Bernie Sanders

Clinton Campaign Attacks Sanders' Peace-Seeking Foreign Policies

Very reminiscent of critiques against Obama back in 2007


Shout loudly but carry a small stick?

Hillary Clinton must run on her foreign policy "expertise," because it's pretty much all she has seriously separating her from Bernie Sanders at the moment (besides an economic policy that's about five percent less awful).

But we mustn't forget that Clinton's foreign policy positions are rather bellicose and interventionist. So that means when she starts hitting at Sanders for his proposals, it really highlights her militant nature. Now that her critiques of Sanders are picking up (because Sanders' poll numbers are picking up), so are the observations that her positions are maybe a touch a little rightward of where a good chunk of Democrats might want to be right now.

In last weekend's Democratic debate, Sanders called for trying to "aggressively normalize" relations with Iran, while not ignoring the country's role in supporting terrorism and anti-American fomentations. This prompted Clinton's campaign to attack him for not being tough enough. From The Hill:

"This proposal to more aggressively normalize relations and to move to warm relations with Iran not only breaks with President Obama's policy, it breaks with the sober and responsible diplomatic approach that's been working for the United States," Jake Sullivan, Clinton's senior policy adviser and the State Department's former director of policy planning, told reporters in a conference call.  

"The proposal would not succeed, but it would cause very real consternation among our allies and partners."

Brian Fallon, Clinton's national press secretary, added that Sanders's position would make him politically vulnerable during the general election, given heightened national fears about terrorism and foreign policy.

"I can safely predict that Republicans would love to have a debate with someone who thinks we should move quickly to warmer relations with a major sponsor of terrorism like Iran," Fallon said. "Bernie Sanders represents that caricature that Republicans like to put forward."

Fallon's comments are particularly interesting, given that he is arguing that Clinton's position is more defensible and acceptable to Republican-leaning voters than Sanders' is. It's not actually an argument about whether her policies are more responsible—just that it's more palatable to frightened general election voters. Sullivan did put out a video that attempts to explain why Sanders' positions are not very well-considered while hyping up Clinton's experience. Nevertheless, arguing that a Democratic candidate shouldn't hold a particular position because Republicans won't like it is an odd tactic from somebody trying to outpace a reputation for holding positions on the basis of political expediency.

Joshua Keating at Slate notes that Clinton is sounding a lot like she did back in 2007, when Barack Obama was the candidate of peace (equally hilarious and angering in retrospect, yes?) and she was the militant sentinel ready to pop awake at a 2 a.m. phone call to make all the important decisions:

It's a little strange that Clinton would choose to go down this road, given past experience. In a 2007 Democratic primary debate, also held in Charleston, South Carolina, Barack Obama responded affirmatively to a YouTube question about whether he would be willing to meet "without precondition" with the leaders of countries like Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea. The Clinton campaign seized on the answer as evidence of Obama's lack of foreign policy qualifications, with Clinton herself calling it "irresponsible and frankly naïve." As you'll recall, that line of attack didn't quite pan out for Clinton. (The concerns also proved mostly unfounded as the Obama administration waited until midway through his second term to change the status quo with Cuba and Iran. Syria is a whole other ugly story.)

I'm not sure it's as strange a tactic to use this time, though. Recall the tremendous left activism against war that helped sweep Obama into office. And then that activism melted away even though, in fact, Obama mostly continued to perpetuate the military interventionism he campaigned against. Clinton's campaign is actually cleaving to Obama's policies here (notice the Obama reference from Sullivan). That's been her strategy. If anything, replicating her 2007 primary attack shows how little Obama succeeded in ultimately executing a different foreign policy from what Clinton offered.

Sanders' campaign does offer an antidote to both Clinton's and the Republican candidate's militarism for voters on the left (as Robby Soave noted earlier in the week), but it's still an open question as to whether Democratic primary voters are looking to reject Obama's foreign adventurism, not just the Republican Party's.

Need a Clinton foreign policy refresher? Nick Gillespie reminded us all recently, "A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for war."

NEXT: Marco Rubio's Shady Past as an Illegal Teenage Park Visitor

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  1. You know who else calls people peace-Nazis?

    1. I know! Immature children living in Canada!

      Do I win the prize?

      1. No the correct answer was Cytotoxic. The correct answer is always Cytotoxic.

          1. No, he chose incorrectly. The correct answer was Cytotoxic.


              1. No he said ‘immature children’. This is not Cytotoxic.

                1. I’ll vote for whichever candidate promises to authorize aggressive military strikes against this thread.

                  1. Cytotoxic 2016: bomb the shit out of it.

                2. No he said ‘immature children’. This is not Cytotoxic.

                  No, I think the general consensus is accurate.

