Foreign Policy

Trump, Clinton Foreign Policy Nonsense a Reflection of the Obama Legacy

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White House

Tonight's presidential debate is unlikely to have much substance. It's nothing new—throughout the presidential election season, concerns over personality and character have trumped even the pretense of a focus on actual issues. Donald Trump's tenuous relationship with the truth makes this a particularly acute post-truth election but it isn't the first one. Neither is it the first post-issues election.

When it comes to foreign policy, it has been decades since there's been any kind of substantive domestic electoral debate. In the 2008 presidential election cycle, then Senator-Barack Obama got a lot of mileage out of his opposition to the Iraq War, when he was a state senator representing Hyde Park, one of the most liberal constituencies in Chicago. His primary opponent, then-Senator Hillary Clinton had not only voted for the 2002 authorization of the use of military force in Iraq but had also become one of its most vocal proponents, helping to forge a now conveniently forgotten bipartisan consensus.

But while Obama campaigned on his opposition to the Iraq War, which was by the 2008 election already slowly coming to an end. President Bush signed a status of forces agreement that called for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by 2011 in December 2008. After taking office as president, Obama tried to get Iraq to agree to a residual force of 10,000 troops to remain in Iraq after the withdrawal date. By the 2012 election, he was running on the idea that he had brought the Iraq War to an end, even as in his first term he tried to negotiate an extension for U.S. troops in Iraq. His Republican opponent that year, Mitt Romney, tried to argue that keeping U.S. troops in Iraq past 2011 was vital, and that Obama did in fact try and fail to do that. The president largely denied the truth of the sequence of events wholesale.

In 2012, Obama was also campaigning on bringing the Afghanistan war to a responsible end. Today the U.S. war is in its 15th year, and is now a longer running conflict than the two world wars and the U.S. civil war combined. There was a long debated, quickly forgotten "surge" at the start of Obama's first presidency. The story of the Afghanistan war in Obama's first term was the story of bureaucratic infighting that pissed away any opportunity to bringing the Afghanistan war to a responsible end. Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state during Obama's first term, was a big part of that story and many other Obama-era foreign policy disasters. While the president's supporters touted the selection of Clinton as secretary of state as part of his effort to assemble a cabinet of "rivals" like Lincoln had done, what it had the effect of doing was erasing any kind of lesson that might have been learned about the folly of an interventionist U.S. foreign policy during the 2008 election cycle. "I don't want to have people who just agree with me," candidate Obama told Time magazine back then. "I want people who are continually pushing me out of my comfort zone."

How far outside the comfort zone interventionism ever was for Obama, who famously promised to go into Pakistan with or without the sovereign government's permission if it meant taking out Osama bin Laden, is debatable. Clinton's influence on Obama era interventionism isn't. Clinton was a major advocate of the U.S.-backed intervention in Libya, caught on camera laughing it up when Libyan rebels benefiting from U.S. air support captured Col. Qaddafi, the leader of Libya, and sexually assaulted and killed him. It shouldn't have been surprising—in her political career there has not been an interventionism that she's opposed or of which she's even been skeptical. Even President Obama admitted that failing to plan for the aftermath of the intervention in Libya was the "worst mistake" of his presidency. Hillary Clinton continues to defend it and says she has no regrets.

Meanwhile this election cycle, Donald Trump has tried to get mileage off his own purported opposition to the Iraq war, as a TV personality in the early 2000s. He's also claimed to have opposed the intervention in Libya, even as he made comments at the time that the U.S. had to take out Qaddafi to avoid appearing weak, saying such an operation would be "very easy and very quick." Incredibly, Trump has been embraced by a few non-interventionists even though he is far from one. While he has hit notes about the problem of the U.S. acting as a world policeman, this has most often been part of a world view where the U.S. continues to operate that way, with the substantive difference being getting paid for it, kind of the opposite of non-interventionism.

Neither Clinton nor Trump have offered a foreign policy vis a vis the Islamic State (ISIS) that differs from President Obama's own vague rhetoric about regional allies and military action. Neither has either one offered any kind of critique or commentary on the implications of America's broader interventionist foreign policy. More than 140 people may have been killed in an airstrike on a funeral in Yemen by the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition. That conflict has lasted a year and a half with no input from Congress or even any real public discussion. In response the White House said it would conduct an immediate review of its support for the conflict.

