One longs for a candidate for president of the United States possessing those rare traits of statesmanship, honesty and integrity. One looks back in vain to see such an example, and the near and far horizons offer no such hope, either.
We will take no time looking at the GOP (Generally Opposed to Progress) candidates, either announced or still keeping everyone on the edge of their seats as they ‘decide’ whether or not to toss their hat into the soon-to-be-crowded ring. Most, including Florida Governor and brother of one of the nation’s worst presidents ever, Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Governor, the obnoxious blowhard Chris Christie, have already decided, but enjoy the spectacle of endless conjecture. So they wait.
But on the Democratic side, no less a worthy than Hillary Rodham Clinton, lawyer, former First Lady, former senator, former Secretary of State, has slow-balled her tattered hat into an otherwise empty ring. Her handlers claim, disingenuously, that she expects competition, and a hard-fought primary campaign. Who, one wants to know, is going to take her on? She has a war chest rumored to hold $2.5 billion, more than twice what Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama each spent on their campaigns in 2012; the total is more than their campaign expenditures combined. The only other potential candidate with anything close to her name recognition is Vice President Joe Biden, and it will be impossible for him to generate the puzzling enthusiasm that seems to follow Mrs. Clinton. And there does not appear to be anyone waiting in the wings to grab the spotlight from her, as Mr. Obama did in 2008.
So, while her various aides struggle to avoid any appearance of invincibility, let us all make the assumption that Mrs. Clinton will be the nominee, and work from there. What possible objections can anyone from the moderate to liberal political philosophy spectrum have to her nomination? Well, this writer asks: how much time do you have?
In the interest of time, let’s just look at a single area; there will be plenty of time to discuss others as the relentless torture session known as a U.S. political campaign drags on.
One of the most horrific oppressions of people currently happening in the world today is being perpetrated by Israel on the people of Palestine. Now, before anyone says that this is a complex, decades-old problem, and Mrs. Clinton can’t be blamed for not solving it, we question these statements, and at the same time object to her worsening of the situation. And, when one looks at her four years as Secretary of State, one can, indeed, blame her for not resolving the situation. Some facts:
* Clinton is beholden to AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee), and takes her disgraceful, self-appointed obligation to that lobby group more seriously than she does human rights. During her stint as Secretary of State, she blocked every effort Palestinians made at the United Nations to achieve recognition; these successful efforts to thwart the self-determination of an oppressed people win the kudos of AIPAC. She has spoken of Israel in almost romantic terms: “Protecting Israel’s future is not simply a question of policy for me, it’s personal,” she said in 2013, discussing various visits she has made to that apartheid land. She regularly worships at the AIPAC altar.
* In 2014, as Israel was using U.S.-provided weaponry, some of it illegal under international law, to carpet-bomb the beleaguered and blockaded Gaza Strip, Mrs. Clinton had nothing but praise for Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. She further echoed the tired old line about Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ from rocket fire, as if an occupied nation does not have an internationally-recognized right to fight its occupier. One must note that, during 55 days in the summer of 2014, Israel fired more rockets into the Gaza Strip than Gaza fired into Israel in the previous 14 years. Additionally, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel (he is no longer allowed in that country), calls those ‘rockets’ fired from Gaza ‘enhanced fire works’. No one refers to the advanced weaponry the U.S. gives to Israel in such terms.
*During her last campaign for the presidency, she stated that, if Iran attacked her beloved Israel with nuclear weapons, the U.S., under her presidency would attack Iran and could ‘totally obliterate’ it. One must take her at her word, since she voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, a nation that in no way threatened the U.S., and in which over half the population was under the age of 15. So she would, one assumes, not hesitate to invade Iran, a nation with twice the population of Iraq, if it, too, did nothing to threaten the U.S.
So why, one wonders, is there so much enthusiasm among Democrats for a woman who, by all accounts, is a hypocritical war-monger, who is more motivated to enhance her own bottom line than to serve the cause of human rights? What is it that draws adoring crowds to her? Perhaps people are seduced by the idea of another first: they elected the first African-American president, so why not follow it up with the first woman president? Maybe it is her resume, which is, indeed, impressive. But any job-seeker will highlight notable job titles on their resume, but once at the interview, may have difficulty pointing to any real accomplishments. The voters, as interviewers, should take a close look at what achievements, if any, Mrs. Clinton has to support those remarkable job titles. They will find little.
But what is all this, when the candidate is surrounded by the magic of invincibility, the aura of newness, and represents the final shattering of the glass ceiling? Does she not deserve the presidency, for all her hard work, regardless of the lack of any real accomplishment? Don’t we, the voters, owe her this?
No, we don’t. She isn’t fit to serve in any capacity in government, due to the reasons detailed above, in addition to many others (stay tuned). In this case it is the empress, not the emperor, who has new clothes, only seen by Democrats stricken with some sudden myopia that prevents them from seeing the reality of her accomplishments which, like the new clothes, simply don’t exist.
One can generally rely on the Republicans to nominate a worse candidate than the Democrats; one hesitates to say the Democrat is usually better, since we are not operating in a ‘good, better, best’ zone here; far beneath it, unfortunately. But this time around, there may simply be no ‘lesser of two evils’ choice to make. And the U.S. will provide yet another tragedy for the country, and the world.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | April 13, 2015
Yes, there is still bias “out there,” as some have written, about an American woman running for President, but I do not believe the bias is decisive: after all, America has broken what surely was its fiercest taboo with the election of a black man, twice. There is, however, another bias “out there,” and a decisive one: a bias against the Clintons, a ghastly pair in almost every respect, America’s contemporary version of the Borgias – both of them grasping, vicious, ruthless, two-faced, and lacking only the Borgias’ good taste in art and literature.
Among the distinguished achievements of Hillary’s husband are the bombing of Serbia’s capital, including the offices of journalists, and the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan claimed to be a chemical weapons plant. President Clinton bragged of “ending welfare in our time,” quite the claim for a self-styled liberal. It was his blundering, belligerent FBI and ATF that committed the atrocities at Waco. He embarrassed everyone with his grotesque personal behavior, and he pardoned some ghastly criminals in return for huge contributions to his “foundation.” He is good friends with people like Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender who solicited and kept underage girls to “service” guests on his private island or on the “Lolita Express,” nick-name for his private jet – both jet and island having Clinton recorded as a guest.
Bill Clinton failed every major undertaking of worth, including healthcare reform, Hillary playing a large role in that failure. Sometimes forgotten, he also frequently played the public coward, not standing behind appointments he made when they were attacked viciously in the Senate, allowing honorable people to be pilloried, then finally withdrawing their nominations. Perhaps his greatest act of cowardice involved the genocidal horrors of Rwanda. He was aware of them quite early, but his government was instructed not to use inflammatory language in public, and he made virtually no effort to save a million lives.
His contemptible behavior should, in theory, have nothing to do with Hillary, but in fact it very much does. They were the ones going around talking up the idea of getting “two for one” during his term of office. She still treats him as a confidant and advisor, having been photographed a number of times engaged in serious tête-à-têtes, and he has had several sessions with Obama, and big money sources, concerning Hillary’s ambitions.
