My biggest fears of what US foreign policy would (will?) look like under a Hillary Clinton administration are not so much driven by the views that she has expressed, but rather by the kind of people she would put in positions of power. As the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday (sub req), if the folks advising her on the campaign trail are any indication of future appointments, it's going be quite a reunion in the Clinton White House Redux:
While Mr. Obama's camp is working to give heft to a freshman senator just three years removed from the Illinois state legislature, Mrs. Clinton considers her foreign views largely set -- one reason why she has such a small squad of advisers. The core of her team includes several staunch loyalists from her husband's time in power, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former United Nations ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and Samuel "Sandy" Berger, who succeeded Mr. Lake as national security adviser during Mr. Clinton's second term. The first two have been outspoken critics of President Bush's foreign policy and his handling of the Iraq war, and strong defenders of the Clinton legacy.
Mrs. Clinton's aides point out that her main adviser is President Clinton himself.
Be very afraid. A side bar to the article also mentions that Strobe Talbott is also on Team Hill. What, Warren Christopher isn't available?
For the most part, I give Clinton a fair amount of credit for managing the economy during his time in office. He didn't do anything to egregiously tinker with it, which is probably the best you can hope with any Democrat. And he was a tried and true advocate of free trade.
But when it came to foreign policy, he and the team that surrounded him were mealy-mouthed and feckless. Too afraid to take risks or offend international sensibilities, he allowed Al Qaeda to fester and take root in Afghanistan leading of course to much pain for our country down the road. And now his foreign policy team, which projected weakness abroad in word and deed, is where Hillary turns to for counsel. Yikes.
The alternatives are not encouraging either. While Barak Obama's foreign policy team includes a few intriguing names:
For crafting his counterinsurgency strategy, Mr. Obama has Harvard University's Sarah Sewall, who worked in the Pentagon under President Clinton.
(And also wrote a forward to the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual.)
He appears to be looking back to the future as well:
For overall security issues he leans on Mr. Clinton's former national security adviser, Anthony Lake. What about fighting AIDS or boosting U.S. trade in Africa? For that and more, he has former Clinton administration diplomat Susan Rice.
Mr. Obama did get a well-timed boost recently from one of his party's foreign-policy eminences, Zbigniew Brzezinski. The 79-year-old former Carter national security adviser not only backed Mr. Obama but panned Mrs. Clinton's views as "very conventional" and merely a continuation of "what we had eight years ago."
An endorsement from one of the guys responsible for the foreign policy of the "good ol' days" of the Carter Administration actually makes Hillary's team look good by comparison. Is it 2012 yet?