National security and foreign affairs have become important issues in the 2016 presidential election. The two candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been compared as who may be more hawkish or more dangerous as the next President of the U.S. While Hillary is touting to be more experienced and tougher than Trump to be the Commander-in-Chief, there are voices to express concern that she could be too militant. In contrast, some are saying Donald Trump is the peace candidate. This article collects thoughts expressed on this issue and discusses why people say that Donald Trump not Hillary Clinton is a peace candidate.
Trump appears as a presidential candidate with tough language and he vows to make America great again. One may wonder why we hear that, Trump is the peace candidate. One example is Rosa Brooks who published an article (Foreign Policy, 7-26-16) entitled, Donald Trump Is the Peace Candidate. I read her article and agree that she did make sense in branding Hillary hawkish but she had not much to contrast Donald with Hillary. Rosa claims Hillary is not persuasive as the peace candidate by citing facts related to Iraq, Libya and Syria against her and referred to another in-depth article by Mark Handler in NY Times on 4-21-2016, entitled, How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk, where Mark said, “Clinton’s more activist philosophy had already collided in unpredictable ways with her boss’s instincts toward restraint. She had backed Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s recommendation to send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, before endorsing a fallback proposal of 30,000 (Obama went along though stipulated that the soldiers would begin to pull out again in July 2011, which she viewed as problematic). She supported the Pentagon’s plan to leave behind a residual force of 10,000 to 20,000 American troops in Iraq (Obama balked at this ….). And she pressed for the United States to funnel arms to the rebels in Syria’s civil war (an idea Obama initially rebuffed before later, halfheartedly, came around…).”
Handler’s article further described another episode, “In Obama’s first high-level meeting on Russia in February 2009, …. Clinton, the last to speak, brusquely rejected the idea of making a symbolic concession to Russia, saying, “I’m not giving up anything for nothing.” Clinton’s hardheadedness made an impression on Robert Gates, the defense secretary, who later said to Handler, “I thought. This is a tough lady.” Brook also remarked on Russia, “Worst of all, Clinton seems utterly determined to bait the Russian bear. She denounced Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea as illegal and she even once compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.” Based on Hillary’s militant track record as the Secretary of State and her attitude wanting to demonstrate she is a tough lady and tougher than man, no wonder Brooks declared, “I’m voting for Donald Trump, peace candidate! It’s simple. Donald Trump is the only candidate we can count on to end 70 years of dangerous tensions with Russia — the only candidate who is actively extending a hand of friendship to our longtime adversary.”
The above arguments say more about Hillary’s hawkish nature but do we have enough evidence to say Donald Trump is a peace candidate? What about his repeated slams on China on his campaign trail? His message appears to be resonating with many folks in the country. Why isn’t this being viewed as hawkish? Since Trump has no foreign policy track record to be compared with Clinton, few analysts can make definite judgment on Donald as they could on Hillary. However, “Trump has boldly laid bare flaws on foreign policies of past presidents undermining U.S. interests and American prosperity”, paraphrased from an article by Peter Morici, The Genius of Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy (Breitbart.com 8-29-16). People seem to appreciate his smarts in criticizing the past mistakes and allow latitude for him to learn on the job. Comparing his remarks on China and Russia, his toughness is more directed at trades than at military confrontations. Donald has no preference in liking Russia over China, even though Hillary has attacked Donald’s ‘kind’ words about Putin and accusing Putin helping Trump.
Brooks imagined “a world permanently freed from the once omnipresent fear of nuclear conflict between two great superpowers. Imagine a world in which Russia and the United States stand together as friends and allies — a world in which Donald and Vladimir stand together, hand in hand. With a Trump presidency, we will finally see two great nations, once bitter enemies, co-sponsoring Miss Universe competitions together…. a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a catastrophe, dangerously increasing the risk of deadly military confrontation with Russia.“ Even though Brooks’ article is written with plenty of sarcastic phrases not certain of her beliefs or imagining; nevertheless, sifting through the facts, one may conclude that Hillary is going to be a far more hawkish president than Donald.
Since we have no concrete evidence to pin Donald to be a potential hawkish President, we must find strong evidence to say Hillary would be a hawkish President. First, let’s follow through Handler’s long article in which he gave a biographic sketch of Hillary’s exposure to the military and how she became a hawk. Hillary was born as a daughter of a Republican Naval Officer growing up through post WW II years. She was a motivated political student and went through a transition in the sixties from Republican to Democrat by attending both party conventions. In her own account, after she was married to Bill Clinton in Arkansas, she tried to enlist in the Marines to serve her country but got rejected when she was a lawyer at 27.
When she became the first lady living in the White House, surrounded by service men, she deepened her feelings for the military, exhibited by her visit to Bosnia. After being elected as the Senator from New York, she became close to General Buster Hagenbeck and protected Fort Drum military base from closure. In 2002, Hagenbeck led operation Anaconda, an assault on Taliban and Al Qaeda and became Hillary’s personal briefer in military affairs. When Hillary advanced in seniority in the Senate she was offered a seat on either Senate Foreign Relations Committee or the Senate Armed Services Committee, she chose the latter (deviated from the tradition, Daniel Moynihan and Jacob Javits chose the more prestigious Foreign Relations Committee) to deal with Republican hawks like John McCann. Handler remarked that it was a perfect training ground for a woman aspired to be commander-in-chief. Jack Keane, another general, one of the architects of the Iraq surge became the greatest single influencer in Hillary’s thinking about military issues, way into her term as the Secretary of State. Hillary had appeared more hawkish as contrasted with Obama.
Micah Zenko in his article, Hillary the Hawk: A History, (FP 7-28-16), has given even stronger statements about Hillary’s hawkish track record by reviewing seven prominent situations where she considered the use of American military force, Haiti (1994), Iraq (2002), Pakistan (2007-2008), Afhanistan (2009), Libya (2011), Osama bin Laden (2011), and Syria (2012). Other than Haiti her opinion was indirectly quoted, she was supporting using military forces in all six cases. Zenko remarked, “Unlike Donald Trump, who has wildly shifting positions and alleged “secret” plans to defeat the Islamic State, Clinton has an extensive track record upon which one can evaluate her likely positions. By any reasonable measure, Clinton qualifies as a hawk, if a nuanced one. “
Another recent article by Paul Craig Roberts (Institute for Political Economy, paulcraigroberts.org, 8-29-2016), Can Americans Overthrow The Evil That Rules Them, stated, “The combination of Hillary with (Paul) Wolfowitz should scare everyone in the entire world. The prospect of nuclear weapons being in such crazed hands as those of Hillary and Wolfowitz is the most alarming though imaginable.” Whoever elected on Nov. 8th will have to assume the commander-in-chief responsibility with the power to order, covet actions, drone strikes, raids, long interventions and nuclear attack; from the above about Hillary and Donald, we should understand why people say Donald Trump is a peace candidate.