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How will this play in 2016?

Whatever Hillary Clinton's long-term plans, some journalists are hyped for her presidential run. As she leaves the State Department, there will be leaks of instances when her plans for foreign policy were turned down by the White House. These will be repeated in 2015-16 should it appear that she was right.Sunday's NYTimes, in one such story, reports that she and David Petraeus (when head of the CIA) devised a plan for the CIA to arm carefully vetted parts of the Syrian opposition. According to the story, the White House "rebuffed" the idea. Though she was a loyal part of the administration and accepted the decision, we are reminded that Clinton is more hawkish than the president, e.g., with Robert Gates (when secretary of defense), she supported the Afghan surge; and joined the French and English efforts to support the Libyan opposition against Qaddafi.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



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A very interesting article from the NYT. But please, I'm still hoping for at least another month off before have to begin the 2016 campaign (NPR has already been mentioning it).

Nicholas Clifford, I join you. I could even hope for a year, but that's surely the wildest of fantasies!

Yes, it's going to be interesting to watch. Howie talked about it on Reliable Sources this morning, how media had their long knives out for Hillary in 2008 but love her now. Even Chris Matthews, who was beastly to her when she opposed tingly Obama, is now singing her praises. (But I don't think Eugene Robinson has ever retracted or apologized for his nasty slurs, which included advising Obama never to be alone in a room with her. That was when she reminded those who were urging her to drop out of the race that Bobby Kennedy was still running when he was assassinated. Robinson and Matthews and others seized upon that to insinuate that Obama was in physical danger from Hillary.)

Nicholas Clifford and John Page: Never fear!! Or is it "Be not afraid." We will be deeply distracted by the donnybrooks over immigration, gun control, Pentagon budget cuts, etc. And then, there will be the 2014 elections. Even today, the very same NYTimes has a story about the Rovian Republicans working to save the party from jumping into the sea like lemmings: Top GOP donors seek greater say in Senate races, i.e., they want electables, cf MIssouri and Indiana in 2012.

I voted for her in the primary over Obama and would vote for her for president if she ran. I don't know if she is more hawkish but on pretty much every issue she's very liberal, more so than Obama.

Taking the long view, I'm concentrating all my thoughts and hopes on the election of 2052, which, actuarially speaking and divinity thanking, I don't expect to be around for.

Long view: But that doesn't mean that you won't be in a position to observe it!

Margaret, I'm with John Page. Only if I'm damned will I observe that or any other election, papal, presidential, or otherwise.

BD: you can run a campaign to organize all of those heavenly folks who were considered to be saints at one time, but then de-sainted for some reason or another. That will keep you out of trouble.

This discussion is exactly Reason No. 1 why second terms stink in the age of the 22nd Amendment. Reason No. 2, which we will get to shortly, is that the functionaries of the second term administration start making friends with the mammon of iniquity for their return to the private sector.Despite the urge to think about someone else now that we've passed Barack Obama's sale date, he will be president for nearly four more years, for better or worse for the country. Attention really ought to be paid.

One of the positives of the Clinton departure and the ensuing leaks has been to reenforce the idea that Obama actually has shifted U.S. foreign policy. The "light footprint," as it has been called (not wholly accurately), may turn out to be the real Obama foreign policy. Rather than the cool, detached, indifference that some have seen in his foreign policy, it may be that he has made a distinct and reasoned shift in how he sees things, especially if he has had to resist a more activist secretary of state. In addition to the Syria story above, there was another from John Cassidy of the New Yorker that she urged Obama to once again plunge into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after having run into a brick wall. Clinton and Samantha Power are said to have been the administration people most forcefully arguing for the humanitarian intervention in Libya when Obama was reluctant. Now that the fall-out from that has become apparent in Mali and Algeria, it makes sense that Obama is far more restrained when it comes to Syria.But I will swear off of 2016, except to say: I don't think Clinton will be a candidate.

Let's hear it for H.R. Clinton who was a great senator and Secretary of State. No SOS has been better on gender violence. Her performance in the last four years was truly extraordinary.

Agree, Bill. She was great.----Agree, Margaret. She will not run.

I was not a Clinton or an Obama supporter back in 2008 because I didn't feel either of them had much real experience.However, Clinton did a good job, and had a lot of energy as secretary of state. I thought one of the best moments of Clinton's tenure was her visit to Burma/Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, helping nudge that nation away from dictatorship and toward more openness.For good or ill, I think Bengazi and questions about her health would dog her if she ran in 2016.

Margaret - I harbor a bit of a suspicion that, now that the President is freed from the pre-election need to appease his base, his inner hawk will start to assert itself a bit more. E.g. I understand that we weren't exactly an arms-length distance from that recent French insertion into Mali. In fact, the French, under their Socialist leader, seem to be getting pretty adventuresome.

Hillary for Supreme Court?

"Inner hawk?" Don't see it. I think the U.S. lent the French a troop carrier for the air life to Mali. Pretty arms length. But what do your Chicago sources tell you?

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