Which brings me to this puff piece entitled Foreign Policy Grown Up about Hillary Clinton's supposed acumen in foreign policy. In reality, her acumen is measured against the rest of the Democratic field. There were a couple of questions that came to mind when I read this piece. The first is who is paying this guy's salary, and the second is who is paying that person's salary.
The thesis of the piece is that unlike her rivals Clinton bucked the far left and voted for sanctions against Iran.
Begin with the Iran debate. All the Democratic presidential hopefuls know that a nuclear Iran is scary. They know that the Europeans have been patiently negotiating with Iran to secure a freeze of its program and that the Iranians have been stalling. But Clinton is the only Democratic candidate who unequivocally embraces the obvious next step: Push hard for the sanctions that might change Iran's calculations. Unlike all her opponents, Clinton supported a pro-sanctions resolution in the Senate. Ever since that vote, Obama and the rest have attacked her mercilessly.
He then goes into a long winded explanation of the extreme pacifist philosophy of the far left. He also explains how sanctions do not mean a rush to war. Now, while I am happy that the Senator voted for sanction against Iran, it is hardly something that should be commended. In fact, by design or accident, Mallanby actually exposes the amazing power and radical agenda of the far left. I would say that slapping sanctions on Iran isn't courageous but rather obvious.
Let's go over what Iran has done just in the last year or so. They are responsible for the alphabet soup of explosive devices blowing up soldiers in Iraq. They started a proxy war in Lebanon with Israel. They went into international waters grabbed fifteen british sailors and held them hostage for propaganda purposes. They started another proxy war in the Palestinian territories. Wait, oh yeah, I haven't even talked about the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. Now, Mr. Mallaby thinks we should be impressed because Hillary Clinton rounded up the sense and courage to actually vote for sanctions against this country.
I am reminded of the pinnacle scene in Quiz Show. Right after Van Doren confesses to his deeds the Senators one after another praise his candor, honesty and courage. Finally, one Senator brings things back some sanity.
I'm happy that you've made the statement. But I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. See, I don't think an adult of your intellegence should be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth.
The same way here I don't think Hillary Clinton should be commended for doing what anyone with any intelligence can see is the sensible and obvious thing to do. Like the Senator, I am happy that she voted for the sanctions, but slapping sanctions on a country that has committed dozens of acts of war all over the Middle East just in the last year isn't corageous or "grown up" but obvious.
Mallaby then goes on to laud Clinton's position on Iraq.
Clinton's rivals are contemplating history and deriving only a narrow lesson about Bush: Don't trust him when he confronts a Muslim country. But the larger, more durable lesson from Iraq is that wars can be caused by a lack of confrontation. The Iraq invasion happened partly because the world had lost the stomach to confront Saddam Hussein by other means. By 2002, the sanctions on Hussein's regime had been diluted, and there was pressure to weaken them further. Hussein was no longer "in his box," to use the language of the time: If you believed that a resurgent Saddam Hussein presented an intolerable threat, it was worth taking the risk of unseating him by force, sooner rather than later.
Alone among the Democratic candidates, Clinton has the honesty to insist that the case for war was reasonable at the time -- even if, with the benefit of hindsight, the invasion has proved disastrous. In sticking to that politically difficult position, Clinton is saying that, despite its awful risks, war can sometimes be the least bad choice. She is not running away from military power, even in a political climate that makes running attractive.
To this, I am not even sure what he is impressed with and frankly I don't care. Mallaby is a Bush hater, and he says as much.
Bush's record is disastrous, and on an emotional level, Bush hatred is understandable. But what we need in the next president is a vision of the world that's not distorted by the bitterness of recent times: a vision that accepts the limits of military force but also acknowledges that Americans face real threats, that feckless foreign powers can sometimes make the ideal of multilateralism unattainable and that war can sometimes be the least bad option.
He appears to be impressed by Clinton because despite her hate she has enough sense to slap sanctions on Iran and see sense for war at times. Frankly, the article is derelict not only in what it says, but frankly what it doesn't say. For all of the grown up talk, Mallaby doesn't seem to mention the multiple and muddled positions Hillary has on both Iraq and Iran.
In July, Clinton called Obama naive for suggesting he would negotiate with Iran with no pre conditions, but by October she was herself saying she would also negotiate with Iran with no conditions. As Rudy Giuliani rightly pointed out, Clinton refused whether or not Israel has the right to defend herself against Iran, and Clinton is not clear as to whether or not war is ultimately also an option for her own administration when dealing with Iran.
On Iraq her position is even more muddled, in the beginning of the year she was strenuously in favor of pulling out of Iraq as soon as possible.As we've come to the second half of the year, she has suddenly taken the position that she can't promise all forces will be out of Iraq by 2013. This continues a long and tortured evolution for Clinton on Iraq. Hillary Clinton was enthusiastically behind the effort. As the war turned for the worse, and public opinion turned for the worse, she turned against the war as well. She's even claimed that her vote for the Authorization to Use Military force in Iraq wasn't an authorization for military force but rather more diplomacy.
None of these shifting and muddle positions is ever addressed by Mallaby when he calls Clinton a grown up. In Mallaby's world, changing your position as often as the weather changes is perfectly fine and still being a grown up as long as you can muster up the good sense to vote for sanctions against Iran.
Finally, I would like to draw a metaphor. In my fantasy football league, every year all the teams that don't make the playoffs play in their own pseudo playoffs that we call the toilet bowl. Now, no one is lauded for winning the toilet bowl, we just all love fantasy football and want everyone to play as long as possible. To say that Hillary Clinton is the "grown up" among the Democrats vis a vis foreign policy is really the equivalent of congratulating the toilet bowl winner in fantasy football.
Let me end my analysis of Mallaby's piece with one word. I will clean it up since this is a family show and simply say: bolderdash.