Early last month, Hillary Clinton gave a “major foreign policy” speech in San Diego. One cannot deny her characterization of her likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump. In the speech, she said of his policy: his ideas “aren’t just different- They are dangerously incoherent.” The liberal press blared headlines about how Clinton took the fight to Trump on the issue of foreign policy and basically schooled him.
If only that were true. Although the speech was clearly in attack mode against Trump, that is where the analysis of the speech ends. In effect, we got a hefty, heaping dosage of red meat (blue meat?) rhetoric thrown at us. When she did talk policy, it was directed at the elites in ivory towers. She was not talking to the American people and why her policies were better than Trump’s. Instead, her comments that were directed at ordinary Americans can be summarized as: Vote for me because I’m the better alternative.
But what exactly is the alternative? Perhaps the two crowning “achievements” of the Obama administration is the Iran deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Note: I use the word achievement loosely) Although she may have been instrumental in bringing Iran to the negotiating table, that deal was completed long after she left office. As for the TPP, if she truly was instrumental, then she is not showing it now since she is running from it.
Hillary Clinton may be longer on foreign policy experience, but she is no more a success in this area than Donald Trump is a success in running real estate “universities.” Instead, we got the usual platitudes when it comes to American foreign policy.
Despite being Secretary of State for four years and allegedly traveling more miles than any previous Secretary of State, her list of achievements is paltry and list of failures lengthy. The achievements are so paltry that she has had trouble naming one on the campaign trail.
Let’s start with biggest joke prop in the history of US diplomacy- the Russia reset button where “reset” was misspelled. That Russian reset allowed Russia to annex the Crimea and stage a proxy war in the Ukraine. It allows Russian warplanes to buzz US naval ships and scare the living hell out of the Baltic states. It bought Russian intervention in Syria to prop up Assad who Clinton insisted had to go, but he remains.
The infamous “pivot to Asia” designed to check a growing China allowed the US to take its eye off the Middle East at the exact time they shouldn’t have and, regardless, China now has expanded their presence in the South China Sea to the point that their territorial claims impinge on those of Vietnam and the Philippines. She sometimes plays up the fact she was instrumental in freeing the blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. In his book he says the exact opposite- that he felt pressured by Clinton and her aides, and that he was misled by State Department officials. She also counts Myanmar as a success, but the people are still waiting for the democratic reforms promised.
While the terrorist group Boko Harem was slaughtering innocents in Nigeria- primarily Christians- her State Department dragged their feet for over two years in declaring them a terrorist organization. What were they? A political party of downtrodden Muslim extremists?
Perhaps her biggest “achievements” were saved for the Muslim world. Let’s start with the so-called Arab Spring where the US, under Clinton as Secretary of State, turned on Hosni Mubarek in Egypt only to have him replaced by an equally oppressive member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Thankfully, the government of al-Sisi took over and, although he has his faults, he is infinitely better than Mohammed Morsi who Clinton’s State Department endorsed.
Then there is her yuuuuge Achilles heel: Libya. Perhaps to show she had balls, Clinton basically convinced Obama to become engaged in ousting Qaddafi. Along the way, we lost an ambassador at the hands of an organized terrorist attack, chaos, and the next home of ISIS. In 2011, she declared, “I am proud to stand on the soil of a free Libya.” Her policy certainly did make it free… for ISIS.
Democrats are proud to fluff their feathers and attack Bush over Iraq. They say we fought a good war, but did not know how to wage peace. How quick the roosters come home to roost. Because although we may have helped oust Qaddafi who presented no danger to the United States and had voluntarily given up a program of weapons of mass destruction and had actually cooperated in the war on terror, her post-Qaddafi “winning the peace” is a sham.
One could catalog the instances of Clinton foreign policy failures. In fact, there are websites dedicated to that task. But going back to that San Diego speech, there is a very good reason the most memorable lines were an attack on Trump: she has absolutely nothing to be proud of as Secretary of State. She can with great effort count “successes” on one finger and failures on both hands and both feet.
By taking this line of attack against Trump, she is actually echoing Republican criticisms of Obama in the area of foreign policy. It may be great to stand on a stage in San Diego and attack the presumptive Republican nominee, but it is not “policy.” Perhaps this is why she sometimes tries to present a more hawkish persona in this area. She cannot distance herself from Obama’s foreign policy while simultaneously defending it and taking at least partial claim for anything that can be called a “success.”
Donald Trump is, admittedly, too easy a target. There are way too many targets on Hillary also. With a President Hillary Clinton, we can simply expect just more of Obama with a few cruise missiles thrown in for good measure. For someone who was Secretary of State for four years (other than building up frequent flyer miles), one would think she would be playing up her credentials to a greater degree. The fact that even she cannot conclusively point to a slam dunk success is indicative that perhaps she realizes she was a failure in this area. These are the choices our political system has delivered this year.
God bless America.