported really nasty guys." Clinton wants to excuse all that because "we won." And therefore our "organizing principle" of seeing every global situation through the lens of anti-communism was justified.
I would suggest that it was the myopic vision of seeing struggles for democracy as nothing more than communist threats that led us to make some of the biggest mistakes in our country's history. It was the unholy alliance between US corporate interests and fear mongering about the communist threat that led us to support murderous dictators all over the globe.
None of that is meant to justify the actions of the Soviet Union during that era. They were willing to exploit every opening we provided. But in the post-WWII era, as one country after another attempted to break away from colonial rule, the voice of the people was silenced via kidnappings, torture, "disappearances" and coups as they were used as pawns and proxies in our Cold War with the Soviet Union. That's exactly why President Obama's policy of "its up to the people to decide" is such a dramatic and necessary change.
Its was our inability during the Cold War to respond to each country individually in support of democracy that led to horrific policies. That's what happens with an "organizing principle" wedded to ideology and corporate interests. Of course the alternative leads to a tremendous amount of complexity. And I suppose that Hillary Clinton isn't the only one that would prefer a simple organizing principle like the anti-communism of the cold war (i.e., Global War on Terror). But that's not how the world works. We shouldn't be fooled into thinking otherwise.
P.S. Its interesting to compare and contrast this Goldberg interview with Clinton to the one he did with President Obama about Iran and Israel back in March 2012. Both are noteworthy for their depth.
UPDATE: A question for Clinton: Did your need for an "organizing principle" lead you to buy George W. Bush's rational to invade Iraq? Global War on Terrorism? With us or against us? Fight them there so we don't have to fight them here?
If so, that's another indication of how it can be dangerous.