Hil­lary, the vi­o­lent hu­man­i­tar­ian

Her record on de­fense and for­eign pol­icy of­fers a cau­tion­ary tale

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Jed Bab­bin

After yet an­other meet­ing of diplo­mats failed to re­solve the war in Syria, our ever-clue­less sec­re­tary of state, John Kerry, said on Oc­to­ber 15 that diplo­macy would con­tinue be­cause of “the ur­gency of try­ing to find some­thing that works other than mil­i­tary ac­tion.”

As if it were in­tended to il­lus­trate Kerry’s fool­ish­ness, a Rus­sian navy bat­tle group led by the air­craft car­rier Ad­mi­ral Kuznetsov sailed for Syria less than a week later to en­gage its com­bat air­craft against the U.S.-backed forces try­ing to top­ple Syr­ian dic­ta­tor Bashar al-As­sad.

Send­ing the Kuznetsov wasn’t a mil­i­tar­ily ne­ces­sity. Other Rus­sian air­craft could have eas­ily been de­ployed to Syria. But send­ing the air­craft car­rier is a demon­stra­tion of Rus­sia’s abil­ity to project power and a re­minder to Amer­ica and its al­lies that diplo­macy can­not suc­ceed un­less it is backed by the threat of mil­i­tary force.

Though he may do more harm be­fore he leaves of­fice, Pres­i­dent Obama will soon be ir­rel­e­vant. It’s time to look to the fu­ture. As ghastly as that prospect is, un­less the most re­li­able poll­sters are badly wrong, that pres­i­dent will be Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Her record pro­vides all the ev­i­dence we need to de­rive the bases on which she would de­cide mat­ters of de­fense and for­eign pol­icy as well as the most likely re­sult. Those fac­tors com­pel the con­clu­sion that the events of the next four years will prove far worse than we ex­pect.

The re­lent­less in­ep­ti­tude of the Obama-Clin­ton-Kerry team did not pro­ceed from the same foun­da­tion as Mrs. Clin­ton would on her own. She is cam­paign­ing on her claims of ex­pe­ri­ence in mak­ing the hard­est de­ci­sions a pres­i­dent has to make.

There are four key proofs that en­able us to de­ter­mine the man­ner and means by which Mrs. Clin­ton will de­cide for­eign pol­icy and de­fense mat­ters.

The first is in Mr. Obama’s 2011 in­ter­ven­tion in Libya. As his mem­oir re­counts, De­fense Sec­re­tary Bob Gates ar­gued to the pres­i­dent we shouldn’t use Amer­i­can mil­i­tary force in Libya be­cause we didn’t have a na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est in Libya suf­fi­cient to jus­tify do­ing so. Mrs. Clin­ton ar­gued for in­ter­ven­tion on what she and Mr. Obama agreed were the “hu­man­i­tar­ian” ground that Gad­hafi might mas­sacre his ci­ti­zens if we didn’t in­ter­vene.

Mr. Gates was right. We had no na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est in top­pling Gad­hafi suf­fi­cient to jus­tify mil­i­tary ac­tion. The Obama-Clin­ton “vi­o­lent hu­man­i­tar­i­an­ism” was sub­sti­tuted in its place.

From the Libya in­ter­ven­tion we must con­clude that Mrs. Clin­ton, like Mr. Obama, is will­ing to use Amer­i­can mil­i­tary force in or­der to look tough with­out hav­ing to take any sub­stan­tial risk. They knew that the Libya airstrikes would be made in rel­a­tive safety, given the fact that Libyan air de­fenses were, at best, rudi­men­tary. It gave them both the op­por­tu­nity to brag that they had or­ga­nized and led a suc­cess­ful mil­i­tary coali­tion, though the facts are to the con­trary. Mr. Obama joined the coali­tion only after the French pled for us to do so be­cause their air forces weren’t able to do the job.

The sec­ond proof be­gins with Mrs. Clin­ton’s dis­re­gard for in­tel­li­gence. Mrs. Clin­ton knew or should have known that, as an un­clas­si­fied re­port by the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence said, about 10 ter­ror­ist groups were op­er­at­ing within the Beng­hazi city lim­its for weeks or months be­fore the Sept. 11, 2012 at­tacks on our diplo­matic and CIA com­pounds there. But she did noth­ing to bol­ster se­cu­rity for the diplo­matic post and four Amer­i­cans died there.

The third proof is in Mrs. Clin­ton’s con­tempt for mil­i­tary ad­vice. In the last pres­i­den­tial de­bate, Mrs. Clin­ton said we should es­tab­lish a no-fly zone and other safe ar­eas in Syria to pro­tect the refugees. What Mr. Trump should have said in re­sponse was stated by mod­er­a­tor Chris Wal­lace who pointed out that the Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joe Dun­ford, told a se­nate com­mit­tee last month that, “Right now… for us to con­trol all of the airspace in Syria would re­quire us to go to war against Syria and Rus­sia.”

What Gen. Dun­ford should have but didn’t say is that we could have in­ter­vened in the Syr­ian war years ago to top­ple Mr. As­sad and that we had a suf­fi­cient na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­est in Syria to do so. The As­sads — fa­ther and son — have led a regime la­beled a state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism since 1979. In­stead, we sat back for years pro­vid­ing the Rus­sians and Ira­ni­ans time to dom­i­nate the con­flict los­ing our chance to re­place a ter­ror­ist regime. Now it’s no longer a civil war but an in­ter­na­tional war that can’t be re­solved by diplo­macy or low-risk mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion.

The fourth proof of Mrs. Clin­ton’s think­ing process is her blan­ket en­dorse­ment of Mr. Obama’s strate­gic arms treaty with Rus­sia and his nu­clear weapons deal with Iran. Both are in­im­i­cal to U.S. in­ter­ests. The Rus­sians are build­ing new weapons and we are not. Our bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fenses are counted among of­fen­sive weapons, a con­ces­sion the Rus­sians have sought for decades and that only Mr. Obama was will­ing to make. The Ira­nian deal, which guar­an­tees Iran nu­clear weapons in 15 years or less, is ex­tremely dan­ger­ous.

Thus four el­e­ments — en­gag­ing in low-risk mil­i­tary ac­tion un­jus­ti­fied by na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests, willful ig­no­rance of in­tel­li­gence, ill-con­sid­ered pro­pos­als that could lead to wars with ma­jor pow­ers, and the de­sire for ma­jor arms agree­ments that are di­rectly against our na­tional se­cu­rity in­ter­ests — will com­prise Hil­lary Clin­ton’s de­ci­sions on na­tional se­cu­rity and for­eign pol­icy.

Her pres­i­dency, if there is one, will be a very dark and dan­ger­ous era in Amer­ica’s his­tory. Jed Bab­bin served as a deputy un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense in the Ge­orge H.W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion. He is a se­nior fel­low of the Lon­don Cen­ter for Pol­icy Re­search and the au­thor of five books in­clud­ing “In the Words of Our En­e­mies.”

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY ALEXAN­DER HUNTER/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.