Hillary Clinton doesn’t need introductions, she is the Democrat that the Republicans love to hate and she’s been under fire for months because of her email inbox…yeah, it was a bit more complex than that but the former Secretary of State has a rather mixed result on how fearful we should be if she makes it to the White House.
First, on the less contentious parts: Clinton wants to make the US the world’s clean energy superpower and that has to be well received in Europe. She is committing to continue and expand Obama’s policies to tackle global warming and to do all within her reach to prevent Congress from bringing them down.
Something else that will fall well in Brussels and other European capitals, Clinton supports the Iran agreement and is in favour of a well-crafted surveillance of Iran’s behaviour. She expects Iran to test the next POTUS and see how far the rules can be bent, which implies that the consequences of non-compliance have to be clear. Well, no threats of assassination here, that’s not bad…
Clinton’s proposals regarding surveillance and counter-terrorism are not that frightening either – she does not defend the NSA’s bulk data collection but her mentions that the United States government needs to work closer with tech companies in order to tackle violent extremism in the framework of her policy against ISIS makes me feel suspicious…we all know how well-intended words can hide something that can easily creep up on you, and coming from a politician as skilled and experienced as Hillary Clinton, I would not be surprised to see a new version of the NSA data collection under a different name or format. On Obama’s record in the use of drones, however, she comes out in favour of it, adding that it’s a fundamental tool to fight terrorism and doesn’t seem to take accounts of civilian and non-terrorist casualties very seriously and this is where she starts to score higher on the Fear Scale.
We already know Hillary Clinton voted in favour of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and has apparently never recognized her vote as a mistake, which is another element to make her a scarier candidate. She is also largely identified with the 2011 Libya operation and in this regard, she is as much of a hawk as the hawkiest of the Republican candidates. And this is what is most scary about Hillary Clinton: that she seems so eager and resolute to use force, even in situations when force is hardly the best option…and she doesn’t seem to regret the times this happened. From her recent past as Secretary of State, it’s possible to have a greater insight into her foreign policy than in the case of other candidates and some will even present it as a Hillary Doctrine. Others would say her foreign policy was already terrifying, two years before the election takes place.
Clinton does not defend deploying an American ground force in Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS but calls for pretty much everything else, including greater efforts by the US to remove Assad from power – as well as holding the view that if Obama had armed the Syrian rebels earlier, ISIS would not have formed, so in this aspect she’s pretty much in line with a lot of Republican criticism of Obama. Perhaps she holds similar views applied to other conflict situations?
She is in favour of adopting stricter measures against Russia, while recognizing that it’s necessary to work with Moscow on issues like arms control. Specifically, she’s very critical of Russia’s support to Assad, which should come as no surprise as it is coherent with her Syria view. As Secretary of State, Clinton was the architect of Obama’s proposed reset of US relations with Russia but today her views on how to manage Russia are mostly confrontational - even though they don’t reach the rhetorical fire of some of the Republican candidates, which might be appreciated by some in the EU elite but derided by others who are hoping for a POTUS who will fight this for us.
On China, and after her role in Obama’s pivot to Asia, Clinton seems to have a more balanced view, calling for engagement and confrontation where they are due - the latter being mostly reserved for cybersecurity, as China is responsible by a significant amount of cyberattacks directed at the US. Clinton is also wary of China’s efforts that lead to frictions with the Philippines, Japan and other US allies in the region. Regarding human rights, Clinton has been a long time critical voice of Beijing, something which the Chinese leadership does not easily forget. Beijing wasn’t very happy either when she said that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is in the US national interest.
Overall Hillary Clinton is hawkish enough to provoke a significant level of fear on this side of the ocean, however she is much better at handling this thanks to her political skills and how she manages not to appear like a rabid bloodthirsty creature yelling for war. With her advantage of a previous experience as Secretary of State also comes greater knowledge of the foreign policy issues at hand. This gives her a comfortable edge over all the other candidates and allows her to present herself as someone who knows what she wants and what she’s doing…and when this reaches her most hawkish aspects, that’s pretty scary. Hillary Clinton gets a 3.5 out of 5 in the Fear Scale.