Believe nothing politicians say. They all lie. Trump sent mixed messages in delivering his first foreign policy address. His worldview is more nightmarish than visionary.
His America first agenda features uni-polarity, nativism and US military supremacy while claiming to “want to live peacefully with Russia and China.”
Absent was urging respect for and adherence to rule of law principles along with wanting mutual cooperation among all nations.
He failed to denounce America’s imperial agenda, its phony war on terrorism as a pretext for endless aggression against nonbelligerent states threatening no others.
On the one hand, he called “(o)ur foreign policy… a complete and total disaster.” On the other, his “administration will lead a free world (sic) that is properly armed and funded…”
He lied about the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “disastrous.” In earlier comments, he vowed to rescind it, ignoring the obligation of P5+1 countries to observe agreed on principles – Iran in full compliance.
Saying Tehran “ignor(ed) its terms even before the ink was dry” was willful deception. America alone continues violating terms it agreed to observe.
Stressing “Iran cannot be allowed to have a nuclear weapon” ignores its peaceful program with no military component or indication it seeks one – along with failing to denounce Israel as the region’s sole nuclear armed and dangerous regional state, threatening its peace and stability.
Trump shamelessly called the Jewish state “the one true democracy in the Middle East… a force for peace and justice” – ignoring its longstanding anti-Palestinian genocidal agenda, ongoing viciousness as he spoke.
His address was a litany of misinformation, distortions and Big Lies.
Obama “watches helplessly as North Korea increases its aggression,” he blustered.
“China… continue(s) its economic assault on American jobs and wealth…” It’s waging cyberwar “to steal government secrets…”
“If President Obama’s goal had been to weaken America, he could not have done a better job.”
“We’re a humanitarian nation… (T)he legacy of the Obama-Clinton interventions will be weakness, confusion and disarray, a mess… We left Christians subject to intense persecution and even genocide.”
All of the above twists reality demagogically. North Korea threatens no one. For decades, Washington spurned its efforts to normalize relations with the West.
China doesn’t steal US jobs. Corporate America offshores them to numerous low-wage countries, bipartisan US policy doing nothing to stop the transformation of industrial America into a third world nation.
Trump conveniently ignored post-9/11 Bush wars of aggression, bipartisan complicity supporting them.
Clinton’s 1990s Balkan wars preceded them, raping and dismembering the former Yugoslavia.
Obama’s imperial agenda is more of the same, exceeding the worst of George Bush – Hillary Clinton as secretary of state orchestrating naked aggression on Libya and Syria.
Muslims, not Christians and Jews, are at risk in today’s dangerous world. Post-9/11, US foreign policy left millions dead, endless carnage continuing, Congress permitting it with outsized military appropriations for permanent war on humanity.
Who knows what Trump means about everything changing if he becomes president. “America is going to be strong again,” he ranted.
Claiming he wants “radical Islam” halted ignores its US creation and support. Surely he knows, but won’t say, perpetuating the myth of war on terrorism – failing to explain ISIS and similar groups can’t exist without foreign support.
“(W)e have to rebuild our military and our economy,” he blustered. Annual defense authorizations should be greatly reduced at a time America has no enemies.
Billions saved should be invested domestically to create jobs for the one out of four working-age Americans without them – and better ones for the millions of underemployed.
Trump shamelessly calls increasing America’s military strength “the cheapest, single investment we can make…Our military dominance must be unquestioned, and I mean…by anybody and everybody.”
At the same time, he stresses not wasting “one single dollar.” Pentagon policy is a longstanding sinkhole of waste, fraud and abuse. Trump bluster won’t change things.
Putting America first sounds like demanding other nations operate by US rules or else. Saying “I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative” is no different from current imperial policy.
Insisting he wants “peace and prosperity, not war and destruction” suggests a pledge to be breached straightaway in office, continuing dirty business as usual.
Trump differs from rival candidates largely in style. If elected to succeed Obama, expect deplorable continuity, not responsible change.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Longstanding US/Israeli plans call for redrawing the Middle East map – including partitioning Iraq and Syria, installing pro-Western/Zionist puppet regimes.
Turkey wants a Syria buffer zone to annex border areas between both countries. Weeks earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blasted the idea, saying creating one would “violate every principle of international law and will lead to a substantial, qualitative escalation” of tensions.
In February, John Kerry told Senate Foreign Relations Committee members that establishing a buffer or safe zone in Syria would require up to 30,000 troops to enforce it, according to Pentagon estimates.
Last November, Trump endorsed the idea, saying “(b)uild a big, beautiful safe zone, and you have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier.”
Hillary Clinton earlier urged establishing a no-fly zone, the same scheme she used to wage US-led NATO aggression on Libya.
Merkel supported the idea. Now she seeks creating “safe zones” on the phony pretext of protecting internally displaced Syrians, saying:
Establish “zones where the ceasefire is particularly enforced and where a significant level of security can be guaranteed.”
Syria and Russia categorically reject the idea, a thinly veiled partition plan, flagrantly violating international law, also aiming to stem the refugee flow caused by Obama’s war – NATO and regional rogue states complicit in his high crime.
On Friday, Syrian chief peace talks negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari minced no words blasting Western and regional regimes for supporting “organized networks of international terrorism,” continuing to send them cross-border into Syria, “sabotaging the rules of international law,” while claiming to support diplomatic conflict resolution.
War without resolution continues. Peace prospects are unattainable as long as Washington demands regime change.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has offered a curious defense of Hillary Clinton’s “honesty,” refuting the public’s widespread view that she is a liar by narrowly defining what it means to be “honest” and arguing that she is less dishonest than she is a calculating and corner-cutting politician.
Kristof writes, “as we head toward the general election showdown, by all means denounce Hillary Clinton’s judgment and policy positions, but let’s focus on the real issues. She’s not a saint but a politician, and to me this notion that she’s fundamentally dishonest is a bogus narrative.”
Kristof cites, for instance, that half of her campaign statements, as evaluated by PolitiFact, were rated either true or mostly true, comparable to how the group assessed statements by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Ted Cruz and much better than Donald Trump’s 22 percent. Leaving aside the “conventional wisdom” bias of this mainstream media organization, Kristof does seem to have a point. In a narrow definition of “honesty,” former Secretary of State Clinton may be “truthful” or kind of truthful half the time.
But Kristof misses the larger point that the American people are making when 56 percent of them rate her negatively and many call “crooked” and “dishonest.” They seem to be commenting on her lack of authenticity and perhaps her resistance to sincerely acknowledging major errors in judgment. She only grudgingly apologized for her pro-Iraq War vote and still insists that her bloody “regime change” scheme for Libya was a good idea, even as the once-prosperous North African nation slides into anarchy and deprivation – with the chief beneficiary the head-choppers of the Islamic State.
A Nixonian Quality
Many Americans sense that there is a Nixonian quality to Hillary Clinton – her excessive secrecy, her defensiveness, her rigidity, her unwillingness to acknowledge or learn from mistakes. Even when she is forced into admitting a “mistake,” such as her violation of State Department rules when she maintained a private email server for official correspondence, she acts as if she’s just “apologizing” to close off further debate or examination. As with Richard Nixon, there’s a feeling that Clinton’s apologies and rationales are self-serving, not forthcoming.
Yet, while it’s true that Nixon was a deceitful character – his most famous lie being when he declared “I am not a crook” – I would argue that he had some clear advantages over Clinton as President. He was a much more strategic thinker than she is – and sometimes went against the grain of expectations as encapsulated in the phrase “Nixon goes to China,” meaning that Nixon could open up to communist China precisely because he was viewed as such a hardliner who would never do such a thing but who finally judged that the move was in America’s interests.
While it’s impossible to say whether Clinton would seize unexpected openings as President, she showed none of that creativity, subtlety and courage as Secretary of State. She marched down a straightforward neocon line, doing precisely what Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted in the Middle East.
Clinton tried to sabotage President Barack Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Iran and favored military solutions to Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. She also followed a rightist approach in backing the 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted an elected progressive president who had offended some of the Honduran oligarchs and outside corporate interests.
Lack of Self-Criticism
In addition, Clinton appears to have learned nothing from her support for the catastrophic Iraq War and has argued against “conflating” her Iraq decision with her Libya decision. But that suggests that she is incapable of learning a lesson from one mistake and applying it to a similar situation, an almost disqualifying characteristic for someone who hopes to become President.
Being a successful President requires extracting painful lessons from one mistake and making sure you don’t make the same mistake again. But Clinton’s personal arrogance or defensiveness (it’s hard to figure out which is dominant) prevents her from that sort of self-criticism.
Indeed, her ritualistic (and politically timed) apology for her Iraq War vote in 2006 came across less than an honest recognition that she had done something horribly wrong than that she had to say something to appease a furious Democratic electorate as she mounted her first run for President against anti-Iraq War candidate Obama.
After losing to Obama and becoming his Secretary of State, she privately hedged her Iraq War apology by saying privately that she thought that President George W. Bush’s “surge” in Iraq was successful and admitting that she had only opposed it in 2007 for political reasons, according to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his memoir, Duty.
