By Zach Beauchamp
Hillary Clinton is, without a doubt, a hawkish Democrat. She has been consistently to the interventionist right of the party mainstream on issues like the Iraq War, the Afghanistan surge, and arming the Syrian rebels.
Donald Trump, by contrast, has criticized the Iraq War and the Libya intervention. He’s been skeptical of America’s commitments to defend traditional allies in Europe and East Asia, and said the Middle East in general is “one big, fat quagmire” that the US should stay out of.
This sure makes it sound like Trump is some kind of dovish neo-isolationist, a principled skeptic of military intervention. Clinton seems like a superhawk by contrast. Steve Schmidt, a prominent Republican strategist who ran John McCain’s 2008 campaign, put this theory well during an MSNBC appearance in early May: “Donald Trump will be running to the left as we understand it against Hillary Clinton on national security issues.”
But the problem is that the way “we understand” Trump’s national security position is bollocks. Trump isn’t a leftist, nor is he a pacifist. In fact, Trump is an ardent militarist, who has been proposing actual colonial wars of conquest for years. It’s a kind of nationalist hawkishness that we haven’t seen much of in the United States since the Cold War — but has supported some of the most aggressive uses of force in American history.
As surprising as it may seem, Clinton is actually the dove in this race.