Hillary Clinton today outlined in detail how she would engage in a war against the Islamic state and worldwide terrorism. In essence she trumped both President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump by calling for, among other things, a "new phase" in the fight including a stepped up military offensive.
But for me, the most striking part of the speech was her call for American leadership, asserting that only the United States has the wherewithal to win the war. Invoking American Exceptionalism, she said:
This is a time for American leadership. No other country can rally the world to defeat ISIS and win the generational struggle against radical jihadism. Only the United States can mobilize common action on a global scale, and that’s exactly what we need. The entire world must be part of this fight, but we must lead it. [My emphasis. The complete transcript is here.]
Why is this important? It is an outright rejection of Barack Obama's "leading from behind" doctrine, something that has unraveled the world's political balance of power. It is an outright acceptance of the theory that there's something special about America that makes it a beacon and a pathway to prosperity, peace and liberty.
The speech is noteworthy on another level: She has effectively leveraged a public forum (the Council on Foreign Relations) to present a detailed, comprehensive and cogent plan for conducting the war of Islamic extremism, although she declined to label it as such. What other presidential candidate from either party has been as thorough and comprehensive?
Her plan, she said, requires a:
...sustained commitment in every pillar of American power. This is a worldwide fight, and American must lead it. Our strategy should have three main elements. One, defeat ISIS in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East; two, disrupt and dismantle the growing terrorist infrastructure that facilitates the flow of fighters, financing arms and propaganda around the world; three, harden our defenses and those of our allies against external and homegrown threats. [My emphasis.]
Clinton has to answer for her own mistakes in carrying out the Obama leading-from-behind doctrine. And we can disagree with her strategy. But she and America deserve a thoughtful, open-minded reading of her speech.
Unlike Trump, she respects the intelligence of voters enough to outline what she would do. Trump's assertion that he's not providing details of how he would fight because it would help the enemy is a charade, a cover-up for his inability to state a coherent and workable policy. We deserve more than having to blindly accept that whatever Trump has under his hat will work.
Unfortunately, she blundered in the question and answer session after the speech by suggesting that U.S. troops should not be sent even if there's another terrorist attack on America.
Read why Americans need to learn about the nation's most ignored war .
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