The record demonstrates that she certainly is a hawk – someone who believes strongly in the utility of military force and is ready to use it. There is ample evidence in support of this contention. Her actions as Senator and Secretary of State as well her speeches and campaign statements paint a picture of a would-be President who views the world in terms of an ominous threat environment, who believes that core American interests are being challenged across the globe, who is a firm advocate of intervening on a preventive basis (e.g. Syria, Libya) as well as a preemptive or defensive basis, who is dedicated to keeping putative rivals like China or Russia in a subordinate position. This complex of attitudes puts a considerable amount of blue water between her and Barack Obama. Indeed, early in her campaign she made a point of criticizing the White House for its overly restrained policies vis a vis Assad, Putin and XI. She only switched tacks when it became evident that she needed to associate herself with the Obama record in the face of the unexpected Sanders insurrection.
The specific criticisms directed at HRC from those who find her too hawkish are well-known. They include her vote in favor of the Iraq war; her cheer-leading for the GWOT in all its aspects; her collaboration with the Gates-led faction to push Obama into a major Afghan escalation; her advocacy of direct military action in Syria to unseat Assad; her unbending attitude toward containing Iran even after the nuclear accord; and her bellicose language in calling Putin another “Hitler’ after Russia’s seizure of the Crimea. Hillary’s big foreign policy address at the Council on Foreign Relations reinforced the impression of a hard-liner across-the-board who thinks primarily in terms of power balances and its deployment. In addition, her full-throated endorsement of Bibi Netanyahu’s actions left no room for accommodating the concerns of those realists who see the United States as inflicting unnecessary harm on itself through its unqualified backing of everything Israel does.
It is no coincidence that she has drawn admiring remarks from Robert Kagan and other neo-conservative luminaries who envisage her as a President sympathetic to their audacious, muscular conception of American foreign policy. The coalescing of the neo-cons and the gung-ho liberal interventionists who pushed hard for the Libyan intervention (Samantha Powers, Ann-Marie Slaughter, Susan Rice) who now promote aiding the Saudis and GCC in Yemen, and wading into Syria involves a number of people who worked for Hillary in the State Department and/or figure prominently among her current advisors. The outstanding example is Victoria Nuland – Hillary’s spokesperson at State and now Assistant Secretary of State for Europe – who has aggressively spearheaded the anti-Russian crusade. Previously, she had been principal deputy foreign policy advisor for Vice-President Dick Cheney. Nuland’s was escorted into the Obama administration by Strobe Talbot who was her boss at Brookings and viewed her as his protege. Talbot himself, who had been Deputy Secretary of State during the second Bill Clinton administration, has moved progressively toward the hawkish end of the foreign policy establishment continuum (admittedly a rather short band width these days). The affiliation at Brookings of the prominent neo-con Robert Kagan, Nuland’s husband, may have cemented the deal.