Friday, May 16, 2008

Clinton's Foreign Policy Casts Shadow Over Potential Superticket

Bill Clinton's legacy of lax foreign policy poses dilemma for Obama/Hillary ticket

With the Democrat Presidential nomination pretty much decided -- the prospects of a Hillary Clinton comeback are very dim indeed -- the biggest question on many people's minds is: who will Barack Obama's running mate be?

Although one has cause to wonder whether or not the intensity of the ill will between the Clinton and Obama camps will prevent it, many people have been speculating on the appeal of an Obama/Clinton superticket -- among them Fidel Castro.

But considering the challenges facing the United States at this time (in particular, the war on terror), an Obama/Clinton superticket would have one key -- possibly insurmountable -- weakness: foreign policy.

While it's extremely difficult to find a US President who doesn't compare favourably to the current President in foreign policy, Bill Clinton is actually only barely one of them. Bill Clinton's foreign policy legacy will certainly not be what Clinton wants to be remembered for.

To pretend that Bill Clinton wouldn't be a fixture in any administration his wife is involved with smacks of naivete. And that is why Clinton's foreign policy record will be so troublesome for a potential superticket.

Some key episodes in Bill Clinton's foreign policy record include withdrawing US troops from the Peacekeeping mission in Somalia, ineffectual responses to Al Qaeda terrorist attacks (although one would be remiss to fail to mention that Clinton made Osama Bin Laden a top priority for US intelligence services), failing to respond to genocide in Rwanda, credibility-demolishing flip flops in regards to Bosnia-Herzegovina and rejected Haitian refugees after a coup d'etat in that country.

Clinton also failed to submit the Kyoto protocol to the Senate for ratification -- a move that is devastating to his credibility vis a vis climate change.

Clinton did have some successes. He manged to bring Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing of Kosovars to a halt, effectively contained Saddam Hussein in Iraq and fostered some key peace agreements in the Middle East.

But if Clinton's foreign policy record looks strong compared to that of George W Bush, it's only because he's being compared to George W Bush.

Of the lowlights of Clinton's foreign policy record, the most damning is his response to US casualties in the battle of Mogadishu. When public opinion in the US turned against the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, Clinton withdrew American troops from Somalia, posing the UN mission with a serious credibility issue.

It would later be discovered that the militants who perpetrated the ambush that set off the incident had been trained by Al Qaeda. Though Clinton certainly took Al Qaeda seriously enough later in his Presidency, his early failures cast a shadow over his entire presidency.

Clinton demonstrated he is not willing to pay a political price in order to support his country's interests abroad, or even to do the right thing. He would confirm it when genocide broke out in Rwanda, when American officials insisted that 100,000 Rwandans would have to die in order to justify risking a single American life.

Given the particular foreign policy challenges the United States faces today, Bill Clinton's foreign policy record will pose a lot of uncomfortable questions in the -- admittedly unlikely -- event that Hillary Clinton is named Obama's Vice Presidential nominee.

John McCain will certainly continue to face uncomfortable questions of his own. But at least he can offer a consistent answer to those questions: something that neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton have done.

This is perhaps only one more reason why the superticket -- or "Frankenticket" -- may not come to pass.

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