Both Clintons have long records of chasing, indeed grovelling in much the same fashion as the smarmy Tony Blair, after big money – money for the foundation, money for elections, she having set an unenviable record for cancerous spending when running for the Senate in New York, and they have both been involved in at least as many questionable deals on the side as several former Israeli Prime Ministers combined.
I wish a woman could run for President, but must the candidate be someone who resembles Richard Nixon in drag and shares views the late ogre, J. Edgar Hoover? Everyone who doubts what a colossally unpleasant character Hillary has in private should read the memoirs of former secret service agents. Her behavior was appalling, tasking agents with things like holding her purse in public, and shouting a stream of “f–k off” invective at them if they declined.
She has always voted for war in the Senate, including the horrible war crime of invading Iraq. She goes around making speeches – at $300,000 a pop plus a whole printed list of demanded perquisites – about America’s need for a strong defense. Strong defense? America? How does one manage to spend more than America already spends on death and destruction? Park a nuclear-loaded B-52 at every civilian airport? Supply every Boy Scout troop with heavy machine guns and plenty of ammo? The woman borders on deranged here.
She has lied countless times in office and while running for office. The bloody mess at Benghazi was her baby, and she has done nothing but lie about its embarrassing and deadly failure. The last time she ran for President, in order to bolster her image for toughness, she bragged of coming under gunfire when she landed on a visit to Bosnia as First Lady, but a news video promptly appeared which showed nothing but a sweet little girl presenting flowers to her at the airport. Of course, she had to lie again when the video turned up, saying she hadn’t remembered events clearly, but no one ever forgets coming under gun fire. It is not possible unless your faculties are in such a jumbled state you should be disqualified from office.
Of course, in the end, Hillary’s mass of deceptions and terrible associations and rotten personality really do not matter because America’s real government, its ongoing unelected one, allows no President to depart much from the established script. The last one who made a serious try had half his head blasted into the streets of Dallas.
Anticipation and excitement about the first woman candidate reminds me of America’s electing and celebrating its first black – a seemingly charming and intelligent man at the time – and he has proved just another George Bush, giving ordinary Americans nothing, and especially his own people. He weekly approves extrajudicial killings in a half dozen places, behavior completely in keeping with former South American juntas who made thousands of people just disappear, and he happily does business with tyrants and absolute monarchs and madmen like Netanyahu. Hillary would do precisely the same.
In the end, the person America elects as President makes no appreciable difference to what America does in the world or how its wealthy rulers treat their own people, a presidential election being little more than the most costly theater performance in the world, “a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.”
Caracas – A recent report has emerged revealing that Venezuelan billionaire and media tycoon, Gustavo Cisneros, donated up to US$ 1 million dollars to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation between 2009-2013, while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.
A recent review of the foundation’s disclosures, carried out by the Wall Street Journal, brings to light a number of donors that were previously unknown to the public.
The figures include Argentinian and Ukrainian businesspeople, as well as Prince Turki al-Faisal of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family, who collectively donated up to US$68 million to the organisation over the course of four years. The majority of large donations came from residents in the Ukraine (US$10 million), England (US$8.4 million) and Saudi Arabia (US$7.3 million), according to the report.
Described as Latin America’s “Berlusconi,” Gustavo Cisneros appears in the report as having donated up to US$ 1 million to the couple’s foundation between 2009 and 2013. The exact amount and number of donations that he made are still unclear, however, as the foundation’s disclosure reports only cite donations in ranges as opposed to specific amounts.
The revelation has provoked a fierce backlash from the Republican party, as well as some figures within the Democrat camp. They have cited the donations as an attempt to circumvent an agreement between President Obama and the Clintons, in which the couple vowed to reject donations from foreign governments during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State.
Designed to insulate Clinton from charges of political corruption, the agreement is reported to have been a deal breaker for her designation as chief diplomat within the Obama administration. Nonetheless, politicians from both parties have pointed out that many of the individual donors to her foundation had strong links to foreign governments and presented a clear conflict of interest with her political position.
This latest report has added to the growing scandal surrounding Clinton who has recently come under fire for using a personal e-mail instead of an official state.gov address during her time as Secretary of State. She also deleted thousands of work related emails from her private account which should have been handed over for independent review by the State Department at the end of her tenure.
The political quagmire has put a dampener on her potential 2016 bid for presidency, which she was widely expected to announce over the next few months.
Who is Cisneros?
Known as Venezuela’s “Rupert Murdoch,” Cisneros runs the Cisneros Group, one of the largest privately held media and entertainment companies in the world. He was originally linked to the Clintons back in 2010 when he was also alleged to have made a donation to their foundation, despite being a staunch supported and friend to former Republican President, George W. Bush.
His commercial empire includes property investment, Venezuela’s largest television channel, Venevision, and forays into international business ventures in the United States and Asia.
As a principle ally of former Venezuelan presidents such as Romulo Betancourt and Carlos Andrez, both tied to the country’s old political regime, Cisneros was one of the major players in the short-lived 2002 “media” coup which attempted to oust then president Hugo Chavez, famed for having brought Venezuela’s two party system to a crashing end with his election.
Cisneros met with coup ringleaders in the immediate aftermath of the putsch and prohibited the circulation of news surrounding the illegal nature of the ousting on Venevision. He also censured reports of the popular uprising which eventually returned Chavez to power.
He currently lives in the Dominican Republic.
Cisnero’s link to the Clintons has particularly angered members of the Republican National Committee, who have suggested that the business tycoon is somehow “tied” to the current Venezuelan government – despite his history of staunch opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution.
An official representative for the Clinton Foundation, however, has responded to accusations by denying any wrongdoing. In responses to press, spokesperson Craig Minassian refuted charges that donations to the organisation had been used to buy political influence or to conduct political lobbying.
“Like other global charities and nongovernmental organizations, the Clinton Foundation receives support from individuals all over the world because our programs are improving the lives of millions of people around the globe,” he asserted.
The Clinton Foundation began to accept donations from foreign governments following Hillary Clinton’s departure from office in 2013.
Hillary Clinton announced in a Tweet that she wants her former employer, the Department of State, to review her emails with an eye toward releasing them. Here, she said it herself, on The Official Twitter:
I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.
So accepting the fact that it took Clinton almost three full days’ worth of controversy to get around to saying even that, that’s it, right? Problem solved? Maybe not.
Who Will End Up Holding the Bag?
The key part of what Clinton no doubt feels is some pretty slick sleight of hand is that State only has in its possession some fraction of all of her emails sent while Secretary of State. The emails State does have were hand-picked by Clinton, curated by her staff, from the total.
Clinton, alone in the entire U.S. government, has left herself in the unique position of being the only one to determine what records the American people are entitled to see. Her basis for her decisions? Trust me.
