Thursday, July 26, 2007

Is Sen. Clinton "Bush-Cheney Lite"?
So says, or at least implies, Barack Obama:

"The Bush administration's policy is to say that he will not talk with these countries unless they meet various preconditions -- that's their explicit policy, and that was the question that was posed at the debate. This is the assertion that she made during the debate and subsequently, was that she would not meet with various leaders unless certain preconditions were met. Now, if that's not what she means, then she should say so, but that was the question that was posed at the debate."

Obama also said: “I’m not afraid of losing the PR war to dictators...I’m not going to hide behind a bunch of rhetoric. I don’t want a continuation with Bush-Cheney. I don’t want Bush-Cheney light. I want a fundamental change.”

What specifically prompted this is a rather insubstantial argument about "talking to America's enemies," in which Obama endorsed diplomatic talks without conditions and Clinton quickly smacked him for "naivete." In reality, both are probably in the same place: more willing to engage in diplomacy than the Bush administration, but hardly prepared to offer tea and sympathy to the worst regimes in the world.

In a larger sense, though, I believe Hillary Clinton *does* represent what we could call "Bush/Cheney Lite." To be fair, I'm not so sure it's different from the stance Bill Clinton took during his two terms, or how Al Gore would have approached the world had he been allowed to claim his victory in 2000. But the stakes of this approach are higher now, and its risks are commensurately greater.

First, the disclaimer. Though I'm clearly not a Hillary fan, I have no doubt that her administration would conduct foreign policy at a level of competence and thoughtfulness light years beyond what the current crop of goons, dimwits and sociopaths have wrought. But Sen. Clinton offers no challenge to the increasingly problematic foundational premises of American foreign policy:

1) Our unmatched power essentially gives us the right to do what we want, when we want

2) We should not be held responsible for our own past actions, and they bear no relation to what goes on now (e.g. Iranian distrust of U.S. actions and intentions is in no way justified by the fact that we staged a coup in their country more than 50 years ago, replacing a democratically elected government with a repressive tyrant)

3) Nobody worries about the larger budgetary and systemic (as in the ramifications for our democracy at home) consequences of our de facto empire except some weenie academics and losers who hang out on the Internets

It probably can be argued that the only candidate in the race on either side who's even thinking about these issues is the renegade Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul. And, of course, he's a nut on myriad other grounds. But I have vastly more faith that Obama at least might grapple with these issues than that Hillary Clinton--the chosen candidate of the Establishment, the most likely to embrace the Bush/Cheney vision of Executive Superpowers, and the Senator who didn't even bother to read the intel on Iraq because she'd made up her mind to cast the "right" political vote--ever will. If you think it's important to even question the premises of how we work in the world, you shouldn't be supporting Clinton.

1 comment:

The Navigator said...

One interesting question, that I don't know the answer to, is who's advising Obama and/or likely to serve at the top levels in an Obama administration. He can't do it all alone, of course, even if he is supersmart (as he seems to be) - if he were to show up in DC and have all the party bigwigs inform him that the latter day Clark Cliffords would be taking care of foreign policy for him, we'd be assured of continuity.