Hillary’s Foreign Policy: a Liberal-Neoconservative Convergence?

by Jim Lobe

I received the following announcement yesterday afternoon.

Extending American Power: 

Strategies to Expand U.S. Engagement in a Competitive World Order

Featured Speakers:

Hon. Michele Flournoy 

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Center for a New American Security

Dr. Robert Kagan 

Senior Fellow, Project on International Order and Strategy
The Brookings Institution

Mr. James P. Rubin 

Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs
United States Department of State

Hon. Robert Zoellick 
Chairman, Goldman Sachs’ International Advisors
Former President, World Bank Group

Moderated By:

Hon. Kurt Campbell

Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors
Center for a New American Security
The Center for a New American Security invites you to the launch of its new report, “Extending American Power: Strategies to Expand U.S. Engagement in a Competitive World Order,” on Monday, May 16th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Willard Hotel (1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004). Over the last year, a high-level, bi-partisan group of subject matter experts, co-chaired by Dr. Kagan and Mr. Rubin, have addressed global challenges through CNAS’ Extending American Power project.  The goal of that project was to generate new thinking and collaboration to help shape the conversation on American leadership in the world at a time when partisan politics have reached unprecedented heights. The report is designed to assist policymakers in determining ways that the United States can best use its power in order to protect national interests and advance the values upon which the United States was built.

Today’s global security environment looks dramatically different than just a few years ago. From the return of geopolitics in the form of a resurgent and revisionist Russia, to the collapse of order across the Middle East and North Africa, to the rise of ISIS and the resulting refugee crisis, American policymakers are struggling to address an increasingly complex web of security challenges. What is certain, however, is that American leadership is needed more than ever before to ensure the continued strength of the global order. This event will discuss the Extending American Power project’s findings and provide an opportunity to hear from experts on both sides of the aisle on ways the United States can pursue a pragmatic and sustainable strategy for engagement in Asia, the Middle East, andEurope. The bi-partisan nature of this project has been a driving factor, and the final report has been endorsed and signed by not only the co-chairs but also high-level policymakers from both parties, including the Hon. Kurt Campbell, the Hon. Eric Edelman, the Hon. Michele Flournoy, Mr. Richard Fontaine, the Hon. Stephen J. Hadley, Ms. Julianne Smith, the Hon. James Steinberg, and the Hon. Robert Zoellick.

We hope you can join us for what is sure to be a fascinating discussion.

I think it’s fair to predict that the above-mentioned report is likely to be the best guide to date of where a Hillary Clinton presidency will want to take the country’s foreign policy. It’s not only “bipartisan.” It’s the point of convergence between liberal interventionism (as represented by Flournoy, Campbell, Rubin, and Steinberg) and neoconservatism (as represented by Kagan and Edelman). Fontaine, Zoellick, and Hadley tend toward the more realist side of what remains of Republican foreign-policy thinking. The report’s title, “Extending American Power: Strategies to Expand U.S. Engagement in a Competitive World Order,” suggests a determination to maintain, if not enhance, Washington’s “indispensable” role as the ultimate guarantor of global peace and security. “What is certain … is that American leadership is needed more than ever before to ensure the continued strength of the global order,” the summary asserts.

Given the electorate’s war-weariness and the likely focus during the election campaign on domestic issues, Hillary may not campaign on such an explicitly “expansive” foreign-policy platform (especially with respect to trade issues). But I suspect these will be the kinds of people who will be asked to serve in senior policy-making posts in her administration. Indeed, I imagine Flournoy may already have a lock on the Pentagon and could be in the running for national security adviser (although Steinberg is probably a strong candidate for the post.)

As for Kagan, he’s certainly as comfortable at this point being described as a liberal internationalist as a neoconservative. I called him a “neocon renegade” last year, and he’s made clear that he, like other neocons such as Max Boot and Eliot Cohen, would support Clinton over Trump. Perhaps Edelman will also prefer Clinton. As a protege of Richard Perle, co-chair of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs’s ultra-hawkish task force on Iran, and a director with Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Dan Senor of the Foreign Policy Initiative, Edelman would be a frightening choice for a senior appointment in a Clinton administration. Of course, many neocons supported Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in 1992, only to be severely disappointed when only a tiny handful were chosen to serve in senior posts when he became president. We may see a repeat of that phenomenon after the 2016 elections.

In any event, given the individuals behind this report,  its recommendations will offer important hints about Hillary’s foreign-policy priorities. So they will probably be worth reading.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. The sooner Americans get to realise that all these neo-traitors to America are just a load of utter scum bags, the better it will be for them and their children and their children’s children.
    Americans must stop the complete waste of American resources and lives in pursuit of the goals of a foreign, hostile power, i.e. the illegal zionist state.
    You want your country back? Good! Stop giving it away for nothing to the zionists.

  2. Yup, that notice of meeting sure has the ring of Hillary’s voice, doesn’t it.

    The title of this piece, “Extending America’s Power” is a whole lot less euphemistic than “sustain[ing] our leadership” (HRC, “America’s Pacific Century, FP, 11 Oct. 2011).

    Hillary continues to be called “liberal,” but I have yet to notice anything falling from her lips that’s identifiable as indisputable liberalism. Oh, she’s pretended to be drawn leftward by some of Bernie’s issues, but what’s missing there is any hint of conviction. Bernie may be “too old” to be president, as some of his critics have intimated, but nobody seems to have noticed that Hillary is too old to change. She will always be a triangulating New Democrat, whose only real claim to liberalism is her old-style Liberal Feminism, which is all about promoting economic competition rather than solidarity among women in the developing world and, at home, breaking glass ceilings in Washington and on Wall Street.

  3. Jim Lobe has done it again. If we had listened to him at the end of 2001/spring of 2002, we might have spared ourselves (and the Middle East) the tragedy of the Iraq war.

    We may well look back upon this conference as bellwether event, every bit as significant as “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” turned out to be. So let’s stay tuned, read the report carefully, and demand that the MSM take note if the report (and the players behind it) is as portentous as it promises to be.

  4. Eric Edelman would indeed be a “frightening choice” for a senior position in a Clinton administration.

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