President Hillary Clinton’s Middle East Policy: Interventions, Wars, More of Same

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the presidency Sunday, prompting another of these attempts at IC to do a quick overview of what we can expect from the candidates with regard to Middle East policy.

Clinton supported Israel’s attack on defenseless Gaza last summer, which left about 2000 Palestinians dead and wiped entire civilian neighborhoods off the map. She blamed Hamas entirely for the conflict.

On the other hand, Sec. Clinton does see the Palestinians as occupied, writing in “Hard Choices”: ““When we left the city and visited Jericho, in the West Bank, I got my first glimpse of life under occupation for Palestinians, who were denied the dignity and self-determination that Americans take for granted.”

In the bizarro world of inside-the-Beltway American politics, this rather mild protest of a major human rights violation was treated as controversial.

As Secretary of State, Sec. Clinton was eager to give substantial and immediate aid to the Syrian rebels in the civil war there, but Obama blocked this plan, not wanting another Middle East intervention.

She opposes, however, the deployment of US combat troops to Iraq to fight ISIL or Daesh. She is OK with providing close air support to e.g. the Iraqi army, but doesn’t want to send in the US infantry.

She supports President Obama’s negotiations with Iran and is critical of the 47 GOP senators who wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei warning him they intended to scuttle the talks. On the other hand, she threatened in 2008 to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack on Iran if its leaders tried to nuke Israel.

Although she initially opposed the youth revolutions in the Arab world of 2011, she quickly came around and was firmly in their support by spring of 2012. By that time, however, the youth in Egypt were mostly angry at her long friendship for the deposed president Hosni Mubarak and refused to meet with her.

She initially deeply criticized Edward Snowden for his revelations of National Security Agency domestic spying and its violation of the fourth Amendment. More recently, she has been more critical of the NSA. She supports net neutrality for the internet.

In short, it seems to me that Sec. Clinton’s Middle East foreign policy would be very similar to that of President Obama, but more interventionist. She differs with Israel, as all presidents have since 1967, over its occupation of the West Bank. But she is closer to the government of Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu than is Obama, as seen in this CNNN transcript. She would have given more money and weapons early on to the Free Syrian Army. She would argue this step would have forestalled the take-over by Daesh/ ISIL. But it is also possible that the weapons and trained fighters would just have been scooped up by Daesh/ ISIL. She was one of those who argued for going into Libya. (NB: I also favored the UN no-fly zone over Libya). Of course, she also voted for Bush’s disastrous and illegal Iraq invasion and occupation, which, it seems to me, still says something about her political style.

Sec. Clinton brings substantial foreign policy expertise to these thorny issues. But she is more hawkish than Obama and seems likely to get the US heavily involved in the region again. It is not clear that she would actually do anything about continued illegal Israeli squatting on Occupied Palestinian land.

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44 Responses

  1. It should have been mentioned Ms. Clinton is very close to the Moroccan throne. She visited dictator Hassan II in private and she is close with his son Mohamed VI. She takes money from OCP. the Moroccan company that is looting phosphate from occupied Western Sahara.

  2. Should Hillary prevail in the Democratic primaries, as now seems likely, I will once again be forced to hold my nose and vote for the Democrat for the sole reason that he/she isn’t the other guy.

    • Indeed, it will be business as usual. America will patrol the seven seas, and use force to preserve her “interests” around the globe.
      Vote for the Democrat in order to get moderate federal judges appointed—and to reduce the numbers of radical, extremist judges from the federal bench.
      All other differences are pretty much illusory.

    • “. . . he/she isn’t the other guy.” Well, it’s true, he/she would not be “the other guy”. And as a double bonus, if you voted for Clinton you’d be voting for the first major party female candidate and, I think, should he/she be elected, the first US president to take office already guilty of war crimes and other crimes against humanity.

  3. I would call her foreign policy knowledge “experience” rather than “expertise.” Having folded instantly to military pressure to expand the Iraq war on the mere presumption that more force would mean more success, I don’t see any reason to give her credit for leadership ability. It appears that she makes foolish assumptions, cannot resist groupthink, and does not have the courage or intelligence to seek more difficult or unpopular paths where necessary. In short, a right wing shill posing as a progressive, their only use for females in politics. A disaster already signed up and paid for by AIPAC and the right wing.

  4. “President Hillary Clinton’s Middle East Policy: Interventions, Wars, More of Same”

    Yes. Thank you for saying it.

  5. She definitely panders to the neocons and their insane middle east interventionist policies, however, who can you vote for in the Republican mix of goons tripping over each other to kiss Adelson’s ring? Rand Paul is the only one who seems mildly against extending the military reach into every hot spot on the globe. I would hold my nose and vote for him in the SC primary.

    • Hillary’s not a neo-con. She’s a liberal interventionist. I realize there is not much difference in practice, but interventionism is supported by liberals like Clinton, as well as neocons – for ‘humanitarian’ purposes. Nothing exposes the lie of liberal humanitarian interventionism than the bombing of Libya. Hillary pleaded for bombs to stop a ‘bloodbath’ – as if what we got is NOT a bloodbath!

      • I admit it would be interesting to see Pres. Hillary Clinton dealing with a Republican house and senate. However, I have to believe the thought of having Bubba the philanderer back in the White House will cost Hillary some support.

        • “However, I have to believe the thought of having Bubba the philanderer back in the White House will cost Hillary some support.”

          Nonsense.

      • Whatever the labels, the practical fact is that Hillary is totally compromised and would have severely limited freedom of action. Still, we have to consider what she may have learned over the last 10 years.

        There were many bight and well informed people who thought the the Libyan move was good and necessary, who’ve since learned about unintended consequences (although history is thick with such examples). So, what has she really learned either from direct experience or from watching WJC or Obama contend with things? Faced with a Syrian moment in a place like the Ukraine, would she be able to calmly back-off? Would she be able to lay down the law EFFECTIVELY when given limited, unsatisfactory options, as Obama was by the generals in Afghanistan?

        I’m no republican, but I think there may others with a better prayer of doing less harm, which is about all you can hope for.

  6. H Clinton will be the next President of the USA. There are no other likely candidates from the Democrat party, and the Republicans seem unbable to produce a credible (or desirtable) leader for the country. Hilary’s victory and elevation to the supreme position of political leadership on the globe will be greeted as a triumph of the democratic process. It will be claimed that the ultimate glass ceiling will have been broken, that the age when women will rule the world will at last have come, when feminine values will bring sanity and humane values to a world dominated by the patriarchy. The USA wioll lead the world into a new era of feminist enlightenment etc etc etc blah blah blah.

    Only in the Great Democracy could a woman reach the highest office in the land. Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher likewise blazed a trail of peace and enlightened progress and international peace (hahahahaha – forget about Palestine and the Falklands War etc), but they were merely leaders of insignificant countries, not of the Shining City on the Hill, the World Hegemon. Angela Merkel – who? And what wonders thata female President will achieve for women’s rights. America elected its first black president seven years ago, and look how far the black population has advanced in the USA since. So women’s rights will advance in the US when Hilary Rodham Clinton becomes President.

    • “……….[t]here are no other likely candidates from the Democratic Party……..”

      Pundits said the same thing in 2008 when an obscure junior senator from Illinois declared his candidacy and Hillary’s support base of African-Americans and liberal young people began defecting over to Barack Obama.

      A charismatic young liberal in 2016, perhaps another black ,or even Hispanic, presidential candidate would give Hillary a tough race.

    • The difference between Thatcher, Merkel, Guillard and Clark is they reached leadership of Western democracies alone and on their own merits.

      There is a dynastic model of women leadership found in nations which is not associated with the country’s record of women’s rights.

      The Great Democracy is following in the path of Pakistan and Bangladesh in electing the wife of a former President who can not stand for himself.

  7. It is not clear that she would actually do anything about continued illegal Israeli squatting on Occupied Palestinian land.

    Pretty clear to me. She will make mild statements of condemnation while vetoing and undermining every meaningful international action taken through the UN or ICC opposing the squatting.

  8. I don’t think the term ‘expertise’ is appropriate to Clinton. She is very mechanical in her thinking about issues. It stuns me that Obama did not want to weaponize the Syrian opposition because HE was afraid of ISIL types getting it. That’s exactly what happened, and extremists were there from the beginning. Yet Hillary and others refuse to see this. She talked about a ‘bloodbath’ in Libya until I wanted to scream. What’s happening now? During the 2008 election, Obama’s campaign exposed her false claim of ‘dodging bullets’ in a trip to Afghanistan (??). She doesn’t understand strategy and tactics.

