State Department is hobbled by identity politics
The pending normalization of full diplomatic relations with Cuba is long overdue and it is to be hoped that the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program will survive a congressional onslaught next month. That is all to the good and the administration of President Barack Obama deserves full credit for persevering in spite of nearly incessant attacks from the Israeli and Cuban lobbies both in congress and the media.
But even as the dust begins to settle the New York Times is reporting on a new existential crisis: same-sex marriages in the Foreign Service explored in an article entitled “State Department Fights for Rights of Gay Envoys.” Not that the Gray Lady is opposed to same-sex marriages for diplomats, quite the contrary. Its concern is that many highly qualified diplomats are turning down assignments because some benighted countries do not recognize same-sex unions and therefore do not accept that a man plus man or woman plus woman relationship actually qualifies as a diplomatic family. Which means that some Foreign Ministries are denying visas or accreditation for same-sex spouses. Worse still, as many countries regard homosexual behavior as a criminal offense, it suggests the possibility that some categories of Embassy and Consular family members not covered by full diplomatic immunity might find themselves arrested.
The Obama Administration is predictably outraged and is reported to be frantically working on the problem with the State Department making “securing the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people around the world a priority” (my emphasis). But to my mind the fundamental problem is not same-sex marriage per se, which most Americans now no longer oppose, but the failure to comprehend what Embassies and Consular posts are supposed to do coupled with a characteristic inability to understand that American principles and rules, such as they are, do not have universal applicability. This is particularly true in the case of gay marriage, which impacts on sincerely held religious views and which is still a bone of contention even in the relatively tolerant United States and Western Europe.
Government at the White House level frequently does not understand how the great federal bureaucracies actually work. Contrary to the Times headline, being part of a diplomatic mission is a privilege, not a universal right, and both by law and convention the host country pretty much sets the rules on who may enter and under what conditions.
The article quotes Michael Guest, a gay former ambassador to Romania, who said “It’s increasingly a problem, as some countries have wanted to take a stand on the issue of marriage equality that isn’t really theirs to take.” He is wrong. The Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations stipulates that any country can expel or refuse to accept the presence of a foreign diplomat without providing any reasons whatsoever. Article 9 includes “The receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable.” This is an option that the United States has exercised frequently in espionage cases as well as more recently in refusing to issue a visa to a proposed Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, for which the U.S. is the host nation.
The United States has also somewhat more questionably taken steps to restrict the travels of accredited diplomats with whom it is uncomfortable. Soviet era dips from Eastern Europe and Russia were generally required to get approval for traveling more than 25 miles outside of New York City or Washington and there have been similar restrictions on the movement of both Palestinian and Iranian representatives. So the host country is not obligated to accept anyone else’s standards and can in many respects set whatever rules it wishes within its sovereign territory.
Past U.S. determinations of who or what was acceptable were based on what were deemed to be security issues but the same sex marriage problem is something quite different. To be sure there have been homosexuals in government since the time of Pharaoh Khufu, and the United States Department of State has long had considerably more than its share with the once-upon-a-time understanding that it was best to stay in the closet. This was the rule in post-World War 2 America, both for diplomats and intelligence personnel, and it was largely justified by the danger of blackmail or the creation of diplomatic “incidents” as homosexual activity was illegal almost everywhere. When I served in the Rome Embassy in the 1970s one particularly flamboyant political officer who was almost but not quite out of the closet was generally accepted until he was observed regularly cruising at odd hours in the nearby Villa Borghese Park, leading to his being warned to cool his jets lest he come to the attention of the Carabinieri, who at that time staged regular roundups at gay gatherings to target what was then regarded as public indecency.
But one’s sexual preferences were rarely a problem in Italy back then and even less so now as homosexual relations have been legal since 1890. Civil unions that guarantee property rights, pensions or inheritance without regard to gender do not, however, exist in law, which means there are no same-sex marriages. One imagines that same-sex couples who go to diplomatic posts in Italy do so with a wink and a nod from the authorities at the Foreign Ministry, who are not likely to make an issue out of it. But Italian deliberate ambiguity about what constitutes a marriage is not the norm everywhere else. By one estimate 50% of all Foreign Service posts do not recognize or accept same-sex diplomatic or official couples.
The State Department sensibly insists that all of its employees should be free to accept assignments anywhere in the world, but not so sensibly it has appointed a Special Envoy for the Rights of Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people, both politicizing the issue and turning American diplomats into promoters of personal choices that many foreigners consider immoral as well as illegal. And Congress has predictably jumped on the band wagon with 100 Congressmen (99 Democrats and one Republican) calling on State to reciprocate by denying visas for families of diplomats from countries that discriminate against homosexuals.
