During the 2016 presidential election, many younger voters repudiated Hillary Clinton because of her husband’s support for mass incarceration, banking deregulation and free-trade agreements that led many U.S. jobs to be shipped overseas. Warmonger: How Clinton’s Malign Foreign Policy Launched the Trajectory from Bush II to Biden, shows that Clinton’s foreign policy was just as bad as his domestic policy. Cultivating an image as a former anti-Vietnam War activist to win over the aging hippie set in his early years, as president, Clinton bombed six countries and, by the end of his first term, had committed U.S. troops to 25 separate military operations, compared to 17 in Ronald Reagan’s two terms. Clinton further expanded America’s covert empire of overseas surveillance outposts and spying and increased the budget for intelligence spending and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA offshoot which promoted regime change in foreign nations.
The latter was not surprising because, according to CIA operative Cord Meyer Jr., Clinton had been recruited into the CIA while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and as Governor of Arkansas in the 1980s he had allowed clandestine arms and drug flights to Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries (Contras) backed by the CIA to be taken from Mena Airport in the western part of the state. Rather than being a time of tranquility when the U.S. failed to pay attention to the gathering storm of terrorism, as New York Times columnist David Brooks frames it, the Clinton presidency saw rising tensions among the U.S., China and Russia because of Clinton’s malign foreign policies, and U.S. complicity in terrorist acts.
In so many ways, Clinton’s presidency set the groundwork for the disasters that were to follow under Bush II, Obama, Trump, and Biden. It was Clinton—building off of Reagan—who first waged a War on Terror ridden with double standards, one that adopted terror tactics, including extraordinary rendition, bombing and the use of drones. It was Clinton who cried wolf about human rights abuses and the need to protect beleaguered peoples from genocide to justify military intervention in a post-Cold War age. And it was Clinton’s administration that pressed for regime change in Iraq and raised public alarm about the mythic WMDs—all while relying on fancy new military technologies and private military contractors to distance US shady military interventions from the public to limit dissent.