OxBlog

Monday, May 22, 2006

# Posted 12:21 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

OH, PATRICK, YOU ARE TOO MODEST: You say you can "barely think of a single worthwhile or even frivolous thing to say." Yet in the five years since I have known you, you have never been at a loss for frivolous things to say. Or if not frivolous, then certainly trivial, esoteric, or inconsequential. Don't underestimate yourself!

And with regard to Hillary's foreign policy, since you asked, I will add my two cents to the subject. First, let me reframe the question. The challenge with Hillary (as with so many politicians) is to separate the tactical opinions from the heartfelt principles. Thus, Nitin's summary of Hillary's positions on recent issues of interest is accurate, but doesn't provide enough information to help sift out the tactical from the heartfelt.

To that end, I think Aron is correct to identify an interest in women's issues in the developing world, especially micro-lending programs, as a subject in which Hillary has had a long-standing and unwavering interest. In the first half of her autobiography (which was way too boring to finish), Hillary extensively describes her efforts on behalf of women in the developing world. Even so, I think it's fair to say that being for micro-lending tells us almost nothing about the broader principles that may or may not shape Hillary's ideas about foreign policy. I support micro-lending and so do many folks further to my right.

Going back the autobiography (or at least it's first half), I feel pretty comfortable saying that Hillary has nothing much to say about foreign policy or national security at all. In my review, I pointed out some of the vague comments she made about Vietnam, as well as other foreign policy issues, in order to illustrate just how unformed Hillary's approach to foreign affairs seems to be.

On domestic issues, the story is the same. The autobiography mentions a number of policy issues its author favored or opposed, but makes no effort to describe any broader principles fundamental to her outlook. What is clear from the book, however, is that Hillary will go to almost any length to avoid describing herself as "liberal.". Not surprisingly, Kos & Co. are infuriated.

By the same token, Hillary's refusal to renounce her initial support for the war in Iraq has antagonized much of the Democratic base. I find it very interesting to watch Hillary on this issue, since my working hypothesis is that she saw exactly how John Kerry was raked over the coals for being inconsistent, and believes that it is more important now to play to independent voters by being consistent than to play to her base by breathing fire.

In other words, I think that tactical considerations are the decisive factor for Hillary, but her timeline has always extended out to 2008, so she doesn't rush about taking all sorts of inconsistent positions like your average legislator.

But that is all speculation about Hillary's mindset, so the presentation of evidence is liable to chane my mind. In the comments below, I would be especially glad to hear from anyone who can point to other foreign policy issues on which Hillary took a consistent position before 9/11.
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
Patrick,I agree with David: as long as I have known you, you have been a promiscuous intellectual. 3am in the morning is a good time I find to shift Blogger's Block, but no plumber will agree with me. Try reading Thus Spake Zarathustra at 3am - a harsh purgative maybe...
 
Wasn't Hillary instrumental in blocking recognition of the Taliban on feminist grounds?
 
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