In the Wake of Trump, Hillary is Poised to Carry the Neoconservative Torch

It might be worthwhile for supporters of Hillary Clinton to consider that, as of the last week or two, they are bedfellows with members of the most odious U.S. political movement in recent memory: neoconservatism. That’s right—in a not-so-surprising twist, America’s most vocal and unapologetic war-lovers are starting to imply allegiance to the doyenne of the Democratic Party.

Eliot Cohen, former official of George W. Bush’s unholy State Department, called Hillary Clinton “the lesser evil, by a large margin.” The greater evil, of course, is Donald Trump, who in Cohen’s estimation would be “an unmitigated disaster for American foreign policy.” While it is perhaps axiomatic to state that Trump embodies some degree of evil, Cohen’s beef with The Donald isn’t that he’s racist or fascist or Hitlerian in temperament (favorite charges of the “liberal” media)—it’s that he’s not eager enough to kill people with bombs.

To his credit, Trump has made a ton of (desperately needed) sense on foreign policy. His characterization of the Bush 43 administration’s Iraq war as “a big, fat mistake” that “destabilized the Middle East” is spot on. It was also a crime of extraordinary proportions (not merely a mistake), but Trump’s comments are refreshing nevertheless. His fellow GOP candidates would sooner self-immolate than criticize a former Republican president, for to do so would be to bite off the hand that feeds them. Trump, as we all know, feeds himself; the only people he kowtows to are his potential voters (hence his stupid immigration rhetoric). The Republican establishment sucks—as does the Democratic one—and Trump, to our delight, has no qualms about saying so.

This has pissed off a lot of political elites in this country, the movers and shakers who actually operate and profit from the American political machine. A major component of said machine is the Military-Industrial complex, the guardian (or guarantor) of perpetual warfare. The neoconservatives love the Military-Industrial complex because it ensures that their lust for war and carnage and mayhem will always be satisfied.

So when Trump says that the “$4 trillion” spent on Middle East warfare would have been better spent “in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and… our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had,” it’s an affront to the political establishment as a whole, and to the neoconservatives in particular. Trump wants to spend money on infrastructure instead of war—the man is a menace! See, the neocons can brook Trump’s nativist and occasionally racist rhetoric; suggesting, however, that our nation’s money is better spent helping people than killing people is crossing the line.

Therefore, the neocons are throwing in with Hillary. This is completely understandable. After all, she voted in favor of the Iraq war, and refused to acknowledge the mistake for years afterwards. Her line on Iran is exceptionally hawkish. She wants to implement a “no-fly zone” over Syria. She led NATO’s successful efforts to topple Gadaffi in Libya (now arguably the worst place in the world). As First Lady, she encouraged her husband to bomb Serbia, and bragged about it in her book. She’s vehemently anti-Palestinian, and vehemently pro-Israeli apartheid. She’s a neocon’s wet dream, in other words.

It’s no surprise at all, then, when neocon Max Boot says that jingoist Hillary would be “vastly preferable to Trump.” Or when major league Iraq war advocate Robert Kegan says that “the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The [Republican] party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.” For these lovers of war, Hillary is the best choice, the only choice. They can count on her to blow people up in the Middle East. They can count on her to demonize Vladimir Putin and Russia generally (Hillary once compared Putin to the Fuhrer himself). And they can count on her to maintain, and probably intensify, Obama’s global assassination campaign via killer drones, in spite of evidence of its horrifying inefficacy and illegality.

These are not trivial issues. War is as serious a subject as they come. For some distressing reason, Republican voters needed Donald Trump to crash the election and call Jeb Bush’s brother a lying fool before they became open to the idea that the Iraq war was a bad thing; that maybe we do need to spend more money on our own problems before we think about instigating problems overseas. If nothing else, Trump is smashing the pernicious status quo. And if nothing else, Hillary is conserving it. The neocons know the score; do the Clintonoids?

Michael Howard’s essays and short fiction have appeared in a wide variety of print and digital publications, Dissident Voice among them. He lives in Vietnam. Read other articles by Michael.