Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy Statements Confound Progressives

Image: Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy Statements Confound Progressives (Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 06:58 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Hillary Clinton's criticism of President Barack Obama's foreign policy has drawn the ire of progressives, Politico reported.

In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, Clinton staked out positions similar to those she took before joining the Obama administration as secretary of state.

"Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle. It may be a necessary brake on the actions you might take in order to promote a vision," she told Goldberg. Obama had used the term to justify his disinclination to insert the United States into chaotic foreign conflicts.

Clinton said not arming anti-Assad rebels in Syria "left a big vacuum" that was filled by even more extreme Muslim elements. She readjusted her position on Iran to say that she had all the time been on the side of those who held Tehran had no "right" to enrich uranium, according to The New York Times.

In response, the Century Foundation's Michael Cohen told Politico Clinton is resurrecting positions she took in 2008 and that Democrats already rejected. He said her views remain "out of touch" with where Democrats stand today.

Joan Walsh, a Clinton supporter, wrote in Salon that the interview was "sobering." She said Clinton is alienating her base: "Clinton may think she can write off the anti-interventionist left — again — and win the White House this time, but she may find out she's wrong this time, too."

Journalist Glenn Greenwald criticized Clinton for supporting Israel. He tweeted that Clinton is "demanding more militarism and violence," according to Politico.

Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, told Politico he understood "that there's political utility in her bad-mouthing the president now. But it's bad for foreign policy. It is disloyal …When Hillary does it, it's a bigger deal. It does more damage."

An unnamed Obama supporter told Politico that Clinton's comments were "inevitable, predictable, authentically HRC in a fashion that reminds people like me why we opposed her so strongly in 2007."

Clinton's unexpected backing for Israel to maintain a long-term security presence in the West Bank antagonized Peter Beinart, a Jewish critic of Zionism, who wrote in Haaretz that she had essentially "endorsed" a permanent Israeli presence in the strategic territory.

At the Center for American Progress, Brian Katulis questioned whether progressives are all that mobilized around today's foreign policy issues. He said that Clinton's views essentially mirror those of most Senate Democrats, Politico reported.

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