On Oct. 26, 2009, as Gates — a holdover from the Bush administration — and Clinton joined forces to pressure Obama into approving a similar “surge” for Afghanistan, Gates recalled a meeting in which Clinton made what he regarded as a stunning admission, writing:
“The exchange that followed was remarkable. In strongly supporting the surge in Afghanistan, Hillary told the president that her opposition to the surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary [in 2008]. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’
“The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.” (Obama’s aides disputed Gates’s suggestion that the President indicated that his opposition to the Iraq “surge” was political, noting that he had always opposed the Iraq War. The Clinton team has not challenged Gates’s account.)
But the exchange, as recounted by Gates, indicates that Clinton not only let her political needs dictate her position on an important national security issue, but that she accepts as true the superficial conventional wisdom about the “successful surge” in Iraq, which claimed the lives of about 1,000 American soldiers and a much larger number of Iraqis but failed its principal mission of buying time for the Iraqis to resolve their sectarian differences.
So, when one considers Hillary Clinton’s “honesty” more should be in play than simply whether she accurately describes her policy positions half the time. Honesty, as most people would perceive it, relates to a person’s fundamental integrity, strength of character, readiness to acknowledge mistakes and ability to learn from them. On that measure, the American people seem to have sized up Hillary Clinton pretty well.
[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon.“]
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The US Supreme Court has upheld Congress and President Barack Obama’s actions to hold Iran financially responsible for the 1983 bombing that killed 241 Marines at their barracks in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut.
The 6-2 ruling on Wednesday allowed the families of the Marines and victims of other attacks that courts have linked to Iran to seize some $2 billion in assets held in New York’s Citibank, belonging to Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), which has been blocked under US sanctions.
The Supreme Court determined that a law passed by Congress did not dictate to the courts how to handle the dispute despite appeals by the CBI.
In 2012, Congress passed a law that specifically directed the American bank to turn over the Iranian assets to victims’ families. Obama also entered the battle in an effort to force the payments on Iran.
Iran, however, argued that Obama and Congress were intruding into the business of federal courts, a practice banned by the US Constitution.
“The US judicial apparatus, with the support of the country’s administration and Congress, has been issuing and enacting rulings against the Islamic Republic of Iran for years, violating basic principles of international law with recourse to unsubstantiated and baseless allegations,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said in December last year.
Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg rejected the view on Wednesday, saying the legislation “does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, with Roberts stating that “the authority of the political branches is sufficient; they have no need to seize ours.”
The case involves over 1,300 plaintiffs, who have demanded compensation over several attacks, namely the Beirut bombing, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.
With the decades-long Azeri-Armenian conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region burning out of control for four intense, blood-soaked days at the beginning of this month, questions have emerged over the secretive role played by Israel in the conflict.
Late last week, commenting on the recent escalation of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman blamed Armenia for provoking four days of clashes which left over a hundred dead and dozens wounded.
Azerbaijan, Lieberman said, had “no reasons for escalating the conflict,” despite extensive reports confirming that Azerbaijan was the party that launched offensive operations to regain control of territory in the Armenia-backed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
For its part, the Azeri Defense Ministry called the operation, which resulted in the taking of several strategic heights and settlements, a successful ‘counteroffensive’ launched in response to Armenian shelling.
Lieberman’s words would be echoed by retired Israel Defense Forces general Ephraim Sneh, who emphasized in a Friday op-ed for Al-Monitor that Azerbaijan is Israel’s “strategic ally,” and that at the moment, Baku “needs all the diplomatic help [Israel] can muster.”
Sneh slammed Tel Aviv for “staying silent” in Baku’s hour of need, explaining that Azerbaijan is one of Israel’s only friends in the Islamic world, and adding that Israel needs Azerbaijan to ensure its energy security, with Baku providing the Jewish State with some 40% of its oil.
Russia’s mediation of the conflict, Sneh suggested, has been disastrous for Baku, with the “status quo” that emerged in 1994 following the six-year war which began in the late 1980s “convenient for everyone, except for Azerbaijan.”
Blaming Armenia for violations of the ceasefire (and absolving the Azeris of their own violations), Sneh candidly admitted that Baku started the latest bloodshed, and suggested that Azerbaijan’s challenging of the status quo may actually work in its favor.
Saying that the current Moscow-brokered ceasefire, is “tenuous at best and not expected to last long,” the general says that he is hopeful that “now that Azerbaijan has proved its military superiority, there is a chance for real diplomatic negotiations that could lead to an agreement between the two countries,” i.e. for the ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to give its territory. In this sense, Sneh says, the Azeris could take a lesson from Tel Aviv and negotiate according to a formula of “land for peace,” which Israel used in the late 1970s in negotiations with Egypt to return the Sinai Peninsula.
This time, Sneh argues, the Azeris should do the same, but in reverse, promising Armenia peace in exchange for Nagorno-Karabakh. “Armenia’s weak economy could stand to benefit from such an agreement.” Moreover, “improved economic relations with Turkey are just one important economic benefit that Armenia can be assured of as soon as it withdraws from the occupied Azeri territories.””Meanwhile, Azerbaijan needs much more robust diplomatic support than it is receiving today.” Unfortunately, Sneh complains, Baku hasn’t been getting it from Israel.
But just how silent has Tel Aviv actually been?
To begin with, hints of the extensive military cooperation between the two countries emerged in the first days of the conflict, indicating that Israeli ‘suicide drones’ were being used by Azeri forces in the course of their offensive. The Harop unmanned aerial vehicle, which acts as a ‘kamikaze’ capable of destroying targets by ramming into them, is produced by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI).
According to French intelligence newsletter Intelligence Online, in addition to drones, Israel also provides Baku with advanced radar systems, control and command posts, and other intelligence-collection equipment, and has even entered a bid to provide Baku with a $150 million observation satellite.
Israel has refused to confirm or deny its sale of drones, or other weaponry, to Azerbaijan. However, Meretz party chairwoman Zehava Galon came out publicly warning that Israel intends to send more drones to Baku. In a letter addressed to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Galon urged that the Israeli government should stop weapons deliveries to the Azeris until it could be assured that Baku would halt the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.
At the same time, Israeli security and intelligence specialist Yossi Melman says that Israel has a massive, but highly secretive, defense footprint in Azerbaijan.
In his analysis for The Jerusalem Post, Melman explained that Israel and Azerbaijan enjoy annual trade which is “$5 billion larger than between Israel and France.” Moreover, he said, “most of the content remains confidential, and consists of Azeri oil sold to Israel and Israeli weapons and intelligence technologies purchased by Azerbaijan.”
From modest beginnings in the early 1990s, Azerbaijan has grown to become “the second-biggest market in Asia, after India, for Israeli weapons,” with Israeli defense companies enjoying literally billions of dollars in sales in the Caucasian state. At the same time, Melman indicates, “the best promoters of the military sales and ties are Israeli ministers and officials who visit the Caucasian nation.”
“This week,” the analyst recalls, “The Washington Post enabled the world to have a peeping window into the secret relations [between the two countries] when it published a photo of an Israeli-made ‘suicidal drone’ exploding itself on a bus leading Armenian combatants to the front lines. Seven people were killed, and the Armenian government protested to Israel.”
“A few days after the incident, military journalists visited Israeli Aerospace Industries facilities and were briefed on the various products, from drones to satellites, which the company has to offer. An IAI spokeswoman was asked if the company was behind the Washington Post revelation. She refused to answer but openly smiled when one reporter commented that such a photo is good for business and promotes sales of products that can be labeled ‘battle proven’.”
In addition to military ties, Melman notes that the two countries also have strong intelligence ties, with Mossad given permission to set up a large station in Azerbaijan, taking advantage of the region’s geography to run operations throughout the North Caucasus.
Both Russian and Iranian officials have previously accused Azerbaijan of allowing Mossad to use their territory for espionage activities, the latter indicating that the Israeli missions included everything from “recruiting and planting agents,” to “communication interception and aerial reconnaissance,” Melman explained. Moreover, he added, “more than a year ago Iran claimed to have shot down an Israeli-made drone,” claims which Israeli officials have refused to comment on.
Pointing to the secretive nature of political, defense and intelligence cooperation between the two countries, the analyst noted that “it was [Azeri President Ilham] Alieyev himself who was quoted in a WikiLeaks cable sent from the US Embassy in Baku [saying] that ‘bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Israel are like an iceberg. Nine-tenths are below the surface.'”
Ultimately, Melmen notes, “seemingly, Israel and Azerbaijan are an odd couple, not meant to be with each other,” with the Caucasian nation not really serving as a model of Western democracy, being run by the same family since 1991, and facing issues including corruption and the suppression of free media. “On the other hand, Israel is not too selective in choosing friends when it comes to weapons sales and national interests. A quick look at the map,” showing that Azerbaijan borders Iran, Israel’s sworn enemy, “can explain Israeli priorities.”
If there were any doubts that Hillary Clinton favors a neoconservative foreign policy, her performance at Thursday’s debate should have laid them to rest. In every meaningful sense, she is a neocon and – if she becomes President – Americans should expect more global tensions and conflicts in pursuit of the neocons’ signature goal of “regime change” in countries that get in their way.
Beyond sharing this neocon “regime change” obsession, former Secretary of State Clinton also talks like a neocon. One of their trademark skills is to use propaganda or “perception management” to demonize their targets and to romanticize their allies, what is called “gluing white hats” on their side and “gluing black hats” on the other.
So, in defending her role in the Libyan “regime change,” Clinton called the slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi “genocidal” though that is a gross exaggeration of Gaddafi’s efforts to beat back Islamic militants in 2011. But her approach fits with what the neocons do. They realize that almost no one will dare challenge such a characterization because to do so opens you to accusations of being a “Gaddafi apologist.”
