Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently said that his Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton was unqualified to be president because she voted for the Iraq War.
Clinton says she regrets voting for that war. Fine. We all make mistakes
But did she learn anything from her mistakes?
No, she didn’t.
Pundits on left and right have noted this.
Slate’s left-leaning Jamelle Bouie wrote in 2014 that Hillary hasn’t learned any lessons from Iraq (emphasis added):
Looking at her time in the Obama administration, it’s clear Clinton hasn’t actually learned anything important from her Iraq war vote, other than I shouldn’t support wars in Iraq. Indeed, when it comes to other interventions in other countries, Clinton is as hawkish as she ever was.
In every internal administration debate during her four years as secretary of state, Clinton backed the most aggressive approach. She supported the surge in Afghanistan, pressed for the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, and supported the intervention in Libya. She was an early advocate for arming the rebels in Syria…
This logic even extends to Iraq. Yes, she says her vote was a mistake, but at the State Department she was aggressive in pushing for a long-term troop presence in the country…
Judging from her rhetoric and her actions, nothing about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has changed her views on foreign policy. She’s done the minimum and disavowed the debacle in Iraq, but she hasn’t learned from it, and if elected president, she stands poised to make the same mistakes that led us to that disaster in the first place.
Citing similar points about Clinton’s record as secretary of state, the Washington Examiner’s right-leaning Jim Antle wrote in May that Libya shows Hillary didn’t learn anything from Iraq (emphasis added):
Is there really any evidence Clinton learned anything useful from the Iraq war, despite reiterating that her vote authorizing it was a mistake? The answer to this question is almost certainly no. Clinton not only voted for the war, but she’s already done it again.
What lessons from Iraq did Clinton apply to Libya?..
Nation-building failed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Was nation-breaking supposed to work in Libya?
The main arguments for the Iraq war being essential to American security proved wrong, but no such national security interests were even asserted in Libya. Instead there have been claims that the war cost the U.S. valuable intelligence in fighting terrorism…
Libya relinquishing its weapons of mass destruction was one of the bright spots of the past decade of American foreign policy. Now how many tyrants running rogue states are likely to follow Qaddafi’s example?
To recap: there is a candidate in the 2016 race for the White House who launched a preventive war of choice against a regime without weapons of mass destruction, without congressional approval, which ended up triggering sectarian violence and unleashing jihadists like the Islamic State.
That candidate, who stands a decent chance of being the next president of the United States, isn’t running in the Republican primaries.
Are you ready for Hillary?
In the lead-up to the Iraq War, Sen. Sanders said the following on the senate floor in 2002:
I have not heard any estimates of how many young American men and women might die in such a war, or how many tens of thousands of women and children in Iraq might also be killed…
Who will govern Iraq when Saddam Hussein is removed? And what role will the US play in an ensuing civil war that will develop in that country? Will moderate governments in the region who have large Islamic fundamentalist populations be overthrown and replaced by extremists?
None of Sanders’ important questions were adequately addressed before George W. Bush went into Iraq.
None were really addressed when Clinton and President Obama went into Libya either.
Both presidents didn’t think long or hard enough about what might come next once these dictators were removed.
They did not think long or hard enough that U.S. intervention could produce something even worse.
Even George W. Bush regrets the rise of ISIS due to the Iraq War.
For regular people with regular jobs, if you make a mistake it could get you into trouble. If you make a huge mistake, you could get fired.
Politicians are the opposite.
In voting for the Iraq War, Clinton made a huge mistake. She later acknowledged it, but continued to make similar mistakes as secretary of state and promises to make them again as president.
If that isn’t a disqualifier for being commander-in-chief, I don’t know what is.