You would think Hillary Clinton would have plenty to say about the conflagration in Iraq, the ongoing Syria war, the arrest of one of the Benghazi attack suspects (and what it tells us about al-Qaeda), the Gaza war and the faltering talks in Iran. After all, Clinton played a major role in policies that directly or indirectly contributed to the current state of chaos, war and violence. Perhaps this is all a sore subject that she’d rather not discuss, but if she is going to run on her “competence” as secretary of state, it’s not as though she can ignore the topic. If a capable interviewer gets a hold of her anytime soon, here are some questions that get to the nub of the matter:
1. Should Israel exercise “restraint” or proceed until Hamas is seriously disabled for a number of years?
2. Was it a mistake to limit talks with Iran to nukes? How can we lift sanctions so long as Iran’s proxies wage war on Israel?
3. Should John Kerry return home and ask for sanctions if there is no deal by July 20 with Iran?
4. If Iran freezes its program and we lift sanctions, how is that a good deal for the West, especially if there is a sunset on sanctions?
5. What should we have done to keep the threat of force credible?
6. Did the turnaround on the “red line” in Syria harm U.S. credibility with allies and with Iran?
7. Given what happened in Iraq, should the president reconsider the zero-troop plan for Afghanistan?
8. In private and in public, Sunni monarchies disparage U.S. leadership and staying power. Why do you think that is?
9. The U.S. indictment of the Benghazi terrorism suspect says he was motivated by radical ideology. Are you willing to put aside the video as the cause of the Sept. 12, 2012, attack?
10. Did you underestimate al-Qaeda’s strength after Osama bin Laden’s assassination? What steps did you take to prevent al-Qaeda’s regeneration and spread?
11. If the Islamic State establishes its own territory, would that be a direct threat to the United States, potentially more acute than Afghanistan pre-9/11? If so, would that be a major policy failure?
12. Did you put too much emphasis on the “peace process”? On Israeli settlements?
13. Do we need to increase the defense budget? Given threats from Russia, China and the Middle East, how do you justify going from a military capacity to fighting only one war rather than two?
14. Should the next president return to the two-war capacity that was U.S. policy for decades?
15. Now that Burma has regressed on human rights, should sanctions be reinstated? Were they lifted too quickly?
16. How have we “pivoted” to Asia? Where is the enhanced presence?
17. Did the “light footprint” work in Libya?
18. Will women be better or worse off in the Middle East after the Obama administration? What specifically did you do to promote the rights of women there?
19. What is the biggest error of the Obama administration: refusing to act promptly in Syria, not backing the Green Revolution, obsessing over the “peace process” or lifting sanctions on Iran?
20. If you are the next president, would you want a military as it will be downsized by 2017 or a larger one?