Hillary Clinton the warmonger

To the extent that Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum’s political views can be classified, I would place him as a mainstream liberal. He has made no secret of the fact that he supports Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. But even he conceded that the one thing that bothers him about her is her love for the use of US military force and he uses as evidence an article by Adam Landler in the New York Times Magazine that looks at a series of events where she had some role in the decision making and in which she was almost always the most belligerent person.

As Drum says:

For all intents and purposes, Landler says that Hillary has been the most hawkish person in the room in almost literally every case where she was in the room in the first place.

And Landler doesn’t even mention Libya, perhaps because the Times already investigated her role at length a couple of months ago. It’s hardly necessary, though. Taken as a whole, this is a portrait of a would-be president who (a) fundamentally believes in displays of force, (b) is eager to give the military everything they ask for, and (c) doesn’t believe that military intervention is a last resort, no matter what she might say in public.

If anything worries me about Hillary Clinton, this is it. It’s not so much that she’s more hawkish than me, it’s the fact that events of the past 15 years don’t seem to have affected her views at all. How is that possible? And yet, our failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere apparently haven’t given her the slightest pause about the effectiveness of military force in the Middle East. Quite the opposite: the sense I get from Landler’s piece is that she continues to think all of these engagements would have turned out better if only we’d used more military power. I find it hard to understand how an intelligent, well-briefed person could continue to believe this, and that in turn makes me wonder just exactly what motivates Hillary’s worldview.

But as economist Jeffrey Sachs writes, Clinton is not only favored by Wall Street, she is also a neoconservative and has built a record of support for one disastrous military intervention after another.

There’s no doubt that Hillary is the candidate of Wall Street. Even more dangerous, though, is that she is the candidate of the military-industrial complex. The idea that she is bad on the corporate issues but good on national security has it wrong. Her so-called foreign policy “experience” has been to support every war demanded by the US deep security state run by the military and the CIA.

Hillary and Bill Clinton’s close relations with Wall Street helped to stoke two financial bubbles (1999-2000 and 2005-8) and the Great Recession that followed Lehman’s collapse. In the 1990s they pushed financial deregulation for their campaign backers that in turn let loose the worst demons of financial manipulation, toxic assets, financial fraud, and eventually collapse. In the process they won elections and got mighty rich.

Yet Hillary’s connections with the military-industrial complex are also alarming. It is often believed that the Republicans are the neocons and the Democrats act as restraints on the warmongering. This is not correct. Both parties are divided between neocon hawks and cautious realists who don’t want the US in unending war. Hillary is a staunch neocon whose record of favoring American war adventures explains much of our current security danger.

After cataloguing the many military actions she has supported, he says:

The list of her incompetence and warmongering goes on. Hillary’s support at every turn for NATO expansion, including even into Ukraine and Georgia against all common sense, was a trip wire that violated the post-Cold War settlement in Europe in 1991 and that led to Russia’s violent counter-reactions in both Georgia and Ukraine. As Senator in 2008, Hilary co-sponsored 2008-SR439, to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO. As Secretary of State, she then presided over the restart of the Cold War with Russia.

It is hard to know the roots of this record of disaster. Is it chronically bad judgment? Is it her preternatural faith in the lying machine of the CIA? Is it a repeated attempt to show that as a Democrat she would be more hawkish than the Republicans? Is it to satisfy her hardline campaign financiers? Who knows? Maybe it’s all of the above. But whatever the reasons, hers is a record of disaster. Perhaps more than any other person, Hillary can lay claim to having stoked the violence that stretches from West Africa to Central Asia and that threatens US security.

If Clinton is the eventual Democratic party nominee, then her likely opponent Donald Trump, for all his contradictory statements on so many things, seems to be actually much less belligerent and less likely to get the US involved in wars than Clinton. His current message seems to be that of an old-fashioned nationalist, ‘making America great again’ by looking inward, skeptical of the value of military interventions and seeing them as a drain on resources, is doubtful of the value of NATO, sees the value of working with Russian president Vladimir Putin to combat ISIS, and has even suggested that the US should be more neutral when it comes to the Israel-Palestine issue. He is also less friendly to Wall Street than she is.

This is a strange election year.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    It’s the most interesting election of my lifetime.

    This time last year, it seemed a given that the election would be Clinton vs. Bush (here in the UK we get by with just the one royal family…), and that the winner would be Clinton, the progressive liberal.

    Now, if you want to keep a hawkish warmonger out of the White House… vote Trump. Who saw that coming?

  2. brucegee1962 says

    As with everything else about Trump, I would take his isolationist mouthings with a substantial amount of salt. He doesn’t have core values, he has whims, and he seems to make decisions using his gut rather than his head way too often. I’d be afraid that he might be the first president to start a war accidentally via Tweet. If a foreign leader says something about him that stings, he might just respond with missiles rather than rhetoric if he happens to feel like it that day.

    I also think that alliances are important, and he will shred ours. We have more weapons than the next fourteen nations in the world — and after four years of his “diplomacy” we might actually need them, because everyone will be against us.

  3. patrick2 says

    I’ve long found Clinton’s warmongering one of the most worrying things about her. To just take Syria, before the days of ISIL, she was reportedly one of those who wanted regime change, possibly through direct US military involvement. Given the track record of such policies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (all of which Clinton supported or carried out), and the way the Syrian war has since gone, one can only imagine the catastrophe that would have been.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    Hillary’s support at every turn for NATO expansion, including even into Ukraine and Georgia against all common sense, was a trip wire that violated the post-Cold War settlement in Europe in 1991

    (emphasis mine)
    I have found a number of things in the internet that use this phrase, but I can’t find anything detailing what that settlement entailed. I know there was a nuclear arms reduction treaty around this time, but this seems to be something else. Does anyone have a link detailing this 1991 settlement?

  5. patrick2 says


    I think the comment is referring to verbal assurances from the US and its allies in 1990 that NATO would not expand any further to eastward, which was a condition Moscow sought after the fall of the Berlin Wall fell in return for agreeing to a unified Germany. Unfortunately for Moscow, they didn’t gain any such assurance in legally binding documents, and since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, NATO has expanded right to Russia’s borders, which Russia considers a broken promise.



  6. A Lurker from mexico says

    The whole thing with Hillary Clinton reminds me so much of the Bill Cosby case. Like, I get it, one or two accusations could be dismissed by lack of evidence, by the fourth there should be some raised eyebrows. By the time you hit 40 independent accusations the entire thing is just ridiculous, even if half of the accusers were full of shit he’d still be a serial rapist.

    Likewise, even if half of the issues about Hillary Clinton were false she’d still be a genocidal neocon maniac.

    By the way, I don’t get it when people acknowledge her “hawkishness” but still support her. I mean, I can give a pass to the people still ignorant about her but What the hell?

  7. moarscienceplz says

    Hey thanks, patrick2! That is something I had no inkling of before.

    But why didn’t Gorbachev and Shevardnadze get the West’s commitments in writing at a time when they still held all the cards? “The Warsaw Pact still existed at the beginning of 1990,” Gorbachev says today. “Merely the notion that NATO might expand to include the countries in this alliance sounded completely absurd at the time.”

    Did Gorbachev really believe that the hostage countries he and his predecessors had held at tankpoint for half a century would become bosom buddies of the new Russian Republic? What was he smoking?

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