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Is America Ready For Hillary the Hawk?

Image: Hillary Clinton Addresses Recycling Industries Trade Conference In Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 10: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries conference on April 10, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clinton is continuing on a speaking tour this week with the stop at the recycling industry trade conference. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images) Isaac Brekken / Getty Images

Hillary the Hawk

As the violence and rhetoric escalates in Ukraine, associates and allies of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- with 2016 on the horizon -- are making the case that she’s a bigger hawk than the president when it comes to using military power. “In recent interviews, two dozen current and former administration officials, foreign diplomats, friends and outside analysts described Mrs. Clinton as almost always the advocate of the most aggressive actions considered by Mr. Obama’s national security team — and not just in well-documented cases, like the debate over how many additional American troops to send to Afghanistan or the NATO airstrikes in Libya,” the New York Times writes. “Mrs. Clinton’s advocates … are quick to cite other cases in which she took more hawkish positions than the White House: arguing for funneling weapons to Syrian rebels and for leaving more troops behind in postwar Iraq.” But here’s the essential question: Is a more hawkish foreign policy what the country wants right now? Last September during the debate over Syria’s chemical weapons, a whopping 74% of respondents in the NBC/WSJ poll said it’s time to do less around the world and focus more on the problems at home. Also in that same poll, nearly six-in-10 didn’t want their member of Congress to approve military action against Syria’s use of chemical weapons (which explains why Obama ultimately didn’t take action). And in last month’s NBC/WSJ poll, only 5% of respondents said the United States should take action by itself (both economically and diplomatically) in responding to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

Don’t forget about Iraq and its impact on the country’s psyche

After all, don’t underestimate the impact that the Iraq war -- the issue, remember, that helped defeat Clinton in the battle for the 2008 Democratic nomination -- has had on the nation’s psyche. And while many observers have pointed to Clinton’s ties to Wall Street as a potential Dem roadblock for her in 2016, support for a more hawkish foreign policy could be on, too. Then again, if she runs, she might be facing little to no real Democratic opposition. “Although there will be a good number of folks in the Democratic Party who are uncomfortable with her hawkishness, they will ask themselves, ‘Where else can we go?’” former CIA analyst Paul Pillar told the Times. And, of course, where this hawk-vs.-dove debate also is playing out is inside the Republican Party, where establishment GOPers and neoconservatives are taking aim at the libertarian Rand Paul and where Paul is firing back.

Don’t miss Panetta’s quote on Obama (and Clinton)

One last point on this Hillary-the-Hawk story: Is this a good time for the Obama White House and the Democratic Party to be having this debate, especially with what’s playing out in Ukraine? Don’t miss this quote from former Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in making the case that Hillary Clinton was the biggest hawk in the Obama national-security room. “The president has made some tough decisions,” Panetta told the Times. “But it’s been a mixed record, and the concern is, the president defining what America’s role in the world is in the 21st century hasn’t happened.” Panetta added, “Hopefully, he’ll do it, and certainly, she would.” Wow.

The recent developments in Ukraine

Speaking of the situation in Ukraine, here are some of the recent developments. “Three pro-Russian separatists were shot dead after 300 colleagues attempted to attack a national guard base in eastern Ukraine, the country's interior minister said,” NBC News reports. And during a televised phone-in, Vladimir Putin “denied the White House claim that Russia is assisting separatists in eastern Ukraine - but did not rule out sending troops into the region,” NBC adds. And guess who asked Putin a question during this call in -- Edward Snowden, who asked if Russia collects and analyzes the communication of its citizens. Putin’s answer (translated to English): “Dear Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent, I used to be a part of secret services, so let us speak professionally. First of all, we have a strict legal [regulations] for using any special surveillance devices, including listening to phone talks, internet monitoring and so on… But there is no mass scale and we do not allow ourselves to do that, and I hope will never do. We do not have as much money and as many devices as the US to do that. Fortunately, our secret services are under strict control of government and society and their activity is regulated by law.”

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