Similarly, before the Iraq War, the neocons knew that they could level pretty much any charge against Saddam Hussein no matter how false or absurd, knowing that it would go uncontested in mainstream political and media circles. No one wanted to be a “Saddam apologist.”
Clinton, like the neocons, also shows selective humanitarian outrage. For instance, she laments the suffering of Israelis under crude (almost never lethal) rocket fire from Gaza but shows next to no sympathy for Palestinians being slaughtered by sophisticated (highly lethal) Israeli missiles and bombs.
She talks about the need for “safe zones” or “no-fly zones” for Syrians opposed to another demonized enemy, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, but not for the people of Gaza who face the wrath of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Yes, I do still support a no-fly zone [in Syria] because I think we need to put in safe havens for those poor Syrians who are fleeing both Assad and ISIS and have some place that they can be safe,” Clinton said. But she showed no such empathy for Palestinians defenseless against Israel’s “mowing the grass” operations against men, women and children trapped in Gaza.
In Clinton’s (and the neocons’) worldview, the Israelis are the aggrieved victims and the Palestinians the heartless aggressors. Referring to the Gaza rocket fire, she said: “I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages. They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. …
“So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist attack, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.”
Clinton ignored the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which dates back to the 1940s when Israeli terrorist organizations engaged in massacres to drive Palestinians from their ancestral lands and murdered British officials who were responsible for governing the territory. Israeli encroachment on Palestinian lands has continued to the present day.
But Clinton framed the conflict entirely along the propaganda lines of the Israeli government: “Remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people. And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza. So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.”
So, Clinton made clear – both at the debate and in her recent AIPAC speech – that she is fully in line with the neocon reverence for Israel and eager to take out any government or group that Israel puts on its enemies list. While waxing rhapsodic about the U.S.-Israeli relationship – promising to take it “to the next level” – Clinton vows to challenge Syria, Iran, Russia and other countries that have resisted or obstructed the neocon/Israeli “wish list” for “regime change.”
In response to Clinton’s Israel-pandering, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who once worked on an Israeli kibbutz as a young man, did the unthinkable in American politics. He called out Clinton for her double standards on Israel-Palestine and suggested that Netanyahu may not be the greatest man on earth.
“You gave a major speech to AIPAC,” Sanders said, “and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. … All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue. … There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”
But in Hillary Clinton’s mind, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is essentially one-sided. During her speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last month, she depicted Israel as entirely an innocent victim in the Mideast conflicts.
“As we gather here, three evolving threats — Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to de-legitimize Israel on the world stage — are converging to make the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever,” she declared.
“The United States and Israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever and more determined than ever to prevail against our common adversaries and to advance our shared values. … This is especially true at a time when Israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home. Parents worry about letting their children walk down the street. Families live in fear.”
Yet, Clinton made no reference to Palestinian parents who worry about their children walking down the street or playing on a beach and facing the possibility of sudden death from an Israeli drone or warplane. Instead, she scolded Palestinian adults. “Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families,” she said.
Then, Clinton promised to put her future administration at the service of the Israeli government. Clinton said, “One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House. And I will send a delegation from the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs to Israel for early consultations. Let’s also expand our collaboration beyond security.”
In selling her neocon policies to the American public, Clinton puts the military aspects in pleasing phrases, like “safe zones” and “no-fly zones.” Yet, what she means by that is that as President she will invade Syria and push “regime change,” following much the same course that she used to persuade a reluctant President Obama to invade Libya in 2011.
The Libyan operation was sold as a “humanitarian” mission to protect innocent civilians though Gaddafi was targeting Islamic militants much as he claimed at the time and was not engaging in any mass slaughter of civilians. Clinton also knew that the European allies, such as France, had less than noble motives in wanting to take out Gaddafi.
As Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal explained to her, the French were concerned that Gaddafi was working to develop a pan-African currency which would have given Francophone African countries greater freedom from their former colonial master and would undermine French economic dominance of those ex-colonies.
In an April 2, 2011 email, Blumenthal informed Clinton that sources close to one of Gaddafi sons reported that Gaddafi’s government had accumulated 143 tons of gold and a similar amount of silver that “was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency” that would be an alternative to the French franc.
Blumenthal added that “this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.” Sarkozy also wanted a greater share of Libya’s oil production and to increase French influence in North Africa, Blumenthal wrote.
But few Americans would rally to a war fought to keep North Africa under France’s thumb. So, the winning approach was to demonize Gaddafi with salacious rumors about him giving Viagra to his troops so they could rape more, a ludicrous allegation that was raised by then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who also claimed that Gaddafi’s snipers were intentionally shooting children.
With Americans fed a steady diet of such crude propaganda, there was little serious debate about the wisdom of Clinton’s Libyan “regime change.” Meanwhile, other emails show that Clinton’s advisers were contemplating how to exploit Gaddafi’s overthrow as the dramatic moment to declare a “Clinton Doctrine” built on using “smart power.”
On Oct. 20, 2011, when U.S.-backed rebels captured Gaddafi, sodomized him with a knife and then murdered him, Secretary of State Clinton couldn’t contain her glee. Paraphrasing a famous Julius Caesar quote, she declared about Gaddafi, “we came, we saw, he died.”
But this U.S.-organized “regime change” quickly turned sour as old tribal rivalries, which Gaddafi had contained, were unleashed. Plus, it turned out that Gaddafi’s warnings that many of the rebels were Islamic militants turned out to be true. On Sept. 11, 2012, one extremist militia overran the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Soon, Libya slid into anarchy and Western nations abandoned their embassies in Tripoli. President Obama now terms the Libyan fiasco the biggest mistake of his presidency. But Clinton refuses to be chastened by the debacle, much as she appeared to learn nothing from her support for the Iraq invasion in 2003.
The Libyan Mirage
During Thursday’s debate – instead of joining Obama in recognition of the Libyan failure – Clinton acted as if she had overseen some glowing success: “Well, let me say I think we did a great deal to help the Libyan people after Gaddafi’s demise. … We helped them hold two successful elections, something that is not easy, which they did very well because they had a pent-up desire to try to chart their own future after 42 years of dictatorship. I was very proud of that. …
“We also worked to help them set up their government. We sent a lot of American experts there. We offered to help them secure their borders, to train a new military. They, at the end, when it came to security issues, … did not want troops from any other country, not just us, European or other countries, in Libya.
“And so we were caught in a very difficult position. They could not provide security on their own, which we could see and we told them that, but they didn’t want to have others helping to provide that security. And the result has been a clash between different parts of the country, terrorists taking up some locations in the country.”
But that is exactly the point. Like the earlier neocon-driven “regime change” in Iraq, the “regime change” obsession blinds the neocons from recognizing that not only are these operations violations of basic international law regarding sovereignty of other nations but the invasions unleash powerful internal rivalries that neocons, who know little about the inner workings of these countries, soon find they can’t control.
Yet, America’s neocons are so arrogant and so influential that they simply move from one catastrophe to the next like a swarm of locust spreading chaos and death around the globe. They also adapt readily to changes in the political climate.
That’s why some savvy neocons, such as the Brookings Institution’s Robert Kagan, have endorsed Clinton, who The New York Times reported has become “the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes.”
Kagan told the Times, “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy. If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”
Now with Clinton’s election seemingly within reach, the neocons are even more excited about how they can get back to work achieving Syrian “regime change,” overturning Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, and – what is becoming their ultimate goal – destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia and seeking “regime change” in Moscow.
After all, by helping Assad bring some stability to Syria and assisting Obama in securing the Iranian nuclear deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin has become what the neocons view as the linchpin of resistance to their “regime change” goals. Pull Putin down, the thinking goes, and the neocons can resume checking off their to-do list of Israel’s adversaries: Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.
And what could possibly go wrong by destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia and forcing some disruptive “regime change”?
By making Russia’s economy scream and instigating a Maidan-style revolt in Moscow’s Red Square, the neocons see their geopolitical path being cleared, but what they don’t take into account is that the likely successor to Putin would not be some malleable drunk like the late Russian President Boris Yeltsin but, far more likely, a hardline nationalist who might be a lot more careless with the nuclear codes than Putin.
But, hey, when has a neocon “regime change” scheme veered off into a dangerous and unanticipated direction?
A Neocon True-Believer
In Thursday’s debate, Hillary Clinton showed how much she has become a neocon true-believer. Despite the catastrophic “regime changes” in Iraq and Libya, she vowed to invade Syria, although she dresses up that reality in pretty phrases like “safe zones” and “no-fly zones.” She also revived the idea of increasing the flow of weapons to “moderate” rebels although they, in reality, mostly fight under the command umbrella of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
Clinton also suggested that the Syria mess can be blamed on President Obama’s rejection of her recommendations in 2011 to authorize a more direct U.S. military intervention. “Nobody stood up to Assad and removed him,” Clinton said, “and we have had a far greater disaster in Syria than we are currently dealing with right now in Libya.”
In other words, Clinton still harbors the “regime change” goal in Syria. But the problem always was that the anti-Assad forces were penetrated by Al Qaeda and what is now called the Islamic State. The more likely result from Clinton’s goal of removing Assad would be the collapse of the Syrian security forces and a victory for Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and/or the Islamic State.