In tackling the LGBT issue as a global crusade while also making it a major concern for U.S. embassies the White House and Democrats in Congress are not really doing anyone any favors. Overseas diplomatic missions exist to benefit broad American national interests, not to promote specific group agendas or to confront the host country on its laws and customs. Ambassadors traditionally enabled dialogue and established communications channels among nations while the consular services provided a mechanism to help ensure that American travelers and businessmen would be treated fairly by the local authorities. Having an embassy did not mean that Americans should not be subject to local laws, nor did it serve as a blunt instrument to demand that the foreigners be required to accept American values and customs.
But that vision of diplomacy was all before “democracy promotion,” much loved by Democratic presidents enamored of social engineering, for whom LGBT is almost certainly seen as a subset of democracy. And if past experience of government is anything to go by, this Obama initiative will probably morph into a War on Homophobia under President Hillary Clinton complete with a Czar and a substantial budget to pay for lots of first class travel to hotspots like Copenhagen to participate in conferences convened by gay rights activists.
In truth, the democracy cum human rights agenda has undeniably done a great deal of damage to the United States. It is still falsely cited as the one benefit that came out of the invasion of Iraq and is also used to justify the continued presence in Afghanistan. It led to the unfortunate intervention in Libya, fueled the drive to “do something” in Syria, overthrew an elected government in Ukraine and it is also behind much of the criticism of Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. In reality all the frenetic activity to turn the world into Peoria has produced little beyond trillions of dollars of debt, thousands of dead Americans and quite likely millions of dead foreigners.
And the focus on cultural and social issues is frequently a perversion of diplomacy. Some recent Ambassadorial appointees, to include Michael McFaul in Russia and Robert Ford in Syria, were intended to confront the domestic policies of local governments that Washington disapproved of rather than to engage with them in dialogue. Beyond that, America’s roving mischief makers to include the State Department’s Victoria Nuland and various Senators named McCain and Graham showed up regularly in troubled regions to harass the local authorities. To put it mildly, that is not what diplomacy is all about. Diplomacy is a process whereby no one wins everything while no one loses completely producing a result that everyone can live with. It is not about “We are right. Take it or leave it.”
It is indeed acceptable for a national government to urge greater tolerance as President Obama did on his recent trip to Africa but creating a bureaucracy to assert the global primacy of American values to include what constitutes a marriage benefits no one, least of all those being “protected,” as in many countries that would only serve to enable labeling the sexual dissidents as American agents. And the idea of punishing the families of diplomats from countries that see marriage differently is completely absurd as it will produce retaliation, damaging to genuine American interests and potentially threatening the security of U.S. diplomats overseas.
The entire feel good process of instructing others how to live derives from a peculiar American sense that we somehow understand important things better than anyone else and everyone should follow our lead. It is a dangerous conceit as it breeds resentment and inevitably leads to tit-for-tat responses that serve no purpose. The United States is already viewed negatively by a large part of the world. Adding fuel to the fire by complaining about others’ values while promoting marginal causes that inevitably will be controversial is not what most American citizens should expect from their government. Unfortunately it is all too often what we wind up getting.
US Federal Judge Re Clinton: “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy”
A US federal judge stated that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for official emails while serving as secretary of state was a violation of government policy, media reports said.
Sullivan was presiding over a hearing on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) submissions for the release of Department of State records, Politico reported.
“We wouldn’t be here today if this employee had followed government policy,” US District Judge Emmet Sullivan said in an apparent reference to Clinton, according to a report on the Politico web site on Thursday afternoon.
In a further comment from the bench, Sullivan said the case was an unusual one because “there was a violation of government policy,” apparently referring to Clinton’s admitted use of a private email server to conduct official business from her home, the site said.
In the case, Department of Justice lawyer Peter Wechsler argued that the FOIA usually does not permit the search and public release of e-mails from the private accounts and servers of US government officials. However, Wechsler admitted that the circumstances in this case were different, the report said.
Sullivan did not define or further elaborate on how he believed Clinton had violated government policy, according to the Politico account.
The judge repeatedly referred to the State Department’s obligation to preserve its records under the Federal Records Act of 1950, and emphasized that he was determined to investigate the issue thoroughly, the report said.
Politico also reported that Sullivan noted the State Department needed to question Clinton as to whether anyone else might still possess copies of official records from her four years as secretary of state.
Moreover, Sullivan emphasized that the public’s general right to privacy did not apply in this case because of the official position Clinton had held.
“We’re not talking about a search of anyone’s random email,” the newspaper reported Sullivan as saying.
Clinton continues to argue that her use of a private email account while secretary of state was legal and within approved government policy.
She told reporters in Las Vegas on Tuesday that what she did was “legally permitted.”
However, Sullivan’s comments contradict her current argument and position on the issue.
“The Clinton campaign and Clinton attorney David Kendall did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the judge’s remarks,” Politico stated.
In the FOIA case, the conservative group Judicial Watch is trying to get records released about the conditions under which one of Clinton’s closest friends and deputy chief of staff at the State Department, Huma Abedin, was paid and employed while still doing private consulting work.
As former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sets her sights on the White House, she continues to be plagued by her email scandal. On Monday, journalist Bob Woodward compared the controversy to the infamous Nixon tapes, which led to the end of his presidency.
