Hillary Clinton’s global vision reflects the fundamentally flawed post-Cold War consensus, to which both ends of the Beltway Duopoly—neoconservatives and neoliberals—subscribe with equal zeal. Its key tenet is that our unchallengeable military might is essential to the maintenance of a global order in which the U.S. Government treats each and every spot on the globe as an area of vital American interest, fiercely resists any change of regional power balances, and actively promotes regime changes. The resulting military interventions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya (and, if Hillary wins, there will be one in Syria) have been validated by the rhetoric of . . . well, she reminded us: “peace and progress,” “freedom and opportunity,” “justice and human dignity,” and by the invocation of American exceptionalism and indispensability (M. Albright). In world affairs America is supposedly motivated by “a fierce commitment to out values,” rather than mere interests.Share
Bipartisan consensus which Hillary Clinton embodies (which is why so many establishment Republicans support her) has been long codified in official strategic doctrine. George W. Bush’s 2002 National Security Strategy declared that the U.S. would “extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent” and bring about an end to “destructive national rivalries.” The Obama administration’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, still in force, claims that the task of the United States is to “confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world.” This continuity of utopian objectives reflects the chronic refusal of the policymaking community in Washington to establish a rational correlation between strategic ends and means, or to see America as a “normal” nation-state pursuing limited political, economic, and military objectives in a competitive world.
If Hillary Clinton wins next November, the United States will continue to be the major source of instability in today’s world. Even more resolutely than Barack Obama—who has been primarily interested in America’s domestic transformation in line with his ideological obsessions—she will reject any conventionally ordered hierarchy of American global interests. Traditional foreign policymaking may be prone to miscalculations (e.g., Vietnam), but in principle it is based on some form of rationally adduced raison d’etat. Clinton’s vision of compulsory global leadership, by contrast, has its grounding in ideological assumptions that are impervious to rational discourse. It has consistently created outcomes—e.g., in Iraq, Libya, and Syria—that are contrary to any conventional understanding of this country’s security interests. (Read more.)