The transformation is complete. Hillary Clinton has gone full neocon. We always knew she was. Anyone who’s paid attention to her foreign policy votes as a senator or her actions as a secretary of state knows she is the liberal analog of George W. Bush.
That’s why it came as no surprise when former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz said he would probably vote for her. Wolfowitz, who was one of the architects of the unilateral Iraq invasion in 2003, was also one of the authors of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). The PNAC was a neoconservative think tank spearheaded by former vice president Dick Cheney. At the end of the 1990s, the think tank concluded the world would need a “new Pearl Harbor” to catalyze new military conquests around the world. A couple years later, a new Pearl Harbor happened and ushered in a new era in American governance.
The problem with Trump, Wolfowitz bemoans, is that he hasn’t expressed much interest in “policies of nation-building and regime change.” It would be, he said, “a huge mistake to abandon democracy promotion.”
He is referring to Trump’s less than enthusiastic references to the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.
Another neocon and former member of PNAC, Robert Kagan, also supports Clinton.
“I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” Kagan said in an interview. “I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”
Now it appears Hillary is going for the triple lux. Yesterday she made a major speech extolling the virtues of American exceptionalism.
Speaking at a convention of the American Legion veterans’ group in Cincinnati, Clinton said:
“The United States is an exceptional nation. It’s not just that we have the greatest military, or that our economy is larger than any on Earth, it’s also the strength of our values. Our power comes with a responsibility to lead.”
Clinton’s appeal to prominent Republicans has worked well thus far. She also has endorsements from Brent Scowcroft, a national security adviser to two Republican presidents; Richard Armitage, a deputy secretary of state under George W. Bush; and James Clad, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense under Bush.
But in her previous verbiage, Clinton’s neoconservative rhetoric had been cloaked in opaque references to keeping America safe abroad and protecting our interests and alliances. By invoking American exceptionalism, she will take things to the next level, where even Barack Obama — who himself largely continued the military interventionism of Bush — refrained from going.
In principle, American exceptionalism is the belief that America has a special role in the world and must be proactive. The Republican Party platform of 2012 described it as “the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history.” In practice, of course, it becomes the ideological justification for regime change abroad and economic imperialism. These ‘noble’ pursuits have killed at least 1.3 million people in the Middle East since the inception of the War on Terror.
Some ironic lines from the transcript include:
“When America fails to lead, we leave a vacuum that either causes chaos or other countries or networks rush in to fill the void.”
Wait, I think that’s what happens when we ‘lead.’
“I’m supported by people on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the debates that have defined our foreign policy for the last 30 years. They know I believe in a bipartisan foreign policy. They know I believe we should be finding ways to bring our country together around national security,” she continued.
I’m glad the Democrats and Republicans finally found a reason to hold hands: they both love perpetual war.
“When we say America is exceptional,” Clinton said on Wednesday, “it means that we recognize America’s unique and unparalleled ability to be a force for peace and progress, a champion for freedom and opportunity.”
War should be a last resort, she suggested, but “we can’t lose our military edge.”
She might as well have winked.