While still the most likely Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly addressed concerns about the private email she held while serving as US Secretary of State. While some have expressed concern that Clinton’s servers could have been compromised, others have focused on the fact that she deleted tens of thousands of emails she deemed “personal.”
On Monday, Bob Woodward of the Washington Post compared Clinton’s “emailgate” to the Nixon tapes, the White House recordings which helped prove Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal. Watergate was brought to the public’s attention by Woodward, himself.
“Follow the trail here,” Woodward said on MSNBC. “There are all these emails. Well, they were sent to someone or someone sent them to her. So, if things have been erased here, there’s a way to go back to these email or who received them from Hillary Clinton.”
“So you’ve got a massive amount of data in a way, reminds me of the Nixon tapes: Thousands of hours of secretly recorded conversation that Nixon thought were exclusively his.”
While Woodward does not speculate as to what may have been included in Clinton’s deleted emails, he does note that they could provide valuable insight into what kind of leader Hillary Clinton would be.
“Again, it’s the volume: 60,000 emails and Hillary Clinton has said 30,000 of them, half, were personal and they were deleted. Who decided that? What’s on those emails?” he said.
“The big question about Hillary Clinton is, who is she? Is she this secretive hidden person or is she this valiant public servant? Look at those 60,000 emails and you’re going to get some answers.”
Those emails are currently being combed over by the US Justice Department, after the Democratic candidate handed over her server last week.
Woodward isn’t the first to draw a comparison between Clinton and Nixon. “If Nixon had email, he’d have been just like Hillary Clinton,” reads the headline for an article in the Hill by H.A. Goodman. In it, he makes note of the Nixon Library, where anyone can now listen to roughly 60 hours of tape acquired by the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.
“However, there will always be 18.5 minutes of missing tape, destroyed by someone within Nixon’s administrations, containing ‘incriminating evidence’ that nobody will ever be able to hear,” Goodman writes.
“Clinton and her team unilaterally deleted 31,830 emails, without any oversight, and with the expectation that Americans simply trust that these emails never contained any classified or incriminating data.”
Time will tell what the ultimate effect of the emails will be on Clinton’s presidential campaign, but Woodward doesn’t sound terribly optimistic.
“This has to go on a long time; the answers are probably not going to be pretty.”
“The shaping of the will of Congress and the choosing of the American president has become a privilege reserved to the country’s equestrian classes, a.k.a. the 20% of the population that holds 93% of the wealth, the happy few who run the corporations and the banks, own and operate the news and entertainment media, compose the laws and govern the universities, control the philanthropic foundations, the policy institutes, the casinos, and the sports arenas.”—Journalist Lewis Lapham
Being a citizen in the American corporate state is much like playing against a stacked deck: you’re always going to lose.
The game is rigged, and “we the people” keep getting dealt the same losing hand. Even so, most stay in the game, against all odds, trusting that their luck will change.
The problem, of course, is that luck will not save us. As I make clear in my book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the people dealing the cards—the politicians, the corporations, the judges, the prosecutors, the police, the bureaucrats, the military, the media, etc.—have only one prevailing concern, and that is to maintain their power and control over the citizenry, while milking us of our money and possessions.
It really doesn’t matter what you call them—Republicans, Democrats, the 1%, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that while they are dealing the cards, the deck will always be stacked in their favor.
Incredibly, no matter how many times we see this played out, Americans continue to naively buy into the idea that politics matter, as if there really were a difference between the Republicans and Democrats (there’s not).
As if Barack Obama proved to be any different from George W. Bush (he has not). As if Hillary Clinton’s values are any different from Donald Trump’s (with both of them, money talks). As if when we elect a president, we’re getting someone who truly represents “we the people” rather than the corporate state (in fact, in the oligarchy that is the American police state, an elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots).
Politics is a game, a joke, a hustle, a con, a distraction, a spectacle, a sport, and for many devout Americans, a religion.
In other words, it’s a sophisticated ruse aimed at keeping us divided and fighting over two parties whose priorities are exactly the same. It’s no secret that both parties support endless war, engage in out-of-control spending, ignore the citizenry’s basic rights, have no respect for the rule of law, are bought and paid for by Big Business, care most about their own power, and have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty.
Most of all, both parties enjoy an intimate, incestuous history with each other and with the moneyed elite that rule this country. Don’t be fooled by the smear campaigns and name-calling. They’re just useful tactics of the psychology of hate that has been proven to engage voters and increase voter turnout while keeping us at each other’s throats.
Despite the jabs the candidates volley at each other for the benefit of the cameras, they’re a relatively chummy bunch away from the spotlight, presenting each other with awards (remember when Jeb Bush presented Hillary Clinton with a Liberty Medal for her service to the country), attending each other’s weddings (Bill and Hillary had front-row seats for Trump’s 2005 wedding), and embracing with genuine affection.
