A couple of months ago, Robert Kagan wrote a manifesto that attacked Obama’s foreign policy as weak and cowardly. He hailed the triumphal return of neo-conservatism and interventionism, arguing that superior force must be central to US policy.
A follow-up interview with Kagan appeared in the New York Times:
“But Exhibit A for what Robert Kagan describes as his “mainstream” view of American force is his relationship with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes. Mr. Kagan pointed out that he had recently attended a dinner of foreign-policy experts at which Mrs. Clinton was the guest of honor, and that he had served on her bipartisan group of foreign-policy heavy hitters at the State Department, where his wife worked as her spokeswoman.
“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama’s more realist approach “could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table” if elected president. “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue,” he added, “it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”
Now, in an interview with the Atlantic, Hillary shows boldly that Kagan’s confidence in her is not misplaced. It is a full-throated call for reliance on US power to subdue or tame all adversaries, and her list includes not only the jihadists of ISIS, but Iran, Russia, and China. She joins the chorus blaming Obama for a too cautious approach to military intervention. On Israel, she gives not an inch to worldwide condemnation of the occupation and the massacre in Gaza: “Israel did what it had to do.”
What’s most striking is the lack of vision beyond American superiority and the need to try to convince or compel the rest of the world to fall in line. Nowhere in the long interview does she mention climate change, poverty and inequality, or any of the existential problems that require international cooperation if there is to be any hope.
US foreign policy under Obama has been embedded in obligatory declarations of American exceptionalism and commitment to US supremacy. It has deployed special forces, unleashed drones indiscriminately, and expanded surveillance worldwide in violation of international law and the sovereignty of nations. But Obama has been reluctant to prolong the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to risk getting drawn into new ones.
That doesn’t satisfy John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Robert Kagan and the neocons — nor Hillary Clinton.
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After I wrote the above, I saw today's Maureen Dowd column. It's worth a read, the last part about Hillary. Dowd is often unkind, but her barbs do sometimes hit the mark.