One of Hillary Clinton’s top national security advisers, Michael Morell (who also happens to be the former acting director of the CIA), told the staunchly pro-Clinton think tank the Center for American Progress that the upcoming U.S. presidential election provides a “great opportunity for the next president of the United States to go to the Middle East and say ‘We’re back, we’re going to lead again.’”
And what might the leadership that the Hillary Clinton administration imposes on a region halfway around the world look like?
Morell brought up the fact that Iran arms the Houthi rebels who have seized control of Yemen’s capital city Sanaa, to the great displeasure of nominal U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, which has spent much of the past two years bombing both military and civilian targets with U.S. support in an all-out effort to defeat the rebels and return to power the Saudi-allied President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Juxtaposing against what he must perceive as a lack of leadership from his former boss, President Barack Obama, Morell said:
I would have no problem, from a policy perspective, of having U.S. Navy board those ships and if there’s weapons on them for the Houthis, turn those ships around and send those ships back to Iran. I think that’s the kind of action, tough action that would get the attention of the Iranians and will get the attention of our friends in the region to say the Americans are now serious about helping us deal with this problem.
Make no mistake, what Morell just proposed is an act of war, which Bloomberg‘s Eli Lake aptly characterized as “something you might hear this month in an alternate reality, from the Rubio-Cheney campaign.” And if Clinton supporters think war with Iran is necessary or an exercise in “smart power,” that’s their right, but they should at least be honest about it. As Reason‘s Nick Gillespie wrote, “a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for war.”
While some might still be in denial that Clinton is a staunch hawk even neoconservatives can adore, Morell’s comments provide much-desired candor about Clinton’s foreign policy ambitions. The Democratic nominee has been able to remain infuriatingly vague on military matters throughout the campaign thanks in part to her opponent’s flailing incoherence and her general refusal to give press conferences.
But if one of her most senior national security advisers is willing to openly engage in this kind of saber-rattling while smilingly declaring, “We’re back,” it’s fair to expect more and grander military intervention under a President Clinton than we’ve experienced under President Obama.