Later today, the worst kept secret in US politics will be unveiled: Hillary Rodham Clinton, former First Lady, former Senator, former Secretary of State, will once more seek the Democratic Party’s nomination to be President of the United States.
She has been here before, of course. In 2007 she was most peoples’ expected nominee and therefore, choice to be president. Who had ever heard of this upstart from Chicago? Barack who? Never heard of him….
Some 7 years later and things are looking interesting once more for the former Goldwater Girl. She stands at a tantalizing place in her own life and in the history of her country. Unlike 7 years ago, this is undeniably her last roll of the dice. At 67, and now a grandmother, there are no more roles to play, no more election cycles to wait out in the hope of another crack at the golden ring. This is it, which is why when I have been asked repeatedly over the last 4 years, ‘Will Hillary run?’ my response has been: ‘She is already running, and why wouldn’t she? She has no where else to go, and no time to waste.’
Hillary’s opportunity in 2015 is to present the 2016 election as an opportunity to do for gender politics what Obama did for racial politics in 2008. She must make this about an opportunity to elect the first women president, not the third Bush president. In doing so, it will be fascinating to see how Hillary presents herself to the electorate. In previous campaigns she has sought to outdo her male colleagues in terms of appearance and posture: All pantsuits and policy. There are signs this may be changing. Her appearance has altered in recent weeks, and her family are currently gracing the covers of Elle and Town and Country. This is no coincidence. If Hillary campaigns as a woman, not as a politician, it will be fascinating to see if this makes her more accessible to the electorate, which was always her biggest challenge. She has the brains, but her husband has all the charm. She needs to channel as much of this as possible over the next 18 months.
Hillary’s challenge will be to overcome the mistakes of her last campaign. She was caught flat-footed by Obama’s early candidacy and by his reputation for generating a fortune from grassroots supporters (notwithstanding the far larger fortune he quietly secured from corporate America). She is clearly seeking to get out the traps early and hit the ground running in Iowa, where she will file her papers shortly. However, she must not rely upon last cycle’s technology to win next year’s election. The suggestion that she will announce her candidacy on-line, in a tweet and perhaps a video plays into the hands of those who portray her as aloof, removed from the electorate and far too much of a presumptive nominee. Retail politics is king in the primaries. If she is perceived as being the electronic candidate she will struggle and provide an opportunity for a home-grown, done-to-earth, flesh and blood candidate to emerge and inflict grave damage on her campaign. A little like happened in 1992 with a smooth, charming, ah-shucks governor from Arkansas. Who’d have thought it?
Indeed the contrast with her husband’s run in 1992 is striking. As I detail in Clinton’s Grand Strategy, Bill Clinton didn’t announce his campaign until October 1991, only a matter of months before the first votes were cast in Iowa and New Hampshire. Now, his wife is announcing her candidacy in the sun and the spring of 2015, 10 months before the polls open in the snow and ice of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Hillary’s announcement, the Tweet that Will be Heard Around The World, is her last, best shot at securing a real place in history in her own right. Not as her husbands’ wife, not as a junior senator from New York, not as Obama’s Secretary of State, but as the first Woman President of the United States. That must surely be her place in the lexicon of American politics and the journey to that auspicious place in history begins anew today….
I appeared on CNBC this morning to discuss my new book, Clinton’s Grand Strategy. I hope you enjoy what follows:
Finally…. It’s been promised for the past two years, but finally the Obama administration will today unveil its second term National Security Strategy Review document. By this point in an administration there should, technically, have been more than two to show for some six years in office. Under the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986, the White House is mandated to release such reports on an annual basis, but since the Clinton years, no administration has done so, and the Obama administration has adopted the same schedule as its predecessor, by releasing one per term so far.
The report will be announced by the President’s Adviser for National Security Affairs, Dr Susan Rice at the Brookings Institute, where she was affiliated prior to joining the Obama team. The event is being live streamed and can be accessed HERE
I will be live tweeting on the event and invite you to follow me on twitter at @jamesdboys from 6pm London time/1pm EST.
Following the announcement I will be heading to central London to discuss the new strategy with Ian Collins in the LBC studios in Leicester Square this evening from 9-10. the program will be live streamed and can be accessed HERE
The previous 15 national security strategy reports can be accessed HERE
The White House has released the document and it can be accessed HERE
A Fact Sheet for the 2015 Report can be accessed HERE
I will be holding a series of talks over the coming months to mark the release of Clinton’s Grand Strategy. The dates for these events will be updated and uploaded as they are confirmed:
January 30: The New College of the Humanities
February 6: LBC Radio
February 24: CNBC Television
March 3: University of Northampton
March 10: RTE Radio
March 24: Global Diplomacy Forum
March 25: Richmond University, Kensington campus
March 26: King’s College London
March 27: University College London, Institute of the Americas
April 26: Oxford Union
April 29: University of Hull
I have conducted a series of interviews to mark the imminent release of Clinton’s Grand Strategy that you may find of interest.
