Clinton must be internationalist alternative to Trump

John O'Neill

Hillary Clinton might get many votes for president, but she seems to have few votes of confidence.

The furor over Clinton’s use of emails was a tempest in a tea-pot. And the attacks by jihadists on the undermanned U.S. compound in 2012 in the Benghazi region of Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, was more the fault of the Department of Defense than the State Department.

When it comes to Clinton’s record in the U.S. Senate, she has taken undue heat over her vote for the war against Saddam Hussein in 2003. But even though there was no evidence that Saddam had possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s), he had feigned such capacity and that was intolerable.

Regarding Clinton’s vote for the war against Saddam, the problem is how she has apologized for the vote. It’s part of the bigger picture of Clinton backing off on her reputation as an internationalist to appease isolationist sentiment.

Clinton regrets not only her vote in favor of the war against Saddam. She also regrets passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the highlight of her husband’s presidency. And she has reversed her support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, the highlight of Barack Obama’s presidency but for protectionists and obstructionists in Congress.

Isolationism is a dangerous sentiment resisted by every Democratic president dating back to Woodrow Wilson. In terms of history, Democrats (and organized labor) taking up the protectionist mantle is a recent development.

On the other hand, resistance to protectionist policies and isolationist impulses is not so much a partisan position as it is about leadership. In the face of Sen. Bernie Sanders launching a protectionist and isolationist campaign in the Democratic primaries, Clinton bowed to his pressure and revoked her support for both TPP and NAFTA. This does not bode well for the prospect of Clinton standing up to the rabid nativism of Donald Trump.

The war against open trade envisioned by Trump is a reckless crusade. It is incumbent on Clinton to offer a courageous alternative. And so far, she has failed to do so.

John O’Neill is a writer based in Allen Park.