                  1. Well it’s not and you’re not. Move on.

                  2. Well in fairness ‘immature children’ is plural so perhaps Cytotoxic has you on a technicality.

                    1. And the fact that I am really not immature at all. Nor a child. The only one he got correct was my nationality.

                    2. And the fact that I am really not immature at all. Nor a child. The only one he got correct was my nationality.

                      Well you’ve certainly fooled a lot of people on these boards. Great impersonation of one though, spot on!

                    3. They fooled themselves.

                      Granted, when people start shitposting (as peacenazis tend to after I trample their ‘arguments’) I will usually treat them as they me.

                    4. Granted, when people start shitposting (as peacenazis tend to after I trample their ‘arguments’) I will usually treat them as they me.

                      Yes, you’re the commentariat’s most renowned pigeon chess player.

                    5. Well in fairness ‘immature children’ is plural so perhaps Cytotoxic has you on a technicality.

                      Does he contradict himself?
                      Very well then he contradicts himself,
                      (He is large, he contains multitudes.)

                    6. Should we call him Cytolegion now? For he is many…

        1. The correct answer is always Cytotoxic.

          Are you sure you don’t want to retract that universal statement, before people like me start coming up with questions such as, “Who is the only Reason commenter with a micropenis and coprophagia fetish?”

          1. Is the answer Warty?

          2. Well first, I figure that kind of thing will happen anyway. Second, Warty is a better answer anyways as MB points out.

            1. No,

              The correct answer is always Cytotoxic.

              1. Got me there!

              2. Yes, but Warty weightlifting obsession, constant name calling, and ridiculous internet tough guy personae really seem to fit the micropenis personality.

    2. Reason’s Best.

  2. Only morons think that Sander’s ideas like ‘normalizing relation with Iran’ would lead to peace.

    1. Right, because since war is inevitable before the death of the universe, we may as well have at it right now, what?

      Shoooooot, yer gonna die some day, why not get it over with and start right now? You’ve already got a head start on immature childish thinking.

      1. Bzzzt. If you don’t favor regime change in Iran, you favor war.

        1. One does not follow from the other. Try again.

  3. “someone who thinks we should move quickly to warmer relations with a major sponsor of terrorism like Iran,”

    Yeah!! The United States would NEVER have warm relations with a major sponsor of terrorism!! It’s not like we have any allies that sponsor terrorism, right?? Of course not, because the United States would NEVER have anything but chilly, cold-war relations with terrorist sponsors, like Iran and Saudi Arabia. Never!!

    1. Would =/= should

    2. We maintain warm relations with Saudi Arabia, and they end up sponsoring terrorism. We maintain chilly relations with the Iranians and they end up sponsoring terrorism. Perhaps rather then arguing about which approach is better we should just give up on thinking we can just nudge 3rd world backwaters from doing anything that they are already determined to do.

      1. well that’s just crazy.

    3. Uh, I seem to recall some country funding what would become Al Qaeda back when they were a pain in the ass for the USSR in Afghanistan. What was that country’s name again? It’s on the tip of my tongue…

  4. Unfortunately, I expect Sanders peace seeking foreign policy to be about as mature and based on realistic expectations as his economic policy. Meaning: Not at all.

    1. IOW they’d be like Reason.

  5. I just keep reading really bad stories about Hillary’s campaign.

    Six people at a stop (I think in Beaumont).

    Disappointed crowd (I think in Iowa) over her nothingburger of a speech.

    I think she’s got health problems, myself, and I think she’s not going to make it. Either Sanders drives her from the field (and oh, how sweet would that be), or she drops out (due to “health”, but a side deal to not get indicted if she drops out might be part of it).

    If I had to put my own actual money on it, at this point I’d bet on Trump v Sanders.

    1. Alright, which dipshit told God it would be impossible for Him to put together a worse matchup than Bush vs. Clinton? You had to know He would take that as a challenge.

  6. One of my problems with Bernie Sanders is that he’s running a campaign based entirely on a lack of sophistication with respect to policy ideas. For some reason hordes of starry-eyed college kids seem to be hearing about single-payer and world peace for the first time. And I wouldn’t have a problem if Sen. Sanders didn’t at some point drink his own kool-aid and start thinking that his “here’s what liberals should believe” campaign was an actual campaign.

    1. Nono, tony. Sophisticated is when you start talking about going to war with ISIS protecting borders. It’s important to sacrifice principles lest anyone accuse you of being a loony tunes libertarian. That way, the door is open to you to get votes from Republican church ladies that think Obama was born in Kenya.

      Sanders is going about it the wrong way with his integrity and principles and intellectual consistency. Doesn’t he know that He needs to raise money from corporate fat cats, Silicon Valley nerds, and Wall Street stock traders? What a joke!

  7. “Obama mostly continued to perpetuate the military interventionism he campaigned against”

    He did? Where? In Iran, Iraq, Cuba, North Korea, or the Ukraine? Which one?

    1. Yes.

  8. So, over/under on when Hillary has Trogdor the Berninator bumped off?

  9. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ??????

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