The Presidential Candidate Intervention Meter is based on an analysis of proposals made between August and December 14, 2015 and quantifies each candidate’s interventionist position by scoring each proposal for the use of force according to how expansive, expensive, or entangling it is. A call for the major use of ground force, for example, earns more points than a call for the limited use of Special Forces. Likewise, carpet-bombing proposals score higher than calls for air support of Iraqi troops.
Here’s Cato’s chart:
Now that Lindsey Graham has dropped out, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is the most hawkish candidate in the race, followed by the Republican candidate perceived by some as equally or perhaps more hawkish, Marco Rubio.
Though some might be inclined to see this chart as indicating which candidates would be most pro-active in the fight against ISIS (something the candidates themselves certainly advertise), it’s worth noting that some of the most significant U.S. foreign policy decisions advocated by ultra-hawks like Clinton and Rubio have been cited as primary contributors to the rise of the Islamic State.
Cato’s A. Trevor Thrall, who helped create this chart, doesn’t think Clinton’s hawkishness is likely to diminish moving forward, even as she likely assumes the Democratic mantle.
“Hillary Clinton is already running as the most hawkish and interventionist Democrat in a very long time,” says Thrall. “Having staked out such a position as she appeals to Democratic primary voters, it is hard to see her becoming any less interventionist in the general election as she begins to appeal more energetically to moderate voters,” he adds.
Here’s Cato’s scoring rules:
Calls for ground forces
High (i.e. thousands of troops): 100 points
Medium (i.e. embed with Iraqi forces): 50 points
Low (i.e. Special Forces): 25 points
Calls for Air Power
High (i.e. carpet bombing): 50 points
Medium (i.e. air support for Iraqi forces): 25 points
Low (i.e. drone strikes to kill terrorists): 10 points
Calls for No Fly/Safe Zones: 10 points
Calls for global/unlimited action against terrorism: 100 points
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington.