Looking at the utter catastrophe that is America’s foreign policy, with bad actors ascendent from the South China Sea to Eastern Europe to almost everywhere in the Middle East, one might reasonably conclude that “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
As much as we’d love to claim credit for this pithy summation of our current problems, a obvious reference to some smug administration functionary’s infamous description of the Obama foreign policy that of course substituted a more vulgar synonym for “stuff,” the quotation must be credited to none other than Hillary Clinton. The past Secretary of State made the statement to the once-venerable Atlantic Monthly, making clear that in her future presidential campaign she will distance herself from her former boss, even if she felt obliged to clear it with him first, and these days it seems that no one outside the White House or the State Department or the more stubborn sections of the New York Times is willing to defend the current foreign policy.
Clinton’s critique of Obama is fairly astute, albeit tempered by an undue respect for the last of the president’s supporters and informed by a great deal of hindsight, but but we expect she will find it difficult to sufficiently distance herself from the foreign policy that she executed for the first four years of his presidency. She’s quite right to criticize Obama’s unwillingness to arm the less jihadi elements of the Syrian opposition early on in that country’s civil war, and if her claims of urging him to act at the time are true she deserves some small credit, but whatever arguments she was making behind closed doors her description of the Syrian tyrant Bashir Assad as “a reformer” were made in public and can be endlessly replayed by her future opponents. She’s now standing steadfastly with Israel in its war against the genocidal terror gang Hamas, which is also good, but she was recently on the airwaves making implausible excuses for Hamas’ despicable tactic of launching rockets from schools and hospitals to force Israeli relation there. She claims to have privately urged the president not to withdraw all of America’s troops from Iraq, which is retrospectively sage if true, but she was publicly an outspoken critic of the war she had voted for when campaigning for president last time around will once again be obliged to sound dovish when the Democratic primaries next roll around. She’s also talking tough about Russia, which we suppose is a welcome development, but the pictures of her presenting them with that ridiculous “reset” button will come in handy for future opponents.
Any Republican opponent except perhaps Sen. Rand Paul will make best use of this baggage, but the Democratic field will also try exploit what the party’s leftist base considers the Obama administration’s failings and will eventually force her back to less prudent positions. Likely left-wing contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is insisting that Iraq’s current difficulties require a negotiated rather than military solution, as if the Islamic State in Levant terror gang that is currently beheading and quite literally crucifying anyone in their path that won’t subscribe to their insane theology will be willing to negotiate a peace satisfactory to anyone else. Obama’s Kenyan heritage and boyhood days in an Indonesian madrassa were supposed to placate the Islamist bloodlust, and it seems unlikely that Warren’s fake American Indian heritage will fare any better, but Clinton will have to make a calculation that much of the Democratic primary electorate still clings to such idealistic hopes.
Sooner rather than later everyone will also be trying to distance themselves from Obama’s domestic policies, on everything from Obamacare to illegal immigration to all that deficit spending that Obama claims to have halved after doubling it while still blaming the Republicans for not spending more, and we’ll be eager to see how Clinton handles that chore.
— Bud Norman