Trump’s various donations to the Clintons (he donated to Hillary’s Senate campaigns, as well as the Clinton Foundation) are not unusual. Remember, FOX News mogul Rupert Murdoch actually hosted a fundraiser for Hillary’s Senate reelection campaign back in 2006 and contributed to her presidential campaign two years later. In fact, FOX News has reportedly been one of Hillary’s biggest donors for the better part of two decades.
Are you starting to get the picture? It doesn’t matter who wins the White House, because they all work for the same boss: Corporate America. In fact, many corporations actually hedge their bets on who will win the White House by splitting their donations between Democratic and Republican candidates.
We’re in trouble, folks, and picking a new president won’t save us.
We are living in a fantasy world carefully crafted to resemble a representative democracy. It used to be that the cogs, wheels and gear shifts in our government machinery worked to keep our republic running smoothly. However, without our fully realizing it, the mechanism has changed. Its purpose is no longer to keep our republic running smoothly. To the contrary, this particular contraption’s purpose is to keep the corporate police state in power. Its various parts are already a corrupt part of the whole.
Just consider how insidious, incestuous and beholden to the corporate elite the various “parts” of the mechanism have become.
Congress. Perhaps the most notorious offenders and most obvious culprits in the creation of the corporate-state, Congress has proven itself to be both inept and avaricious, oblivious champions of an authoritarian system that is systematically dismantling their constituents’ fundamental rights. Long before they’re elected, Congressmen are trained to dance to the tune of their wealthy benefactors, so much so that they spend two-thirds of their time in office raising money. As Reuters reports, “For many lawmakers, the daily routine in Washington involves fundraising as much as legislating. The culture of nonstop political campaigning shapes the rhythms of daily life in Congress, as well as the landscape around the Capitol. It also means that lawmakers often spend more time listening to the concerns of the wealthy than anyone else.”
The President. With the 2016 presidential election shaping up to be the most expensive one in our nation’s history, with estimates as high as $10 billion, “the way is open for an orgy of spending by well-heeled interest groups and super rich individuals on both political sides.” Yet even after the votes have been counted and favors tallied, the work of buying and selling access to the White House is far from over. President Obama spends significant amounts of time hosting and attending fundraisers, having held more than 400 fundraising events over the course of his two terms in office. Such access comes with a steep price tag. It used to be that $100,000 got you an overnight stay at the White House. Now it will cost you $500,000 for four meetings a year with President Obama. Yet as Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig asks, “[H]ow does a man, as a person, run the nation when he’s attending 228 fundraisers? And the answer is not very well. It’s pretty terrible for your ability to do your job. It’s pretty terrible for your ability to be responsive to the American people, because—let me tell you—the American people are not attending 228 fundraisers. Those people are different.”
The Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court—once the last refuge of justice, the one governmental body really capable of rolling back the slowly emerging tyranny enveloping America—has instead become the champion of the American police state, absolving government and corporate officials of their crimes while relentlessly punishing the average American for exercising his or her rights. Like the rest of the government, the Court has routinely prioritized profit, security, and convenience over the basic rights of the citizenry. Indeed, law professor Erwin Chemerinsky makes a compelling case that the Supreme Court, whose “justices have overwhelmingly come from positions of privilege,” almost unerringly throughout its history, sides with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful. For example, contrast the Court’s affirmation of the “free speech” rights of corporations and wealthy donors in McCutcheon v. FEC, which does away with established limits on the number of candidates an entity can support with campaign contributions, and Citizens United v. FEC with its tendency to deny those same rights to average Americans when government interests abound, and you’ll find a noticeable disparity.
The Media. Of course, this triumvirate of total control would be completely ineffective without a propaganda machine provided by the world’s largest corporations. Besides shoving drivel down our throats at every possible moment, the so-called news agencies which are supposed to act as bulwarks against government propaganda have instead become the mouthpieces of the state. The pundits which pollute our airwaves are at best court jesters and at worst propagandists for the false reality created by the American government.
The American People. “We the people” now belong to a permanent underclass in America. It doesn’t matter what you call us—chattel, slaves, worker bees, drones, it’s all the same—what matters is that we are expected to march in lockstep with and submit to the will of the state in all matters, public and private. Through our complicity in matters large and small, we have allowed an out-of-control corporate-state apparatus to take over every element of American society.
Our failure to remain informed about what is taking place in our government, to know and exercise our rights, to vocally protest, to demand accountability on the part of our government representatives, and at a minimum to care about the plight of our fellow Americans has been our downfall.
Now we find ourselves once again caught up in the spectacle of another presidential election, and once again the majority of Americans are acting as if this election will make a difference and bring about change—as if the new boss will be different from the old boss.
When in doubt, just remember what comedian and astute commentator George Carlin had to say about the matter:
The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests.
They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork…. It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club. …The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice…. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on…. It’s called the American Dream, ’cause you have to be asleep to believe it.
Remember when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was so intent on a US attack on Libya that she disregarded the US Intelligence Community, the Pentagon, and even her colleagues in the Obama Administration to force her “humanitarian intervention”? Clinton was so distrusted by the Pentagon that they opened up their own lines of communication with Libyan officials — they knew she was feeding them and the State Department boldfaced lies.
Even members of Hillary’s own party in Congress were skeptical of her claims.
Gaddafi’s son and presumed heir, Saif, told then-Rep. Dennis Kucinich (an RPI Board Member) that Hillary was using false information to justify the coming US attack on his country. (Thankfully, Mr. Kucinich understood his Constitutional obligation to act as member of an equal branch of government and did his own investigation of Hillary’s claims.)
Saif told Kucinich that Hillary’s “information” about Libya was:
[L]ike the WMDs in Iraq. It was based on a false report. Libyan airplanes bombing demonstrators, Libyan airplanes bombing districts in Tripoli, Libyan army killed thousands, etc., etc., and now the whole world found there is no single evidence that such things happened in Libya.
Hillary’s rebels, according to Saif were, as a Washington Times article reports, “not freedom fighters” but rather jihadists whom he described as “gangsters and terrorists.”
Hillary got her war. The Washington Post, ever the lickspittle in the service of the US regime, shortly after the attack praised Hillary’s great foresight in forcing the US war on Libya:
Seven months later, with longtime U.S. nemesis Moammar Gaddafi dead and Libya’s onetime rebels now in charge, the coalition air campaign has emerged as a foreign policy success for the Obama administration and its most famous Cabinet member, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
What a success! Libya is now in the hands of ISIS and various Islamist terror gangs. The population is devastated. Saif was right: they were a bunch of terrorist jihadists.
Gaddafi’s other son, Saadi, is currently being held by “Libyan Dawn,” an al-Qaeda group that has emerged since the US “liberation” and has taken control of key parts of Libya. This week we see in a new video that Hillary’s humanitarian freedom fighters have taken to torturing Saadi Gaddafi in the must un-humanitarian manner (warning, graphic). Hillary’s humanitarians are a bunch of torturing thugs, and it’s all there on the tape. Will she be challenged on this? Don’t bet on it.
Meanwhile, another group of Hillary’s extremists have sentenced Saif to death in a mass trial with scores of others from the previous government. The trials were so bad they were even condemned by the International Criminal Court, which would also like to get its hands on Saif. The defendants had little access to legal council in what was a textbook show trial.
Hillary Clinton squealed with joy when Muammar Gaddafi was sodomized with a knife and murdered by her rebels. Is she likewise giggling somewhere as Gaddafi’s son has his feet beaten to a pulp with a metal rod while he is bound and slapped in the face and his other son is sentenced to death in a trial with no semblance to actual rule of law?
This is human rights, Hillary-style.
See if you can spot the mistake in this activist email I received recently:
“In 2001, the Clinton Administration handed George Bush peace, prosperity, and record budget surpluses. Eight years later, Bush handed Barack Obama two disastrous wars and a global economic crash that destroyed over 8 million American jobs. Now that President Obama has finally brought those jobs back – in the face of vicious GOP opposition – Bush’s brother Jeb is now blaming American workers for not working hard enough. If you’re as outraged as we are, please click here to sign Hillary Clinton’s petition telling Jeb Bush that Americans need a raise, not a lecture.”
OK, it was a trick; there’s more than one mistake. Let’s list a few:
Here are things Bill Clinton is now apologizing for: mass incarceration, Wall Street deregulation, the drug war, and corporate trade agreements. Here are a few of the things he should also be apologizing for: destroying welfare, creating media monopolies, expanding NATO toward Russia, creating a precedent for illegal NATO wars without Congressional or UN authorizations, and 500,000 children killed by sanctions in Iraq.
Here are a few little-known facts about President Barack Obama: the war on Afghanistan is more his than Bush’s by any measure, he had regularly voted to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a senator, he broke his promised schedule for ending the war on Iraq and never fully ended it and soon revived it, he’s supported coups in Honduras and Egypt and Ukraine, he’s claimed the power to murder anyone anywhere by drone, he’s expanded the military into numerous nations laying the groundwork for future hostilities, and his war on Libya followed the Clinton model of blatant illegality rather than the Bush Jr. approach of at least bothering to lie to Congress and the United Nations.
Another activist group sent me an email this week reading, in part: “The truth is, Republicans don’t want diplomacy to work. They want another costly war like the one they started in Iraq in 2003.” In reality, a Republican House and a Democratic Senate voted for the war on Iraq in 2002. The same parties hold the same branches now. There’s a wise saying that goes something like this: those who convince themselves of a bullshit version of history may be condemned to repeat what actually happened.
