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.


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