Saturday, December 29, 2007

From: DailyKos
Hillary: The Wrong Choice on National Security
by The Bagof Health and Politics
Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 05:39:14 PM PST

Voters think that Hillary Clinton is the best choice on National Security Issues. They are Wrong. Here's why.

Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the Pakistani opposition, was assassinated at a rally today. Bhutto was no saint, but ended up being a martyr for her cause. Bhutto’s assassination leaves a power vacuum in Pakistani politics, and destabilizes the nuclear-armed nation. The aftermath of Bhutto’s death will be seen over the next few weeks. It has far reaching implications; implications that could influence the primary elections here in the United States.

Here in the US, a poll was released today. It validated emerging trends: that Barack Obama is trending upwards, and was on a path towards victory; and that Hillary Clinton is trending downwards and was on a path towards defeat. Politics—especially presidential politics—is about timing. Bhutto’s assassination raises the salience of national security issues in the week leading up to the first votes of the 2008 Presidential cycle.
Buried within the poll is an interesting item. According to the LA Times, "The poll shows that Democrats consider Clinton far-better equipped than her rivals to safeguard national security." Conventional wisdom on this is, as usual, wrong.

Hillary Clinton is saying that she will, in essence, follow her husband’s foreign policy. If Hillary wants to claim credit for the successes of Kosovo, then she should also share in the blame for the disasters of Clinton the First’s administration. Clinton the First faced a foreign policy challenge in his first months in office; after a single incident where 18 soldiers were killed, Clinton the First pulled US troops out of Somalia. That action sent a message to the vile element abroad: terrorism works.
Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The bombings occurred in 1998, just as Clinton was getting impeached by the US House for lying about an extramarital affair. A movie was out at the time. It was called Wag the Dog. Its central premise was that a President started a war to distract people from corruption at home. Clinton the First was worried about appearances. There was actionable intelligence on the location of Osama bin Laden—he was in the Sudan at the time. Clinton waited for hours before deciding to launch a missile strike. By the time the missiles were launched, bin Laden was elsewhere, and the missiles just hit innocent villagers.

Then there was the USS Cole bombing, which occurred late in Clinton the First’s term. The US Presidential election was approaching. Clinton took no action other than to impose sanctions. Meanwhile, the September 11th plot was in its nascent stages, terrorists were going on "dry runs," and nothing was being done.
The national security record of Clinton the First’s term is poor at best. There were some successes—peace in the Balkans, although whether that is lasting peace remains to be seen. But there were many failures too--failures that had disastrous consequences and led to the situation that we have today.

Even if you accept the premise that Hillary shouldn’t be held responsible for any actions in her husbands term (which is going against her message, which says she should get credit for everything that happened in the 1990s), there are still problems with Hillary’s record on national security issues. Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War; she says she decided to vote for the war after being counseled by Condi Rice, currently Bush’s Secretary of State. Hillary took Rice at her word; she didn’t bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate, and therefore voted to send this nation to war on incomplete information.

Hillary voted for the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which would’ve led to a war with Iran if it weren’t for a few brave intelligence professionals that forced the administration to declassify the NIE, which showed this was the same old story (no nukes). The United States military is stressed to its capacity as it is; adding more troops and another occupation of Iran would only diminish our nation’s ability to respond to instability elsewhere in the nation. For instance, if Hillary Clinton’s vote had been followed to its logical conclusion, the United States would have no capacity to respond to instability in other nations, like Pakistan.
The issue of Pakistan itself brings up another area where Hillary Clinton has proven to have poor judgment. Earlier this year, Senator Barack Obama said that military action against Al Qaeda, which currently occupies a mountainous portion of Pakistan, within Pakistani borders should be an option for any US President. Clinton herself attacked Obama, and said it showed that he was "naïve" about foreign policy. Yet as instability rules the Pakistani landscape, The prospect of chaos and of nuclear weapons being within the grasp of Al Qaeda is now very real. Senator Obama surely isn’t naïve for saying that military action should always remain an option in this situation; in fact, it looks like he was pretty wise to say that.

It’s clear from her record of mistakes and her husband’s record of failures that Hillary Clinton is the wrong choice for those that care about national security. The right choice is clearly Bill Richardson, who served as this nation’s Ambassador to the United Nations, has engaged in negotiations with dozens of foreign leaders, and has a solid understanding of national security issues.

If it isn’t Richardson, then Obama—who opposed the war in Iraq from the start and didn’t vote for the Kyl-Lieberman Iran War Amendment—is the better choice.
The same old leadership leads to the same old problem—a world in chaos and instability throughout the globe. It’s time for a new approach. It’s time for somebody not named Bush or Clinton to be in the Oval Office.