Even at that, she now throws State under the bus, thinking anytime between now and inauguration day anybody asks about a missing email or ten, Clinton will just “refer them” back to State, who of course decided what to withhold from what Clinton personally chose not to withhold. Clinton no doubt thinks herself clever with this bit of political jujitsu, turning the State Department into her campaign spokesperson. But putting the burden on State is a red herring; this isn’t really the State Department’s dog.
Her attempt to use the White House this week in the same capacity has only returned mediocre results. The Counsel’s office there claimed it had no knowledge of Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email system, and quickly mentioned once it found out that it had directed the State Department to make sure all appropriate rules were followed (CYA.) They also made clear that the administration gave “very specific guidance” that employees should use official accounts when conducting government business.
Obama’s spokesman was careful to note “There was not an Obama administration official that was responsible for reviewing those emails.”
While trying to avoid doing political damage to Clinton, the White House has put the onus on her aides to explain exactly what happened. If there is gonna be a bag of sh*t to hold at some point, the White House does not want to get stuck with it.
State, ever the lap dog to the rich and famous, is ready to do its part in dragging its feet. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Riyadh Thursday that his department “will undertake this task as rapidly as possible in order to make sure that we are dealing with the sheer volume in a responsible way.” State spokeswoman Marie Harf warned that the review could “take some time to complete” while other officials indicated it could take months. And, surprise! State’s current review personnel are already overwhelmed with nearly 11,000 other pending requests, which for complex cases can take an average of more than 18 months to complete.
Maybe first-come, first-serve will get the Clinton emails reviewed at least in time for her second term.
Perhaps State will want to turn its attention to previous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. More than 75 separate requests for her emails were filed with the State Department between 2009 and 2013 by media organizations and other parties. Associated Press requests for Clinton emails and other documents have been delayed for more than a year — and in one case, four years — without any results. All “answered” FOIA requests were told that the State Department did not have any emails from Clinton to consider releasing, sort of true in that State had no Clinton emails on file; they were all held on her private server. The AP says it is considering legal action against the department to compel responses.
And that all leads deep into another can of worms. FOIA requests are strictly limited to U.S. government documents. You cannot FOIA Michelle Obama’s personal NetFlix viewing list. A very tricky legal question arises about whose emails those are on Clinton’s private mail server. Google and other tech companies have regularly won legal challenges to say that the Gmail you send actually belongs to Google, not you. It resides on their server, after all. Much of the NSA’s quasi-legal ability to gobble up your emails rests on the same premise, as they request “your” email not from you but your internet service provider. Requests for Clinton emails not turned over to State could be refused based on the fact that they are her private property.
The Trouble with Republicans
Meanwhile, Clinton’s troubles with the Republicans are just starting.
The Republican National Committee on Thursday asked the Inspector General of the State Department to investigate Clinton’s use of personal email to conduct government business. RNC Chief Counsel John Phillippe wrote in a letter that the investigation should focus on whether Clinton violated department policies or caused the department to violate the requirement to archive emails. Such inspections can take a long time, but in this case, those delays could easily help keep the email issue alive well into the 2016 campaign, and the Republicans know it. The Inspector General should also look into where State Department management and security were sleeping while all this email fun transpired. One can speculate that if a mid level employee proposed to do all his official work off a personal email server they would have had something to say about that.
The House committee investigating Benghazi also just got a new lease on life. The committee announced Wednesday it has issued a subpoena to Clinton for all of her communications relating to Libya, including emails from her personal server, texts, attachments and pictures. New emails mean new hearings, new questions for Clinton, new demands for in-person testimony and new accusations of information being withheld or scrubbed. This clearly will keep the red-meat-to-the-base Benghazi issue alive well into the 2016 campaign, even if nothing substantive emerges. And if it does…
Clinton, in her own sense of transparency, has issued only the Tweet (above) as her sole public response to all this. Her spokesperson disingenuously claimed Clinton had complied with both the letter and the spirit of the law, a tough one to swallow even for a group of supporters used to swallowing.
Clinton has announced in advance that she will take no questions at her next scheduled public appearance, somewhat ironically the March 23 ceremony celebrating the winner of the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.
But here are a few very simple questions we’d like Clinton to answer:
– Why did you alone in the State Department not use official email and only use private email run off a private server?
– Why didn’t you turn over your full set of emails to State for review?
– Why did you wait until your private server was disclosed publicly to turn over even the subset of emails you did? Why didn’t you turn them over during your tenure as Secretary?
– As president of the United States, will you encourage or condone your Cabinet level officials employing personal email servers in lieu of U.S. government systems?
– Is the way you handled your email at State and now in the aftermath indicative of your approach to public service?
That’ll be a good start.
So the whole Hillary Clinton email story is getting worse and worse for Clinton. We already noted that there was no way she couldn’t have known that she had to use government email systems for government work, as there was a big scandal from the previous administration using private emails and within the early Obama administration as well. This morning we discovered that Clinton also gave clintonemail.com email addresses to staffers, which undermines the argument made by Hillary’s spokesperson that it was okay for her to use her own email address because any emails with staffers would still be archived by the State Department thanks to their use of state.gov emails. But that’s clearly not the case when she’s just emailing others with the private email addresses.
As we noted yesterday, there are two separate key issues here, neither of which look good for Clinton. First, is the security question. There’s no question at all that as Secretary of State she dealt with all sorts of important, confidential and classified information. Doing that on your own email server seems like a pretty big target for foreign intelligence. In fact, Gawker points out, correctly, that Hillary’s private email address was actually revealed a few years ago when the hacker “Guccifer” revealed the inbox of former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal. So it was known years ago that Clinton used a private email account, and you have to think it was targeted.
Anonymous State Department “cybersecurity” officials are apparently shoving each other aside to leak to the press that they warned Clinton that what she was doing was dangerous, but couldn’t convince her staff to do otherwise:
“We tried,” an unnamed current employee told Al Jazeera. “We told people in her office that it wasn’t a good idea. They were so uninterested that I doubt the secretary was ever informed.”
The AP has a somewhat weird and slightly confused article detailing the setup of the email system, but seems to imply things that aren’t clearly true.
It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010.
The Hoteham personality also is associated with a separate email server, presidentclinton.com, and a non-functioning website, wjcoffice.com, all linked to the same residential Internet account as Mrs. Clinton’s email server. The former president’s full name is William Jefferson Clinton.
While Eric Hoteham may be a mysterious non-entity, as Julian Sanchez points out, an early Clinton staffer was named Eric Hothem. Of course, Stanford cybersecurity guru Jonthan Mayer also notes that Hillary’s old home server is still online and running Windows Server 2008 R2.
However, the AP reports that the email has moved around a bit over the past few years:
In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials. It was one of the first instances of a major American corporation openly accusing a foreign government of hacking.
Then, in July 2013, five months after she resigned as secretary of state, Clinton’s private email server was reconfigured again to use a Denver-based commercial email provider, MX Logic, which is now owned by McAfee Inc., a top Internet security company.
That likely means the email was much more secure after July of 2013, but it certainly raises questions about how secure it was for years before that.