This resembles the White House's hand-wringing over the drone war it was waging across the Muslim world, which only became an issue for the White House after it could no longer be kept a secret. When Romney briefly looked like he could win the 2012 election, the White House worked on stricter rules for the use of drones. The effort didn't go far after the election. The U.S. is building a $100 million drone base in Niger while its counterterrorism efforts have exploded in West Africa. U.S. efforts from Nigeria to Afghanistan, the White House argues, when it bothers to argue, fall under the purview of the 2001 authorization of the use of military force against the perpetrators of 9/11 and "associated forces." Many of the alleged insurgents the U.S. is targeting aren't old enough to remember 9/11 let alone be responsible for it. Only one member of Congress voted against that authorization, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who also opposed the intervention in Libya. She is voting for Hillary Clinton, a perfect encapsulation of how Americans have foregone any attempt to engage what has become a bipartisan decades-long project of interventionism despite the occasional politically useful rhetoric against it.

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  1. So what’s the drink rule if Clinton uses the word pussy tonight. If she actually accesses Trunp of grabbing her Pussy at his wedding that would be greatest debate line ever.

    1. My best friend’s sister makes $95 an hour on the internet . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her check was $14750 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go this website and click tech tab to start your work… This Web… http://goo.gl/PCIIPN

      1. Sound’s legit

        1. Makes more sense than anything SIV has posted in two months.

        2. You people do this just to piss me off, don’t you?

          1. Do what?

              1. I love grabbing women by their apostrophe.

              2. I’m guessing my phome added that since I’m much too lazy to.

          2. What . . . what other reason is there to do anything?

    2. Accuses

    3. Giants-Packers tonight. No time for bullshit debate.

      1. They though they were hurting Trump by scheduling the debates against football, but now it looks like a gift.

        1. And the MLB playoffs

            1. You sir / ma’am win today’s interwebs.

        2. It matters not. It means nothing if all of a sudden voters see their candidate of choice, he or she’s now got the big phony campaign and everything. The candidate’s totally changed his or her look but who cares. You know they’re automatically attracted to beautiful ? they just start supporting them. It’s like a magnet. Just support. They don’t even wait.

      2. My Vikings looking pretty good today. They’ve been quite the pleasant surprise given the injuries.

        1. That because they have my ole boy Sammie Sleeves!

        2. That’s one awesome-looking boondoggle the Vikes got.

    4. If Clinton uses the word pussy I would pay damned good money to see Trump stroll over to her and grab hers.

      1. Or even if he said, she liked it, she really did.

  2. Hillary is the “invade the world, invite the world” candidate. Trump is not the open borders candidate. That’s an important difference.

    1. Seriously, did an immigrant run over your dog? This post has nothing to do with immigration, and yet there’s your pet issue… again.

      1. Foreign policy and immigration are related issues. Think about it.

        Liberty is my “pet issue.” Swamping the country with Third World peasants and Muslims reduces my liberty.

    2. Trump is the “let Russia and PRC take over the world” candidate. And the “no fly no buy” candidate too.

      1. Yeah. Because America’s attempt to take over the world is working out so well for everyone – including Americans.

        1. The world is a lot better off with America dominant than it would be with pretty much anybody else.

          Our system is based on the supremacy of free-ish trade and the rule of law (international law) in international dealings. We prosper when the world prospers. That’s a good arrangement for everybody, well except authoritarian dictators.

          It’s not the arrangement the Russians or Chinese would have when they dominate the world.

          1. Its also not the arrangement the US has in the very countries its occupied.

  3. My best friend’s sister makes $95 an hour on the internet . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her check was $14750 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go this website and click tech tab to start your work… This Web… http://goo.gl/PCIIPN

  4. Trump’s comments were lewd and crass sure but lets be honest dudes, we’ve all heard this kind of talk in the locker room or from drunk male friends. Maybe we didn’t engage in this kind of talk ourselves but its not all that shocking and its not sexual assault. When I tell a friend I want to fuck that lady that just walked by in a bikini it doesn’t mean I want to rape her. The guys that are acting shocked and offended are a bunch of neutered SJWs. Now I can definitely see this shocking some soccer moms and precious snowflake millenial women.

    Although I found it funny that Trump said he was much more immature ten years ago. Uhm its not like you were in college ten years ago Donald. You were in your sixties!

    1. When I tell a friend I want to fuck that lady that just walked by in a bikini it doesn’t mean I want to rape her.

      Except that’s much less bad than what Trump said.

      I think it’s possible (even likely) that Trump was just running his mouth and talking big, with no concern for the meaning of what he was saying, and that he didn’t actually assault anybody.

      But that in itself is a big fucking problem for the leader of the free world.

      1. Women are so much against sexual assaults by rich guys that none of them bought those 50 Shades of Grey books. And they totally boycotted the movie, too.