  9. Her comments during the last primary against Obama about obliterating Iran in a hypothetical situation were scary and reprehensible. They may have been made to pander to elite constituencies, but that did not mitigate their effect. Her stated affinity for the Mubarak family also reveal an anti-democratic inclination for the middle east. Her verbal support for arming ‘rebels’ was also scary given how destabilizing (if not illegal under international law) that action would have been.

    • She repeated inflammatory rhetoric about Iran on a regular basis. Only recently has she changer her tune

  10. POTUS Hillary will do all of the above and probably more, but I can’t see her starting a war with Iran or Putin. That’s a bridge too far, especially if the Republicans war mongers get nasty during the campaign. Plus, her constituents and everyone on the left will be a drag on her basic warrior instincts.

    Deep down, Hillary must hate those bastard Republicans for the way they went after Bill Clinton when he was POTUS. Hillary Clinton has a long memory and doesn’t forget shitte like that. She’ll enjoy making those Republicans suffer for eight long years.

    Suggested campaign slogan: “Vote for Hillary and watch her put some real PAYBACK on the Republicans. THIS ELECTION IS ALL ABOUT PAYBACK!!!”

    • The problem with Hillary is that she wants the job so very much for reasons of her own silly little ego. All these people have enormous egos, but I think many are also fueled by a driving desire to do the right thing. For the top job that may make them better qualifying than their ostensible platform.

      In her case, however, its all intellectual. Breaking barriers. She’s a high class sycophant, who isn’t so much driven by groupthink as defined by it. For true leaders, politics is their milieu and success comes from being able to manage it. My sense is that she has approximately 0% of the character needed to do that job, completely aside from her vision and values.

  11. With respect to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, I would like to highlight something that never gets enough attention:

    A President isn’t just his or her bad self, or even them plus their attention attracting/draining Veep. A President is a complete Administration, with not only Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries, but also an entire population of judicial and administrative appointees, including I forget how many Senior Executive Service appointees.

    When one thinks about supporting one candidate against another, one should remember all of these other people who will have power in our government. One’s support for a candidate doesn’t have to stop with campaigning for the candidate; it can also include pressing for specific individuals to specific positions at DoI, EPA, DoD, FCC, etc.

    It also means that whatever one thinks about the merit of one’s party’s nominee, one is voting for a hell of a lot more than just the names at the top of the ballot. The idea that you can’t support candidate X because of vote Y is political dilletantism of the worst sort. Politicians are by their very nature people who have waded into a morass that often resembles an open sewer. To expect them to smell kissing sweet misunderstands who they are, and who you are.

  12. While Hillary may be more hawkish than some would like I don’t think she would be nearly as so as any Republican (save maybe Rand Paul who has no chance at winning the nom). Before anybody cites her Iraq war vote, yes she did vote for it but she also said that she hoped war would be used as a last resort; that Dubya would use his power responsibly. As we know this is not what happened.I would also like to note that she has expressed her support for a deal with Iran

  13. And how can we forget her yes vote on the 2002 Iraq war resolution. Senator Dick Durbin who was on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted against the resolution. That should have been a clear sign to Clinton. Former IAEA Weapons inspector in Iraq Scott Ritter wrote extensively before the invasion that the Clinton’s knew there were no WMD’s in Iraq. Ritter had been the inspector in Iraq during the Cllinton administration. Hillary knew. She made a calculation based on politics that was deadly wrong.

    She has repeated the unsubstantiated claims about Irans alleged nuclear program for a decade. She has recently shifted in her language and now her support for the P5+1 negotiations. Hillary is a hawk on foreign policy.

    • Of course Ritter was right about Hillary and Bill knowing there were no WMDs in Iraq. “She made a calculation based on politics” and public opinion. Most Americans wanted war and George gave it to them. Hillary saw which way the wind was blowing and went with it. So did John Kerry and Joe Biden. Either they all knew it was bullshit or they’re STUPID, really stupid. But that was in 2002, not 2015-16. If a Republican gets elected in 2016, they’ll get their marching orders from Bibi Netanyahu and without a doubt we will go to war with Iran. Hillary the hawk might not take that step. A Republican president and congress is a nightmare.