Though, we do know that it was secure from one thing: FOIA requests. That is the second of the two big issues raised by this whole thing. By using her own email setup, she was clearly able to hide important documents from FOIA requests. In fact, as Gawker notes, her staff’s defense of the use of her private email, actually now confirms emails as legit that the State Department denied existed back when Gawker made a FOIA request years ago.
That’s because following that Guccifer hack, Gawker filed a FOIA for those emails and was told they don’t exist. Yet, now Clinton staffers point to that old Gawker article to suggest that the private email address is “old news,” thus confirming that the emails were legit, even though the State Department denied them.
The Clinton camp’s claims about the email account being above-board is also contradicted by the State Department’s response to Gawker’s inquires two years ago. After we published the story about Blumenthal’s correspondence with Clinton, we filed a FOIA request with the agency for all correspondence to date between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal, specifically including any messages to or from the firstname.lastname@example.org account. The screenshots and other documents released by Guccifer—which have now been validated by Clinton’s spokesman—confirmed that such messages existed.
But the State Department replied to our request by saying that, after an extensive search, it could find no records responsive to our request. That is not to say that they found the emails and refused to release them—it is conceivable, after all, that the State Department might have attempted to deny the release of the Clinton-Blumenthal correspondence on grounds of national security or Blumenthal’s own privacy. Instead, the State Department confirmed that it didn’t have the emails at all.
Which is exactly why Clinton used a non-State Department email server to conduct her official business.
According to the NY Times, the State Department says that it won’t go back to correct the FOIA requests that it responded to in the past, saying that such records didn’t exist. Instead, it will only now search the emails that have been turned over by Clinton’s staff. That is another 50,000 emails, but no one knows what emails the staff removed or refused to turn over.
Either way, there are two huge problems here. Clinton likely exposed her emails to foreign spies, while keeping them away from the American public.
It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century, you just don’t invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests.
— Secretary of State, John Kerry, “Meet the Press”, March 2, 2014
Various professional psychology sites state succinctly: “Projection is a defense mechanism which involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people.”
Further: “Projection tends to come to the fore in normal people at times of crisis, personal or political, but is more commonly found in the neurotic or psychotic – in personalities functioning at a primitive level as in narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder”, opines Wiki.
With that in mind it is worth returning to the assault on Libya and the allegation by Susan Rice, then US Ambassador to the UN, in April 2011, that the Libyan government was issuing Viagra to its troops, instructing them to use rape as a weapon of terror.
However, reported Antiwar.com, MSNBC was told “by US military and intelligence officials that there is no basis for Rice’s claims. While rape has been reported as a ‘weapon’ in many conflicts, the US officials (said) they’ve seen no such reports out of Libya.”
Several diplomats also questioned Rice’s lack of evidence, suspecting she was attempting “to persuade doubters the conflict in Libya was not just a standard civil war but a much nastier fight in which Gaddafi is not afraid to order his troops to commit heinous acts.”
The story was reminiscent of the pack of lies which arguably sealed the 1991 US-led Iraq onslaught — of Iraqi troops leaving premature babies to die after stealing their incubators. The story, of course, was dreamt up by global public relations company, Hill and Knowlton Strategies, Inc., then described as the world’s largest PR company which had been retained by the Kuwait government.
A tearful hospital “volunteer”, Nayirah, gave “testimony” which reverberated around an appalled world. It transpired she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Washington and was neither a “volunteer”, “witness”, nor in Kuwait. Amnesty International obligingly backed up the fictional nonsense suffering lasting credibility damage. However, as with Libya two decades later, Iraq’s fate was sealed.
The US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice and Foreign Affairs advisor, Samantha Power are credited with helping persuade President Obama to intervene in Libya. By the end of April 2011, Rice was also pushing for intervention in Syria, claiming that President Assad was “seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria’s citizens …” In the light of all, she vowed: “The United States will continue to stand up for democracy and respect for human rights, the universal rights that all human beings deserve in Syria and around the world.” (Guardian, April 29, 2011)
Looking across the world at the apocalyptic ruins of lives and nations resultant from America’s continuance in uninvited “standing up” for “democracy”, “human rights” and “universal rights” there are surely few who could not only silently weep.
Amnesty, perhaps “once bitten” not only questioned the Libya Viagra nonsense but denied it in categorical terms. According to Donatella Rovera, their Senior Crisis Response Advisor, who spent three months in Libya from the start of the crisis: “We have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.”
Liesel Gerntholtz, heading Womens Rights at Human Rights Watch, which also investigated the mass rape allegations, stated: “We have not been able to find evidence.”
The then Secretary of State, Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton, was “deeply concerned” stating that: “Rape, physical intimidation, sexual harassment and even so-called ‘virginity tests’ “were taking place not only in Libya, but “throughout the region.” Presumably leaving the way open for further plundering throughout Africa in the guise of bestowing “democracy”, “human rights” etc.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court obediently weighed in, telling a Press Conference of: “ … information that there was a policy to rape in Libya those that were against the government. Apparently (Colonel Gaddafi) used it to punish people.” A bit of a blow for the impartiality and meticulous evidence of the ICC it might be thought.
A week after the bombing of Libya started in March 2011, Eman al-Obeidy burst in to a Tripoli hotel telling the international journalists there she had been raped. She was removed by Libyan security. Government spokespeople claimed she had mental health problems, was drunk, a thief, a prostitute and would be charged with slander. The world sneered.
By June 2011 Ms al-Obeidy had ended up in Boulder, Colorado, US, granted asylum with remarkable speed, with the help of Hillary Clinton, according to US news outlets.
In November 2014 al-Obeidy, now known as Eman Ali, was arrested for “violating conditions of her bail bond and probation.” It was her third arrest. Prosecutors allege that she tested positive for opiates and alcohol. The probation and bail bond relate to an alleged assault case in a Boulder bar with Ms al-Obeidy-Ali accused of pouring drink over a customer and then lobbing a glass at her. The trial is scheduled for 17th February with the possibility of her asylum status being rescinded.
However, back to projection. It transpires that the Pentagon has been supplying Viagra to US troops since 1998. That year it spent $50 million to keep troops, well, stiffened up. “The cost, roughly, of two Marine Corps Harrier jets or forty five Tomahawk cruise missiles …”
By 2014 the cost of extra-curricular military forces’ frolics had risen to an astonishing $504,816 of taxpayers money. An additional $17,000-plus was spent on two further erectile enhancing magic potions.
The Washington Free Beacon helpfully estimated: “that the amount of Viagra bought by the Pentagon last year could have supplied 80,770 hours, 33 minutes, and 36 seconds of sexual enhancement, assuming that erections don’t last longer than the 4 hour maximum advised by doctors.”
Surely coincidentally on February 14, St Valentine’s Day, Joachim Hagopian released an article: “Sexual Assault in the US Military – More Rapists Attend the Air Force Academy Than Any Other College in America.”
