Whither lefty foreign policy
This is from Hillary Clinton's big economic speech in the last primary campaign:
Over the 12-month period that just ended in July, the slow growth in wages actually accounted for more than two-thirds of the increase in corporate profits. What does that mean? Well, the profits go up, but unlike every other time in our history, the CEOs and the boards of these companies are not sharing the wealth. So companies are actually profiting off of keeping workers' wages stagnant ... In 2005, the last year I could find the numbers for, all income gains went to the top 10 percent of households, while the bottom 90 percent saw their incomes decline. That is not the America that I grew up in.
I caught that quote from an astute piece by Ezra Klein discussing the Clinton-Warren dynamic, which he sees as a mutually beneficial one that allows each to take a role in pulling the debate to the left on economics. As he puts it, Clinton has always been more like Warren on those issues than different but I guess she's held liable for her husband's decisions as president --- decisions taken 20 years ago in a different political environment, which is only partly fair. But nonetheless, her history is more populist than she's given credit for even if less so than the left might prefer.
He goes on to say that this is a clever tactic to keep the focus on economics and allow Clinton to escape scrutiny on foreign policy in a way she was unable to do back in 2008. I'm not so sure about that. Maybe that's the effect, but I'd be surprised if that was a plan. He also characterizes Clinton as a foreign policy hawk to the right of most liberals and I'm not sure that's exactly correct. Her record puts her pretty much right in the center of the Democratic Party on those issues (which are too hawkish in my view but then I'm on the left side of the dial on those things.) He claims she cast more hawkish national security votes than most people in the party and that's just not correct. Obviously, she got the iraq war wrong, along with all the presidential aspirants at the time, Kerry, Edwards etc. No pass on that. But she was not among the biggest hawks among Senate Democrats:
Clinton voted against H.R. 2206 in 2007, a $120 billion funding bill mostly for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that did not include a provision for troop withdrawal from Iraq [source: Washington Post].
Recall also that while then Senator Obama famously flip-flopped on warrantless wiretapping during the 2008 primary campaign, Clinton voted against it. So her record is pretty mixed.
She did not vote on Senate Amendment (S. Amdt.) 3875 in 2007, which called for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].
Clinton did not vote on a successful motion to kill a bill (S. Amdt. 3313) in 2007 to provide $75 million for local and state law enforcement agencies [source: U.S. Senate].
She voted in favor of S. Amdt. 3164 in 2007, which called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].
Clinton voted against the successful Protect America Act of 2007, which allowed electronic surveillance between people outside the U.S. without a court order [source: Washington Post].
She voted for a failed amendment (S. Amdt. 2087) in 2007, a bill that called for the reduction and transition of troops in Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].
Clinton voted against S. 3930, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which, among other things, provided immunity for CIA officials who may have been involved in acts of torture since Sept. 11, 2001 [source: U.S. Senate].
Clinton voted against an increase in funding of $360.8 million for purchase of armored tactical vehicles deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan (S. Amdt. 1933) in 2005 [source: U.S. Senate].
She voted in favor of S. Amdt. 1689 in 2003, which provided $87 billion in emergency funds for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq [source: U.S. Senate].
I'm not trying to defend Clinton's foreign policy here. In fact, I'm not sure what it is today and I'm afraid I'm not going to like it when she makes it clear. There is good reason to believe that she will be as lot more hawkish than I would want. They almost always are. But although her tenure at State does show some worrisome interventionist tendencies her record is not one of a hardcore hawk far to the right of the Democratic Party. She's right in the middle.
The good news about Clinton is that she's already been exposed to the national security establishment at the highest level so they won't have the ability to get her in a room after she's been elected and scare the hell out of her with a bunch of top secret threat assessments. But that won't help if she's got a hawkish worldview already. I'll be anxious to hear what she has to say on all this.
But I won't be waiting for the left to ask. It seems as though this topic is completely irrelevant on the progressive left all of a sudden. Nobody seems concerned about Clinton, Sanders or Warren's foreign policy and national security views as far as I can tell. Someone I know was in a small gathering with Warren a while back, begging for her to run, and when I asked about foreign policy, he said it never came up! And that's a mistake. The Republicans are going to be running on these issues whether we like it or not. And it would be nice if the left made itself as relevant on these issues as it has on issues around economics.
Bernie Sanders has a long congressional record on foreign policy and he is always among the doves. Maybe he'll be able to confront this on the campaign trail. I hope so or we're going to get to a general election where we'll have Republicans baiting the first woman presidential nominee as being too old and soft on national security and a bunch of nervous Nellie Democratic consultants (is there any other kind?) telling her she has to turn into Atilla the Hun in order to win. This is not a good thing.