Interview with The History Vault
Interview for My American Studies
Interview for The Political Studies Association
Interview for Bloomsbury
Interview for RTE Radio
More have been conducted and more are scheduled. They will be posted here as they become available.
Clinton’s Grand Strategy: U.S. Foreign Policy in a Post-Cold War World is now available in the UK and will be released in April in the United States. It is available simultaneously in hardback, paperback and electronic formats and can be ordered NOW on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. I will be attending a series of events to mark the release and will be happy to provide signed copies upon request.
Access a special preview of the book HERE
About the Book
President Clinton’s time in office coincided with historic global events following the end of the Cold War. The collapse of Communism called for a new US Grand Strategy to address the emerging geopolitical era that brought upheavals in Somalia and the Balkans, economic challenges in Mexico and Europe and the emergence of new entities such as the EU, NAFTA and the WTO. Clinton’s handling of these events was crucial to the development of world politics at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Only by understanding Clinton’s efforts to address the challenges of the post-Cold War era can we understand the strategies of his immediate successors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom inherited and continued Clinton-era policies and practices.
James D. Boys sheds new light on the evolution and execution of US Grand Strategy from 1993 to 2001. He explores the manner in which policy was devised and examines the actors responsible for its development, including Bill Clinton, Anthony Lake, Samuel Berger, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke. He examines the core components of the strategy (National Security, Prosperity Promotion and Democracy Promotion) and how they were implemented, revealing a hitherto unexplored continuity from campaign trail to the White House. Covering the entire duration of Clinton’s presidential odyssey, from his 1991 Announcement Speech to his final day in office, the book draws extensively on newly declassified primary materials and interviews by the author with key members of the Clinton administration to reveal for the first time the development and implementation of US Grand Strategy from deep within the West Wing of the Clinton White House.
‘In Clinton’s Grand Strategy, James D. Boys provides a comprehensive and balanced assessment of America’s foreign policy by its first Post-Cold War president. He persuasively argues that President Clinton pursued a foreign policy that focused on “national security, prosperity promotion, and democracy promotion” and one that was more cohesive and strategic than some earlier analyses have suggested – albeit not always successful in implementation. Dr. Boys employs careful scholarship throughout, utilizes numerous interviews with key Clinton officials and critics to make his case, and writes in a clear and engaging style. In all, Clinton’s Grand Strategy is an important contribution and should prove to be a ready reference for understanding American foreign policy during a crucial decade.’
James M. McCormick,
Iowa State University, USA
‘Extending his earlier work, Dr. Boys provides a carefully-researched and well-argued analysis of the Clinton foreign policy, identifying a thoughtful and consistent grand strategy often overlooked by critics and commentators. Drawing on key documents and insightful interviews, Dr. Boys illuminates the strategic considerations that began in the 1992 presidential campaign and provides a window to understanding U.S. foreign policy in that unique period between the prolonged end of the Cold War and the now dominant and perhaps perpetual War on Terror.’
Stephen A. Smith,
Professor of Communication at the University of Arkansas, USA and former Executive Assistant to Governor Bill Clinton
Bloomsbury is a leading global publisher with offices in London, Sydney, New York, Doha and New Delhi. Bloomsbury is home to Harry Potter, Jay McInerney and the Churchill Archive. In 2013 the Academic & Professional Division was awarded two Independent Publishers Guild awards: Independent Publisher of the Year and Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year. The division was also shortlisted for two Bookseller Industry Awards: Academic, Educational & Professional Publisher of the Year and Digital Strategy of the Year.
While not implementing what I this week christened his Half-Arsed Doctrine in key geographical regions such as Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, or dithering over the growing immigration crisis on America’s borders, President Obama has been busy tinkering with his signature legislative ‘achievement’, the Affordable Healthcare Act, better known as Obamacare. Passed with undue haste and a lack of legislative attention to detail (‘We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it’) as the Democrats’ narrow grasp on a Senate supermajority and a majority of any sort in the House evaporated, the bill has contributed to great ruptures in the American body politic.
