Hillary's Hawkishness Out of Sync With Women's Concerns

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Eagle Academy Foundation’s annual fundraising breakfas
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at the Eagle Academy Foundation’s annual fundraising breakfast in New York City, April 29, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Hillary Clinton's "woman's card" campaign strategy is demeaning to women. She exploits grievance and group-think identity politics to serve her personal and political agendas and sometimes to shield herself from appropriate scrutiny. Not even Nancy Pelosi or Dianne Feinstein focuses on "gender" as cynically as she does.

She seems to assume she speaks for all women. But women, like men, hold diverse opinions. In fact, the views of many of us are completely at odds with hers.

For example, most women yearn for peace and stability. They are not enamored of costly wars that put loved ones at risk while doing nothing to enhance security. For all of our recent military involvements abroad, we do not regard ourselves as more secure.

Hillary thinks women care only about "women's issues" and are not particularly interested in tax rates, the national debt, fair trade, foreign policy- and accountability from public figures--but she is wrong.

Many women--as well as men-- consider Hillary's leading role in the Benghazi debacle evidence of her poor judgment. According to Obama's ex-secretary of defense, Robert Gates, Hillary, as secretary of state, pushed a reluctant Obama to bomb Libya. She seemed to take pleasure in the death of Libyan head of state, Muammar Gadaffi, boasting, "We came, we saw, he died," a quip I find somewhat unseemly in a US Secretary of State.

NATO, at Hillary's instigation, bombed Libya to rubble. Thousands were forced to flee for their lives across the Mediterranean to Italy. Meanwhile, Libya has become ISIS's most important stronghold outside of Syria and Iraq.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of refugees that have already entered Europe, French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian recently estimated there are 800,000 more people waiting to cross over from Libya to Europe right now.

Did Hillary not foresee these disasters when she insisted that Obama approve the bombing of Libya? Did she not understand that jihadi ideology would find fertile ground where people are desperate and have no place to go because their homes and infrastructure have been destroyed?
Although she was responsible for the security of US diplomatic installations and personnel abroad, she allowed our consulate in Benghazi to remain open in an environment so lethal that the British and even the International Committee of the Red Cross pulled out. Her bad judgment resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including the US ambassador. Her "what difference, at this point, does it make" testimony at the ensuing congressional hearings into Benghazi showed a shocking disregard of her responsibilities to the deceased and misreading of the gravity of what had taken place.

Carly Fiorina was crucified by the media earlier this year for her performance as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Where are their questions about Hillary's role in a larger calamity, which, in addition to causing thousands of deaths and waves of desperate refugees, has imperiled the peace, prosperity, domestic tranquility and cultural cohesion of our European allies?

The media have given Hillary a free ride. Whereas she had the good grace to apologize for her misguided vote in favor of the Iraq War, she has yet to apologize for her gross personal failings in Libya.

Hillary, who makes much of her experience as America's former top diplomat, has likened Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler. Apart from the merits of the statement, it does raise questions about her diplomatic temperament (or lack thereof).

She advocated the enforcement of a "no fly zone" over Syria - an almost certain way to provoke a confrontation with the Russian air force that could spiral into a nuclear World War III. Has she considered the potentially catastrophic consequences of such a policy? Even Maureen Dowd of The New York Times labels her a "hawk." Sometimes hawkishness is called for, but in view of our nation's war weariness, our stagnant economy, unsustainable debt, and, as Obama says, "systemic neglect" of infrastructure in places like Flint, Michigan, further risky American interventions should be avoided using all tools of statecraft.

In a major foreign policy address delivered recently, Donald Trump called for peace through strength, i.e., strong military preparedness. He said the US should quit engaging in nation-building exercises and focus on "creating stability" instead. He called for shoring up relations with old friends (Europe and Israel, for example), while seeking "common ground based on shared interests" with Russia and China, which are not "bound to be adversaries." This is an approach many Americans and many American women will respond to.

What is needed is a serious examination of Hillary's aggressively interventionist foreign policy record without the distraction of endless gender advocacy.

Citing Hillary's very clear demonstration of significant ineptitude in her diplomatic role, Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton is "not qualified to be president." Based on her record, I believe he is right.

Faith Whittlesey is the former (two-term) US ambassador to Switzerland and member of the senior White House staff in the Reagan administration.