      • Most Americans were convinced to want an invasion by the Bush administration’s endless lies about Iraq having a connection to 9/11 and that they had WMD’s. Americans were lied to endlessly by Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Mushroom Cloud Rice via a complicit mainstream media.

  14. Surely anyone voting for a President next time around is truly between the Scylla and Charybdis: the GOP and a hawk posing as a Progressive.

    If Progressives stand on principle then she’s toast, but she’s a chance if the swings get behind her, so in the end the question is: What are her aspirations in the domestic sphere?

    It’s on those issues that it will be won or lost, and that’s were Progressives on foreign policy will lose. Her candidature is a loss for a progressive foreign policy from the outset.

  15. I remember Hillaryous Clinton, aka The Lady of Sarajevo, claiming to have been the target of snipers when she came down the plane at Sarajevo airport, in Bosnia. Does she also see Russia from her kitchen window? The ex-air force officer in me doesn’t trust her about her future war mongering decisions as Mrs. President… She also seems too connected with AIPAC and/or Israeli decision makers and financiers…

  16. She may be able to prove the theory that sometimes there is no lesser evil. She’s never really done anything constructive, she’s got several assists in demolishing governments and replacing them with chaos but not actually constructed anything. LBJ without the Great Society only Vietnam.

  17. She’s part of the liberal internationalist wing of the War Party. Marco Rubio and Menendez make her look almost sane. But no, thanks.

  18. Does it really matter who is POTUS? As long as the myth of American Exceptionalism and the ‘shining light on the hill’ prevails we’re all doomed to living in a society where militarism prevaails both at home and abroad. And with the MSM a willing accomplice this will be perpetuated until there are ‘bottom-up’ revolutionary activity. ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a movement that shows promise to make real change. Hopefully we’ll see something in the international arena soon, but as there’s very little, if any, debate in the MSM on our Iran policy, or our declaring Venezuela ‘a national security threat’, not to mention even the slightest objective disussion on Israel occupation of Palestinian lands, I’m not very helpful. Americans live in a cocoon, apart from the rest of the world. As a recent example, was there a word in our MSM how Latin America rose up in arms on our blatant attempt to interfere in Venezuela, until Obama backed down. The attitiude is that we’ll do what we want and the rest of the world be damned!

    I think HRC will be a slight improvement on the Repubs in the domestic arena, but overseas the Empire will march forward – till its doom!

  19. As to all of this negativity about Hillary, please recognize that we must take what we have. Our choices are limited to two parties. Hillary, like any Democratic candidate, is flawed. But the Republicans are extreme. They will promise more military, less equality, less health care, less social security, more pollution, more God, less science—and they will keep their promises!

  20. One thing Hillary has is a tough hide, and she’s been scrutinized and scandal-d on everything from her votes to her hair for years. And she has a machine behind her though not sure it’ll be enough to offset Kochs, Adelson et al not to mention attempts to block voting in some states.
    If she’s the D candidate I’ll hold my nose and vote for her. The alternative is far too frightening, not just for POTUS but for SCOTUS noms, appointments, cabinet etc.
    There is no “loyal opposition” anymore. It’s all blood sport.

  21. Democracy is not dead in America. You can go to your Democratic caucus or primary and vote for Senator Bernie Sanders. The billionaire class, who are providing 2.5 billion for the Clinton campaign, and the media, do not control your vote. It is clear now in Iowa that Sen. Sanders will be the main challenger to Sec. Clinton in the Iowa caucuses. The defeatists who claim this is a waste of time might as well be working for the PR division of the Koch brothers, who want to persuade you that everything is hopeless. As long as you have a vote, nothing is hopeless.

  22. Then there were reports that when it looked like Hosni Mubarak’s days were numbered Hillary proposed General Suleiman should replace him despite Suleiman’s duties reportedly involved authority over Egypt’s torture agency.

  23. SHE IS AND WILL BE A VERY DANGEROUS PERSON TO LEAD THIS COUNTRY……NO WAY I’LL VOTE FOR HER……VOTE GREEN

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