Rather than passing a universal health care bill that garnered strong bi-partisan support, the manner in which the legislation was steamrollered through, and the specific elements of the provisions, ensured that the Act remains contentious. The bill’s opponents have attempted pretty much every legal manoeuvre possible to have it overturned, including a telling day in the highest court of the land, in which the administration was forced to concede that the measure was indeed a tax, having stressed all along that it was not. Such efforts formed part of the GOP’s master plan for Obama’s time in office: Ensuring he was a one-term president.
When the best efforts of Mitt Romney proved unequal to this task in 2012, Republicans were forced to come up with a new plan, one designed to ensure that this president has more than one historical distinguishing star by his name. Reaching back to the late 1990s, they devised a plan to derail his administration by legal means. Whereas their predecessors attempted to impeach a popular, populist Democratic Chief Executive, they now would seek to sue an increasingly unpopular and far from populist president for his excessive tinkering with legislation and his continuing efforts to bypass the Congress.
This is a move based on political calculation and a very specific reading of history. Republican leaders know that they do not have anything like the votes to impeach President Obama, even if they could agree upon what to charge him with and get the House of Representatives to approve such articles. 67 members of the Senate are simply not going to vote to remove Obama from office.
Yet removal from office is not the aspiration of the GOP. The bigger target is Hillary Clinton and the forthcoming election of 2016. Right now, the GOP simply does not have anyone who can beat her. With that being the case, a strategy appears to be one of decimating the incumbent to ensure that a case for continuity cannot be made at the next election. In this, a leaf is being taken from the GOP playbook of the late 1990s.
Think the impeachment of Bill Clinton failed? Think again. Who won the presidency in 2000? Republicans dreamt of impeaching Clinton throughout his presidency, but recognised that if this were to succeed they would hand the presidency to Al Gore, recognised as being a weak campaigner, but whose stature and chance of electoral success would be greatly enhanced by the incumbency.
Despite their best efforts, perhaps, the GOP therefore arrived at their perfect scenario when its efforts to impeach President Clinton failed to remove him from office: A humbled and contrite chief executive remained in office, while his deputy and would-be successor found it impossible to campaign as his heir for moral and political reasons. It can safely be acknowledged, that the final vote in Clinton’s impeachment came not in the Senate Chamber in 1999, but in the Supreme Court in December 2000.
Such a play is underway once more, and again, Republican efforts in regard to President Obama do not need to succeed to be successful. The plan is simple: paralyse, neutralise and stigmatize.
There are 27 months until the next presidential election in November 2016. These are vital times for the president to establish his legacy. If he can achieve a lasting peace in a key global region, or enact meaningful legislation this would go a long way to relieving the sense of disappointment with his time in office. By paralysing his remaining time in office, his political opponents seek to prevent such a reappraisal from being possible. Paralysis of the president’s political activities and timetable would deny him the opportunity to focus upon and implement legacy projects and ensure that his presidency is lamented in history books, rather than lionised.
President Obama my be a lame duck, constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term in office, but that does not mean that the Republicans are guaranteed to win the White House in 2016. Indeed, their recent track record has been poor. Defeated in the elections of 2012 and 2008, narrowly securing victory in 2004, the benefactors of a highly contentious decision in 2000 having lost the popular vote and having lost in 1996 and 1992, the GOP national campaign strategy is in serious need of a new approach as its natural constituency gets older and whiter, as the nation gets younger and darker. The GOP cannot necessarily win by advancing policy, but it can neutralise any opponents, and the obvious target is Hillary Clinton. If the GOP can neutralise her candidacy by tying her to an administration and a president under legal review, either via impeachment or prosecution, the GOP may be able to secure victory by default, in a similar patter to 2000. All this before they need to raise the shadow of Benghazi, or whisper anything about the oft-reported continuing private antics of the former president.
Any legal process against Obama will form part of his presidential history. As was demonstrated in the 1990s, such initiatives need not succeed to be successful. The stigma of a presidency under legal review will prevent the Obama administration from pursuing a meaningful, place a democratic succession in jeopardy and further alienate the White House from local politicians in close races. All of which aids the GOP in its efforts to further undermine the Obama presidency both in the immediate and long-term, and in its efforts to secure electoral success in 2016.
Such initiatives are hardly the methods of governing that can be found in US Politics 101 classes or ones that anyone would necessarily want to be implemented to run a modern superpower. It is, however, the way of doing business in the 21st century. It is the inverse of Clausewitz’s famed remark about War being the continuation of politics by other means. As politics becomes the continuation of war by other means, there will be casualties on both sides; the risk, however, is that democracy itself becomes the ultimate victim.