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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > July 2016 > Hillary’s game

Hillary’s game

Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy is more a set of impulses than a doctrine, but she would be more prepared than Obama to use force
Commander-in-chief in waiting? Hillary Clinton is optimistic about America’s ability to defend its interests abroad
© JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

When Hillary Clinton eviscerated Donald Trump in a speech in June, she did so on the grounds that he was hopelessly unprepared and temperamentally unsuited to be commander-in-chief. She derided the foreignpolicy positions of her Republican rival for the presidency as a farrago of contradictions and provocations—“not even really ideas,” she said, “just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds, and outright lies.”

What Clinton didn’t do was to lay out her own foreign-policy agenda. Her implication was that Trump was so manifestly unqualified for the Oval Office that her prescriptions for how to end the civil war in Syria or counter the predations of Vladimir Putin in Ukraine were almost beside the point. The reaction from the cheering crowd in San Diego, California suggested that Clinton was right: she didn’t yet need to offer a lengthy list of policy alternatives to Trump. Her record—as First Lady to President Bill Clinton, Senator from New York, and above all, as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state—spoke for itself.

Still, as American voters pivot this summer from the primaries to the general election, Clinton’s foreign policy will come under greater scrutiny. When it does, people might be surprised by the extent to which she parts company with her former boss. A fervent believer in the concept of “American exceptionalism,” Clinton is more open than Obama to the calculated use of military force to defend national interests. She is more optimistic than he is about American intervention, believing that it does more good than harm. She believes the writ of the United States properly reaches, as George W Bush once declared, into “any dark corner of the world.”

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s July issue: In her final issue as Editor Bronwen Maddox explores the legacy of former Prime Minister Tony Blair having spoken with him at a Prospect event on 24th May. She examines his domestic policy, the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and what the future holds for the Labour Party. The Chancellor George Osborne lays down his view on why the public should to “Remain” in the EU, and Ian Hargreaves takes a close look at what is happening at the BBC. Also in this issue: Former Conservative leader David Davis suggests he can see a very narrow set of circumstances that might push him towards running for the party leadership again, William Skidelsky writes about why tennis is the best sport and Vanora Bennett looks at Svetlana Alexievich’s extraordinary work recording Russia’s lost voices.
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