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Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe suggests that the views of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are much more popular among the foreign policy elite that those of President Barack Obama. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe suggests that the views of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are much more popular among the foreign policy elite that those of President Barack Obama. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

As Election Day Nears, Military Hawks Circle to Promote New Wave of War

A slew of bipartisan reports are hoping to push the former secretary of state to increased military action in the Middle East, particularly Syria

Lauren McCauley

Though the hawkish stance of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has been too often ignored this election season, new reporting on Thursday highlights how her presumed win in November will likely usher in a more aggressive, bipartisan foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond.

"The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House," the Washington Post's White House correspondent Greg Jaffe reports.

One such study, published Wednesday by the Center for American Progress (CAP)—which is run by president Neera Tanden, policy director for Clinton's presidential campaign—recommends the next administration step up its "military engagement" amid a more "proactive and long-term approach to the Middle East."

"D.C. foreign policy elite are giddy that hawkish Barack Obama will be replaced by much more hawkish Hillary Clinton."
—Zaid Jilani, The Intercept

This includes, among other things: building "on the Obama administration's campaign to defeat the Islamic State and Al Qaeda militarily by deepening multilateral cooperation with regional partners and taking steps to help create a regional security framework;" as well as being "prepared to use airpower to protect U.S. partners and civilians in certain parts of Syria."

The latter recommendation is seemingly a direct regurgitation of Clinton's repeated call for a "no-fly zone" in that region—one she reiterated during Wednesday's presidential debate.

Jaffe also highlights an upcoming report by the Brookings Institution, due out in December, which has been produced by a "team of top former Clinton, Bush, and Obama administration officials," as well as one authored by a bipartisan group led by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on behalf of the Atlantic Council.

"Taken together," Jaffe reports, "the studies and reports call for more-aggressive American action to constrain Iran, rein in the chaos in the Middle East and check Russia in Europe. The studies, which reflect Clinton's stated views and the direction she is likely to take if she is elected, break most forcefully with Obama on Syria." 

"Virtually all these efforts," he continues, "call for stepped up military action to deter President Bashar al-Assad's regime and Russian forces in Syria."

Jaffe further notes that "in the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama's departure from the White House—and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton—is being met with quiet relief."

Or, as The Intercept journalist Zaid Jilani put it, "D.C. foreign policy elite are giddy that hawkish Barack Obama will be replaced by much more hawkish Hillary Clinton."

Indeed, Jaffe's attempt to paint Obama as "doveish" was ridiculed by journalist Glenn Greenwald and others who have worked to highlight the president's ongoing secret drone war and military operations across the Middle East and Africa.

Jaffe writes that "[t]he disagreement over Syria policy reflects a broader rift between the Obama White House and the foreign policy establishment," of which Clinton is a member.

The reporting comes in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, during which Obama has campaigned aggressively on behalf Clinton, turning his back on any of these tensions. But Jaffe quotes a "senior administration official who is involved in Middle East policy" who said of the call for a no-fly zone: "You can't pretend you can go to war against Assad and not go to war against the Russians."

To which Greenwald and Jilani quipped:


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