Many think Hillary Clinton’s willingness to use force overseas — most infamously her 2002 vote for the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq — was just politics. As I wrote at Focal Points in January:
It was widely assumed that Clinton either saw the writing on the wall and that resisting would only hurt her political future or, more proactively, that it would give a boost to her political fortunes (especially because it ostensibly showed that, as a woman, she could be tough enough for higher office).
But, as Michael Crowley wrote in the New Republic in 2007:
What if the hawkish Hillary of 2002 wasn’t just motivated by political opportunism? What if she really believed in the war?
After Libya and other instances where she counseled force, we know Hillary Clinton believes that war can be an effective tool. If that’s not a function of expediency, is it a sign of her belief in humanitarian intervention? Would that it were. In the New York Times magazine, Mark Landler writes that, pure and simple, Hillary Clinton is a hawk.
“Hillary is very much a member of the traditional American foreign-policy establishment,” says Vali Nasr, a foreign-policy strategist who advised her on Pakistan and Afghanistan at the State Department. “She believes, like presidents going back to the Reagan or Kennedy years, in the importance of the military — in solving terrorism, in asserting American influence. …”
Landler writes that among ways of understanding why Hillary Clinton is a hawk “one of the most revealing is to explore her decades-long cultivation of the military — not just civilian leaders like Gates, but also its high-ranking commanders, the men with the medals. Her affinity for the armed forces is rooted in a lifelong belief that the calculated use of military power is vital to defending national interests, that American intervention does more good than harm and that the writ of the United States properly reaches, as Bush once put it, into “any dark corner of the world.”
Landler also notes:
Living in the White House is, in many ways, like living in a military compound. A Marine stands guard in front of the West Wing when the president is in the Oval Office. The Military Office operates the medical center and the telecommunications system. The Navy runs the cafeteria, the Marines transport the president by helicopter, the Air Force by plane. Camp David is a naval facility. The daily contact with men and women in uniform, Clinton’s friends say, deepened her feelings for them.
However well considered Hillary Clinton’s positions are — and we know that, whatever conclusions she reaches, she has weighed the pros and cons — it also appears that she loves a man in a uniform.