If that were to happen, the horrific situation in Syria would become cataclysmic. Millions of Syrians – Alawites, Shiites, Christians, secularists and other “infidels” – would have to flee the beheading swords of these terror groups. That might well force a full-scale U.S. and European invasion of Syria with the bloody outcome probably similar to the disastrous Iraq War.
The only reasonable hope for Syria is for the Assad regime and the less radical Sunni oppositionists to work out some power-sharing agreement, stabilize most of the country, neutralize to some degree the jihadists, and then hold elections, letting the Syrian people decide whether “Assad must go!” – not the U.S. government. But that’s not what Clinton wants.
Perhaps even more dangerous, Clinton’s bellicose rhetoric suggests that she would eagerly move into a dangerous Cold War confrontation with Russia under the upside-down propaganda theme blaming tensions in Eastern Europe on “Russian aggression,” not NATO’s expansion up to Russia’s borders and the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014 which ousted an elected president and touched off a civil war.
That coup, which followed neocon fury at Putin for his helping Obama avert U.S. bombing campaigns against Syria and Iran, was largely orchestrated by neocons associated with the U.S. government, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland (Robert Kagan’s wife), Sen. John McCain and National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman.
After the violent coup, when the people of Crimea voted by 96 percent to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, the U.S. government and Western media deemed that a “Russian invasion” and when ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine rose up in resistance to the new authorities in Kiev that became “Russian aggression.”
NATO on the Move
Though President Obama should know better – and I’m told that he does know better – he has succumbed this time to pressure to go along with what he calls the Washington “playbook” of saber-rattling and militarism. NATO is moving more and more combat troops up to the Russian border while Washington has organized punishing economic sanctions aimed at disrupting the Russian economy.
Hillary Clinton appears fully onboard with the neocon goal of grabbing the Big Enchilada, “regime change” in Moscow. Rather than seeing the world as it is, she continues to look through the wrong end of the telescope in line with all the anti-Russian propaganda and the demonization of Putin, whom Clinton has compared to Hitler.
Supporting NATO’s military buildup on Russia’s border, Clinton said, “With Russia being more aggressive, making all kinds of intimidating moves toward the Baltic countries, we’ve seen what they’ve done in eastern Ukraine, we know how they want to rewrite the map of Europe, it is not in our interests [to reduce U.S. support for NATO]. Think of how much it would cost if Russia’s aggression were not deterred because NATO was there on the front lines making it clear they could not move forward.”
Though Clinton’s anti-Russian delusions are shared by many powerful people in Official Washington, they are no more accurate than the other claims about Iraq’s WMD, Gaddafi passing out Viagra to his troops, the humanitarian need to invade Syria, the craziness about Iran being the principal source of terrorism (when it is the Saudis, the Qataris, the Turks and other Sunni powers that have bred Al Qaeda and the Islamic State), and the notion that the Palestinians are the ones picking on the Israelis, not the other way around.
However, Clinton’s buying into the neocon propaganda about Russia may be the most dangerous – arguably existential – threat that a Clinton presidency would present to the world. Yes, she may launch U.S. military strikes against the Syrian government (which could open the gates of Damascus to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State); yes, she might push Iran into renouncing the nuclear agreement (and putting the Israeli/neocon goal to bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran back on the table); yes, she might make Obama’s progressive critics long for his more temperate presidency.
But Clinton’s potential escalation of the new Cold War with Russia could be both the most costly and conceivably the most suicidal feature of a Clinton-45 presidency. Unlike her times as Secretary of State, when Obama could block her militaristic schemes, there will be no one to stop her if she is elected President, surrounded by likeminded neocon advisers.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
America’s history shows trustworthiness isn’t its long suit, treaties and other deals agreed to systematically violated – culpability ignored or counterparties wrongfully blamed for its breaches.
After last year’s nuclear deal was consummated, Obama lied, saying “(h)istory shows that America must lead not just with our might, but with our principles. It shows we are stronger not when we are alone, but when we bring the world together.”
According to a complaint filed last August with the IAEA, Iran said Washington breached nuclear deal principles straightaway – three days after the deal was reached.
At the time, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said “(t)he military option… remain(s) on the table…enhanced because we’ve been spending (past) years gathering significantly more (intelligence) about Iran’s nuclear program.”
Tehran said this threat to use military force preemptively without just cause constitutes a “material breach of the commitments just undertaken.”
The agreement was never meant to be a vehicle to facilitate US spying on the Islamic Republic.
Iran “(r)ecall(ed) past instances, in which highly confidential information provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Agency inspectors had been leaked, posing a grave threat to the national security of Iran… it is absolutely essential and imperative for the Agency to take immediate and urgent action to reject such flagrant abuses,” a statement said.
Washington used the nuclear deal to justify expanding its regional military footprint, increase aid to Israel and sell billions of dollars more weapons to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
On Friday, Iranian central bank head Valiollah Seif accused US-led Western countries of locking Tehran out of the international financial system, another flagrant deal breach with likely more coming.
According to Seif, Western nuclear deal counterparties have done “almost nothing” to live up to provisions agreed on.
“(W)e are not able to use our frozen funds abroad.” Unless resolved, the deal “breaks up on its own terms,” he said without further elaboration.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest lied, claiming “(t)he United States, along with the rest of the international community, is committed to living up to our end of the bargain” – at the same time saying Washington has no intention of giving Tehran access to America’s financial system.
State Department spokesman admiral John Kirby compounded the Big Lie, claiming Washington fulfilled its part of the deal.
“There is no need to do more when we have met all of our commitments,” he disingenuously claimed.
It’s well known Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful with no military component and no known intention to have one.
Washington’s concerns otherwise were and remain red herring cover for its real aim – regime change, replacing Iran’s sovereign independence with puppet governance it controls.
Longstanding US hostility persists. Normalization remains unattainable as long as neocons infesting Washington, Israel and AIPAC reject it.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
The parliamentary Syrian elections taking place in Syria this week prove once more the indomitable resilience of the Syrian people, who are resisting one of the most brutal neo-colonial wars in modern history. Since foreign backed, unknown snipers opened fire on protesters and police on the 17th of March in the city of Daraa, the people of Syria have been defending their country from an armed invasion of brutal, and drugged, Takfiri death squad – all financed by Israel, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and NATO.
The objective of the terrorist invasion of Syria is to conquer the country, by pitching Sunni fanatics against their Shia and Christian brethren. The broader goal of NATO’s genocidal war is to balkanize the proud, multi-cultural and highly united, Arab nationalist states. This strategy of chaos is being carried out in accordance with Israel’s geopolitical objectives in the Middle East, which requires breaking up and destroying all Arab nations contiguous to Israel; this ensures the regional and global supremacy of the Jewish State. It is a long and dirty war, one which could drag on for several decades.
Zionism’s plans for the region are incontrovertibly demonstrated by two documents in particular: the 1982 paper published by the Israeli government official Oded Yinon entitled ‘A Strategy For Israel in the 1980s’, and the 1996 US neo-con document ‘A Clean Break: a New Strategy for Securing the Realm’. Both these testaments prove that Israel intends to destroy all countries who refuse to submit to Zionism’s regional hegemony. Syria has always been at the forefront of anti-Zionist resistance.
The elections today prove to the world once more that Syria is a democracy, and that it is far more democratic than any of the countries waging war against it. The will of its people is sovereign, inalienable and inviolable. Most importantly, the elections cogently illustrate the triumph of national liberation over neocolonialism, of people-power over tyranny.
There are well-intentioned youths in Paris demonstrating for democracy against anti-popular legislation and the power of money over politics. But these youths have no understanding of the real reasons why their liberties and social security are being stolen from them. They have no idea of the genocide the French and American governments are orchestrating throughout the Southern Hemisphere nations of this planet. They have no idea that they are being led by the same ‘intellectuals‘ who support this colonial war against Syria.
If the ‘nuit debout’ democracy movement in Paris is to become radical, to demand real social change, it will be that moment when they wave in solidarity the flags of the Syrian Arab Republic in Place de la Republique, and proclaim that Syria is a democracy and that the French people must call for ‘regime change’ here and not in Damascus. Until people understand who the real tyrants are, there will be neither peace nor justice in the world.
Fifteen of the 9/11 “hijackers” from Saudi Arabia were CIA agents working for the United States government , which was seeking to destroy the Middle East for Israel and to double the American military budget, says Dr. Kevin Barrett, an American academic who has been studying the events of 9/11 since late 2003.
Dr. Barrett, a founding member of the Scientific Panel for the Investigation of 9/11, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Wednesday, after a number of US lawmakers called on the White House to declassify documents that shed light on Saudi Arabia’s possible complicity in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The former congressmen say the 28-page classified document proves two Saudi nationals who were behind the 9/11 attacks received support and assistance from Riyadh while in the United States.
“It appears that Release the 28 Pages movement has succeeded or at least it is on the brink of success. We heard on Monday from an Obama administration source that the president is planning to finish the review process, presumably meaning he would be declassifying these pages before the end of his presidency,” Dr. Barrett said.
“And now this is Wednesday, and Nancy Pelosi has called for releasing the 28 pages. It does appear that it actually is quite likely to happen very soon. This is fascinating news. It will certainly cause more issues in the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, because it appears the 28 pages primarily focus on the support from Saudi ruling circles for some of the alleged 19 hijackers, who were in fact falsely blamed for the crimes of September 11, 2001,” he added.
