Trevor Timm writes:
Now that it’s increasingly likely that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the two major candidates for president in the general election, voters are once again left without a true anti-war candidate, or even a decisive break from the last decade and a half of disastrous foreign policy.
We already know there’s barely ever been a military engagement that Clinton didn’t like.
And Trump confirmed on Wednesday in his “big” foreign policy speech that he will be a chaotic and unpredictable aggressor whose opinion changes with the wind.
When Bernie Sanders leaves the race, there will no longer be a credible voice saying that more bombing is not necessarily the answer to solving all the problems in the Middle East, many of which were caused by bombing in the first place.
Trump started off his speech on Wednesday by reading from a teleprompter in a rambling and incoherent manner, declaring that Obama has “depleted” our military (false), the Iran deal was the “worst agreement” (why?) and that we don’t support Israel, “a force for justice and peace” (absurd) – hallmark Republican conventional wisdom talking points.
He then did say some things that suggested he would not look to immediately start new wars in the Middle East and elsewhere, but it’s hard to take anything he says on the subject seriously.
He swung wildly from one position to its opposite on multiple occasions, contradicting himself at various times from comments he made years to mere minutes prior.
For example, he said that bombing Libya was “a disaster”, but he then questioned why we aren’t still bombing Libya right now.
He claimed that “unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct.”
Yet he’s bragged in the recent past about wanting to bring back waterboarding, or “much worse”, killing terrorists’ entire families, and would not be opposed to using nuclear bombs, even in Europe.
He remarked that there’s “too much destruction out there – too many destructive weapons,” but just five minutes earlier in the speech, he said the US’s nuclear arsenal was in dire need of “renewal”.
While Trump’s foreign policy seems random and unpredictable (he actually bragged about this), it’s hard to see how Clinton’s approach to war is much better.
Clinton has run on a more hawkish foreign policy than most Democrats and Republicans. As many have pointed out, her positions are often more militaristic than anyone else in the race.
She is in favor of a no-fly zone in Syria – a euphemism for declaring war on the Assad regime on one side, while also bombing Isis on the other.
She was for the Iraq war, the 2011 Libyan war and the Afghanistan surge.
She also counts among her friends unindicted war criminal Henry Kissinger, and she has neocons already lining up behind her rather than supporting Trump.
This is not to say Trump and Clinton are the same when it comes to foreign policy – there is plenty of legitimate disagreement. Trump’s xenophobic call for a ban on Muslim immigrants and open calls for torture come to mind.
But on a lot of issues, like the Isis war, praise for dictators and trillions of dollars in military spending, voters are left with a similar choice on foreign policy as they had in 2012.
(Remember: for all Mitt Romney’s bluster and slimy rhetoric, he and Obama basically had the same approach to foreign policy as well.)
Now the only question is which candidate will be elected to continue expanding the $2tn, never-ending war on terror that has already spread across the Middle East.