Hillary Clinton 2024? Whispers are beginning to circulate that Hillary Clinton may make another presidential bid. Clinton has categorically denied that she is interested in another run – but she’s said that before on the verge of running. And Clinton’s presidential ambitions are well documented. Don’t disregard her resilience, or capacity for self-punishment; her two previous humiliating defeats may not be enough to discourage Clinton.
The policies and positions – indeed the mere utterances – of presidential candidates are combed in depth for clues as to what that candidate’s presidency would look like. One policy realm, in which a president’s influence is perhaps most significant, doesn’t quite get the correspondingly appropriate amount of scrutiny, however: foreign policy. As presidents are so central to US foreign policy, often operating without oversight, a candidate’s foreign policy views deserve particularly special attention – perhaps more so than any other variety of views – certainly more than oxygen-consuming debates on abortion and gun control.
Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy views are especially concerning; Hillary is commonly regarded as a hawk – a designation she has earned. “By any reasonable measure, Clinton qualifies as a hawk, if a nuanced one,” Micah Zenko reported for Foreign Policy. “Though she has opposed uses of force that she believed were a bad idea, she has consistently endorsed starting new wars and expanding others.”
Several prominent examples illustrate Hillary’s hawkish nature. Most notably, Clinton, then a senator for New York, voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. Her reasoning at the time: to support President Bush in his efforts, to show Saddam Hussein that the US was united. Of course, the Iraq War has come to be regarded as one of world history’s great foreign policy missteps; accordingly, Clinton’s Iraq tune has shifted with the times. To rationalize her objectively bad vote, Clinton has relied on either misunderstanding, or blaming others. At one point, after the Iraq War had “gone south,” she “thought it was a vote to put inspectors back in.” Not a chance. She has also said that her vote was “based on the facts and assurances that I had at the time.” Ultimately, she blamed Bush – “it was a mistake to trust Bush,” Clinton said. By 2008, Clinton’s Iraq vote was one of the biggest vulnerabilities of her presidential campaign. Regardless, she would support further aggressive military action in the near future.
While Clinton was Secretary of State, the rate of drone strikes increased. Obama authorized 407 drone strikes in Pakistan alone – which killed 3,089 people. 300 of the strikes occurred on Clinton’s watch. Yet, “U.S. diplomats opposed only one or two of the strikes,” according to Zenko – making Clinton complicit. A Hillary Clinton presidency would surely continue to rely on rampant drone strikes.
Clinton approved of the 2009 Afghanistan troop surge. “When Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, requested four brigades of additional U.S. troops in the summer of 2009, Clinton endorsed deploying three of them (equaling roughly 30,000 troops). Reportedly, “Clinton usually favored sending even more [troops’ than [Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates did,” Zenko reported. “It is hard to identify any enduring political or security gains in Afghanistan that have resulted from the surge. Moreover, more than three-quarters of all U.S. troop casualties in that country since 9/11 were killed or wounded in the four years after the surge was initiated.”
In 2011, Clinton strongly supported the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Clinton’s primary reasoning: to compensate US allies for their assistance in Afghanistan. “We asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago. They have been there, and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked…When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the U.K., France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interest,” Clinton said. Obama would later describe Libya as his “worst mistake” and a “mess.”
Hillary Clinton will probably never run for president again. But if she ran, and if she ran, she would enter the White House with a “long track record of being generally supportive of initiating U.S. military inventions and expanding them.”
Harrison Kass is the Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.