Interventionalist, war-monger, regime-changer…I’ve heard a lot of terms to describe Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. I’m in international development, and I understand from my own work and experience how destructive and destabilizing war is on a country for not just the present generation, but for many generations to come. I get the frustration and anger that comes with Hillary’s decisions, and I agree that her foreign policy has been contentious and often times dangerous.
Some Presidents (especially George W. Bush) have been absolute disasters in their foreign policy. Some nominees (especially Donald Trump) would be devastating in their foreign policy. The more pervasive problem is that EVERY president since I have been alive (and probably much further back) has made dangerous foreign policy decisions, no matter how progressive or conservative they were on the campaign trail. If we truly want to see a reform in our foreign policy, at minimum, we need to:
1. Address the power the military has in our political process.
2. Address why the media and the American public don’t understand that war does not equate all of foreign policy. As an example, look at how idiotic so much of the response was to the Iranian economic sanction lift.
3. Figure out how to de-monetize/not derive profits from war.
No matter how great Jill Stein’s or Gary Johnson’s rhetoric is now, I guarantee you even if either were to miraculously win the Presidency, American foreign policy would not dramatically change in the three ways described above. These kinds of changes take massive amounts of studying, organizing, fundraising/lobbying, relationship building and perhaps even economic restructuring. It won’t happen in one election and, as Dan Savage recently mentioned, it won’t happen through the piecewise, sporadic approach third parties take.
Meanwhile, the threat Trump/Pence place on people like me – LGBTQI people, women, POCs, people with disabilities – is enormous. I quit a job with the UN in sub-Saharan Africa precisely to avoid persecution and dangerous conditions explicitly due to who I am. After years of work on economic development and human rights, I can confidently say the domestic human rights, inclusion, willingness to listen to constituents and openness of Hillary’s policy are some of the few and major things that are going correctly in this difficult world.
Casting a vote for a third party candidate will not rewrite the course of American foreign policy, military intervention and the American public’s opinion of both. Casting a vote for a third party candidate will not change the course of foreign policy. Casting a third party vote might, however, help elect as President an authoritarian demagogue with the temperament of a toddler who is willing to exploit and abuse those of us who are already most vulnerable here in the States. If anyone voting for a third party candidate uses foreign policy/war as a justification, at least be decent and acknowledge the complicated reality of the situation. At least acknowledge you are willing to subvert the human rights of people in the States for your principles, because like it or not, that is what you are saying.