In a survey taken in 2012 “an unprecedented number” of over “26,000 incidents of unwanted sexual contact was reported by service men and women.” Further, weekly: “another high profile officer often in charge of reducing assaults was being investigated and charged himself.”
The US Air Force at Colorado Springs, writes Hagopian “has more rapists on Campus than any other college in the country.”
But then the US military planners would seem to be sex and bodily function obsessed. In 1994 they contemplated releasing pheromones (a hormonal stimulus) against enemy troops “to turn enemy soldiers into flaming love puppets whose objects of affection would be each other.”
“While enemy troops were preoccupied with making love instead of war …” America’s finest could blow them to bits. This bit of military dementia was dubbed the “gay bomb.”
Also dreamed up have been halitosis, flatulence and vomit-inducing chemicals to unleash on foes. Body function obsession clearly rules in the armed forces, officially and unofficially.
Projection: “ … is more commonly found … in personalities functioning at a primitive level.” Indeed. And to think both Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi were labeled mad by such as these.
Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger’s Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.)
In Hillary Clinton’s predictable, self-serving, overlong, boilerplate garbage review of Henry Kissinger’s new book, published last week in the Washington Post, she – well, the communications grunt who actually wrote the review – praises a man who should be serving life in prison for war crimes.
While there is no point addressing the majority of the article, nauseating and noxious as it is, a few things stick out. The first is that Hillary Clinton is friends with a whole lot of absolutely despicable people. This is unsurprising, but still gross.
“Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels,” Clinton writes in the review, echoing a passage from her own recent pre-presidential campaign manifesto, “Hard Choices.”
That book contains myriad references to Clinton’s “valued” and “invaluable friends,” most of whom are rich, powerful or famous public figures – often all three.
Included among these are war criminals Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres. Clinton writes that she and Netanyahu “worked together as partners and friends.” Peres, she notes in the book, is an “old friend.”
In her role as Secretary of State, Clinton routinely referred to former Israeli Prime Minister and then-current Defense Minister Ehud Barak as her “friend,” “old friend,” and “longtime friend and colleague.” In April 2010, Clinton remarked, “I have known the defense minister for more years than I care to remember. We were both very young, Ehud.”
Barak endearingly replied, “Immediately after your bat mitzvah.” A hearty chuckle was had by all.
Hillary, Hosni and Shimon
While Netanyahu has, at times, called Clinton “a great friend and a great champion of peace,” Clinton and Shimon Peres have a history of gushing over one another. In early March 2009, Clinton meet with Peres in Jerusalem, describing him as “my dear and old friend” and thanking him “for the extraordinary example that your life sets, as someone who has devoted yourself to the state of Israel, to its security, and to the cause of peace.”
Shimon Peres – who was born Szymon Perski in 1923 in what is now Belarus and immigrated to Palestine in 1934 – procured weaponry for the Haganah during Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-48. He was the architect of Israel’s illicit nuclear weapons program and forged close ties with the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
In November 1974, after visiting the leadership in Pretoria, then-Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres emphasized to the Knesset the “vitally important” economic, political and military ties between the South Africa and Israel, explaining that “this cooperation is based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and out refusal to submit to it.”
Years later, Peres was acting prime minister during the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon in 1996, including the Qana massacre, in which Israeli warplanes shelled a UN compound sheltering hundreds of displaced civilians, killing 106.
Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton fawned, “I always come away from my times with you both inspired and encouraged to think more deeply and more broadly. And I also am silently challenged by your ceaseless optimism about the future.” In earlier remarks, Clinton said to Peres, “You are an inspiration to me personally, as a person who has dedicated your entire adult life to the State of Israel.” She hailed her presence in Israel as “truly a visit among friends.”
The feelings were mutual. Peres addressed her as “our very dear Hillary,” and expressed sincere gratitude for her “understanding and sympathy and friendship.”
When she returned to Israel 18 months later, Peres hailed “her wisdom, her friendship, her carefulness and caring.” Clinton, again, described Peres as “my friend,” saying it was “a personal pleasure, privilege, and honor to be here with you.”
When the two shared a stage at the Israeli-obsessed Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institute in June 2012, Hillary called Peres her “longtime friend” whom she “so greatly” admires, while Peres expressed his “personal admiration, which is really tremendous” for Clinton.
Back in Jerusalem the following month, Clinton made sure to “be the first friend to wish [Peres] a very happy birthday,” and expressed “such great gratitude how much I appreciate you, our friendship, the work we have done together and the work that we will do together in the future.”
A day before Clinton’s first official visit to Israel as Secretary of State in 2009, she was in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. In an interview with Al Arabiya, Clinton effectively dismissed the State Department’s annual report on Egyptian human rights abuses as constructive criticism amongst chums, and declared, “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.”
In this context, her respect, admiration, and friendship with Kissinger makes a lot more sense.
Kissinger’s Democratic Values and Love of Legitimacy
In her sad stump speech/review of Kissinger’s book, Clinton assures readers that – though they have their differences -she, President Barack Obama, and Kissinger all share the “belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.”
Justice. Liberal. Clinton. Obama. Kissinger. Right. Gotcha. But that’s not all.
The review sheds some light on these supposed “shared values” and the politically powerful’s collective view of American imperialism:
During the Cold War, America’s bipartisan commitment to protecting and expanding a community of nations devoted to freedom, market economies and cooperation eventually proved successful for us and the world. Kissinger’s summary of that vision sounds pertinent today: “an inexorably expanding cooperative order of states observing common rules and norms, embracing liberal economic systems, forswearing territorial conquest, respecting national sovereignty, and adopting participatory and democratic systems of governance.”
This system, advanced by U.S. military and diplomatic power and our alliances with like-minded nations, helped us defeat fascism and communism and brought enormous benefits to Americans and billions of others. Nonetheless, many people around the world today — especially millions of young people — don’t know these success stories, so it becomes our responsibility to show as well as tell what American leadership looks like.
Feel free to continue reading once you’ve stopped laughing and caught your breath.
Later, Clinton makes sure to note – in a glowing review of a book by Henry Kissinger, mind you – that “our devotion to human rights and democratic values” are an integral part of what “make[s] us who we are as a nation.” Adhering to such values, Kissinger apparently suggests in his new swag bag doorstop, is what leads to success.
Ok, I’ll wait.
One would be hard pressed to figure out where exactly respecting national sovereignty, an abiding commitment to democratic governance, and standing up for human rights fell into the policy prescriptions of the either the Nixon/Kissinger or Obama/Clinton administrations.
As David Corn succinctly wrote in Mother Jones, outside of Clinton’s twisted mind, Kissinger is best remembered for engaging “in underhanded and covert diplomacy that led to massacres around the globe, as he pursued his version of foreign policy realism. This is no secret.” Corn continues:
- Chile: Nixon and Kissinger plotted to thwart the democratic election of a socialist president. The eventual outcome: a military coup and a military dictatorship that killed thousands of Chileans.
- Argentina: Kissinger gave a “green light” to the military junta’s dirty war against political opponents that led to the deaths of an estimated 30,000.
