Libertarian Gary Johnson embarrassed himself Thursday when he said he didn’t know what Aleppo was. Aleppo is a Syrian city central to the refugee crisis. It is significantly pertinent to any U.S. foreign policy discussion. It’s certainly a location any person seeking to be commander-in-chief should be aware of.
In fact, Clinton’s actual record and what she thinks constitutes wise U.S. policy toward Syria—Hillary being the alleged foreign policy “adult” in the room—is far more worrisome than Johnson’s flub.
Here are just three examples.
Her eagerness to arm Syrian rebels
Clinton has pushed for U.S. arms and aid to be delivered to Syria’s anti-Assad rebels, only for these weapons to end up in the hands of America’s enemies, particularly ISIS. She was one of the earliest Obama administration officials to promote this policy, but was overruled initially by the president. The New York Times reported in 2013, “Wary of becoming entangled in the Syria crisis, the White House pushed back, and Mrs. Clinton backed off.”
Whenever President Obama showed hesitancy to arm these groups, Clinton urged him to do so.
She wants to establish a no-fly zone
Why? Because going to war with Russia right now is not a good idea. As Cato’s Chris Preble observes, a no-fly zone “could have brought U.S. pilots into direct contact with Russian aircraft in contested airspace.”
A Syrian no-fly-zone is something Republican hawks and their Democratic counterpart in Hillary Clinton like to beat their chest about, but would be completely reckless in practice.
Even National Review’s David French—the same David French neoconservatives hoped might run for president and who is by no means a dove—wrote a year ago during the Republican and Democratic primaries, when Rand Paul was one of the few to say a no-fly zone was a terrible idea:
candidate after candidate is now on record — they want American pilots to enforce a “no-fly zone” over Syria. Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina each want to establish a safe zone over Syria — and enforce it against the Russians, even to the point of shooting down Russian aircraft if they enter protected airspace. Hillary Clinton has broken with the Obama administration and supports a no-fly zone over Syria as well…
Yet a no-fly zone would represent a serious strategic mistake… Any meaningful no-fly zone has to be enforced against Russia. That decision — let’s be perfectly clear — would move a great-power conflict from “possible” to “probable.” I don’t say this often on foreign-policy matters, but Rand Paul is fundamentally right. A no-fly zone is an unacceptable risk.
Obama adviser David Axelrod also explains in-depth why a no-fly zone is simply a bad idea.
She’s addicted to regime change
Clinton went from praising Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to calling for regime change—something she should have learned lessons about when she supported the same policy in Libya in 2011 and Iraq in 2003.
As for Syria specifically, calls for Assad to be ousted seem to have dampened over the last year as it appeared that removing the dictator could help ISIS.
Time and again, Clinton has show she’s a hawkish Democrat eager to intervene where even President Obama has been hesitant. She’s even tried to blame Obama for the messes in Syria and Libya, wiping her hands clean—as if she never was secretary of state when some of these decisions were being made.
When Donald Trump has clumsily said Clinton and Obama “founded ISIS,” this is what he’s trying to say.
And he has a point.
Hillary Clinton, unlike Gary Johnson, probably knows exactly where Aleppo is.
What she might do there should concern us all.
Disclosure: I co-authored Sen. Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington.