Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Clinton Moves Right on Russia

Hillary Clinton’s intensive, but unannounced, quest for the Democratic Party nomination is moving slightly to
the right of the Obama administration on foreign policy, especially Russia.

Clinton, of course, must be cautious the effort does not appear critical of the administration, a needed ally in her nomination strategy, nor so far right as to alarm the Democrats’ substantial peace wing. But she sees much danger in being in alignment with President Obama’s increasingly embattled foreign policy.

In point of fact, she campaigned six years ago as the more experienced and realistic candidate on foreign policy issues. She was the person who should take the call on the “red” phone, voted for the Iraq War resolution and thought Obama naïve for opening Iranian conversations without conditions.

And, although her time as Secretary of State has its detractors describing it as one long plane ride to small bore identity events, she was the more aggressive voice on Libya and Syria. And, there will always be Benghazi as a sign of weakness she will want to counter.

Most importantly, in spite of the American peoples’ reluctance to engage in foreign military action, President Putin appears to be critically undermining the administration’s strategy of framing great power foreign policy as all about diplomacy around shared interests and having its signature accomplishment “undoing Bush’s wars.” Equally problematic is their dependence on Russia being a useful partner in the Syrian and Iranian initiatives, always a long-shot, if not naïve, position.

Hence, we all watch with some interest Ms. Clinton’s maneuvering over the next several months while Putin’s actions in Eastern Europe continue to roil the world stage.

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