Exactly WHAT Foreign Policy experience are you talking about Sen. Clinton?
It's Saturday morning, I just killed my eggs and washed it down with some terrible cherry limemenade. It's early, yet somethings are already causing my blood to boil: [Note: I began this post Saturday morning if you didn't already guess. I was kinda busy]
"What things?" you ask (well....ask already!!)
....Since you insist:
I've been getting sick and tired of hearing Hillary Clinton repeatedly tout her supposed "experience" in general and her foreign policy experience in particular as some kind of reason why she is a superior candidate to Barack Obama.
But that's not what pisses me off the most. What gets me is that she has been getting a free pass from the press when it comes to this issue.
Why has nobody called her on this?
First off: She was the First Lady, not the President. She was not party to NSC meetings, and wasn't a big part of the foreign policy formulation of the Clinton Administration. It baffles me that nobody stopped to scrutinize her "experience" claims.
Well some people finally started exploring how good her claims to "experience" were. The verdict: Her claims to experience are way overblown.
First the back-and-forth
Surrounded by military leaders in a Cabinet-style setting, Hillary Clinton on Thursday said she has "crossed the threshold" of foreign policy experience to serve as commander in chief. Supporters of rival Barack Obama fired back immediately, arguing that the former first lady's trips abroad hardly constituted a practice run for managing global crises. "She was never asked to do the heavy lifting" when meeting with foreign leaders, said Susan Rice, who was an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration and is now advising Obama. "She wasn't asked to move the mountain or deliver a harsh message or a veiled threat. It was all gentle prodding or constructive reinforcement. And it would not have been appropriate for her to do the heavy lifting."
And now the scrutiny of her claims:
Clinton says she is the answer, arguing that Obama's major achievement was his early opposition to the Iraq war in 2002. Indeed, Obama doesn't have much in the way of experience managing foreign crises, nor does Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, for that matter. In fact, it is rare for any president to have that kind of experience before coming into office. (snip) But while Hillary Clinton represented the U.S. on the world stage at important moments while she was first lady, there is scant evidence that she played a pivotal role in major foreign policy decisions or in managing global crises. Pressed in a CNN interview this week for specific examples of foreign policy experience that has prepared her for an international crisis, Clinton claimed that she "helped to bring peace" to Northern Ireland and negotiated with Macedonia to open up its border to refugees from Kosovo. She also cited "standing up" to the Chinese government on women's rights and a one-day visit she made to Bosnia following the Dayton peace accords.
But when those specific examples are examines closely?:
But her involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process was primarily to encourage activism among women's groups there, a contribution that the lead U.S. negotiator described as "helpful" but that an Irish historian who has written extensively about the conflict dismissed as "ancillary" to the peace process. The Macedonian government opened its border to refugees the day before Clinton arrived to meet with government leaders. And her mission to Bosnia was a one-day visit in which she was accompanied by performers Sheryl Crow and Sinbad, as well as her daughter, Chelsea, according to the commanding general who hosted her.
In other words: A goodwill trip...hardly the "experience" she claims it to be.
Her China Speech?
...Still, Rice questioned whether that trip amounted to the kind of preparation for a global crisis that Clinton has claimed. "How does going to Beijing and giving a speech show crisis management? There was no crisis. And there was nothing to manage," Rice said.
Experience vs. Judgement
She criticizes Obama for his lack of experience but in point of fact Senator Clinton has been a Senator only a few years longer that Senator Obama, hardly that much of a difference. They were both lawyers, community organizers and more prior to their political lives (in fact, Obama served many years in the Illinois state senate prior to running for US Senate).
Here's the thing: I don't care about experience necessarily. No position can prepare someone for the type of responsibility of being President. And in terms of foreign policy experience lets be clear:
Very few Presidents come in knowledgeable about foreign policy or experienced in dealing with international crises. Believe it or not very few get International Relations degrees, or related degrees (it's quite common that they don't actually).
As the article notes above, nobody running (Dem or Rep) really has substantial experience managing international crises. It's usually not incumbent for a president to know it all coming in, that's precisely why Presidents have expert advisers (and who one chooses as advisers then becomes important. Needless to say I like Obamas advisers much better).
What a President does need is this: To be relatively intelligent. And able to demonstrate reasonable judgment when unexpected (or expected) situations arise that require the Presidents attention.
And judging by that criteria, Barack Obama has shown a clear superiority to Clinton and all her "experience." (for what it is worth)
On one of the single most important foreign policy issues facing America today, and on the single most important foreign policy decision Senator Clinton and Barack Obama could make it is clear:
Senator Clinton DROPPED THE BALL. She made a bad choice. She showed bad judgment and/or was too much of a coward in the face of a political situation in which opposing war was unpopular that she choose to support the awful 2002 resolution authorizing force in Iraq. She claims it was a vote for "diplomacy", but anybody honest with themselves knew it was a vote for war...
Barack Obama on the other hand came to a different and very prescient conclusion (considering how things worked out)
From the 2002 speech that Clinton has the balls to make light of:
Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don't oppose all wars.
My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton's army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain. I don't oppose all wars.
After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.
What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne...(snip)
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.
And this gets to the heart of what differentiates Senator Obama from Senator Clinton:
One had MUCH better judgment and MUCH better instincts and reasoning on such a serious foreign policy decision. So much so that he correctly saw that even a successful invasion would be fraught with problems in the post-invasion.
Just in this one instance he rightfully destroys any persuasiveness that might come from her claims to superior "exprerience". Experience that I might note (and have noted), is very dubious anyways. A clear reason why I would prefer Obama to answer that red phone at 3 AM (or anytime) over Senator Clinton.
Some might argue that it was politically hard to oppose it as a Senator, and Obama wasn't a senator at the time so he gets off easy.
The argument is that he would have made the same decision in her shoes.
First: That's impossible to prove.
Second: Barack Obama was running for Senate at the time. Meaning he was taking a stand against war, as a candidate for Senate, at a time in which opposition to war was dangerous for politicians much less a candidate for Senator to make. Demonstrating not only judgment, but also courage. Where was Clinton's courage?
I don't expect a Ph.D in International Relations to run our nation...
All I want is someone who can not only prove they have the intelligence to lead, but the necessary judgment and courage to lead as well.
Senator Barack Obama has that.
Senator Clinton gives me reason to doubt her.....