- East Timor: Another “green light” from Kissinger, this one for the Indonesian military dictatorship’s bloody invasion of East Timor that yielded up to 200,000 deaths.
- Cambodia: The secret bombing there during the Nixon phase of the Vietnam War killed between 150,000 and 500,000 civilians.
- Bangladesh: Kissinger and Nixon turned a blind eye to—arguably, they tacitly approved—Pakistan’s genocidal slaughter of 300,000 Bengalis, most of them Hindus.
And there’s more. Kissinger’s mendacity has been chronicled for years. See Gary Bass’ recent and damning book on the Bangladesh tragedy, The Blood Telegram. There’s Seymour Hersh’s classic, The Price of Power. In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens presented the case against Kissinger in his full polemical style. As secretary of state, Kissinger made common cause with—and encouraged—tyrants who repressed and massacred many. He did not serve the American values of democracy, free expression, and human rights. He shredded them.
Kissinger and Pinochet
Documents declassified a year ago, upon the 40th anniversary of Salvador Allende’s overthrow in Chile (the other September 11th), “spotlight Kissinger’s role as the principal policy architect of U.S. efforts to oust the Chilean leader, and assist in the consolidation of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile,” according to the National Security Archive at George Washington University.
Peter Kornbluh, who directs the archive’s Chile Documentation Project, has said, “These documents provide the verdict of history on Kissinger’s singular contribution to the denouement of democracy and rise of dictatorship in Chile.”
In her review, Clinton writes:
For an international order to take hold and last, Kissinger argues, it must relate “power to legitimacy.” To that end, Kissinger, the famous realist, sounds surprisingly idealistic. Even when there are tensions between our values and other objectives, America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the sources of legitimacy, not governments alone.
What Clinton of course doesn’t mention is that Kissinger despised legitimate, popular governments, as they too often undermined American domination and exploitation.
After Allende’s inauguration in November 1970, despite prior covert U.S. operations to derail it, Kissinger sent a memorandum to President Nixon warning of “the insidious model effect” of his democratic election.
Kissinger was convinced that the “consolidation of Allende in power in Chile… would pose some very serious threats to our interests and position in the hemisphere” and that “a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on — and even precedent value for — other parts of the world” that could “significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it.”
He was particularly frustrated that “Allende was elected legally” and “has legitimacy in the eyes of Chileans and most of the world; there is nothing we can do to deny him that legitimacy of claim he does not have it.” Furthermore, Kissinger lamented, “We are strongly on record in support of self-determination and respect for free election” and that Nixon himself was “firmly on record for non-intervention in the internal affairs of this hemisphere.”
“It would thereby be very costly for us to act in ways that appear to violate those principles, and Latin Americans and others in the world will view our policy as a test of the credibility of our rhetoric,” he wrote.
Kissinger immediately outlined a strategy to topple the Allende government.
Following the successful coup and Pinochet’s installation as Chile’s dictator, Kissinger maintained that “however unpleasant they act, this government is better for us than Allende was.” Ignoring appeals to address the severe human rights abuses in Chile, he later told Pinochet himself, “In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here. We want to help, not undermine you. You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.”
When Nixon complained that “liberal” press was giving him “crap” about the coup, Kissinger was indignant. “In the Eisenhower period, we would be heroes,” he said.
Kissinger knew this would strike chord with his audience of one. Nixon was Vice President when Eisenhower authorized the 1953 CIA-organized coup that overthrew popular Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh for the crime of nationalizing the nation’s oil industry and not buckling to British and American diktat. The coup consolidated U.S.-backed dictatorial power under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah, who ruled Iran for the next quarter century.
“By restoring the Shah to power,” Nixon recalled years later, “it meant that the United States had a friend in Iran, a very strong friend, and for 25 years Iran played a role as a peace-keeper in the Persian Gulf area.”
Always valuing imperial interests over democratic and humanitarian values, Nixon made an official pilgrimage to visit the Shah in Iran shortly after the coup. Fifteen years later, as president, Nixon provided weapons systems and military assistance to the Iran on a massive scale, effectively bankrolling the Shah’s prospective $20 billion military build-up. At the time, Massachusetts Congressman Gerry E. Studds called the arms transfers “the most rapid buildup of military power under peacetime conditions of any nation in the history of the world.”
Kissinger himself mused, “[W]e adopted a policy which provides, in effect, that we will accede to any of the Shah’s requests for arms purchases from us (other than some sophisticated advanced technology armaments and with the very important exception, of course, of any nuclear weapons capability).”
In a private meeting with Kissinger on July 27, 1973 at Blair House, the Shah confirmed as much. “I have a friend in the U. S. that is ready to provide anything I need – short of atomic weapons and they are not an issue,” he said during a conversation about acquiring American fighter jets, tanks, and battleships and agreeing to arm Pakistan against India.
Kissinger and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
The Nixon White House – and Kissinger in particular – maintained very close relations with the Shah, in turn gaining a dutiful puppet in the region. This was especially beneficial during the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, when Arab members of the petroleum exporting consortium “cut production and stopped oil shipments to the United States and other countries that were backing Israel in the Yom Kippur War.” With the Shah in power, Iran continued production and export to the United States and its allies, including Apartheid South Africa, throughout the embargo and was rewarded handsomely by reaping the windfall of the oil shock.
When the Iranian Revolution finally forced the Shah to flee Iran, it was Kissinger and a cohort of other “influential friends” like Chase Manhattan Bank’s David Rockefeller, former statesman and World Bank president John McCloy, and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski who intensively lobbied the Carter administration to eventually admit the Shah to the United States. Carter’s begrudging acquiescence was the main catalyst for the November 4, 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
A month after the seizure of the embassy, Kissinger gave an interview to People Magazine. He had already visited the Shah twice since his arrival. He also insisted that Iranians had no legitimate reason to resent American foreign policy. Admitting that the Shah was “certainly authoritarian,” Kissinger praised his “reforming government” for its supposed economic, education, environmental, and medical advances.
“Not everybody who attacks us is doing so because we supplied a just grievance,” he said, adding that “it must be made clear that challenging the U.S. is not for free. There has to be some penalty for opposing us and some reward for being friendly. Unless we can reestablish that balance, this trend will continue.”
Regarding his belief that the United States was indebted to its former quisling, Kissinger told People, “I have held the position all along that the Shah was a friend of the U.S. for 37 years. Every President, starting with Truman, lauded the Shah’s friendship and his modernizing tendencies and spoke of the gratitude we owed him.” Such a partner deserved “private humanitarian asylum,” Kissinger said. “In light of the Shah’s help to our nation, I felt a duty to help.”
Despite all this, in her review of “World Order,” Clinton remarks that “Kissinger’s analyses of the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are particularly valuable.”
While writing about Kissinger’s diplomatic philosophies and policy prescriptions, Clinton manages to praise herself a lot for her own work as Secretary of State, including what she terms taking “decisive action on challenges such as Iran’s nuclear program.”
