As the title suggests, some well-intended, but ultimately misguided U.S. foreign policy strategies may have led to the current chaos that is unfolding in the Middle East and is threatening Europe’s integrity. The only question is: was it perhaps intentional? If it was not, the United States can formally call it a blunder and try to correct it somehow. But if it was intentional, then what was the ultimate goal of the United States in devising such a strategy? Some say it was a conspiracy of the international liberal elite to destabilize nation states and create chaos, through which they can implement their global extension of power more rapidly and easily.
Hillary Clinton (HC) started out well 44 years ago as a staffer on U.S. Senator Walter Mondale’s team when she came to Washington, D.C. Later she became a politician’s wife and an ambitious opinion leader. Today, when we look around, areas she focused on as First Lady, then later U.S. senator in New York and Secretary of State are in ruins: health care, immigration, foreign policy, global events, peace and security, etc. The dominos keep falling, yet U.S. voters are contemplating electing her President. Initially, back in the early 1990s, she had a likable approach and some good intentions. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as ancient philosophers remind us.
HC was born in 1947. She would become one of the oldest presidents in the United States if she is elected, at the age of 69+. Only Ronald Reagan was a few months older. Incidentally, John F. Kennedy was the youngest at 43. But age is not the real issue here. She has been an advocate for social justice, for women’s rights and for more fairness in society. All that was very promising at the beginning. However, as time passed she increasingly became the victim of corporate influence peddling and her critiques from the left contend that she is now an establishment politician and not a brave fighter any more. HC’s biggest foreign policy challenge and demise at the same time was the Arab Spring. Initially proclaimed to be a major success, the smart power foreign policy strategy that she devised and encouraged led to catastrophic failures in the longer run. Smart power does not mean a laid back, passive foreign policy at all. It is an active, aggressive and interventionist foreign policy. The only difference from the previous Bush policies is that it refrained from the use of large-scale military power and resorted to academia, foreign intelligence, civil society, technology and development to implement its goals instead. Unlike conservatives, who rely on military power as the main tool of statecraft, liberal internationalists see trade, diplomacy, foreign aid, and the spread of American values as equally important. We in Hungary have felt the foul breath of smart power through HC’s ambassadors Kounalakis (appointed by Obama) and the rough-and-tumble of Mr. Goodfriend.
By the end of February 2012, rulers had been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Civil uprisings erupted in Bahrain and Syria, while major protests paralyzed Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan. Minor riots occurred in Mauritania, Oman, Djibouti, Western Sahara and Palestine. However, the most radical conflagration of the Arab Spring took place in Syria in the second half of 2011. HC has worked to broker the marriage of diplomacy and technology. She boosted the State Department’s budget to pay for computer training and surveillance-evading software for dissidents, some of it top secret, from $15 million to $45 million. Clinton also pushed her staff to expand the use of Twitter and Facebook. State now has hundreds of Twitter feeds and Facebook accounts, perhaps that is why her daughter Chelsea calls her „TechnoMom”.
Clinton has touted development as a tool of national strategy, spending $8 billion last year on global health and boosting public diplomacy funds for the U.S. embassy in Pakistan from $2 million to $50 million to get recognition for the billions in aid the U.S. has spent there. “As we look at how we manage the Arab Spring,” Clinton told TIME magazine, “we are trying to influence the direction, with full recognition that we don’t have ownership and we don’t have control.” Right she was. U.S. foreign policies have indeed gotten „out of control” rapidly in the wake of the Arab Spring. The current migration chaos therefore is a consequence of these failed experimentations.
Now that Hillary Clinton is sitting on the sidelines, President Obama is currently weighing military options in Syria, but this time in de facto support of Assad, against his malignant enemies. In the fight against ISIS — which quickly metastasized from a JV squad into a “cancer” in Obama’s parlance — the president openly admitted on Thursday that “we don’t have a strategy yet.” This candid admission confirmed that this U.S. president often pursues incoherent, reactive and feckless foreign policies. Moreover, Obama is not taking any stern positions and not committing any ground troops in the muslim arab world, hoping that there is some light at the end of the tunnel, which is not an oncoming train. In the meantime, the Russians will move in and attempt to resolve the situation in Syria to their own liking. The current chaos is therefore the outcome of years of inertia, the lackadaisical “smart power” foreign policy that the State Department construed and lack of leadership. A new president is needed badly who can chart a more unequivocal and less harmful course. As the Hungarian prime minister astutely surmised: the most dangerous combination in global affairs is a superpower that is rich, arrogant and weak at the same time.