A few days ago Hillary Clinton came out in favor of labeling Isis, also known as Daish, as committing acts of Genocide against not just the Yazidi people but also Christians in both Iraq and Syria. Her exact words were:
“We have enough evidence,” Clinton said at a town hall event in New Hampshire on Tuesday night. “What is happening is genocide, deliberately aimed at destroying not only the lives, but wiping out the existence of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East in territory controlled by ISIS.”
This … is actually an extraordinary statement for a lot of reasons. Not least of which because a good chunk of the Republican field as already come out in favor of calling Daish’s attacks on Christians and other minorities in the region as a Genocide. While it is true that Daish has made horrendous attacks on minorities calling something a Genocide changes things immensely. According to international law when something is declared a genocide it is a crime against humanity and it creates a legal framework, both based on U.S. law and on international law on how to respond to this.
So why is all of this significant? It points to a pattern in Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy on Syria. She is, in many ways just as hawkish, or even more hawkish than her Republican rivals, and certainly more so than President Obama. She wants to increase diplomatic pressure on Mideast allies, intensify intelligence gathering, as well as launch a larger bombing campaign against Daish. Even more staggering is her desire to create a no fly zone over Syria. Now in the Democratic debate of Dec. 19 this was said:
RADDATZ: Secretary Clinton, I’d like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn’t have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn’t have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?
CLINTON: I do not think it would come to that. We are already de-conflicting airspace. […] I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I’m also advocating it because I think it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia […] The no-fly zone, I would hope, would be also shared by Russia. If they will begin to turn their military attention away from going after the adversaries of Assad toward ISIS and put the Assad future on the political and diplomatic track, where it belongs.
So keep in mind, she doesn’t want a no fly zone to stop Daish, but limit civilian casualties and to use it has a bargaining chip against Russia. Nevermind that Russia is currently building another military base in Syria and Putin clearly is invested a great deal of time and money into supporting Assad (who does have warplanes).
The greater point of all of this is that Hillary is clearly gearing up for almost Cold War style politics in Syria and is totally unafraid of using whatever means are at her disposal. While it should be noted that she doesn’t want to send ground troops into Syria she does want more special forces and to reduce restrictions on special forces and advisors so that they can take up a greater combat role against Daish.
This is more hawkish than the President, who has shied away from such tactics against Russia, and is extremely averse to anything approaching mission creep in Iraq and Syria. In fact, it seems to put her with many in the Republican field on Syria, calling for more aggressive action in the region, and somewhat at odds with President Obama. A President Hillary Clinton would undoubtedly launch a more aggressive policy in Syria at a time when her party seems to want a deescalation from Mid-East wars. While foreign policy doesn’t seem to be playing a large role in the Democratic primary it is still shocking that neither of her Democratic rivals have pounced on this disparity with her party. It remains to be seen if this will have a larger impact on the election as a whole but if she wins the primary it is bound to create an interesting dynamic for any of her GOP rivals.