Those who study what actually happened may be less shocked to discover how grotesquely corrupt Hillary Clinton is, how murderous, how fervently she promoted that war on Iraq, how very long she has been so disastrous, how she out-hawks almost any hawk, how awful she is for feminism, how brutal she can be, how close she is to Wall Street Republicans and oil barons and Henry Kissinger, how hard it would be to actually elect her, how she used the State Department to market weapons and fracking and pushed weapons on governments she called soft on terrorism while waiving restrictions on sales to brutal governments that donated to her foundation, how she backs mass surveillance, how she believes in representing banks, and how greedy she is.
According to a letter from Hillary Clinton to pro-Israel donor, Haim Saban, she wants to be the top pro-Israel candidate in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. More specifically, Clinton pledges her opposition to the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement. According to McClatchy,
“I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority… we can work together…to reverse this trend with information and advocacy, and fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel… from Congress and state legislatures to boardrooms and classrooms, we need to engage all people of good faith, regardless of their political persuasion or their views on policy specifics, in explaining why the BDS campaign is counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
It is no secret that Hillary Clinton is the Wall Street-sponsored candidate in the Democratic primary race. Data from Open Secrets for the 1999-2016 election cycles shows that three of her top five contributors were Wall Street firms (Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan Chase). It seems that Clinton now wants to become the undisputed pro-Israel candidate, as well.
In the United States presidential elections, all major party candidates are obliged to show their loyalty to the state of Israel. In return, wealthy pro-Israel donors fill their election campaign coffers with much needed cash. In 2008, for example, the top three candidates in both parties (Obama, Clinton, McCain) were also the top three recipients of donations from pro-Israel groups and individuals. In 2012, history repeated itself with Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, the top two recipients of campaign cash from pro-Israel individuals and groups. While it is too early to tell, it is highly likely that the top two candidates from the two major parties will also be the top two recipients of pro-Israel campaign contributions.
Haim Saban, a billionaire who made his fortune in the entertainment industry, is a long time Democrat and ally of Hillary Clinton. He will likely promote pro-Israel, anti-BDS discourse in the Democratic Party. Sheldon Adelson, also a billionaire, is a long-time Republican whose job is to enforce pro-Israel, anti-BDS discourse in the Republican Party. According to The Times of Israel,
“Adelson said his prime focus… was to reverse the inroads being made by what he called ‘the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and company… the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic organizations [that] are making a lot of headway on the campuses in the United States.’ He said he would encourage Jewish groups to work to have boycott decisions taken by student campus groups reversed… Saban made clear that he intended to fight back against any business groups inclining to boycott Israel, and create a climate in which they were deterred from doing so.”
The success of the BDS movement is becoming an issue for Israel—so much so, that Saban and Adelson held a secret summit in Las Vegas last month to address the matter. The two billionaires invited 50 pro-Israel groups and pledged to fund their efforts to fight BDS on American college campuses with the hope of branding the movement anti-Semitic. According to Haaretz,
”…of millions of dollars were raised to combat campus campaigns to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — or BDS, as the movement is known… both [Adelson and Saban] stressed their view that BDS — a form of nonviolent protest promoted by a diverse array of groups opposed to Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians — as simply a form of anti-Semitism.”
With Hillary Clinton officially on board and the two billionaires raising $20 million for the anti-BDS cause, American college campuses will be interesting centers of debate this fall.
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary Bruce A. Dixon – July 8, 2015
Last month, Talking Points Memo noted that the Democratic National Committee or DNC, the recipients of tens of millions of dollars in legal bribes (campaign contributions, they’re called under US law) from Big Oil, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Wall Street, the military contractors and more every year, the DNC was featuring Bernie Sanders on the mass fundraising mailings it sent to thousands of likely Democrat donors.
At first glance this does seem quite strange. While Bernie Sanders does talk and vote like many other pro-war liberal Democrats, while official Democrats across the country think he’s Democrat enough to run in Democratic primaries and caucuses, and while Bernie’s even pledged to support the eventual Democratic party nominee, pointing out to George Stephanopoulos that he does that every election anyhow, Bernie Sanders describes himself as a socialist, and talks about what he calls “a political revolution.”
So what’s happening here? There’s no question that the Democratic National Committee is the subservient tool of its ruling class donors, and of their candidate Hillary Clinton. TPM’s Josh Marshall explains that although Hillary remains the official candidate of the DNC and its donors, they need an official opposition to make the year-long run up to the Democratic nominating convention a year from now look less like a coronation.
Bernie’s presence, and his half-hearted pro-war brand of socialism, as Paul Street also explained in Black Agenda Report a few weeks ago doesn’t further any “political revolution” at all. What it does is make Hillary’s absolutely certain Democratic party nomination look almost legit, as though she emerged from some kind of process where the Democrats’ base voters actually get to have their say. It makes sense, if only a profoundly dishonest kind of sense.
But the cynicism of corporate Democrats runs much deeper than this. Immediately after President Obama muscled fast track legislation needed to pass his so-called trade bills though Congress without the bother of legislators being able to amend them, or even see what’s in them, the California Democratic party was emailing thousands of likely small and medium sized donors with the promise that it would “continue the fight” against “unfair trade agreements” like the TPP.
