Jimmy, Barack, Hillary, Bernie, & foreign policy

Jimmy Carter was the first US President I remember. I still like & respect Jimmy Carter, even though in hindsight he didn’t really continue the successful economic policies of previous Democrats, and he didn’t stop the imperialist activities of the USA in Latin America.

I can like someone while recognizing that they have glaring flaws among their good points. I bring this up because it’s relevant to how we look at Barack Obama. Obama is likeable, and he’s cool, and his presidency is important to a lot of people–and his foreign policy team is crap. Total crap.

War in Libya with the opposition of Congress–are we playing at being Dick Nixon & Henry Kissinger now?
Trying to depose Assad via the ragtag Free Syrian Army, and probably contributing to the Syrian refugee crisis–instead of offering food aid when Syria was in a five-year drought and a killer famine, possibly thawing relations with Assad, and averting the refugee crisis.
And both of the above empowered “Islamic State.” Lovely.
Assassinating Muslim preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. Then assassinating his teenage son. Obama flak-catcher then saying, “Should’ve had a better dad!” Class act. e_e
The “double tap” drone policy which attacks first responders after an assassination strike, not to mention that our foreign policy relies on assassination strikes at all.
America apparently completely blowing the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009? I don’t know as much about this one.

All of this happened when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. I’m not giving John Kerry a free pass. I’m just saying, if she wants to run on this record, I’m not seeing enough positives to outweigh negatives. It’s not really a great record on the merits.

Then she stood in front of a bunch of Democratic primary voters and invoked Henry Kissinger as someone who approved of her state department. Um, OK, you can take a compliment from a predecessor, but trumpeting that is odd. Do you even know where you are, lady? Republicans might accept that endorsement; I grew up Republican, and I think we sort of knew Kissinger was a supervillain, but he was our supervillain. In front of a bunch of liberal US Democrats? Uhhh, no.

Bernie isn’t perfect. Drone attacks will probably continue under him in some form. But I think I’d rather take a chance on his foreign policy than on hers. Of course, that’s easy to say, given that I tend to agree with him on other issues.

Tulsi Gabbard’s endorsement of Bernie yesterday makes me think I’m onto something. Hillary Clinton was a bad Secretary of State who backed foolish policies that caused problems for other countries, including our European allies. And to no advantage to our country.

She has not earned the respect her resumé would imply. And at least Bernie isn’t looking to Kissinger as a mentor and role model.

Just one of the reasons I am asking you to vote for Bernie Sanders in your state’s Democratic primary.

I actually thought Obama’s foreign policy team was above average when Clinton headed the State Department. I think it’s gone totally to pot under Kerry.

But as a conservative, I suspect you’d know I wouldn’t have much of a problem with Clinton’s foreign policy record or views. Getting rid of Qaddafi is something that will always be a plus on Clinton’s ledger IMO. He was right up there with Saddam as a bad guy, and she got the President to pull it off with much less loss of American life, although our Libya policy exposed that there really are no good strategies in that part of the world. We can either occupy a country and lose thousands of Americans, or we can not occupy and see a failed state. Or we can not intervene much at all, and see endless civil war and a refugee crisis. What the hell are we supposed to do then? At least on that issue, I have more faith in Clinton than in any of the GOP contenders and certainly more faith in her than in the Obama/Kerry administration.

I’m genuinely curious: lots of folks criticize Kissinger for cozying up to dictators. Awful thing, right?

So you suggest that we should have cozied up to Assad, and that’s better than taking lessons from Kissinger? WTF?

Yes, nurturing relations with Assad is very much a Kissinger thing to do.

No, a Kissinger thing to do would be carpet-bombing Assad if he refused to cozy up to us. Or, you know, gassing his people and framing him for it. (Not that that accusation has been or can be proven.)

But OK, if you want to say that she’s worse for stability than Kissinger, I’ll accept that.

or the communists who Kissinger had to take side against in the Cold War, against an evil empire.

That’s the reason I’m supporting Bernie. I don’t agree with many (most?) of his domestic policies, but he wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of implementing any of them. Foreign Policy, however, he can run wild with, pretty much. Especially when it means NOT doing stuff. NOT starting another war. NOT bombing every country someone thinks has some terrorist activity going on. That’s what I like about Bernie, and what scares me quite a bit about Hillary and whole LOT about all the GOP folks.

I can’t understand this thinking so many people have that we screwed things up by waging so much war over so many years, but if we just wage “a little bit, a little longer”, we can maybe make things right. No. Let’s get out. If some country attacks us and poses an existential threat to us, then I’m all in for war. But not until then.

So, foolsguinea… you and I disagree on lots and lots of stuff, but we’re backing the same guy!!

So when Kissinger (and Nixon, of course) cozied up to Pinochet in the name of stability in South America, you’re saying, “Oh yeah, let’s do more of that! That was a great move by Kissinger, and we should do for Assad what we did for Pinochet!”

This is what you’re saying, right?

Yeah, no kidding. For my generation, the George W. Bush administration was the formative political experience, and Democrats defined themselves against it, particularly in regards to war and foreign policy. The Republicans were the party of war, torture, massive military spending, and generally dropping bombs first and thinking later or maybe not at all. But the Democrats were the party of peace, charity, and goodwill, or at least something in that general direction.

Now the Democrats are about the nominate a candidate who might be the most warmongering President in American history. Hillary has never been pro-torture; definite thumbs up for that. Otherwise, she’s as much bombs away as George W. Bush was, and maybe more. She voted for Bush’s war in Iraq and took quite a while to acknowledge that may have not been such a great idea. She’s supported a militaristic approach in Libya, Syria, and anywhere else you care to name. She would be entering office at a time when conflict is breaking out in many places, and there would, in all probability, be a large number of cases where the establishment would call for American intervention. She’s not likely to say no.

Of course the Republican candidates are not generally better. The American Conservative, a magazine founded in 2003 to oppose the Iraq war, offered this foreign policy report card and these final grades:

Clinton: D
Sanders: B
Trump: C
Kasich: C
Cruz: D
Rubio: F
Carson: F

The problem with candidates and their foreign policy chops is that foreign policy ‘experience’ is very difficult to obtain until after you’ve assumed a policy-level office. You may not agree with Hillary, but she has got the experience. One would assume she learned something from her tenure as SoS. What can Trump possibly know? He may have some insights into MNCs and international business (although I suspect he has hirlings that take care of that for him), but the man couldn’t find diplomacy in a Webster’s Dictionary and certainly has no idea how to deploy out in a multi-cultural milieu. And would he have enough policy acumen to hire the right people to make up for his lack in this area? I honestly don’t think so. He has no knowledge of what policy is, how to formulate it, or the history that has led up to what policy is in place. Not necessarily faulting him for that, as he has had no need for such information in his business career. But again, he doesn’t have a clue.

Sanders, Rubio, and Cruz may have some policy knowledge through their service in Congress, but if they do it wouldn’t be comprehensive and would probably be only in limited areas. They would suffer from the same weakness in this area as Obama has done. Obama was smart to put Hillary in as his SoS in the beginning both for political reasons and for her policy knowledge through her husband’s presidency. Whether you liked or approved of her, there was a fall off in foreign policy quality after she left and Kerry took over.

I’d love it if we’d eventually have a presidential candidate who brought foreign policy knowledge or experience to the table. I hope to live long enough to see that happen. Globalization appears to demand such knowledge. But experience in the field is difficult for any average citizen to come by.