“The real issue here is whether this will end up prying open the entire case of 9/11 or whether it could become a sort of a limited hang-out. It could be simply used to channel popular anger against the government of Saudi Arabia, perhaps create a little more distance in the US-Saudi relationship, but not really change anything,” he stated.
“And that would be a tragedy, because we need to reopen the entire 9/11 case. The actual relationship between the Saudis and 9/11 is certainly not one of having this Saudi ruling family completely controlling the 9/11 attacks and in charge of the plot; that’s ridiculous. Saudi Arabia is a US puppet state.”
15 Saudi men were ‘patsies’
“We know that the 15 hijackers who were Saudis, the alleged hijackers, because they were not on those planes – not one of the 19 hijackers, or any Arabs, were on any of the four planes, according to the passenger list, and according to all of the evidence that would be there if they were on the planes, but has not been produced,” Dr. Barrett said.
“So these 15 Saudi patsies, who were set up to take the blame for 9/11, were in fact CIA agents. We know this – I had this confirmed directly by a CIA source that these 15 Saudis entered, and repeatedly reentered on these supposedly – they call them employment visas, but there’s a special number for employment visas that are only given to CIA assets as a reward for their service to the Central Intelligence Agency, and this visa allows them to come to the US. Typically they’re paid for their work for the CIA in Saudi Arabia, and then they are given this special kind of visa which is disguised as an employment visa but it’s a of particular type,” he stated.
“And all 15 of these guys had that visa. That shows that they were in fact Central Intelligence Agency agents. Some of them were living with FBI people in California. So these 15 Saudis were not working against the United States government, they were working for the United States government, and they were set up so that Saudi Arabia could be potentially blamed for the September 11 attacks, which were actually perpetrated by Israel and its American assets,” he pointed out.
“The purpose was to make sure that Saudi Arabia didn’t leave the American orbit, as the king had threatened in August of 2001. Similarly Pakistan was also set up. The ISI chief was tricked, ordered, or whatever into sending money to Muhammad Atta. And then that was broadcast in an Indian newspaper. Pakistan likewise was threatening to leave the American orbit in 2001,” he said.
“Now the Zionist dominated imperial apparatus here in the United States didn’t want nuclear Pakistan, and oil-rich Saudi Arabia to become independent countries. So, it used 9/11 to herd them back into the imperial orbit, among other things,” the scholar observed.
What was chief purpose of 9/11?
“But of course the chief purpose of 9/11 was to destroy the seven countries in five years that General [Wesley] Clark talked about, that were enemies or threats to Israel. Will this full truth come out thanks to the release of these 28 pages, which could lead to the reopening of the 9/11 case?” Dr. Barrett said.
“Well if it reopens the fact that Building 7 – the most obvious demolition in New York was Building 7, but the Twin Towers as well were controlled demolitions. There were no hijackers on any of these planes, not one Arab name on any of these planes. Not one shred of evidence that any of them were on the planes,” he said.
“If these facts actually come out and we learn that September 11th was a cover and deception operation by Israel and its American assets, and that includes sort of quasi assets like [George W.] Bush, [Dick] Cheney, and [Donald] Rumsfeld, and so on, and it was designed as a New Pearl Harbor, designed not only to destroy the Middle East for Greater Israel but also to double the American military budget, and invigorate the American empire – well, it ended up killing the American empire,” he stated.
“It certainly did help Israel; they destroyed all of its neighbors, virtually. But the United States is now in terrible shape. In order to turn America around, we really need Donald Trump to keep his promise to reveal to the people who really knocked down the Twin Towers, and it was the Zionists,” the analyst noted.
“Once we learn that, we may be in a position to radically revamp the power structure here in the United States, taking it away from the Zionist dominated corporate structure — the banking, the investment industry, and the media apparatus — and take America back for the American people, end the American empire, and usher in a new multi-polar era of peace,” Dr. Barrett concluded.
From left to right a raucous chorus has emerged to denounce Republican Presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump as a ‘fascist’. They cite his campaign promises to build an Israeli-style wall along the US border; his threats to expel eleven million undocumented immigrants; and to restrict foreign Muslims from entering the US, as well as the way his pugnacious face and arm resemble those of Benito Mussolini (‘he juts out his chin, he raises his arm’). They decry his extreme nationalism as ‘resembling Hitler’s policy’, by which they mean his opposition to detrimental free trade agreements and his slogan to “Make America Great… Again.”
In this article I will critically address the current cartoonish image of fascism with fascism’s historical reality, and then proceed to analyze the so-called “lesser evil” politics behind the re-invention of an American fascist in the guise of billionaire Donald Trump.
Fascism: Fact and Fiction
Historically, fascist politics involved organized mass movements, armed militia and paramilitary groups who assaulted political opponents and violently censored critical speech and suppressed the right to assemble. Fascists scapegoated minorities, especially Roma and Jews, and burned trade unions and leftist headquarters, assassinating their leaders and beating their members. Programmatically, they attacked pacifists and defended overseas wars and empires in the name of ‘living space’. Evoking a past imperial glory, they were not ‘isolationists’.
Candidate Trump has not organized anything resembling a mass movement, let alone an armed militia. There are no ‘Trumpeting Brown Shirts’. At most, the police and a handful of his (often elderly) white supporters have punched a few KKK-dressed provocateurs who have physically disrupted and threatened Trump’s public meetings and his exercise of free speech. In fact, the ‘fascist’ disruption of democratic freedoms seems to be mostly organized and practiced by his political rivals.
Trump, far from scapegoating the powerful Jewish minority in this country, gave a shamelessly Israel-centric speech and received a standing ovation from nearly 18,000 mostly prominent Jews at the March 2016 meeting of the major pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC).
His rhetoric, concerning the expulsion of 11 million undocumented workers from Mexico and Central America and the building of a border wall, is a far cry from the practice of imprisoning and violently expelling over two million undocumented Latinos under the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton regimes. At its worst, Trump promises to continue the existing federal policy on immigration and not create a ‘fascist’ rupture with past administrations. Is a ‘rhetorical cement wall’ worse than the real wall of armed border police, helicopters and armed carriers that have operated under the Presidencies of Clinton – Bush – Obama/Clinton with its hundreds of migrant deaths in the desert? Are declarations of a repressive immigration policy more ‘fascist’ coming from Trump’s loud mouth than the actual official practice of violently seizing undocumented workers from their homes and workplaces with long-term imprisonment and expulsion? Expelling youth, raised and educated in this country, or violently splitting up productive, well-integrated families and imprisoning their main breadwinners for lack of documents…that’s the official policy of the current and past three administrations.
There is far less of the truly fascist embrace of pre-emptive war and invasion in Trump’s speeches than in the actual policies pursued by the Clinton-Bush-Obama/Clinton regimes. In fact, among Trump’s numerous critics, especially his Republican rivals and the Hillary Clinton camp, we hear the loudest denunciations of his non-interventionist foreign policy (isolationism), which is “out of line” with the interventionist, overseas wars of current and past Republican and Democratic administrations. Trump’s critics and media pundits are ‘horror-struck’ at his apparent willingness to co-operate with Russian President Putin against common enemies, such as ISIS. Is his pragmatic regard of Russia more or less fascist than his rivals’ support for the Ukrainian putsch, orchestrated by the Obama regime in alliance with bona fide armed anti-Semitic Ukrainian fascists? His calls to dump NATO as an expensive drain on US treasure and manpower have the elite howling in outrage!
The propagandists, who paint Trump as a modern American fascist, cite his crude sexist remarks as ‘examples of a misogynist totalitarian’ while pointing favorably to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as potentially the ‘first feminist President’. In regard to his alleged misogyny, ‘the Donald’ pointed to Madame First Lady, Senator and Secretary Clinton’s promotion and critical role in US wars against Libya, Iraq and Syria where well over one million women have been rendered refugees, raped, injured or killed. Which is worse, one may ask: Crude locker room jokes or millions of orphaned boys and girls denied parents, homes, education and any future in the Middle East and North Africa? That is the world Midwife Hillary Clinton had helped to deliver.
Misogyny is the in the eye of the deceiver.
Are Trump’s verbal attacks on the practice of US multi-nationals relocating abroad to avoid US taxes and Wall Street financial houses hiding billions of the US elites’ obscene wealth in offshore tax shelters, more detrimental to ‘American values’ (as charged) than Hillary Clinton’s pandering to Wall Street while pocketing over $300,000 for each 45 minute sycophantic performance (marketed as her ‘policy lectures’), or her decades of actively promoting globalization – including the US job-destroying NAFTA?
Clearly Trump currently lacks program, organization and practice that define a fascist politician. At the very worst, he parrots the general line of attack against immigrants and Muslims. So far he would just bar them from the US but not bomb them ‘to the stone-age’. This should be contrasted with the actual policies carried out by the war-criminals Clinton/Bush/Obama-Clinton. It would be hard for Donald to ‘trump’ Hillary when she threatened to ‘obliterate Iran’ and its scores of millions of citizens because of Iran’s fictitious ‘nuclear program’.
On the other hand, Trump’s own meetings and rallies have been the victim of repeated disruption by organized groups acting like fascist thugs. Role reversal in real life: Trump, the target of rabid sustained mass media attacks, is pronounced the fascist …
Bashing Trump: Backdoor Backing of Hillary the Militarist Psychopath
If the objective case for labeling Trump ‘a fascist’ is weak or non-existent, why do so many prestigious academics and journalists play this stupid game of name-calling?
