The idea of Hillary becoming Secretary of State has sparked little opposition in the 'sphere. You'd think that the possibility of a hawk with limited foreign policy experience taking over the State Department would be cause for concern among progressives, but most bloggers--perhaps because they're loath to reignite the primary wars or because they want to give Obama the benefit of the doubt--seem willing to accept Hillary. Even over at Openleft, normally a hotbed of principled progressivism, Chris Bowers says he's "sure she would do a fine job."
For reasons I articulate here, Hillary is a bad choice for SOS. She's a foreign policy conservative and has little expertise in the area. To be clear, this diary is not a manifestation of Hillary hatred; in fact, I've spent a lot time here trying to be back the anti-Hillary fervor that sometimes corrupts this site. I simply believe that her clearly expressed views and philosophy make her the exactly wrong choice to help take American's foreign policy in a new direction. On the likely chance that you don't believe me, I defer below to someone with a tad more credibility than I: Barack Obama.
Barack Obama in response to Hillary's assertion to he is "irresponsible and naive."
I think what is irresponsible and naive is to have authorized a war without asking how we were going to get out -- and you know I think Senator Clinton hasn’t fully answered that issue.
Obama on Hillary's saying she would "obliterate" Iran.
It's not the language we need right now, and I think it's language reflective of George Bush. We have had a foreign policy of bluster and saber rattling and tough talk and in the meantime have made a series strategic decisions that have actually strengthened Iran.
Obama on Clinton's support for the War in Iraq:
I have to say when it came to making the most important foreign policy decision of our generation, Sen. Clinton got it wrong.
Obama on Clinton's "experience" and her not readingthe National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq.
I don't know where all that experience got her, because I have enough experience to know that if you have a national intelligence estimate, the chairman of the senate intelligence committee says, ‘You should read this; that's why I voted against the war,’ then you should probably read it.
The Obama campaign on Clinton's foreign policy experience.
There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton played an important domestic policy role when she was First Lady. It is well known, for example, that she led the failed effort to pass universal health insurance. There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis. As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue - not at 3 AM or at any other time of day.
Granted, a campaign calls for tough rhetoric, but everything Obama says here strikes me an accurate ans temperate. On domestic policy, there were few differences between Obama and Clinton--you could argue that Clinton ran to the left of Obama on economic issues and health care--but on foreign policy Obama, while no raging progressive, ran to the left of Clinton. There were real differences between them--on the war in Iraq, on rhetoric regarding Iran, on meeting with foreign leaders, on torture. I remember those differences--do you? I mean, we weren't just pretending to care, were we?
Some of you will argue that it doesn't matter what Clinton believes; she'll simply be carrying out Obama's vision. But of course a Secretary of State helps to shape the policy, and can determine what issues are given priority. More to the point, Obama will look to her for advice. He's said he wants to be challenged by hs advisors. Wouldn't it be great to have someone who challenges him from the left and not the right?
UPDATE: Some commenters are suggesting I've been selective criticizing Hillary given that most of Obama focus on Hillary's support for the war--which Biden, Kerry, and Richardson also supported. But in my previous diary, I discussed examples of Hillary's hawkishness that have nothing to do with Iraq.
She voted for the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment, every bit as rightwing and reckless as its name suggests. The AIPAC-written bill designated Iran's revolutionary guard corps a "terrorist organization." If you'll excuse the self-quote, here's what I wrote in the fall of 2007:
Do the math, people: the Revolution Guards are terrorists + Bush launched a global war on terror = _. Jim Webb called the bill "Cheney's fondest pipe dream."* Recall that "real men want to go to Tehran."
Kyl-Lieberman also had potential ramifications for the American force structure in Iraq--the primary reason for Obama's opposition to the bill. When challenged about her support for Kyl-Lieberman, she claimed absurdly that it was a vote for stepped up diplomacy.
For many months, until the thick of the primary, she believed that the president should, in "very very limited circumstances", have the authority to torture. In refusing to take an unconditional stand against torture, she invoked the widely discredited "ticking time bomb" scenario.
In 1997 long before the presidential race there was bill in the Senate that would have banned the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas. David Rees explains:
Cluster bombs and landmines are particularly terrifying weapons that wreak havoc on communities trying to recover from war. They are fatal impediments to reconstruction and rehabilitation of agricultural land; they destroy valuable livestock; they disable otherwise productive members of society; they maim or kill children trying to salvage them for scrap metal.
Over 150 nations have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. It pains me that our great nation has not. But in the autumn of 2006, there was a chance to take a step in the right direction: Senate Amendment No. 4882, an amendment to a Pentagon appropriations bill that would have banned the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas.
Senator Obama of Illinois voted IN FAVOR of the ban.
Senator Clinton of New York voted AGAINST the ban