Last night the Democratic Party made a play for the neoconservative vote. Starting with an extremely bellicose speech by former CIA director Leon Panetta, which was booed by the audience, the night ended with President Barack Obama comparing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to President Theodore Roosevelt, an open imperialist in a less-subtle age.
As Panetta launched into a tirade against Donald Trump, beating the familiar war drums with references to terrorism and Russia, a large segment of the crowd began changing, “No more war,” apparently unenthusiastic about Panetta’s imperialist posturing.
Delegates held up signs decrying the drone assassination program, which was at one point run by Panetta at the CIA. Drone strikes have dramatically escalated under President Obama with many of those killed having nothing do with terrorism.
Due to a conspiracy theory floated by the Clinton campaign related to leaked DNC emails, vilifying Russia and subsequently tying Donald Trump to Russia has become a major part of the Democratic National Convention.
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright went perhaps the farthest, telling the audience that Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are “on the same page,” and that lessons from the Cold War were applicable to the current situation, saying, “Take it from someone who fled the Iron Curtain. I know what happens when you give the Russians a green light.”
How events, which took place in Eastern Europe decades ago, tie into unconfirmed rumors about Russian involvement in the leaked DNC emails is not exactly clear, nor is it clear why the Russians are never to be trusted, either. But at least she didn’t call them rapists?
What should not go unnoticed is how much the Clinton campaign and hawkish factions of the Democratic Party are pushing for a new Cold War. Even outlets that despise Donald Trump such as The National Interest have noticed the trend. At the same time, left-leaning journalists like Glenn Greenwald see other aspects of the Cold War on the rise at home—namely, McCarthyism.
While it may be tempting to view this as purely opportunistic given Donald Trump’s willingness to compliment President Putin, the truth is that Hillary Clinton is deeply in league with the neoconservative intellectuals of the George W. Bush years. Her closest advisers, such as Robert Kagan, were the architects of the Iraq War and are planning another round of regime change in the Middle East and beyond.
But these positions are not just the result of bad counsel. Clinton herself revealed during the course of the campaign that she is deeply committed to the concept of regime change. In one instance, she was questioned directly about those views by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Clinton confirmed she still believed the US should assert its values and interest across the world using force.
So while the comparisons to imperialist presidents of the past may be designed to convince Republican voters to dump Trump, in this instance, what’s past is definitely prologue.