The commonsense explanation of their ruffled bluster is because they are setting up ‘Trump-the-Straw-Dragon’ in order to promote the poisonous Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton as the ‘lesser evil candidate’ for President of the United States.
No serious observer minimally aware of Clinton’s carnal embrace of multiple simultaneous disastrous and destructive wars in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Libya, could possibly support her – unless if they are convinced that a greater danger looms on the horizon and “we have to defeat fascist Trump at all cost”? No serious democrat or wage and salaried employee can ignore Madame Clinton’s role as Wall Street’s most shameless pimp unless they ‘believe’ that a loud-mouth New York ‘fascist is worse than Wall Street’.
The phony scaremongering about Trump’s “fascism” just serves to cover up Clinton’s most servile promotion of traitorous wars for the benefit of Israel. One should envision the thousands of desperate Syrian refugees clinging to decrepit boats in the Mediterranean when reading excerpts of Clinton’s private e-mails: According to WikiLeaks, Hillary declared that “the best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability (sic) is to help (sic) the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. … The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies”. Not a bad thing for Israel – but a cruel and criminal policy against a sovereign nation and multi-ethnic society. Madame Clinton followed through with these demented pronouncements, which can only be viewed as genocidal! Clinton promoted the most violent proxy war, uprooting over half of the civilian population of Syria and killing hundreds of thousands, while shredding a sovereign nation. She thus pandered to her Israeli mentors and Pluto-Zionist funders.
To justify backing a serial war monger, a US Secretary of State who has served Israel’s interests, and a politician who has carnalized her ‘feminist principles’ with Wall Street billionaires, Hillary Clinton’s smarmy supporters have had to invent an opponent who is even worse: Creating and then denouncing “Trump the Fascist” serves as a backdoor justification for supporting a proven political psychopath!
The Democratic Party establishment seems determined to drag Hillary Clinton’s listless campaign across the finish line of her race with Bernie Sanders and then count on Republican divisions to give her a path to the White House. But – if she gets there – the world should hold its breath.
If Clinton becomes President, she will be surrounded by a neocon-dominated American foreign policy establishment that will press her to resume its “regime change” strategies in the Middle East and escalate its new and dangerous Cold War against Russia.
If Bashar al-Assad is still president of Syria, there will be demands that she finally go for the knock-out blow; there will pressure, too, for her to ratchet up sanctions on Iran pushing Tehran toward renouncing the nuclear agreement; there are already calls for deploying more U.S. troops on Russia’s border and integrating Ukraine into the NATO military structure.
President Clinton-45 would hear the clever talking points justifying these moves, the swaggering tough-guy/gal rhetoric, and the tear-jerking propaganda about evil enemies throwing babies off incubators, giving Viagra to soldiers to rape more women, and committing horrific crimes (some real but many imagined) against defenseless innocents.
Does anyone think that Hillary Clinton has the wisdom to resist these siren songs of confrontation and war, even if she were inclined to?
President Barack Obama, who – for all his faults – has a much deeper and subtler intellect than Hillary Clinton, found himself so battered by these pressures from the militaristic Washington “playbook” that he whined about his predicament to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, himself a neocon war hawk.
The Washington foreign policy establishment is now so profoundly in the hands of the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” sidekicks that the sitting President presumably couldn’t find anyone but a neocon to give those interviews to, even as he complained about how the U.S. capital is in the hands of warmongers.
Given this neocon domination of U.S. foreign policy – especially in the State Department bureaucracy, the major media and the big think tanks – Clinton will be buffeted by hawkish demands and plans both from outside of her administration and from within.
Already key neocons, such as the Brookings Institution’s Robert Kagan, are signaling that they expect to have substantial influence over Clinton’s foreign policy. Kagan, who has repackaged himself as a “liberal interventionist,” threw his support to Clinton, who put him on a State Department advisory board.
There is also talk in Washington that Kagan’s neocon wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, another Clinton favorite and the architect of the “regime change” in Ukraine, would be in line for a top foreign policy job in a Clinton-45 administration.
Neocons Back in Charge
So, Clinton’s election could mean that some of the most dangerous people in American foreign policy would be whispering their schemes for war and more war directly into her ear – and her record shows that she is very susceptible to such guidance.
At every turn, as a U.S. senator and as Secretary of State, Clinton has opted for “regime change” solutions – from the Iraq invasion in 2003 to the Honduras coup in 2009 to the Libyan air war in 2011 to the Syria civil war since 2011 – or she has advocated for the escalation of conflicts, such as in Afghanistan and with Iran, rather than engaging in reasonable give-and-take negotiations.
Though her backers tout her experience as Secretary of State, the reality was that she repeatedly disdained genuine diplomacy and was constantly hectoring President Obama into adopting the most violent and confrontational options.
He sometimes did (the Afghan “surge,” the Libyan war, the Iran nuclear stand-off) but he sometimes didn’t (reversing the Afghan escalation, finally negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran after Clinton left, rejecting a direct U.S. military assault on the Syrian government, and working at times with the Russians on Iran and Syria).
In other words, Obama acted as a register or brake restraining Clinton’s hawkishness. With Clinton as the President, however, she would have no such restraints. One could expect her to endorse many if not all the harebrained neocon schemes, much as President George W. Bush did when his neocon advisers exploited his fear and fury over 9/11 to guide him into their “regime change” agenda for the Middle East.
The neocons have never given up their dreams of overthrowing Mideast governments that Israel has put on its enemies list. Iraq was only the first. To follow were Syria and Iran with the idea that by installing pro-Israeli leaders in those countries, Israel’s close-in enemies – Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups – could be isolated and crushed.
After Bush’s Iraq invasion in 2003, Washington’s neocons were joking about whether Iran or Syria should come next, with the punch line: “Real men go to Tehran!” But the Iraq War wasn’t the “cakewalk” that the neocons had predicted. Instead of throwing flowers at the U.S. troops, Iraqis planted IEDs.
As it turned out, a lot of “real men” and “real women” – as well as “real children” – died in Iraq, including nearly 4,500 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
So the neocon timetable took a hit but, in their view, only because of Bush’s incompetent follow-through on Iraq. If not for the botched occupation, the neocons felt they could have continued rolling up other troublesome regimes, one after another.
Professionally, the neocons also escaped the Iraq disaster largely unscathed, continuing to dominate Washington’s think tanks and the op-ed pages of major American news outlets such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Barely missing a beat, they set about planning for the longer haul.
An Obama Mistake
Although they lost the White House in 2008, the neocons caught a break when President-elect Obama opted for a Lincoln-esque “team of rivals” on foreign policy. Instead of reaching out to Washington’s marginalized (and aging) foreign policy “realists,” Obama looked to the roster of the neocon-dominated establishment.
Obama recruited his hawkish Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, to be Secretary of State and kept Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Obama also left in place most of Bush’s military high command, including neocon favorite, General David Petraeus.
Obama’s naïve management strategy let the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” pals consolidate their bureaucratic control of Washington’s foreign policy bureaucracy, even though the President favored a more “realist” approach that would use America’s power more judiciously — and he was less enthralled to Israel’s right-wing government.
The behind-the-scenes neocon influence became especially pronounced at Clinton’s State Department where she tapped the likes of Nuland, a neocon ideologue and an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, to become the department’s spokesperson and put her on track to become Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (although the appointment wasn’t finalized until after Clinton left in 2013).
The neocon/liberal-hawk bias is now so strong inside the State Department that officials I know who have gone there reemerge as kind of “pod people” spouting arrogant talking points in support of U.S. intervention all over the world. By contrast, I find the CIA and the Pentagon to be places of relative realism and restraint.
Perhaps the best example of this “pod people” phenomenon was Sen. John Kerry, who replaced Clinton as Secretary of State and suddenly became the mouthpiece for the bureaucracy’s most extreme war-like rhetoric.
For instance, Kerry advocated a retaliatory bombing campaign against Syria’s military in August 2013, ignoring the intelligence community’s doubts about whether President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was responsible for a sarin-gas attack outside Damascus.
Instead of listening to the intelligence analysts, Kerry fell in line behind the neocon-driven “group think” pinning the blame on Assad, the perfect excuse for implementing the neocons’ long-delayed Syrian “regime change.” The neocons didn’t care what the facts were — and Kerry fell in line. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What’s the Matter with John Kerry?”]
But Obama didn’t fall in line. He listened when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told him that there was no “slam dunk” evidence implicating the Syrian military. (Ultimately, the evidence would point to a provocation carried out by Islamic extremists trying to trick the U.S. military into intervening in the war on their side.)
Obama also got help from Russian President Vladimir Putin who persuaded President Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons (while Assad still denied any role in the sarin-gas attack). Putin’s assistance infuriated the neocons who soon recognized that the Obama-Putin cooperation was a profound threat to their “regime change” enterprise.
Some of the smarter neocons quickly identified Ukraine as a potential wedge that could be driven between Obama and Putin. Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, called Ukraine “the biggest prize” and a potential first step toward driving Putin from power in Russia.
It fell to Assistant Secretary of State Nuland to shepherd the Ukraine operation to fulfillment as she plotted with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt how to remove Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Nuland and Pyatt were caught in an intercepted phone call discussing who should take over.
