Hillary Clinton was interviewed recently by Christiane Amanpour for the vacuously (and ironically) entitled “Women for Women” summit in New York City. During the colloquy, Amanpour brought up foreign policy, specifically as it is related to North Korea. Between the ceaseless barrage of insults hurled at President Trump from both Clinton and Amanpour, and over the gleeful hoots and howls of the handful of investment bankers and Saudi nationals who likely comprised the audience, I heard just how irrelevant and vacuous the defeated 2016 Democratic presidential candidate is.
In the six months since the election, I must have forgotten. While Clinton was busily shutting down the corrupt Clinton Foundation to avoid the eruption of even more scandals, she still found time to remind us how thankful we should be that she is not president.
Consider what she had to say about North Korea.
align=”right” What does she think Trump has been doing? Beginning with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Mar-a-Lago, Trump has been building an unlikely coalition to stand against Kim’s nuclear brinksmanship.
Asked how “troubled” she was by the Trump Administration’s handling of the North Korean diplomatic crisis, Clinton claimed that Trump was acting recklessly; she insinuated that he simply did not understand the complexity of the situation. She brought up her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and his supposedly successful negotiation of an arms control agreement with Pyongyang in 1994. Mrs. Clinton asserted that Trump was bumbling about in Asia: rapidly vacillating between military brinksmanship and diplomacy at dangerously destabilizing rates.
What was Clinton’s solution? Look to the past (her solution for everything) and how her husband managed the North Korean crisis that occurred in his first term. She wanted Trump to be firm against the North Koreans and only “dangle” (an unfortunate word to use whenever Bill Clinton’s name is invoked) the possibility of negotiation after Kim Jong Un realized that he was up against a wall.
But isn’t that what Trump is doing—trying to make a deal?
The only real difference is that, rather than getting distracted with other matters, Trump is keenly focused on resolving the North Korean situation. Indeed, whereas Bill Clinton equivocated on enforcing the terms of his deal (essentially giving vast sums of money in the form of foreign aid in exchange for a mere promise that the North would not develop nuclear arms), Trump seems intent on enforcing American will upon the recalcitrant North Koreans.
Mrs. Clinton’s statements have proven not only how bereft of substance she is, but also just how rationally Trump is behaving. He isn’t giving the proverbial store away to the Hermit Kingdom’s crazed dictator. He also isn’t leaving it up to the Chinese, Europeans, and South Koreans—whose interests all diverge on the issue—to come up with a workable agreement that protects U.S. interests.
This is a vital difference between what Trump is doing and what former President Clinton did. It’s about leadership. World leaders—particularly American foes—are afraid of Trump. That’s good. Given her history as Secretary of State, most foreign leaders believed that Clinton was a pushover.
Clinton believed that Trump needed to build an effective coalition of regional partners in Asia and then, with the solidarity of the coalition behind him, Trump should have reached out to Kim Jong Un.
What does she think Trump has been doing? Beginning with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Mar-a-Lago, Trump has been building an unlikely coalition to stand against Kim’s nuclear brinksmanship.
Trump, using his Art of the Deal techniques, deftly manipulated China into supporting action against its client state in North Korea. Then, Trump got South Korea, Japan, and potentially the Philippines all to climb aboard this coalition as well. He even eschewed cries of protest from his fellow Republicans who were loath to see the U.S. president meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a known violator of human rights. Of course, these Republican elites have apparently missed the fact that the Trump Doctrine of America First cares little for prissy moral grandstanding, when a mad North Korean dictator threatens all of us with nuclear annihilation. There’s a bigger morality at play here.
Trump’s “coercive diplomacy,” is exactly what Hillary claims she thinks Trump should use. He has used the threat of U.S. military action, coupled with the promise of increased prosperity through access to America’s economy, in order to sway Asian states to back his play in the region. Meanwhile, North Korea is even more isolated than it was before. After solidifying his coalition and continuing to ratchet up military pressure on Kim Jong-un, President Trump recently tweeted that he’d be willing to meet with Kim Jong-un “under the right conditions.” He has effectively combined the carrot-and-stick approach that neither Clinton nor Bush could ever deploy.
Of course, Hillary pooh-poohs this as “irresponsible,” even as she offers her view on what she would do that sounds almost identical to it―but for the probability that she would not actually or effectively do it. The best that she can do is poke holes in some of the details of Trump’s policy. But thus far, Trump’s policy is more effective than Bill Clinton’s handling of any similar crisis. Trump’s not offering to pay Kim Jong-un not to develop nukes and then looking the other way while North Korea takes our money and uses it to invest in a nuclear weapons program.
In fact, even by Hillary’s own admission, Trump’s handling of this crisis is better than former President George W. Bush’s handling of North Korea during his two terms in office. After all, Secretary Clinton rightly chided former President Bush that, when he did offer to engage diplomatically with North Korea, he did so in a haphazard way. Bush offered negotiations after having labeled North Korea a member of his “Axis of Evil,” he never really increased U.S. forces in Asia (too busy in the Mideast, I suppose), and then he went about negotiations in a roundabout way: relying on the Chinese, Russians, Europeans, and other foreigners with divergent interests, to take the lead in negotiating a settlement with North Korea.
Those talks failed. Trump differs from Bush in this way, since he has taken a much more active role in handling this crisis. He understands that without decisive American leadership, no coalition can get North Korea to back down.
During the campaign, Mrs. Clinton and the Democrats constantly chided Trump for his lack of foreign policy credentials. Yet, after having had months (and even years) to think about the North Korean situation, her best solution was essentially to agree with Donald Trump—while disagreeing on one, small (but admittedly important) detail. Her only disagreement is that she’s not the President. And, had she been president, I can assure you whatever deal she would have made with North Korea would have been as successful as her “reset” with Russia.
My only concern is that Clinton seems to agree with Trump’s policy (as a rule of thumb, any policy that the Clintons support, raises my suspicions).
Not only has Hillary Clinton proven herself to be irrelevant, but as her party’s last candidate for the presidency, she shows that the Democrats are not serious about foreign policy at all. Or, at least, she has proven that the Left’s claims about Trump being a warmongering loon are untrue. If Trump is so dumb; if he is such a crazed warmonger, and she and her fellow Democrats are so wise, why can’t they come up with something better?