Hillary Clinton's Hawkish Record
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Hillary Clinton's Hawkish Record
by Stephen Zunes
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has already assumed front-runner status for the
Democratic Party nomination for president despite a foreign policy agenda that
closely parallels that of the Bush administration.
Since most of the public criticism of the former first lady has been based on
false and exaggerated charges from the right wing, often with a fair dose of
sexism, many Democrats have become defensive and reluctant to criticize her.
Some liberals end up believing conservative charges that she is on the left
wing of the Democratic Party when in reality her foreign policy positions are
far closer to Ronald Reagan than George McGovern.
For example, she opposes the international treaty to ban land mines. She voted
against the Feinstein-Leahy amendment last September restricting U.S. exports
of cluster bombs to countries that use them against civilian-populated areas.
She opposes restrictions on U.S. arms transfers and police training to governments
that engage in gross and systematic human rights abuses, such as Egypt,
Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Israel, Pakistan, Cameroon and Chad, to name only
a few. She insists upon continuing unconditional funding for the Iraq war and
has called for dramatic increases in Bush’s already bloated military budget.
She has challenged the credibility of Amnesty International and other human
rights groups that criticize policies of the United States and its allies.
Mrs. Clinton has been one of the Senate’s most outspoken critics of the United
Nations, even serving as the featured speaker at rallies outside U.N.
headquarters in July 2004 and last summer to denounce the world body. She voted
to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq despite its being a clear violation of the
U.N. Charter and in July 2004 falsely accused the United Nations of not taking
a stand against terrorism when it has opposed U.S. policy. She was one of the
most prominent critics of the International Court of Justice for its landmark
2004 advisory ruling that the Fourth Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War is
legally binding on all signatory nations. She condemned the United Nations’
judicial arm for challenging the legality of Israel’s separation barrier in the
occupied West Bank and sponsored a Senate resolution “urging no further action
by the United Nations to delay or prevent the construction of the security
Mrs. Clinton has shown little regard for the danger from proliferation of
nuclear weapons, not only opposing the enforcement of U.N. Security Council
resolutions challenging Pakistan, Israel and India’s nuclear weapons programs
but supporting the delivery of nuclear-capable missiles and jet fighters to
these countries. This past fall she voted to suspend important restrictions on
U.S. nuclear cooperation with countries that violate the Non-Proliferation
At the same time, she insists that the prospect of Iran’s developing nuclear
weapons “must be unacceptable to the entire world,” since challenging the
nuclear monopoly of the United States and its allies in the region would
somehow “shake the foundation of global security to its very core.” Last year,
she accused the Bush administration of not taking the threat of a nuclear Iran
seriously enough, criticized the administration for allowing European nations
to take the lead in pursuing a diplomatic solution and insisted that the United
States should make it clear that military options were still being actively
Meanwhile, she insists that the United States should maintain the right to use
nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries.
Mrs. Clinton was an outspoken supporter of Israel’s massive military assault on
the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip last summer, which
took the lives of over 1,000 civilians. She justified it by claiming it would
“send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians [and] to the Iranians”
because they opposed the United States and Israel’s commitment to “life and
There are questions regarding her integrity. Long after credible,
well-documented published reports by American and Israeli newspapers and
research institutes had refuted it, Sen. Clinton continued to cite a right-wing
group’s 1999 report claiming the Palestinian Authority was publishing
anti-Semitic textbooks. Like President Bush, she is more prone to believe
ideologically driven propaganda than independent investigative reporting or
Similarly, ignoring substantial evidence that Iraq had already rid itself of
its chemical and biological weapons and no longer had a nuclear program, Mrs.
Clinton justified her calls for a U.S. invasion of Iraq on the grounds that “if
left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage
biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear
weapons.” Even after it was discovered that Iraq no longer had “weapons of mass
destruction,” Mrs. Clinton acknowledged last year that she would have voted to
authorize the invasion anyway.
Should Hillary Clinton become the Democratic presidential nominee, we can
expect to find little differences between her and her Republican rival. Except
for long shots Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Sen. Mike Gravel, none of the
Democratic candidates have taken consistent positions supporting peace, human
rights and international law. But with the possible exception of Sen. Joe
Biden, Mrs. Clinton is the most hawkish Democrat in the presidential race.
Stephen Zunes is a professor of
politics at the University of San Francisco.
© 2007 National Catholic Reporter