Hillary´s war / Clinton Leading the charge into Libya for Obama administration (NEW YORK POST OP-ED) By JOHN PODHORETZ 03/20/11)
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When Samantha Power said Mrs. Clinton was a monster, Power was
working on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and resigned almost
immediately. Now Power is on the National Security Council, and
chances are good she doesn’t think Hillary is a monster any longer.
The Tuesday-evening meeting at the White House at which the president
decided to move on Libya was “extremely contentious,” according to a
report in Josh Rogin’s excellent blog, The Cable.
Power and a few others took the position that the United States
couldn’t stay on the sidelines as Moammar Khadafy murdered his own
people and snuffed out the people-power revolt in the Middle East in
In speaking this way, Power was, in effect, speaking for Clinton.
Three years after the “monster” remark, Hillary Clinton and Samantha
Power find themselves on the same side in a profound debate over
American interests and American values as they serve an opaque
president whose foreign policy has now achieved a new level of
They were opposed by Power’s own boss, National Security Adviser Tom
Donilon and by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Now there’s another
strange political alliance.
Donilon comes from the liberal wing of the American foreign-policy
establishment. Gates is the lone holdover from the Bush
administration and the bureaucratic implementer of the “surges” in
Iraq and Afghanistan — both of which Donilon opposed.
Of course, Gates is heading for the exits, and on the way there he’s
been saying things like any American who sends ground troops into
Asia “ought to have his head examined,” so who knows where he is now
on the ideological spectrum.
So yes, the leading hawk of the Obama administration is not George
Bush’s former defense secretary, but Hillary Rodham Clinton.
What a strange journey it’s been for someone whose primary
involvement in foreign policy before her husband’s ascension to the
White House in 1992 was as a board member of the New World
Foundation, a prominent funder of leftist groups in the 1980s
oppposed to the use of American military power in any way and highly
supportive of huge cuts in defense spending.
But is she really and truly a hawk, in the sense that she believes
that the extension of American power through military means is a good
thing? Or is she directed by a deep belief system that connects the
Hillary of today with the Hillary of 25 years ago?
I think her views have been far more consistent over time than one
might expect — that Hillary Clinton is, in the final analysis,
primarily motivated by what the late Michael Kelly called, in 1993,
the politics of “do-goodism.”
That philosophy combines, in Kelly’s words, “a
generally ‘progressive’ social agenda with a strong dose of moralism.”
That is true even in her advocacy of a tougher stand toward Libya.
According to Rogin, the governing doctrine that helped Obama to make
his decision to act was not an appeal to the national interest, but
rather to a recent concept promulgated at the United Nations
called “responsibility to protect,” or R2P.
R2P is an effort to create a new international moral standard to
prevent violence against civilians.
In her career as a genocide expert, Power was an indefatigable
proponent of R2P, and now on the National Security Council has
been “trying to figure out how the administration could implement R2P
and what doing so would require of the White House going forward.”
Hillary is her ally in this effort, it appears.
And Obama may be too, though figuring out why he does anything in
foreign policy is all but impossible. Still, what might have led
Obama to stop playing Bartleby the President was precisely that
international intervention in Libya was for a “do-gooding” purpose
and due to a hard-headed calculation about the profound risks of
inaction to U.S. interests in the Middle East.
In my view, there’s no reason to disassociate the two. America tends
to do good when it acts — and in this case, it would have been far
better if it had acted earlier and spared lives and confusion.
Of course, Obama had to muddy the waters yet again, for in explaining
his decision to enforce the UN resolution on Libya, he mysteriously
refused to repeat his statement of the previous week that “Khadafy
Hillary Clinton may be a do-gooding semi-hawk, but she’s also Obama’s
employee, and how anyone can get any work done under these conditions
of vagueness, indecision, and inattention is a question for the ages.
No wonder the Daily reports that she, like Gates, is gazing longingly
at the exits. (Copyright 2011 NYP Holdings, Inc. 03/20/11)
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