Hillary Clinton

Former CIA Head Supports Clinton over Trump for All the Wrong Reasons

It's important to be the right kind of war hawk.


Hillary Clinton
Beth S/ZUMA Press/Splash News/Newscom

The word "Libya" appears nowhere in former CIA Acting Director Michael Morrell's endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the New York Times today. In fact, he spends much more time on Trump's dangerous deficiencies than he does Clinton's competencies.

And when he does, here's what he has to say about her decision-making:

I also saw the secretary's commitment to our nation's security; her belief that America is an exceptional nation that must lead in the world for the country to remain secure and prosperous; her understanding that diplomacy can be effective only if the country is perceived as willing and able to use force if necessary; and, most important, her capacity to make the most difficult decision of all — whether to put young American women and men in harm's way.

Mrs. Clinton was an early advocate of the raid that brought Bin Laden to justice, in opposition to some of her most important colleagues on the National Security Council. During the early debates about how we should respond to the Syrian civil war, she was a strong proponent of a more aggressive approach, one that might have prevented the Islamic State from gaining a foothold in Syria.

Trump has argued (and evidence actually supports) that America's meddling in Syria (including efforts by the CIA) actually helped create the foothold for ISIS to grow stronger in the country. And there's no mention of how the Clinton-endorsed "smart power" of military intervention in Libya helped hasten that country's destabilization and decline.

That's because Clinton is the right kind of war hawk: She shares the same belief in noble intentions driving foreign policy interventions that matches guys like Morrell and other CIA and foreign policy leaders. Morrell argues that because Clinton is "thoughtful and inquisitive" that makes her preferable to Trump, whom Morrell blasts for his "carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law."

Oh, there's no mention of her little problems with her private email servers and her stubborn and untruthful handling of the scandal, which makes that list of critiques of Trump rather ironic. He does accuse Trump of being an unwitting Russian agent for "endorsing Russian espionage against the United States" but not the context in which it happened (revealing Clinton's hidden emails).

But the critique of Trump isn't wrong. The horrible reality of this presidential cycle is that we know that Clinton has made many bad decisions and is one of the more openly military interventionist Democrats to pursue the presidency in modern times. But the alternative of Trump leaves us with an extremely unpredictable president who says he will be less of an interventionist, but he's so openly and obviously reactionary to both appeals to his ego and attacks upon them that it's really impossible to trust his policy positions as an indicator of what he'd do in office.

That a former CIA head is openly endorsing Clinton in a major newspaper would be, in a completely different election cycle, a cause for concern among big chunks of the electorate.