      2. Well

        1. The President of the United States is actually *not* the ‘leader of the free world’. He’s not even the leader of the United States.

        2. Its been a long time since a US President could claim any sort of moral superiority over most of the rest of the world’s heads of state. They’ve certainly not been a Mugabe or a Castro – but they’ve definitely been at or below a Merkel or a Hollande, or a Berlusconi.

    2. Dont kid yourself Rothbard’sbitch. Women talk that way and worse when men aren’t around. All of the outrage all the way around is phony baloney bullshit. You certainly have a point that he was in his sixties.

      What Bo says…Trump would have been making a huge mistake by actually doing any of that. Celebrities have less license than the rest of us and more of a target painted on them. How many of these women have sued the multibillionaire to make a name and a buck over Tump’s pussy trespassing?

      1. Women talk about walking up to guys and immediately grabbing their dicks?

          1. I guess I don’t run with the right kind of women. Or maybe I do?

        1. They actually do it. I’ve had my dicked grabbed on more than one occassion – in public, by women I don’t know. And I’m not exactly what you’d call attractive. Never, in my life, seen another man grab a woman’s crotch in public.

          1. Man, I’m really running with the wrong group of women!

            Did you catch a 15 pound trout the same day?

            1. Drunk middle-aged women fell extra-ordinarily entitled when it comes to sex.

          2. Ditto. At least twice at the same bar. It closed years ago, so stop asking which one it was.

            It was surprising and disconcerting when it happened, but in retrospect, I took it as a compliment.

    3. we’ve all heard this kind of talk in the locker room or from drunk male friends.

      What the hell are you doing in a locker room with drunk people?

      I hear “this kind of talk” all day every day. Because that’s how i roll.

      1. If Bill Clinton had been caught on tape saying these things, you guys would be all over it decrying it as the worst, most offensive thing ever. And blaming Hillary for being married to a guy who would say such terrible things. Don’t even try to deny it.

        1. I though Clinton did say and did do all these things. No one really seemed to care.

        2. Clinton got a blowjob by an intern in his office. Pretty much no one here cares. I know the Democrats definitely don’t care – even though they’ve been the once pushing the ‘power-difference = consent can’t be freely given’ idea.

          Its kind of funny that W Clinton was almost hoist by his own petard.

  5. I HAVE NEVER SAID ANYTHING SO CRASS IN MY LIFE.

    Has my wife left the room?

    Does anyone seriously think that Hillary hasn’t said something similar in reference to Lewinsky?

    People will publicly disown him but that doesn’t mean they won’t vote for him.

    1. These people are publicly disowning him because they are afraid their support could hurt their chances to be (re)elected.

    2. Hillary talked about sexually assaulting Monica Lewinsky?

      1. Well if the rumors about Huma are true…

  6. OT

    Maine: Where Men are Men, and Women are Portable

    the winning couple was happy to claim their first North American title …and took home 11 cases of Goose Island Octoberfest beer and five times Giana’s weight in cash

      1. the beer is domestic and that’s what matters. most american things are stolen from europe and improved-upon. with extra cheese.

        1. I note they misspelled Oktoberfest.

          O’zapft is!

          1. What are you, some german spell-nazi? In Americaland we say October, and dammit we didn’t kill Hitler just so some goose-stepping snobophile can start throwing K’s at everything like Dwight Gooden

            next thing, you’ll start complaining they’re not using the metric system and therefore the woman-cash-value is inflated.

            1. Oktoberfest is Bavarian.

              1. Well I don’t see any flags from “Bavar” on the moon, so you can just suck it.

                1. Well I don’t see any flags from “Bavar” on the moon, so you can just suck it.

                  That’s because they covered that shit up.

            2. five times Giana’s weight in cash that totaled $665

              I guess they mean she weighs 133lbs. But, given a $100 bill weighs about 1 gram, his prize could have been 133lbs x 454 x $100 = about 6 million dollars. If the contest paid out in singles, he should get $60 000. It doesn’t matter if you use Kilograms and Euros: He was robbed!

              Or maybe his wife only weighs between 1.33 and 133 grams, in which case he married Tinkerbell, and therefore had an unfair advantage over his competitors schlepping their human sized wives. In other words: He cheated!

              Science, bitches!

    1. Gilmore, you misspelled monetizable.

  7. with the substantive difference being getting paid for it, kind of the opposite of non-interventionism.

    If you’d ever bothered to actually specify what’s meant by “non-interventionism”, maybe it would be more convincing.