As one might expect, this “decisive action” was actually just issuing threats, ultimatums, and imposing “crippling” sanctions upon a country over its refusal to abandon its inalienable right to a domestic nuclear energy program. It wasn’t until she left the administration that the current negotiations got underway.
Yet bringing up such a topic in an article about Henry Kissinger is itself ironic as Iran may never have had a nuclear program to begin with were it not for him.
In 1975, during his tenure as Gerald Ford’s Secretary of State, “Kissinger signed and circulated National Security Decision Memorandum 292, titled ‘U.S.-Iran Nuclear Cooperation,’ which laid out the administration’s negotiating strategy for the sale of nuclear energy equipment projected to bring U.S. corporations more than $6 billion in revenue,” reported the Washington Post‘s Danfa Linzer in 2005.
The strategy paper, Linzer wrote, “commended Iran’s decision to build a massive nuclear energy industry,” and argued that Iran needed to “prepare against the time — about 15 years in the future — when Iranian oil production is expected to decline sharply.”
Working alongside other Ford administration officials like Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, Kissinger engaged in “intense efforts to supply Iran with U.S. nuclear technology” and even “tried to accommodate Iranian demands for plutonium reprocessing.” A directive signed by Ford in 1976 offered access to “a complete ‘nuclear fuel cycle’ — reactors powered by and regenerating fissile materials on a self-sustaining basis.”
When asked by Linzer about the potential consequences and hypocrisy of such a deal in light of more recent punitive and preventive policies, Kissinger shrugged. “I don’t think the issue of proliferation came up,” he said, eventually adding, “They were an allied country, and this was a commercial transaction. We didn’t address the question of them one day moving toward nuclear weapons.”
Diplomatic Double Standards
In mid-1969, when he was Nixon’s National Security Adviser, Kissinger outlined what would soon become official American policy regarding Israel’s clandestine nuclear arsenal. Once Israeli nuclear capability came to light – outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel refused to sign – the Nixon administration attempted to devise a strategy to deal with it.
A National Security Study delivered to Kissinger in May 1969 by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Rodger Davies noted, “Israel has committed to us that it will not be ‘the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the area’, but there are grounds for believing that Israel does not construe production of a weapon to constitute ‘introduction.'” It further stated:
If the possession of nuclear weapons offered an ultimate deterrent for Israel we would perhaps be prepared to conclude that, whatever other disadvantages this development might have, its contribution to Israel’s security, especially with the prospect of continuing Arab hostility, was in the US interest.
Israel wants nuclear weapons, as was both explicit and implicit in our conversations with Rabin, for two reasons: first, to deter the Arabs from striking Israel, and second, if deterrence fails and Israel were about to be overrun, to destroy the Arabs in a nuclear Armageddon.
In a July 19, 1969 memo to the president, Kissinger introduced a new policy option, wring that “while we might ideally like to halt actual Israeli possession, what we really want at a minimum may be just to keep Israeli possession from becoming an established international fact.”
Golda Meir, Richard Nixon, and Kissenger
Despite the efforts of Nixon officials to place curbs on the program, they eventually “withdrew step after step from an ambitious plan to block Israeli nuclearization, until they finally acceded, in internal correspondence – the content of the conversation between Nixon and Meir is still classified – to recognition of Israel as a threshold nuclear state,” wrote Amir Oren recently in Ha’aretz, basing his report on newly-declassified documents.
The Nixon advisers concluded that, all things considered, “we cannot force the Israelis to destroy design data and components, much less the technical knowledge in people’s minds, nor the existing talent for rapid improvisation.” Thus, Davies wrote in July, two months before the Nixon-Meir meeting, the lesser evil would be to agree for Israel to “retain its ‘technical option'” to produce nuclear weapons.
“If the Israelis show a disposition to meet us on the nuclear issue but are adamant on the Jericho missiles, we can drop back to a position of insisting on non-deployment of missiles and an undertaking by the Israelis to keep any further production secret,” Davies added.
Such “nuclear ambiguity” has been both official Israeli and U.S. policy ever since President Richard Nixon meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in September 1969. Accordingly, Nixon formally suspended all American inspection of and visitation to Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant in 1970 and ceased demands that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
When President Obama first met with Netanyahu in May 2009, he confirmed the continuity of the secret agreement, a stance one Senate staffer reportedly described as “call[ing] into question virtually every part of the president’s nonproliferation agenda” by giving “Israel an NPT treaty get out of jail free card.”
The Clinton Doctrine
Hillary Clinton’s review of Henry Kissinger’s new book provided her and her public relations team an opportunity to set the stage for what seems like another inevitable run for president. It affirmed her fealty to American imperialism and hegemony, her reliance on the advice of predecessors, colleagues and friends with demonstrably more appalling records than her own, and her firm commitment to continue the failed and dangerous policies of past administrations, all while standing on the same sanctimony and entitlement that got her where she is today.
From hailing Henry Kissinger as a gritty, truth-telling idealist to her role in the Obama administration’s expansion of the American surveillance state and drone program, the question remains: is there anything about Hillary Clinton that isn’t absolutely terrible?
“Hillary works for Goldman Sachs and likes war, otherwise I like Hillary,” a former Bill Clinton aide told me sardonically. First, he was referring to her cushy relationships with top Wall Street barons and her $200,000 speeches with the criminal enterprise known as Goldman Sachs, which played a part in crashing the U.S. economy in 2008 and burdening taxpayers with costly bailouts. Second, he was calling attention to her war hawkish foreign policy.
Last week, Hillary-The-Hawk emerged, once again, with comments to The Atlantic attacking Obama for being weak and not having an organized foreign policy. She was calling Obama weak despite his heavy hand in droning, bombing and intervening during his Presidency. While Obama is often wrong, he is hardly a pacifist commander. It’s a small wonder that since 2008, Hillary-The-Hawk has been generally described as, in the words of the New York Times journalist Mark Landler, “more hawkish than Mr. Obama.”
In The Atlantic interview, she chided Obama for not more deeply involving the U.S. with the rebels in Syria, who themselves are riven into factions and deprived of strong leaders and, with few exceptions, trained fighters. As Mrs. Clinton well knows, from her time as Secretary of State, the White House was being cautious because of growing Congressional opposition to intervention in Syria as Congress sought to determine the best rebel groups to arm and how to prevent this weaponry from falling into the hands of the enemy insurgents.
She grandly told her interviewer that “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Nonsense. Not plunging into unconstitutional wars could have been a fine “organizing principle.” Instead, she voted for the criminal invasion of Iraq, which boomeranged back into costly chaos and tragedy for the Iraqi people and the American taxpayers.
Moreover, the former Secretary of State ended her undistinguished tenure in 2013 with an unremitting record of militarizing a Department that was originally chartered over 200 years ago to be the expression of American diplomacy. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made far more bellicose statements than Secretary of Defense Robert Gates did. Some career Foreign Service Officers found her aggressive language unhelpful, if not downright hazardous to their diplomatic missions.
