It is amazing that a former Secretary of State is running for President, with the world in flames due to the blunders of the Administration she used to be part of, at a moment when American voters have elevated foreign policy to one of their top concerns… and yet she has scarcely a word to say on the subject, and the media seems disinclined to ask her about it.
The only foreign policy subject discussed during Hillary Clinton’s campaign rollout week was the Trans-Pacific trade deal, and even there her “statement” was amusingly vague, amounting to little more than boilerplate about how a good trade deal should create American jobs and enhance national security, coupled with a promise that she will be “watching closely” as the deal unfolds. It seems like she might be just a wee bit unhappy with President Obama’s take on the trade deal– or maybe not, it’s hard to tell. You can get bolder, clearer statements by smashing a bag of fortune cookies with a sledgehammer and randomly selecting a few paper slips from the wreckage.
Republicans are instantly savaged with the toughest, and often most unfair, questions reporters can imagine when they declare a candidacy – and often long before they declare – but the media spent Clinton’s rollout week helping her peddle a transparently ridiculous Astroturf campaign, never even dreaming of challenging her with a tough question.
The tough questions for Clinton are obvious, but her admirers in the press are happy to let her decide what she wants to talk about, and when. On Iran, we are left to read tea leaves provided by one of her top supporters, Israeli entertainment magnate Haim Saban, about Madame Clinton’s opinion of Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear diplomacy. “I know where she stands, but I can’t talk about it,” quoth Saban. When a reporter begged for at least a hint, Saban coyly replied, “I hinted to you that I know, but I can’t reveal to you things that were said beyond closed doors.”
He went on to assure his audience that whatever Clinton’s mysterious opinion of Obama’s rapidly-unraveling “deal” might be, it is “a very-well-defined opinion, and in any case, everything that she thinks and everything she has done and will do will always be for the good of Israel. We don’t need to worry about this.”
Yes, Israelis can rest assured the American Democrat Party has their best interests at heart, after watching President Obama tout Iran as a nuclear-powered regional hegemon while trying to implement regime change policies against Israel. The top story in the world right now is Iran claiming everything Obama said about the Lausanne nuclear “framework” is a lie, but Clinton is allowed to nurse her “very-well-defined opinion” in private.
Whether Clinton thinks sanctions against Iran should continue or not, she certainly does not feel they should apply to her financial supporters. Newsweek dropped a bombshell over the weekend about how a top donor to the Clinton Foundation and certified friend of former President Bill Clinton, Victor Pinchuk – the “fourth-richest man in the Ukraine” – shipped railroad, oil, and gas materials to Iran in apparent defiance of sanctions, but then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did nothing about it.
This illustrates one of the reasons allowing a Secretary of State to scoop up millions of foreign dollars through dubious “foundations” is a bad idea. The Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation sees no reason to stop collecting donations from foreign governments just because one of them is running for President.
It is impossible to discuss Hillary Clinton and foreign policy without mentioning Benghazi – well, not if you are a member of either the Clinton 2016 campaign or the mainstream media. Let’s not focus solely on Clinton’s long-evaded responsibility for the events occurring in that terrorist-haunted city on September 11, 2012, or the extravagant lies she told afterward. The entire nation of Libya is a titanic Clinton-Obama foreign policy disaster, not to mention a sterling example of the “unilateral cowboy foreign military intervention” liberals used to claim they hated, and it is arguably even more her fault than his.
The media stopped dwelling on it after Obama began touting Libya as a foreign-policy success, but the war actually started while he was on a South American junket, with Clinton hectoring him over the phone. Libya is now the scene of an expanding ISIS front, a stage for viral-video terrorist atrocities, a graveyard for civilians killed in factional crossfires, and the source of a hideous refugee tragedy that has Europe dealing with thousands of displaced people, and left thousands more dead at sea.
Shouldn’t Clinton be facing tough questions about this disaster, especially since she acted like it was a major achievement when she was Secretary of State? Presumably the media “referees” will blow whistles on intervention-supporting Republicans if they level such criticism, the way they never blow whistles on Iraq War-supporting Democrats like Clinton when they rail against that military operation. But if Clinton were a Republican, this would not be a story about what her political opponents say regarding Libya. It would be treated objectively as a disaster, and the media itself would be hounding Clinton about her role in it.
Clinton can probably count on her media pals not to emphasize such past embarrassments as her Russian “reset button” or hailing Syria’s brutal dictator Bashar Assad as a “reformer.” But despite their treatment as old news, Russia and Syria are very much current foreign policy issues, President Obama’s tenure has been a hideous disaster on both, and there is no reason to think Clinton would do any better. The fact that she has demonstrated repeated signs that she does not understand Vladimir Putin’s adventurism or the Syrian civil war is highly relevant to the 2016 election.
The big problem facing Hillary Clinton on foreign policy is that she cannot afford to alienate the Democrat base by distancing herself too much from President Obama, a difficult task for a former Secretary of State under the best of political conditions. But if she does not break from Obama, she will have trouble gaining ground with an electorate that not only disapproves of his foreign policy, but is actively anxious about his failures.
In a Bloomberg Politics interview, Leslie Gelb tried to claim Clinton did not have any big foreign policy failures as Secretary of State. Supposedly she built a legacy “mainly on the issues of women’s and humanitarian rights, and on global warming.”
Humanitarian and women’s crises in the grim corners of the world are the worst they’ve been since World War II. “Feminists” like Clinton turned a blind eye to the real, physical suffering of women in Islamist hellholes while carping about mythical “pay gaps” in comfortable Western nations. Clinton herself was the biggest obstacle to placing Boko Haram, a jihadist group responsible for the abduction, rape, and killing of hundreds of women, on the US list of terrorist organizations.
Ed Rogers at the Washington Post phrases Hillary’s dilemna as a choice between “a lame message of, ‘Our foreign policy is good but could better'” and “picking a few of the worst debacles that occurred after her departure, declaring that, ‘mistakes were made and I would do things differently’ and hoping that will suffice.” Given how intolerant the Obama dead-enders of the Democrat base have become of even the mildest criticism of their man, one wonders if even those options are truly viable. Neither of them would exactly be an inspiring demonstration of leadership.
Gelb suggested a third option by trying to excuse Clinton’s blank sheet of Secretary of State accomplishments by portraying her as a helpless pawn of Obama with little “freedom of action” in a “rather personal and centralized Administration.” That’s not inspiring leadership either. Vote Hillary 2016, Because She Kept Her Mouth Shut and Did What Obama Told Her, Even When She Knew It Was Wrong.
Fortunately, Clinton knows the media will not pressure her to make such choices, so she has plenty of time to mull it over, and maybe wait for some of the worst foreign-policy headlines to blow over. Behold the remarkable spectacle of a former Secretary of State running for President with an almost completely mysterious foreign policy agenda.