    Technically, i’d think contractual security deals where the US is compensated for any use of its assets in some voluntary arrangement would be entirely consistent with “non-interventionism”, which, last i checked , was about the US unilaterally interfering in other people’s problems where we had no clear self-interests.

    while we’re on the topic = is selling other countries arms to defend themselves also considered ‘intervention’?

  8. Trump isn’t intelligent enough to grab Clinton by her stated or real foreign policies, much less formulate and articulate one of his own into that hot mic in front of him tonight.

    1. I didn’t know they could send photographs from the entertainment stage in Hell.

    2. *hovers over link*

      No damn way. I’d rather party with Crusty.

    3. I thought that if you played “Eleanor Rigsby” backwards it said that Paul is dead. I guess it was just his voice that died.

  9. HAHAHAHA interception + fumble through the end zone = touchback.

    as bad as the Redskins are, the Ravens’ stupidity is without parallel.

      1. We all have a purpose in life. You seem dull enough that following me around in blog comments may be the best you can muster.

  10. I for one refuse to say the difference between the Bush foreign policy and the Obama foreign policy is a black-and-white issue.

  11. If there truly is a just and merciful god out there, Hillary will be so loaded with Candidates Little Helpers that she’ll either totally forget to wear the pander-face or start talking gibberish.

    1. She’ll be shot full of enough drugs to kill a normal person. But pure evil seems to be hard to kill. She’s probably spent most of the last 30 days in some type of embalming fluid.

      Her primary 3 goals as potus are:

      1. Kill the 2nd amendment.

      2. Start more wars.

      3. Tax the middle class out of existence.

      1. I don’t know. It’s the format that’s the key. Hot lights, having to stand and having to deal with stupid question will all prompt her docs to pull out the horse tranquilizers. She may yet shout “I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN!” before the end.

        1. I dunno. The Lizard Queen on “V” was played by Morena Baccarin who’s one of the most sensual actresses I’ve ever seen. If Morena Baccarin were under a Hillary mask and took it off yelling “I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN” she would be the next president.

          1. The original Diana was pretty hot too

          2. +2 good miniseries -1 shitty regular series.

      2. Trump would do every one of those things as well.

        1. I doubt it, really. And he would get blocked from doing most of it by congress and also be called out for it by the media. Hillary will have free reign.

          1. Well Libertarians gush over Carter and Bill for what Congress stopped them from doing…

          2. Trump has stated that he will start trade wars with pretty much every country on the planet, and break all of our alliances.

            He has stated that he supports no fly-no buy, which gives the DOJ the ability to prevent all gun sales to everybody in the country without any judicial accountability or acts of Congress. And you’re a fool if you don’t think the full extent of that ability will be exercised.

            Trump has said he will continue all the spending that exists now. That bill is going to come due and the only solution is going to be to raise taxes.

            1. And those are his best points. He’s got a downside. {major sarc}

      3. “She’ll be shot full of enough drugs to kill a normal person.”

        No drugs. After her collapse she went into a coma and was replaced by an android. You can tell because the android is much more lifelike.

        1. +2 Phantom Presidents

    2. Collapses and falls off her podium and Trump has to save her by grabbing her. Grabbing her right by the nutsack.

    3. start talking gibberish.

      Start“?

      1. There’s overprecise-yet-vague weasel-wording gibberish and then there’s purplemonkeydishwasher gibberish.

  12. I don’t know if I can watch the debate tonight. I find myself becoming exhausted by this shitshow.

    1. Are you kidding? I haven’t seen a lick of these ‘debates’ since January of this year, when i watched some snippets of the GOP primary scrum just for the lulz.

      the Reason live-tweeting used to be amusing during the primaries, but increasingly seem to only be addressing their fellow-journo-wanking peers rather than the readership

  13. a particularly acute post-truth election but it isn’t the first one. Neither is it the first post-issues election.

    Mr. McCardle has a sad.

  14. What do Chapman and Dalmia have in common with the CPUSA?

    1. Now, now, we only judge Republicans by their most disreputable supporters! Democrats are exempt.

  15. What’s up with Psycho Mike? A while ago he was calling all Johnson/Weld critics goober bully aggressors who have no platform but “anti-gummint” but now he is complaining about how Johnson/Weld suck because they don’t a platform but “anti-gummint”. Oh wait I am talking about PsychoMike…

  16. Even notice how the anti-Trump articles are very vitriolic and don’t mention Hillary will the anti-Hillary pieces are a lot milder and always attack Trump? Cocktail parties? Or the Koch’s showing their preference.

