The reason? Clinton has long been essentially one of them.
It was not a mistake that she voted for the Iraq War in 2003, which would help cost her the 2008 presidential election, nor was it a coincidence that as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Clinton repeated another regime change similar to Iraq in Libya in 2011 that predictably led to the same disastrous results, the rise of ISIS chief among them.
How did Clinton feel about her Libya intervention six years ago during the election? She thought it was an example of “smart power.” In other words, Clinton learned zero lessons from her foreign policy mistakes, same as most neoconservatives.
So it should not shock anyone now that hawkish Hillary Clinton-style Democrats are officially joining forces with Bush-era neoconservatives. The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported last month:
One of the most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president.
A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.”
It is, in fact, the ultimate union of mainstream Democratic foreign policy officials and the world’s most militant, and militaristic, neocons. The group is led by two longtime Washington foreign policy hands, one from the establishment Democratic wing and the other a key figure among leading GOP neocons.
Greenwald notes that the two primary heads of the bipartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy are Jamie Fly, a former George W. Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio national security consultant, and Laura Rosenberger, who served as a foreign policy adviser for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Though their shared loathing of Donald Trump — who bashed the Iraq War and nation building during the election — has helped drive left and right hawks together, Greenwald observes, “But Democrats and neocons share far more than revulsion toward Trump; particularly once Hillary Clinton became the party’s standard-bearer, they share the same fundamental beliefs about the U.S. role in the world and how to assert U.S. power.”
“In other words, this alliance is explained by far more than antipathy to Trump,” Greenwald notes.
The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel made a similar observation in the Washington Post on Tuesday:
The neocons — led by the likes of Bill Kristol, Max Boot and Dick Cheney — were the ideological motor behind President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the worst foreign policy debacle since the Vietnam War. The indispensable-nation crowd — personified by Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Michele Flournoy — were initial supporters of the Iraq War, championed President Barack Obama’s “surge” in Afghanistan and helped orchestrate the disastrous regime change in Libya. Neither the neocons nor the indispensable-nation crowd has been instructed nor daunted by failure.
In other words, these two hawkish groups within their respective parties were essentially in agreement on foreign policy all along, however little they liked to advertise it before the rise of Trump.
Vanden Heuvel argues for a progressive alternative to this hawkish agenda as so many Russia-crazed Democrats continue to inch closer to the very thing that once defined their party for the entire Bush administration – opposition to the Iraq War and War on Terror. Yet it is also the most conservative grassroots elements of the Republican Party who often essentially agree with progressives on what constitutes a sound foreign policy, whether it’s libertarians who like the non-interventionist message of Rand Paul or tea partiers who think Trump’s denouncements of mindless adventurism sound sensible. There is an opportunity for the right and left of both parties to work together for an alternative to perpetual war, even with this president, who’s foreign policy record to date has been far more hawkish and reckless than what he promised voters.
“Trump’s bluster has challenged the stark failures of our foreign policy, without offering a coherent alternative,” vanden Heuvel correctly notes. “Not surprisingly, the establishment is striking back.”
Not surprising at all. You knew the foreign policy establishment would try to reassert itself in some form. The question today for anti-establishmentarians on left or right is: Do we let them?