Has Hillary Clinton Evolved on Foreign Policy?

In Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton says she disagreed with President Obama about the drawdown in Afghanistan; about arming Syrian rebels; and about getting tougher with Vladimir Putin. (She also thought we should have supported Hosni Mubarak more consistently and should have taken a softer line with the Israelis.)

At the same time, she also acknowledges that she made the wrong call on Iraq. This prompts an obvious question: Has the disaster in Iraq changed her approach to foreign policy at all? Presumably the answer is yes. At least, I hope it is. If the Iraq debacle doesn’t change your mind, what would?

And this prompts a second question: Are there any concrete cases from the past few years in which her approach was less hawkish than it would have been a decade ago? Can she name one example where the Hillary of 2002 would have recommended intervention but the Hillary of 2009-12 recommended caution?

Maybe I’m wrong, but it strikes me that the answer is no. This is one of the reasons that Democrats need more primary choices in 2016. I’ve never really had anything against Hillary Clinton, but I’m hesitant about nominating someone who, as near as I can tell, acknowledges poor judgment on Iraq but hasn’t let that actually change her views on much of anything. Maybe at her next town hall meeting, we could skip the endless nonsense about Benghazi, “dead broke,” evolution on gay marriage, and so forth, and instead ask whether her foreign policy views have changed at all since 9/11. I’m not a huge fan of all of Barack Obama’s foreign policy choices, but the more I hear from everyone else—including Hillary Clinton—the more I appreciate even the modest restraint that he’s demonstrated. It’s apparently a rare thing.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend