There's not a lot to work with, as I think Hillary Clinton's foreign policy has been surprisingly substance-free even for a presidential campaign, but two things immediately jump out at me. The first, obviously, is her attempt to position herself as a "serious" i.e. centrist national security Democrat, not like that Obama guy, who clearly has not yet perfected the art of squinting and nodding sagely about national security, but not as crazy as George W. Bush, who has irresponsibly screwed everything up with his irresponsible screw-ups. While I'm not among those who believe that sack cloth and ashes are required gear for every legislator who supported the Iraq war, I tend to think her explanations of her vote and her criticisms of Bush for his conduct (but not necessarily his conception, of the war and the ideological predispositions that led to it) amount to an incompetence dodge. Hillary talks a lot about internationalism and rebuilding alliances, but haven't seen any indication that she believes that multilateral institutions are valuable in and of themselves as much as just being a more effective way of implementing American will and enforcing American global hegemony.

Her use of the rhetoric of "the war on terror" is also troubling. Like Bush and many conservatives (and, to be fair, some other Democrats), Hillary tends to talk about "the terrorists" a lot, as if the various Islamic extremist movements in the Middle East were all part of one big Islamofascist Voltron. This doesn't speak well of her ability to suss out differences between these groups, their grievances, goals, constituencies, and, most importantly, differences that can be exploited. She's also made comments about Israel being on the "front lines of this struggle," something which comes straight out of Ariel Sharon's rhetorical playbook, and indicates an approach that subsumes the legitimate aims of Palestinian nationalism within the category "Islamic extremism" while exonerating Israel for its own provocative actions in the occupied territories. This should be deeply disquieting to anyone who holds out hope for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in our lifetimes.

So it seems to me that Hillary's just offering us the Bush Doctrine with the crusts cut off. Or, if you prefer, a kinder, gentler machine gun hand.

--Matthew Duss