Hillary Clinton Isn’t a Foreign Policy Issue — What We Should Really Care About

Does it matter whether Hillary Clinton is Barack Obama’s secretary of state?

Who is the secretary of state is far less important than the question of Obama’s foreign policy — and I’m not sure that I know what that is, even in general, at this point.

As far I as I can figure, Obama isn’t very far from Bush on most foreign policy issues (without, hopefully, the stupidity) and that concerns me far more than whether Hillary Clinton should be secretary of state.

During the course of the campaign, as the economy became the focus of debate, questions about foreign policy receded.  Even so, Obama seemed to me to move closer to Bush on a wide range of foreign policy issues, from the war in Afghanistan to support for the territorial claims of the current regime in Georgia. 

Overall, Obama maintained a fuzzy “feel good” foreign policy stand with vague bromides such as “secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists” (who is in favor of loose nukes?), “direct diplomacy without preconditions to end the threat from Iran” (who doesn’t want to end the threat from Iran?) “rebuild our alliances” (anyone against that?) and “renew American diplomacy” (okay, but how?).

Aside from the still unresolved question of what Obama will do to end the war in Iraq, these questions concern me:

Will Obama continue the Bush policy of deploying missiles in Eastern Europe despite the threat such missiles pose to the Russians?

Will Obama put teeth in the U.S. opposition to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory?

How will Obama work with Mexico and other countries to reduce illegal immigration and reduce drug traffic into the U.S.?

How will Obama seek to change NAFTA and CAFTA?

What countries should be admitted in NATO?

What should the U.S. or the U.N. do about the ongoing genocide in Darfur?

What should the U.S. do about the many other disasters now taking place in Africa (Somalia, Congo, Zimbabwe)?

The list, of course, could (and should) be expanded.

The fact is that we don’t know the answers to these questions.

When we’re talking about Obama’s foreign policy, these are the questions we should be discussing, not whether Hillary Clinton (or anyone else) should get the corner office in the state department.

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2 responses to “Hillary Clinton Isn’t a Foreign Policy Issue — What We Should Really Care About

  1. It’s fair to require answers to your questions from Obama, but it’s also fair to wonder how the presence of Hillary at State might affect those answers.

    “direct diplomacy without preconditions to end the threat from Iran” (who doesn’t want to end the threat from Iran?)

    As I understood it, the emphasis was more on the “direct diplomacy without preconditions” portion of that statement. This is, in fact, a clear departure from Bush/Cheney’s surly refusal to talk with adversaries (upon which they tacitly reneged only very recently and to a minor extent). Note too that McCain hewed to the Bush line in his unsuccessful attempt to make hay of the word “preconditions.”

    …“rebuild our alliances” (anyone against that?) and “renew American diplomacy” (okay, but how?)

    Again, these pledges may seem crafted to go down easy, but they do represent a welcome end to the disastrous unilateralism of the Bush junta. To take just the U.N. as an example, these are the guys who sent Colin Powell in to wave a prop vial of anthrax and lay out a dossier of pure bullshit to the general assembly, and later appointed that troglodyte John Bolton as their Ambassador of Open Contempt to the U.N. There’s plenty to rebuild and renew. The policy distillation necessary for the Today-show level of present-day presidential campaigns didn’t allow for specific details of how these things will be achieved. I for one am willing to believe Obama’s commitment to doing so, at least till he’s been in office for a little while.

  2. Re: “The policy distillation necessary for the Today-show level of present-day presidential campaigns didn’t allow for specific details of how these things will be achieved. I for one am willing to believe Obama’s commitment to doing so, at least till he’s been in office for a little while.”

    I agree.

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