    1. If you were a billionaire wouldn’t you support Hillary? I think running anyone against hillary is a mistake instead conservatives should have taken the billion dollars thats been sunk into Trump’s campaign and donate it to the Clinton Foundation with the agreement that upon being elected to office she govern as a conservative. Hillary is a whore who will do anything for money so pay her off.

      1. Can’t tell if serious….

        Also hasn’t Hillary been the one with a billion dollar campaign?

    2. If the Kochs wrote a check to the Clinton foundation they could get coal subsidies. I doubt you will see any money move that way.

      Wall Street, on the other hand, knows a good investment when they see one and the rate of return on donations beats anything else they could invest in.

  17. I’m waiting for the Libertarian Party’s Romney/Christie 2020 ticket. They do need to build on what Johnson/Weld have accomplished this year.

  18. So that Filipino President: his party was the main party that overthrew Marcos and his main opponent was from a party backed by MacArthur back in 1946…

    1. I heard that Narcos show was pretty good, now but you’re telling me Netflix hired somebody with a Genius Grant? That show should be awesome!

  19. Donald Trump’s tenuous relationship with the truth makes this a particularly acute post-truth election but it isn’t the first one. Neither is it the first post-issues election.

    Yep. Its just too bad that Trump is a liar-liar who wouldn’t know the truth if it came down and grabbed his crotch.

    Good thing Clinton is running. If there’s someone who lives up to ‘I can not tell a lie’, its her. Truthful, truthful, truthful. Her whole career has been built around telling the truth and transparency.

    1. Not like Trump, who keeps lieing all the time.

    2. “BUT HILLLLLLLLARRRRRRYYYYYY!”

      Here we go again.

      I get that Hillary is a terrible candidate. But you guys are whinging about any criticism of Trump when Hillary is bad on a topic too. It’s not like Reason hasn’t been covering Hillary’s badness.

      1. Here we go again.

        Someone calling out a stupid one-sided attack that applies just as equally to the other candidate who gets a pass for some reason has you freaking out about people defending Trump.

        Why are you defending Clinton?

        1. So nobody can criticize Trump for anything he does without adding a disclaimer that Hillary is bad too?

          Again, Reason has criticized both of them very severely. Not at the same time of course, but does that matter?

          1. Nope. If you’re going to criticize a flaw in one candidate it damn well behooves you to remember all the others that share the same flaw to a greater degree lest you forget how bad they all are.

        2. the other candidate who gets a pass for some reason

          Baloney. Pure, stark-raving baloney.

          Reason has extensively attacked Clinton for her lies.

          1. Not as extensively as they’ve attacked Trump for saying something idiotic.

            And notice how the article here accuses Trump of lying yet he’s been no more (and no less) untruthful than, say, Obama or Bush, yet there’s no mention of Clinton’s lies at all. Even though she’s the one who deliberately set up her SoS communications to hide them – so she could lie about them later – and then lied about it.

            And then lied about lying about it.

            What’s Trump lied about? How little he actually cares about building that wall? How much respect he’s got for women? What *are* his lies?

        3. And I am not defending at all.

          The only thing I’ve said that could be interpreted that way is that she’s not responsible for what Bill has done in the past with women. Did not realize it would be this controversial to state that individuals are not responsible for the choices of other individuals on a supposedly libertarian site.

          1. “And I am not defending at all”

            And three consecutive posts in a row prove it!!!

            Ahahahahajaahahahaa god youre an idiot.

          2. Yes you are defending Clinton. Anytime anyone points out that Clinton is at least as corrupt as Trump you jump in and yell and scream about how we’re just defending Trump – which implies that the criticism against Clinton is not legitimate.

            That’s a defense of Clinton.

      2. A lot of Reason people came from the left and still have a residue of the left that once supported free speech and free love. That left was as phony as their carefully made torn tie dyed jeans. They were the equivalent of the social conservatives who blasted homosexuality while soliciting underage male prostitutes in airport bathrooms.

        Arguing about who’s worse, the incompetent lying power hungry harpy or the incompetent lying power hungry misogynist is a waste of life.

  20. This is not a sentence:

    “But while Obama campaigned on his opposition to the Iraq War, which was by the 2008 election already slowly coming to an end.”

    1. It wouldn’t be Ed K. if there weren’t a handful of mangled sentences.

      Its his hallmark – like Robby’s pathetic equivocations, or Nicks’ old-man-still-trying-to-be-hip pop-culture-references.

  21. What exactly is a “responsible end” to the Afghanistan mission? Letting it fall back under control of the Taliban again?

  22. My Uncle Declan recently got Dodge Charger SRT8 only from working parttime off a home compute
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