Hillary Clinton: a neo-con in Democrat clothing?

Hillary Clinton: a neo-con in Democrat clothing?
5 min read
16 Apr, 2015
Comment: Nothing in her record suggests Clinton will be anything but an unrepentant foreign policy hawk. It is worth bearing in mind before she potentially becomes America's first woman president.
Clinton campaigning in Iowa [Getty]

The 2016 presidential elections may be another historic moment for America. On Sunday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her 2016 democratic presidential bid.


Clinton isn’t new to the game. She ran for the democratic presidential ticket in 2008. If Clinton succeeds and becomes the first female president of the United States, what will that mean for the Middle East?


     My desire to see a woman commander-in-chief does not mean I will throw millions of lives under the bus.

Let’s look at her record.


While she was senator of New York, she voted in favour of the invasion, occupation, and destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq. The result? Since 2003, 211,000 Iraqis have been killed. The number of injured ranges in the hundreds of thousands and the numbers of broken families is too large to count. The invasion completely destabilized the country, sowing terror and sectarianism, which has affected countless individuals and family. This instability in the region has contributed to the rise of the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS.


Things are not looking any better for Afghanistan where the government has been marred by massive corruption. The country continues to face great instability and violence. While an official end to the war has been declared, the US continues to use special operations forces along with continued drone strikes, which have resulted in the deaths of thousands.


Along with destabilization, the invasions greatly harmed US credibility. During her 2008 campaign for presidency, Clinton claimed that her support for the invasion was based on the information presented to her by the White House. But she was not a passive supporter of the invasion, she was outspoken and even criticized resistance within the United Nations.


Last year, Hillary Clinton justified the Israeli massacre of over 2,400 Palestinians in Gaza. While Israel was indiscriminately targeting residential buildings, hospitals, schools, etc., then Secretary of State Clinton responded by regurgitating the usual US platitude that Israel has a right to defend itself and expressed sympathy for the people in Gaza who were “trapped by their leadership.”


She stated that Israel “did what it had to do to respond to the rockets,” approving Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians while completely disregarding the siege on Gaza which has made daily life unliveable. Clinton actively supported the building of Israel’s apartheid wall, which deeply cuts into Palestinian territory, even though the International Court of Justice (ICJ) condemned it. In the face of complete destruction, the former secretary of state, whose job it was to promote diplomacy not war, sided with the oppressor.


Then, there is Libya. Clinton played a pivotal role in arguing for the 2011 bombing campaign that would eventually topple the regime of Muammar Qadhafi. Libya now is destabilized and suffering increasing sectarian violence. Americans, however, only remember Libya as Benghazi where a militant attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi resulted in the death of US ambassador Christopher Stevens along with three others.

Reports later indicated that requests had been made for more security. Security was never delivered. Clinton’s response to the attacks has been a favourite GOP target. At a 2013 Senate hearing, in response to Republican questions over the attack, she exasperatedly replied, "What difference, at this point does it make?"

A neo-conservative Democrat


On Syria, Clinton has been quite vocal in distancing herself from the Obama administration’s strategy. She has stated that staying on the sidelines has created a vacuum, which “the jihadists have now filled”. However, it’s hardly a secret that the US has been involved in Syria, funding rebels now siding with Assad in the face of the growing IS threat. Clearly, Clinton’s direct involvement in the Syria is more in line with the neo-conservatives than the liberal principles the Democratic Party espouses.


In response to Obama’s cautious foreign policy – arguably not cautious just very hidden –Clinton has advocated for the US to take a greater and more direct role in world affairs. This position is a continuation of the George W Bush-era foreign policy, which constantly undermined international law and the UN charter. This is the same rhetoric used by hawkish neo-cons who want to control the region to serve its geopolitical interests while suppressing true democratic reforms.


Her aggressive foreign policy stance was obvious in her 2008 presidential bid when she publically stated that the US could totally obliterate Iran if Iran should ever attack Israel. She added: “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran (if it attacks Israel).”

While she is so quick to threaten Iran (who has not used force), the complete passivity expressed when it comes to Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is beyond logical comprehension. Disregard for diplomatic efforts, if such an event were to happen, makes me question why she was ever Secretary of State: Wouldn’t secretary of defence be more suitable?


I know it is easy to get caught up in the idea of n historic presidency. Yes, as an American I would love to see a female head of state. But my desire to see a woman commander-in-chief does not mean I will throw millions of lives under the bus to achieve it. Judging by Clinton’s record, a Hillary presidency would likely see more direct US involvement in the Middle East; meaning more wars, more violence and more deaths. I advise the American people to not jump on the bandwagon and critically examine the policies this candidate espouses just like we would with any other candidate


American foreign policy in the Middle East has always been about securing American interests and global domination. There’s no reason to think that Hillary Clinton’s possible history-making win to presidency will change that. The name may change, but when it comes to the Middle East, American foreign policy remains the same.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.