It’s too bad Michael Crowley’s excellent article about Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy views (hawkish!) isn’t available to non-subscribers. Here‘s an excerpt telling you that of Bill Clinton’s top foreign policy aides, many of the less militaristic ones (Anthony Lake, Susan Rice) have signed up with Barack Obama, while Clinton is extremely close to the very hawkish Richard Holbrooke (see the brief Holbrooke section of Ari Berman’s old article about Dem advisors) and hired a former WINEP guy onto her Senate foreign policy staff. And then, of course, there’s Clinton himself:
[A]s the war drums grew louder, he grew increasingly supportive. While he stressed the importance of diplomacy and arms inspections, he seemed to value them more as a way to legitimate an invasion than to avoid one. On October 27, for instance, Clinton said in another speech that “I do think it would be better if we can go through the U.N. and try the inspections, even though if past is prologue, they’ll fail.” Though he regularly warned against acting without broad support, this, too, seemed less a critique of Bush administration aggressiveness than of U.N. timidity. In a mid-February speech, he told a Texas audience that Bush “deserves a lot of credit for saying we can’t just ignore [Iraq] forever; it’s time to deal with this again,” before going on to argue that the credibility of the United Nations was at stake and urging recalcitrant European countries to show that they were serious about Iraq.
More strikingly, Clinton even seemed to embrace the neocon notion that, by toppling Saddam, the United States might reshape the Middle East. “[I]t’s going to take years to rebuild Iraq,” he said. “If we do this, we want it to be a secular democracy. We want it to be a shared model for other Middle Eastern countries. We want to do what a lot of people in the administration honestly want, which is to have it shake the foundations of autocracy in the Middle East and promote more freedom and decency. You’ve got to spend money and work hard and send people there to work over a long period of time.” These could have been the words of Paul Wolfowitz. But, to Bill Clinton, this wasn’t a blinkered fantasy–it was a legitimate and realistic U.S. foreign policy objective.
This is what makes the Clinton camp’s continued efforts to dissemble about Barack Obama’s record unfortunate. As best one can tell, Clinton and Obama not only took a different view of the October 2002 Iraq authorizing resolution vote, but have different instincts and views about the larger questions in this area and have, for that reason, come to attract different groups of associates. For the record, in addition to whichever of the big name people Edwards talks to his primary national security associates (to the best of my knowledge) are Derek Chollet and Michael Signer. Signer, conveniently, has published a foreign policy manifesto that I’m not super-excited about. I know less about Chollet’s views (this seems right) though I can say that his book The Road to the Dayton Accords, a rare foreign policy book that eschews doctrine in favor of looking at how these decisions actually get made, is pretty fascinating.