Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What's Wrong with Hillary

I don't know why I'm even mildly surprised, but Hillary quite publicly refuses to repudiate the use of torture by the U.S. government:

Clinton was similarly vague about how she would handle special interrogation methods used by the CIA. She said that while she does not condone torture, so much has been kept secret that she would not know unless elected what other extreme measures interrogators are using, and therefore could not say whether she would change or continue existing policies.

"It is not clear yet exactly what this administration is or isn't doing. We're getting all kinds of mixed messages," Clinton said. "I don't think we'll know the truth until we have a new president. I think [until] you can get in there and actually bore into what's been going on, you're not going to know."

What? "Mixed messages"? I'm sorry, but we know quite clearly that the Bush administration has authorized the use of brutal techniques like water-boarding and stress positions, has refused to renounce such techniques, has authored secret legal opinions justifying them, and has only reluctantly backed away from such techniques after losing cases before the Supreme Court. If you are genuinely against torture, you would simply come out and say "I do not support the use of torture techniques such as water-boarding, stress positions" etc., etc. What are the reasons you wouldn't come out and say something like that? Either because you are genuinely not really against torture all that much, or because you don't want to say you're against torture because that's not "tough." Which is worse? I don't know, but Kevin Drum detests this sort of weasily spinning:

Politics is politics. Spin and ambiguity are part of the game. But if you can't even take a full-throated, non-weasely position against torture and abuse of prisoners in American custody, what the hell good are you?

Indeed. Who of us desires to vote a Democrat into the White House, only to find that torture continues in our name? Not I.

I like Hillary. I really do. I think she's tough, strong, intelligent and would be a hell of a President. But this sort of thing is really starting to chap my hide. I am seriously beginning to question whether or not Hillary lines up with my ideas on American foreign policy and national security enough for me to be comfortable with her as President. I hardly need to say anything about her infamous vote for the Iraq war, a vote that haunts her on the campaign trail, a vote she has yet to adequately explain. Even now she continues to hedge on Iraq, as if she's preserving some sort of maneuvering room that will permit her to keep us in the conflict longer than most Americans desire (though to be fair, all the major candidates seem to be having this problem.) Then there's her vote on the recent Iran resolution, followed shortly by her support of a proposal that would block funding of a military strike on Iran, a position which leaves people like me wondering exactly how much leeway Hillary thinks she's giving the Bush administration to act on Iran and to what purpose. It doesn't help that her list of advisers includes hawks suck as Michael O'Hanlon, defender of the surge.

Then there's the nuclear weapons kerfuffle from earlier this year, where Obama made the egregious mistake of saying he wouldn't unilaterally nuke thousands of innocent Pakistanis to kill a dozen or so terrorists, and Clinton called him out for his unseriousness in that regard, and for his willingness to waste time talking to heads of State we disagree with.

Then there's her approach to Cuba, which appears to be to continue the failed embargo approach of the last fifty years.

In contrast to that we have Barack Obama, who unabashedly and clearly repudiates the use of torture, spoke out against the war in Iraq, refused to back the Iran resolution, who thinks we should talk to our enemies, who believes it's silly to admit that we won't nuke peaceful citizens just to get to terrorists, who in fact believes we should ban nuclear weapons, who supports rapprochement with Cuba, and who employs a noted human rights activist as his most prominent foreign policy adviser.

Don't get me wrong. I don't support or oppose a candidate based solely on my foreign policy beliefs. But we are at a critical juncture in the history of our Nation, where our relationships with other powers can either be repaired and restored or where they can be broken beyond repair, where we can engage in war until it saps us of our military and economic might or we can begin the difficult road to peace and diplomacy, and where we can break with the ineffectual policies of the past to engage in a new era of world leadership. At this juncture, I think it's becoming clearer who is best suited to do all of these things, and it's not Hillary Clinton.

UPDATE: Dammit! The Hillary campaign ruins my anti-Hillary screed by revealing that Hillary was not quoted accurately by the Washington Post (check the link to Kevin Drum above for an update.) Her entire quote reveals about as unequivocal a stand against torture as you can ask for and I'm not going to over-interpret her words like Andrew Sullivan in an effort to sustain my original point (and Sullivan has his own weird problems with the Clintons anyway.) But I stand by the rest of my post, and her clear statement against torture isn't enough to change my mind about any of the rest of her foreign policy positions.


adam said...

Well, regardless, she and Bill Clinton have had that position on torture in the past. So the question is whether it's a heartfelt change.

Xanthippas said...

I know, but I don't see the need to hold firm in that area, when there's so much else going against her that I take issue with.