“Yats is the guy,” Nuland said referring to Arseniy Yatsenyuk who indeed would become the new prime minister. Nuland and Pyatt then exchanged ideas how to “glue this thing” and how to “midwife this thing.” This “thing” became the bloody Feb. 22, 2014 coup ousting elected President Yanukovych and touching off a civil war between Ukrainian “nationalists” from the west and Ukraine’s ethnic Russians in the east.
As the “nationalists,” some of them openly neo-Nazis, inflicted atrocities on ethnic Russians, Crimea voted by 96 percent to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia. Resistance to the new Kiev regime also arose in the eastern Donbas region.
To the State Department – and the mainstream U.S. news media – this conflict was all explained as “Russian aggression” against Ukraine and a “Russian invasion” of Crimea (although Russian troops were already in Crimea as part of the Sevastopol naval base agreement). But All the Important People agreed that the Crimean referendum was a “sham” (although many polls have since confirmed the results).
When citizen Clinton weighed in on the Ukraine crisis, she compared Russian President Putin to Hitler.
So, today the neocon/liberal-hawk Washington “playbook” – as Obama would call it – calls for massing more and more U.S. troops and NATO weapons systems on Russia’s border to deter Putin’s “aggression.”
These tough guys and gals also vow to ignore Russia’s warnings against what it views as military threats to its existence. Apparently “real, real men” go to Moscow (perhaps riding a nuclear bomb like the famous seen from “Dr. Strangelove.”).
Ian Joseph Brzezinski, a State Department official under President George W. Bush and now a foreign policy expert for the Atlantic Council, a NATO think tank, has co-authored an article urging NATO to incorporate Ukrainian army units into its expansion of military operations along Russia’s border.
“High-level Ukrainian national security officials have urged the international community to be bolder in its response to Russia’s provocative military actions,” wrote Brzezinski (son of old Cold Warrior Zbigniew Brzezinski) and Ukrainian co-author Markian Bilynskyj.
“The deployment of a battle tested, Ukrainian infantry company or larger unit to reinforce the defense of NATO territory in Central Europe would be a positive contribution to the Alliance force posture in the region.”
Following the Playbook
This kind of tough-talking jargon is what the next President, whoever he or she is, can expect from Official Washington. From Obama’s interview in The Atlantic, it’s clear that he feels surrounded and embattled by these warmongering forces but takes some pride in resisting – from time to time – the Washington “playbook.”
But how would President Hillary Clinton respond? When she appeared before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on March 21 – at a moment when it appeared she had all but nailed down the Democratic nomination – Clinton showed what you might call her true colors, fawning over how loyal she would be to Israel and promising to take the very cozy relationship between the U.S. and Israel “to the next level.”
By reviewing Clinton’s public record, one could reasonably conclude that she is herself a neocon, both in her devotion to Israel and her proclivity toward “regime change” solutions. She also follows the neocon lead in demonizing any foreign leader who gets in their way. But even if she isn’t a full-fledged neocon, she often bends to their demands.
The one possible deviation from this pattern is Clinton’s personal friendship with longtime adviser Sidney Blumenthal, who was an early critic of the neoconservatives as they emerged as a powerful force during the Reagan administration. Blumenthal and his son Max have also dared criticize Israel’s abusive treatment of the Palestinians.
However, the Israel Lobby appears to be taking no chances that Sidney Blumenthal’s voice might be heard during a Clinton-45 administration. Last month, a pro-Zionist group, The World Values Network, bought a full-page ad in The New York Times to attack Blumenthal and his son and declared that “Hillary Clinton must disavow her anti-Israel advisors.”
Though Clinton might not publicly disassociate herself from Sidney Blumenthal, the preemptive strike pushed him further toward the margins and helped clear the path for the Kagan/Nuland faction to rush to the center of Clinton’s foreign policy.
Indeed, Clinton’s primary focus if she gets elected is likely to be ensuring that she gets reelected. As a traditional politician, she would think that the way to achieve reelection is to stay on the good side of the Israeli leadership. Along those lines, she promised AIPAC that, as President, she would immediately invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.
So, what would happen if Clinton takes the U.S.-Israeli relationship “to the next level”? Presumably that would mean taking a super-hard line against Iran over last year’s nuclear deal. Yet, already Iran is questioning whether its acceptance of extraordinary constraints on its nuclear program was worth it, given the U.S. unwillingness to grant meaningful relief on economic sanctions.
A belligerent Clinton approach – decrying Iran’s behavior and imposing new sanctions – would strengthen Iran’s hard-line faction internally and might well lead to Iran renouncing the agreement on the grounds of American bad faith. That, of course, would please the neocons and Netanyahu by putting the “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” option back in play.
A Stunning Reversal
Clinton may have viewed her AIPAC speech as the beginning of her long-awaited “pivot to the center,” but afterwards she suffered a string of primary and caucus defeats at the hands of Sen. Bernie Sanders, most by landslide margins.
Besides those stunning defeats, Clinton’s campaign clearly has an “enthusiasm gap.” Sanders, the 74-year-old “democratic socialist” from Vermont, draws huge and excited crowds and wins younger voters by staggering percentages. Meanwhile, Clinton confronts polls showing high negatives and extraordinary public distrust.
If she gets the Democratic nomination, she may have little choice but to engage in a fiercely negative campaign since — faced with the lack of voter enthusiasm — her best chance of winning is to so demonize her Republican opponent that Democrats and independents will be driven to the polls out of fear of what the crazy GOP madman might do.
Right now, many Clinton supporters see her as the “safe” — not exciting — choice, a politician whose long résumé gives them comfort that she must know what’s she’s doing. African-American voters, who have been her most loyal constituency, apparently feel more comfortable with someone they’ve known (who has also served in the Obama administration) than Sanders who is unknown to many and is seen as someone whose ambitious programs appear less practical than Clinton’s small-bore ideas.
But a look behind Clinton’s résumé, especially her reliance on “regime change” and other interventionist schemes in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, might give all peace-loving voters pause. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Hillary Clinton ‘Qualified’?”]
Savvy neocons, like Robert Kagan, have long understood that Clinton could be their Trojan Horse, pulled into the White House by Democratic voters. Kagan told The New York Times, “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy. If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”
The same Times article noted that Clinton “remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes.” However, if she is that “vessel” carrying a neocon foreign policy back into the White House, this “safe” choice might prove dangerous to America and the world.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has dismissed Sen. Bernie Sanders questioning her qualifications to be President as “silly” – and looking at her résumé alone, she’d be right – but there is also the need to judge her performance in her various jobs.
What is troubling about Clinton’s record is that she has left behind a trail strewn with failures and even catastrophes. Indeed, her highest profile undertakings almost universally ended in disaster – and a person’s record should matter when voters are deciding whether to entrust him or her with the most powerful office on earth.
In other words, it’s not just a question of her holding one prestigious job or another; it’s also how well she did in those jobs. Otherwise, you have a case of the Peter Principle Squared, not just letting someone rise to the level of his or her incompetence, but in Clinton’s case, continuing to get promoted beyond her level of incompetence.
So, looking behind Clinton’s résumé is important. After all, she presents herself as the can-do candidate who will undertake small-scale reforms that may not move the needle much but are better than nothing and may be all that’s possible given the bitterly divided Congress.
But is Hillary Clinton really a can-do leader? Since she burst onto the national scene with her husband’s presidential election in 1992, she has certainly traveled a lot, given many speeches and met many national and foreign leaders – which surely has some value – but it’s hard to identify much in the way of her meaningful accomplishments.
Clinton’s most notable undertaking as First Lady was her disastrous health insurance plan that was concocted with her characteristic secrecy and then was unveiled to decidedly mixed reviews. Much of the scheme was mind-numbing in its complexity and – because of the secrecy – it lacked sufficient input from Congress where it found few enthusiastic supporters.
Not only did the plan collapse under its own weight, but it helped take many Democratic members of Congress with it, as the Republicans reversed a long era of Democratic control of the House of Representatives in 1994. Because of Hillary Clinton’s health-care disaster, a chastened Democratic Party largely took the idea of providing near-universal health-insurance coverage to Americans off the table for the next 15 years.
In Clinton’s next career as a senator from New York, her most notable action was to enthusiastically support President George W. Bush’s Iraq War. Clinton did not just vote to authorize the war in 2002, she remained a war supporter until 2006 when it became politically untenable to do so, that is, if she had any hope of winning the Democratic presidential nomination against anti-war Sen. Barack Obama.
Both in her support for the war in the early years and her politically expedient switch – along with a grudging apology for her “mistake” – Clinton showed very little courage.
When she was supporting the war, the post-9/11 wind was at Bush’s back. So Clinton joined him in riding the jingoistic wave. By 2006, the American people had turned against the war and the Republican Party was punished at the polls for it, losing control of Congress. So it was no profile-in-courage for Clinton to distance herself from Bush then.
Not Learning Lessons
Still, Clinton seemed to have learned little about the need to ask probing questions of Bush’s team. In November 2006, she completely misread Bush’s firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and replacing him with ex-CIA Director Robert Gates. Serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Clinton bought the conventional wisdom that Gates’s nomination meant that Bush was winding down the Iraq War despite warnings that it actually meant the opposite.