The California Democratic Party being effectively the local branch of the DNC chose not to remind prospective donors that their Democratic president forced TPP’s fast-track provision through Congress, that their Democratic president is hounding, harassing convening secret grand juries and jailing on espionage and terrorism charges Wikileaks and other persons for revealing parts of the so-called trade agreements, which are really corporate power grabs.
The California Democratic Party isn’t about to fight the Democrat in the White House over TPP, the privatization of schools, cutting the military budget, rolling back the prison state or anything else. Their feeble and hypocritical pretense of opposing TPP is aimed at the most deluded and gullible among their donor base, in the same spirit that the DNC uses Bernie Sanders to supplement fundraising. It’s a measure of how uninformed and stupid Democratic party leaders on the state and national level imagine Democratic donors and voters to be, another marker of the boundless contempt that Democratic party leaders have for ordinary Democrats, and ordinary people.
Contact Bruce Dixon at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has censured growing anti-Israeli movements in the United States, saying the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign wants to “isolate and delegitimize Israel.”
The former secretary of state called for suggestions to fight the movement in a letter to Democratic donor Haim Saban and Jewish organization leaders.
“I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority” and to “fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel,” she wrote.
“BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict,” she said.
The former first lady also described the campaign as “counterproductive.”
“From Congress and state legislatures to boardrooms and classrooms, we need to engage all people of good faith, regardless of their political persuasion or their views on policy specifics, in explaining why the BDS campaign is counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike,” she said.
The BDS campaign, which began in 2005, encourages organizations and institutions such as universities and churches to divest from Israel until the fundamental rights of the Palestinians have been recognized.
The boycott campaign called for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”
In 2013, two US academic groups — the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies — supported the boycott.
The movement received backing from one of the largest Protestant churches in the US last week.
The United Church of Christ’s general assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting funds at its synod in Cleveland.
Clinton also expressed her complete support of Israel if she gets elected president next year.
“Time after time I have made it clear that America will always stand up for Israel — and that’s what I’ll always do as president,” she said in the letter.
Emails of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton published by the State Department expose that the Qatari Royal family made efforts to befriend the American politician through former British PM Tony Blair’s spouse, Cherie Blair.
Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned, a wife of the former emir of Qatar and mother of the ruling emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al-Thani, established contact with Clinton via Cherie Blair.
The Blair and Clinton families have been political and personal friends since the 1990s.
“Sheika Moser (Sheikha Mozah) has approached me privately saying they are keen to get their relationship with the USA onto a more positive footing and she was hoping for a ‘women to women’ one to one private meeting with you,” Cherie Blair wrote to Clinton in May 2009. “I am sure the conversation would not be confined to these issues but would be about the U.S./Qatar relationship generally,” Blair wrote, mentioning joint philanthropic interests among issues Clinton and Mozah could talk about.
Blair did her best to persuade Hillary Clinton to get acquainted with “someone who has real influence in Qatar,” the newly-released documents show.
“I could make time to meet in DC during the weeks of June 8th and 15th. Would that work?” Clinton gave in on May 26, promising to rearrange her schedule to “fit her time.”
Yet Sheikha Mozah was unable to meet with Clinton on suggested dates in June 2009 “due to prior commitments” and proposed to meet “immediately after Ramadan/Eid week of September 27, 2009.”
Altogether, on Tuesday the State Department released over 1,900 of Clinton’s emails (3,000 pages). Within this bulk of information, there are 19 emails that have to do with Clinton/ Mozah getting acquainted with each other.
The royal Al-Thanis family of Qatar is known for its fabulous wealth gathered on the back of the petroleum and liquefied natural gas trade. Over the last decades, Qatar rulers spent billions on increasing its influence in Western capitals. The Al-Thanis invested particularly heavily in London, the Guardian claims.
The scale of the Qatar royal family’s investment in the British capital remains largely unknown. Al-Thanis own Harrods, the Olympic village and Shard completely, along with certain property in Hyde Park. A quarter of Sainsbury’s, large share of Barclays and 8 percent of the London Stock Exchange all belong to them, as well as the US embassy building in Grosvenor Square.
Earlier this year it emerged that the Clinton Foundation allegedly received multiple foreign donations during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
A newly-released book accused the Clinton Foundation, run by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, her husband Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea, of accepting quid pro quo donations from foreign sources while Hillary was secretary of state.
It was revealed that governments that had received frequent criticism from the State Department for repressive policies – countries like Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – had donated to the Clinton Foundation and gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons.
In late May, the FIFA corruption scandal also cast its shadow over the Clintons, as it emerged that the Clinton Foundation received at least $50,000 and as much as $100,000 from the football governing body.
“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Hillary Clinton told NBC News in May.
The Guardian reports that the Blair family has done some favors for Qatar’s rulers, too.
