These conventional formulas stress Clinton’s exceptionalist faith in America’s unique responsibility for ‘global leadership’. There was a time when this meant leading by example, but since the Second World War, the phrase ‘global leadership’ has served as a euphemism for military intervention – multilateral if possible, unilateral if necessary. Indeed, exceptionalism has proved a durable justification for unilateralism. Presidential candidates from both parties have long felt obliged to pay homage to the exceptionalist creed, but Clinton’s attachment to it is obsessive.
Hillary will not be the only exceptionalist running for the presidency in 2016. As a matter of principle, though, we need to hold all of our candidates accountable if they retain this Kennedy-esque belief that the proper foreign policy direction of the nation is to use our might for right anywhere in the world where there is a decent LZ or a gently sloping beach.
Or where a very important donor has a personal interest.