Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon?

Much though Democrats don't want to hear it, she's sounding like a Cheney. A lot.

If you had to guess, who would you think said the following?

[I]f we were to carefully vet, train, and equip early on a core group of the developing Free Syrian Army, we would, number one, have some better insight into what was going on on the ground. Two, we would have been helped in standing up a credible political opposition, which would prove to be very difficult, because there was this constant struggle between what was largely an exile group outside of Syria trying to claim to be the political opposition, and the people on the ground, primarily those doing the fighting and dying, who rejected that, and we were never able to bridge that[.]

Is it Lindsay Graham? John McCain? Maybe even an unreconstructed neocon like Dick Cheney?

Well, I don’t know about the unreconstructed neocon bit, but it’s not any of those. Rather, it is someone who is very, very obviously running for president.

In the Democratic Party.

hillary clinton neocon

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen (and those adhering to various other identities), meet Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former Secretary of State and Senator from New York.

I get a lot of flack—a lot of it—from other liberals and progressives who are absolutely convinced Mrs. Clinton is the right person for the job. What’s worse, those who oppose Clinton’s candidacy are often looked upon as traitorous or, worse, anti-woman, as if the only reason one might not be “Ready for Hillary” is because she’s a female.

But after a wide-ranging interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, I am more convinced than ever that she is the absolute wrong person to be president.

First, let’s clear a few things up about Hillary Clinton. She is obviously incredibly intelligent and keeps herself well-informed—better, I might add, than George W. Bush kept himself as president. She thinks deeply about the issues that she talks about; it’s not just an off-the-cuff, knee-jerk reaction like John McCain often has. She cares, too: while she may often be a cold, calculating politician, her interview with Mr. Goldberg indicates that she really does have a strong sense of compassion for those individuals trapped in war-torn countries. But more than that, she knows the scope and scale of what’s going on nearly everywhere around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

And that’s exactly why she shouldn’t be the Democrats’ nominee in 2016. I’m not opposed to Hillary Clinton because I think she can’t handle the job. I’m opposed to her because she knows so much and still retains the same worldview as Sen. McCain. Take her view on Iran’s uranium enrichment:

Contrary to [Iran’s] claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right. I am well aware that I am not at the negotiating table anymore, but I think it’s important to send a signal to everybody who is there that there cannot be a deal unless there is a clear set of restrictions on Iran. The preference would be no enrichment. The potential fallback position would be such little enrichment that they could not break out. So, little or no enrichment has always been my position.

“There is no such right.” Says who, Mrs. Clinton? Who exactly are we in the world to dictate what other countries can and cannot do so long as they maintain peaceful aims? And even as far as weapons are concerned? I don’t want the current Iranian regime to get the bomb, either, but considering that the United States is the only country that has ever actually used nuclear weapons, don’t you think that might just be a little hypocritical?

Then there’s Mrs. Clinton’s views on the conflict in Gaza:

I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets. And there is the surprising number and complexity of the tunnels, and Hamas has consistently, not just in this conflict, but in the past, been less than protective of their civilians.

None of what she says is entirely untrue or unfounded. But are we really to believe that Israel did “what it had to do,” rather than what it wanted to do? What Israel had to do was to get Hamas to quit shelling its citizens. It didn’t accomplish that—but it did manage to kill a bunch of Palestinian children. Hamas is not without a large, perhaps even majority, share of that blame, but the absolution Mrs. Clinton grants to the Israeli forces is simply ludicrous.

As I’ve said, I am relatively certain Mrs Clinton believes what she says. I don’t think, as many others do, that Clinton is simply a callous, cold, hard-nosed politician. But if she is a true-believer in this neoconservative worldview, that is all the more reason to hope against hope that someone like Liz Warren or Bernie Sanders decides to challenge Clinton from the populist left. Otherwise, she could end up bringing the Democratic Party even closer to the Republicans than they already are.

Brendan Diamond is a writer, musician, and novelist who has previously contributed to such blogs as The Dish, Pop N’ Stuff, and Fit is the New Poor. He lives in Chicago with his wife Michelle and Vanna White, their six-pound Chihuahua.

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