Although Tony Blair stepped down from his post as PM in 2007, his influence remains in place. In 2012 he brokered a $50-billion commodities deal between Glencore and Xstrata, which brought him $1 million.
Later the same year the former Labor leader assisted the Qataris in getting a share in a £1-billion-valued group owning such prestigious hotel as Berkeley, Claridge’s and Connaught, the Guardian claims.
In this regard, the Faith Foundation mirrors the Clinton Foundation, set up by the former US President Bill Clinton after leaving his post in 2001.
From 2009 up to 2013, the year the Ukrainian crisis erupted, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, which is headquartered in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, a new report claims.
The Clinton Foundation’s donor list includes some 200,000 names, among them foreign financial institutions and Wall Street-based financial organizations, international energy conglomerates and governments, the government of Qatar included, which allegedly has given between $1 million and $5 million in donations to the Clintons.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fancied the violent 2011 “regime change” in Libya such a triumph that her aides discussed labeling it the start of a “Clinton Doctrine,” according to recently released emails that urged her to claim credit when longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed. And Clinton did celebrate when Gaddafi was captured and murdered.
“We came; we saw; he died,” Clinton exulted in a TV interview after receiving word of Gaddafi’s death on Oct. 20, 2011, though it is not clear how much she knew about the grisly details, such as Gaddafi being sodomized with a knife before his execution.
Since then, the cascading Libyan chaos has turned the “regime change” from a positive notch on Clinton’s belt and into a black mark on her record. That violence has included the terrorist slaying of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and jihadist killings across northern Africa, including the Islamic State’s decapitation of a group of Coptic Christians last February.
It turns out that Gaddafi’s warning about the need to crush Islamic terrorism in Libya’s east was well-founded although the Obama administration cited it as the pretext to justify its “humanitarian intervention” against Gaddafi. The vacuum created by the U.S.-led destruction of Gaddafi and his army drew in even more terrorists and extremists, forcing the United States and Western nations to abandon their embassies in Tripoli a year ago.
One could argue that those who devised and implemented the disastrous Libyan “regime change” – the likes of Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power – should be almost disqualified from playing any future role in U.S. foreign policy. Instead, Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner to succeed Barack Obama as President and Power was promoted from Obama’s White House staff to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations — where she is at the center of other dangerous U.S. initiatives in seeking “regime change” in Syria and pulling off “regime change” in Ukraine.
In fairness, however, it should be noted that it has been the pattern in Official Washington over the past few decades for hawkish “regime change” advocates to fail upwards. With only a few exceptions, the government architects and the media promoters of the catastrophic Iraq War have escaped meaningful accountability and continue to be leading voices in setting U.S. foreign policy.
A Dubious Validation
In August 2011, Secretary of State Clinton saw the Libyan “regime change” as a resounding validation of her foreign policy credentials, according to the emails released this week and described at the end of a New York Times article by Michael S. Schmidt.
According to one email chain, her longtime friend and personal adviser Sidney Blumenthal praised the military success of the bombing campaign to destroy Gaddafi’s army and hailed the dictator’s impending ouster.
“First, brava! This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” Blumenthal wrote on Aug. 22, 2011. “When Qaddafi himself is finally removed, you should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. … You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment. … The most important phrase is: ‘successful strategy.’”
Clinton forwarded Blumenthal’s advice to Jake Sullivan, a close State Department aide. “Pls read below,” she wrote. “Sid makes a good case for what I should say, but it’s premised on being said after Q[addafi] goes, which will make it more dramatic. That’s my hesitancy, since I’m not sure how many chances I’ll get.”
Sullivan responded, saying “it might make sense for you to do an op-ed to run right after he falls, making this point. … You can reinforce the op-ed in all your appearances, but it makes sense to lay down something definitive, almost like the Clinton Doctrine.”
However, when Gaddafi abandoned Tripoli that day, President Obama seized the moment to make a triumphant announcement. Clinton’s opportunity to highlight her joy at the Libyan “regime change” had to wait until Oct. 20, 2011, when Gaddafi was captured, tortured and murdered.
In a TV interview, Clinton celebrated the news when it appeared on her cell phone and even paraphrased Julius Caesar’s famous line after Roman forces achieved a resounding victory in 46 B.C. and he declared, “veni, vidi, vici” – “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Clinton’s reprise of Caesar’s boast went: “We came; we saw; he died.” She then laughed and clapped her hands.
Presumably, the “Clinton Doctrine” would have been a policy of “liberal interventionism” to achieve “regime change” in countries where there is some crisis in which the leader seeks to put down an internal security threat and where the United States objects to the action.
Of course, the Clinton Doctrine would be selective. It would not apply to brutal security crackdowns by U.S.-favored governments, say, Israel attacking Gaza or the Kiev regime in Ukraine slaughtering ethnic Russians in the east. But it’s likely, given the continuing bloodshed in Libya, that Hillary Clinton won’t be touting the “Clinton Doctrine” in her presidential campaign.
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).