I've noted this before, but reading Hillary Clinton's foreign policy manifesto in Foreign Affairs is once again a reminder of how nice it would be for politicians to give us some idea of what they mean by terms like "vital interests." When, for example, Clinton says that she will "use force to protect . . . our vital interests" she's not telling me very much. I'm pretty sure all the candidates would use force to protect the interests that they consider vital. The thing they're going to disagree about is which interests those are.Well, yeah, that's the problem, isn't it? It's pretty easy to take a look at domestic issues like Social Security or healthcare or whatnot and decide which candidates are on your side and which ones aren't. But foreign policy? Not so easy. Sure, there are concrete areas of disagreement here and there, but for the most part it all comes down to attitude and judgment. I can't tell you in advance exactly what deal I think our next president should strike with, say, Iran or Pakistan, but I can tell you that I want someone who actually believes in hardnosed, persistent diplomacy; who doesn't have an itchy trigger finger; and who doesn't think of herself as a lonely, world historical figure bestriding the globe like a colossus. Figuring out which candidate is best able to deal with whatever the world delivers over the next eight years is just a lot harder than figuring out which candidate is mostly likely to pass domestic legislative programs I like. It's the main reason I remain profoundly undecided about which Democratic candidate I prefer this year.
In any case, I haven't yet read Hillary's manifesto, which is here. Matt's gloss doesn't suggest I'm really going to learn much from it when I do, but I'll get around to it later today. In the meantime, comments are open.