If Clinton had done any digging, she could have discovered that Rumsfeld was dumped not because of his warmongering but because he backed his field generals – George Casey and John Abizaid – who wanted to rapidly shrink the U.S. military “footprint” in Iraq. But Bush and his neocon advisers saw that as effectively an admission of defeat, so they got rid of Rumsfeld and recruited the more malleable Gates to front for their planned escalation or “surge.”
Not only did Consortiumnews.com spell out that reality in real time, but it also was explained by right-wing pundit Fred Barnes in the neocon Weekly Standard. As Barnes wrote, Gates “is not the point man for a boarding party of former national security officials from the elder President Bush’s administration taking over defense and foreign policy in his son’s administration. … Rarely has the press gotten a story so wrong.”
Barnes reported instead that the younger George Bush didn’t consult his father and only picked Gates after a two-hour face-to-face meeting at which the younger Bush got assurances that Gates was onboard with the neocon notion of “democracy promotion” in the Middle East and shared Bush’s goal of victory in Iraq. [The Weekly Standard, Nov. 27, 2006]
But the mainstream press — and much of Official Washington — loved the other storyline. A Newsweek cover pictured a large George H.W. Bush towering over a small George W. Bush. Embracing this conventional wisdom, Clinton and other Senate Armed Services Committee members brushed aside the warnings about Gates, both his troubling history at the CIA and his likely support for a war escalation.
In his 2014 memoir, Duty, Gates reflects on his 2006 nomination and how completely clueless Official Washington was. Regarding the conventional wisdom about Bush-41 taking the reins from Bush-43, Gates wrote about his recruitment by the younger Bush: “It was clear he had not consulted his father about this possible appointment and that, contrary to later speculation, Bush 41 had no role in it.”
Regarding the mainstream news media’s wrongheaded take on his nomination, Gates wrote: “There was a lot of hilarious commentary about a return to ‘41’s’ team, the president’s father coming to the rescue, former secretary of state Jim Baker pulling all the strings behind the scenes, and how I was going to purge the Pentagon of Rumsfeld’s appointees, ‘clean out the E-Ring’ (the outer corridor of the Pentagon where most senior Defense civilians have their offices). It was all complete nonsense.”
Though Gates doesn’t single out Hillary Clinton for misreading the significance of his nomination, Gates wrote: “The Democrats were even more enthusiastic, believing my appointment would somehow hasten the end of the war. … They professed to be enormously pleased with my nomination and offered their support, I think mainly because they thought that I, as a member of the Iraq Study Group [which had called for winding down the war], would embrace their desire to begin withdrawing from Iraq.”
In other words, Hillary Clinton got fooled again.
Surging for Surges
Once installed at the Pentagon, Gates became a central figure in the Iraq War “surge,” which dispatched 30,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq in 2007. The “surge” saw casualty figures spike. Nearly 1,000 additional American died along with an untold number of Iraqis. And despite another conventional wisdom about the “successful surge” it failed to achieve its central goal of getting the Iraqis to achieve compromises on their sectarian divisions.
Yet, the mainstream press didn’t get any closer to the mark in 2008 when it began cheering the Iraq “surge” as a great success, getting spun by the neocons who noted a gradual drop in the casualty levels. The media honchos, many of whom supported the invasion in 2003, ignored that Bush had laid out specific policy goals for the “surge,” none of which were achieved.
In Duty, Gates reminds us of those original targets, writing: “Prior to the deployment, clear benchmarks should be established for the Iraqi government to meet during the time of the augmentation, from national reconciliation to revenue sharing, etc.”
Those benchmarks were set for the Iraqi government to meet, but the goals were never achieved, either during the “surge” or since then. To this day, Iraq remains a society bitterly divided along sectarian lines with the out-of-power Sunnis again sidling up to Al Qaeda-connected extremists and even the Islamic State.
But Clinton didn’t have the courage or common sense to recognize that the Iraq War “surge” had failed. After Obama appointed her as Secretary of State – as part of a naïve gesture of outreach to a “team of rivals” – Clinton fell back in line behind Official Washington’s new favorite conventional wisdom, the “successful surge.”
In the end, all the Iraq War “surge” did was buy President Bush and his neocon advisers time to get out of office before the failure of the Iraq War became obvious to the American public. Its other primary consequence was to encourage Defense Secretary Gates, who was kept on by President Obama as a gesture of bipartisanship, to conjure up another “surge” for Afghanistan.
In that context, in Duty, Gates recounts a 2009 White House meeting regarding the Afghan War “surge.” He wrote: “The exchange that followed was remarkable. In strongly supporting the surge in Afghanistan, Hillary told the president that her opposition to the surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary [in 2008]. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’
“The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.” Obama’s aides disputed Gates’s suggestion that the President indicated that his opposition to the Iraq “surge” was political, noting that he had always opposed the Iraq War. The Clinton team never challenged Gates’s account.
In other words, having been an Iraq War hawk when it mattered – from 2002-06 – Hillary Clinton changed direction when that was politically expedient, apologizing for her “mistake,” but then returned to her enthusiasm for the war by accepting the benighted view that the “surge worked.”
Clinton’s enthusiasm for “surges” also influenced her to side with Gates and General David Petraeus, a neocon favorite, to pressure Obama into a “surge” for Afghanistan, sending in an additional 30,000 troops on a bloody, ill-fated “counterinsurgency” mission. Again, the cost in American lives was about 1,000 soldiers but their sacrifice did little to shift the war’s outcome.
Again and again, Hillary Clinton seemed incapable of learning from her costly errors – or perhaps she just understands that the politically safest course is to do what Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment wants done. That way you get hailed as a serious thinker in the editorial pages of The Washington Post and at the think-tank conferences.
Virtually all the major columnists and big-name pundits praised Clinton’s hawkish tendencies as Secretary of State, from her escalating tensions with Iran to tipping the balance of the Obama administration’s debate in favor of a “regime change” mission in Libya to urging direct U.S. military intervention in Syria in pursuit of another “regime change” there.
On the campaign trail, Clinton seeks to spin all these militaristic recommendations as somehow beneficial to the United States. But the reality is quite different.
Regarding Iran, in 2010, Secretary Clinton personally killed a promising initiative sponsored by Brazil and Turkey (at President Obama’s request) to get Iran to swap much of its low-enriched uranium for radiological medical tests. Instead, Clinton followed the path laid out by Israel and the neocons, ratchet up pressure on Iran and keep open the “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” option.
It is noteworthy that the diplomatic agreement with Iran to restrain its nuclear program and to give up much of its low-enriched uranium required Clinton’s departure from the State Department in 2013. I’m told that Obama understood that he needed to get her out of the way for the diplomacy to work.
But Clinton’s signature project as Secretary of State was another war of choice, this time the “regime change” in Libya resulting in the grisly murder of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the descent of Libya into a failed state beset with terrorism, including the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and more recently the emergence of the Islamic State.
Clinton and her “liberal interventionist” allies sold the Libyan war as a “responsibility to protect” mission – or R2P – but the propaganda about Gaddafi’s supposed plans for “genocide” against the Libyan people was wildly exaggerated and fit with a long and sorry pattern of U.S. officials deceiving the U.S. public. [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Covering Up Hillary’s Libyan Fiasco.”]
According to all accounts, Obama was on the fence about the wisdom of joining European nations in undertaking the Libyan “regime change” and it was Secretary Clinton who tipped his decision toward going to war. The U.S. military then provided the crucial technological infrastructure for the war to go forward. Without the U.S. involvement, the “regime change” in Libya wouldn’t have happened.
As the conflict raged, Clinton’s State Department email exchanges revealed that her aides saw the Libyan war as a chance to pronounce a “Clinton doctrine,” bragging about how Clinton’s clever use of “smart power” could get rid of demonized foreign leaders like Gaddafi. But President Obama seized the spotlight when Gaddafi’s government fell.
But Clinton didn’t miss a second chance to take credit on Oct. 20, 2011, after militants captured Gaddafi, sodomized him with a knife and then murdered him. Appearing on a TV interview, Clinton celebrated Gaddafi’s demise with the quip, “we came; we saw; he died.”
However, with Gaddafi and his largely secular regime out of the way, Islamic militants expanded their power over the country. Many, it turned out, were terrorists, just as Gaddafi had warned. Some were responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens.
Over the next five years, Libya – a once prosperous North African country – descended into anarchy with dozens of armed militias and now three competing governments jockeying for power. Meanwhile, the Islamic State expanded its territory around the city of Sirte and engaged in its signature practice of beheading “infidels,” including a group of Coptic Christians slaughtered on a beach.
Yet, on the campaign trail, Clinton continues to defend her instigation of the Libyan war, disputing any comparisons between it and the Iraq War by rejecting any “conflating” of the two. Yet, the two disasters – while obviously having some differences – do deserve to be conflated because they have many similarities. Both were wars of choice justified by false and misleading claims and having terrible outcomes.
Clinton’s rejection of “conflating” the two wars has another disturbing element to it, the suggestion that she is incapable of extracting lessons from one situation and applying them to another. That inability to analyze, engage in self-criticism, and thus avoid repeating the same mistakes may indeed be a disqualifying characteristic for someone seeking the U.S. presidency.
So, is Hillary Clinton “qualified” to be President of the United States? While her glittering résumé may say one thing, her record – a litany of misjudgments, miscalculations and catastrophes – may say something else.
[For information about Hillary Clinton’s earlier career, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Clinton’s Experience: Fact and Fantasy.”]