By Scott Johnson
Professor Robert Kaufman traces the connection between the monumental foreign policy disasters and misjudgments of the Obama administration in the Wall Street Journal column “What’s a Reagan internationalist to do?” (accessible via Google here.
Professor Kaufman observes: “As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton served loyally as President Obama’s first mate on his foreign-policy Titanic.”
Professor Kaufman draws a contrast between Clinton and Trump in this respect: “[U]nlike Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton has an actual record of mistakes and bad judgment in foreign policy.” He then invites readers to consider:
Hillary Clinton named the ill-fated reset with Mr. Putin, subverting Ukraine’s independence and imperiling America’s Eastern European NATO allies fearful of becoming Mr. Putin’s next target. She also blocked efforts to place the murderous Boko Haram on the State Department’s list of international sponsors of terrorism, fostering the Obama administration’s fictitious narrative that killing Osama bin Laden had ended the war on terror.
Mrs. Clinton—emblematic of the administration’s unwillingness to acknowledge radical Islam as a danger—blamed the attack on the Libyan Embassy on a Coptic Christian video denigrating Islam rather than on the obvious culprits and their Islamist motivations timed for the anniversary of 9/11. She fatuously called Syria’s Bashar Assad a reformer with whom we could do business, and she touted the absurd notion that American “smart power” could substitute for American resolve, moral clarity and military might.
Mrs. Clinton remained silent, too, on President Obama’s systematic, unwise and dishonorable obsession with putting distance between the U.S. and a democratic Israel while conciliating the worst and most anti-American regimes in international politics. Candidate Clinton still defends an indefensible Iran deal she advocated as secretary of state that puts Iran on the autobahn to crossing the nuclear threshold while tranquilizing Americans to the gathering danger.
On that last point, Professor Kaufman’s indictment could be filled out with the acts recalled by Michael Oren in his memoir Ally deriving from his tenure as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Given the limited space at his disposal, Professor Kaufman moves on:
As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton bears heavy responsibility for the debacle in Libya. She was the administration’s leading proponent for American intervention under the auspices of the United Nations, NATO and the Arab League, bypassing the Congress. Libya has become a breeding ground of Islamist terrorism because America’s mission was ill-defined and its withdrawal premature.
Nor did Mrs. Clinton resign on principle when Mr. Obama prematurely withdrew from Iraq, failing to negotiate a status of forces agreement that would have retained a sizable American presence—something the president could have achieved had he wanted it. On the contrary, Mrs. Clinton voiced no public objection to Mr. Obama’s catastrophic decision precipitating Iraq’s collapse, with ISIS and a revolutionary Iran filling the vacuum.
Nor, despite her allegedly private misgivings, did Mrs. Clinton resign on principle or object publicly to Mr. Obama’s bungling and vacillating policy toward a Syrian civil war that has metastasized into a murderous, regional and sectarian civil war and a humanitarian refugee crisis wreaking havoc not just the region but also in Europe and the U.S.
The pivot to Asia that then-Secretary of State Clinton unveiled in 2011 has also proved hollow. Like Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton has de-emphasized the gathering danger of China’s swelling ambitions, defined combating climate change as the priority, and emphasized diplomacy rather than American hard power. The combination of China’s military buildup and America’s precipitous build-down that Mrs. Clinton backed has increased the apprehension of traditional democratic allies in East Asia as well as India.
A vote for Hillary Clinton is therefore a vote for Mr. Obama’s dangerous doctrine, which fears American power more than it fears our enemies. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton contributed enormously to lowering the barriers to aggression everywhere—with much worse to come unless we reverse course.
Professor Kaufman’s column closes the circle on the point I have been trying to make here regarding the epic Obama foreign policy disasters with which we will be contending for a long time to come.