Such belligerency translated into her pushing both opposed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and reluctant President Obama to topple the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan dictator had given up his dangerous weapons and was re-establishing relations with Western countries and Western oil companies. Mrs. Clinton had no “organizing principle” for the deadly aftermath with warring militias carving up Libya and spilling over into Mali and the resultant, violent disruption in Central Africa. The Libyan assault was Hillary Clinton’s undeclared war – a continuing disaster that shows her touted foreign policy experience as just doing more “stupid stuff.” She displays much ignorance about the quicksand perils for the United States of post-dictatorial vacuums in tribal, sectarian societies.
After criticizing Obama, Mrs. Clinton then issued a statement saying she had called the president to say that she did not intend to attack him and anticipated “hugging it out” with him at a Martha’s Vineyard party. Embracing opportunistically after attacking is less than admirable.
Considering Hillary Clinton’s origins as an anti-Vietnam War youth, how did she end up such a war hawk? Perhaps it is a result of her overweening political ambition and her determination to prevent accusations of being soft on militarism and its imperial Empire because she is a woman.
After her celebrity election as New York’s Senator in 2000, she was given a requested seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. There, unlike her war-like friend, Republican Senator John McCain, she rarely challenged a boondoggle Pentagon contract; never took on the defense industry’s waste, fraud and abuse; and never saw a redundant or unneeded weapons system (often criticized by retired Generals and Admirals) that she did not like.
The vaunted military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned about, got the message. Hillary Clinton was one of them.
Energetically waging peace was not on Secretary of State Clinton’s agenda. She would rather talk about military might and deployment in one geographic area after another. At the U.S. Naval Academy in 2012, Generalissma Clinton gave a speech about pivoting to East Asia with “force posture” otherwise known as “force projection” (one of her favorite phrases) of U.S. naval ships, planes and positioned troops in countries neighboring China.
Of course, China’s response was to increase its military budget and project its own military might. The world’s super-power should not be addicted to continuous provocations that produce unintended consequences.
As she goes around the country, with an expanded publically-funded Secret Service corps to promote the private sales of her book, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton needs to ponder what, if anything, she as a Presidential candidate has to offer a war-weary, corporate-dominated American people. As a former member of the board of directors of Walmart, Hillary Clinton waited several years before coming out this April in support for a restored minimum wage for thirty million American workers (a majority of whom are women).
This delay is not surprising considering Hillary Clinton spends her time in the splendors of the wealthy classes and the Wall Street crowd, when she isn’t pulling down huge speech fees pandering to giant trade association conventions. This creates distance between her and the hard-pressed experiences of the masses, doesn’t it?
Responsibility for wars and killing
A number of Western/NATO politicians – Hillary Clinton foremost among them – and media people have recently introduced a new ethical principle in international affairs:
When A delivers weapons to B, A is responsible for what B does with these weapons. The former Secretary of State and perhaps future U.S. President presents this new ethical principle here on CNN.
This makes a lot of sense to me. Look at it this way:
Here is a young confused boy who has little to look forward to – and less to lose – because his country is falling apart in nasty civil war.
He’s been told by some commander, or by his President, that he must hate the enemy; he gets paid for killing off as many as he can. And so he does.
He believes also in what he’s been promised: Fame as a hero upon return – that is, if he returns – and a comfortable life.
So he kills people, children and woman among them. He’s paid for it, not much but it’s better than earning nothing at all. And then that hope of a good life when it’s all over.
If these tragic figures survive, they return home – but not to fame but to traumas, nightmares, divorce, guilt feelings, isolation from family and friends, then alcohol and often suicide – or perhaps make a career as part of the mafia.
I’ve met quite a few such young men, for instance in the various parts of what was once Yugoslavia.
Roll back the war movie
Tell you what, I’ve never been able to understand why this type of war criminal is the only one who is prosecuted and punished.
Roll back the film: OK, he held the gun and of course he has responsibility for what he does. He could choose not to pull the trigger.
But he was part of an organisation – army or rebel group, whatever – with commanders who gave orders; his country’s political leaders had lied to him and constructed an ideology of hate. The media promoted all kinds of war propaganda, lies and myths – and made him believe that what he did was right.
And how did that gun get into his hand? Well, there were researchers and engineers who developed it – actually the largest single group of researchers on earth.
There were industries who manufactured it and there were governments or middlemen or private arms traders who sold the weapon and ammunition – and there were transport companies which transported it to the war zone. There were people far away from the danger who made huge profits from somebody else’s killing.
Are all these other actors in this movie innocent?
Why on earth is this poor fellow the only one to be punished – while the multi-billionaire arms manufacturers, traders and transporters are at large and living the life he dreamt about?
OK, the world isn’t fair – and ethics is not in high demand in the field of politics. But somehow it should be pretty obvious that the soldier is far from the only culprit and that his finger on the trigger is only the end of a long movie.
Hillary Clinton’s ethics is a step forward
So Madam Clinton is saying something interesting, pointing in the direction of a new ethics which I actually find reasonable:
Putin is responsible – at least ”indirectly” as she says – for the shooting down of MH17 because he – or Russia or whatever else over there we don’t like – gave the Eastern Ukrainian rebels the missile with which they made the MH17 fall down from the sky. (Leave aside that we don’t have all the facts; it’s just an example, isn’t it?)
Conclusion: Arms developers, researchers, manufacturers, traders, profiteers, commanders, politicians, prime ministers and presidents – all those who caused our young fellow – and the millions like him – to pull the trigger should be brought to justice.
Off you go to the International Criminal Court – not because you killed but because you facilitated killing. Sometimes mass killing, genocide, crimes against humanity!
There is only one little problem: It applies only to Putin – as you may have guessed. Because look here: US supplies Israel with bombs amid Gaza blitz.
And the U.S. doesn’t do only that in the midst of mass murder of civilians – no it gives military ”aid” to Israel so Israel can more effectively destroy itself as state and the Palestinians as people: Some US $ 3 bn per year, year after year and provides the political support for the killing of innocent people, sleeping children in UN schools included.
So, dear Hillary Clinton…
May I humbly suggest that you please shut up with your selective ethics or stand up and admit your country’s responsibility for wars around the world, the one in Gaza included.
The U.S. is the world’s largest arms producer, it’s largest arms exporter and arms consumer.
And could the free media – here CNN’s Fareed Zakaria – please begin to speak up and do what journalists are supposed to do: Ask questions to power?
See all earlier TFF PressInfos here
As murmurs of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela continue in the aftermath of the protest violence there, researcher Michael McCarthy recently published an article in World Politics Review making some good arguments for why they would be a bad idea. He points out that unilateral sanctions lack regional support, and argues that they would discourage dialogue within Venezuela, would likely be ineffective, and may even harm U.S. interests by scuttling efforts to improve and maintain ties in the region.
McCarthy claims that the push for sanctions represents a “symbolic action” on the part of U.S. officials to communicate “universal support for human rights.” This assumption is pervasive in the mainstream debate about Venezuela sanctions; most commentators assume that the moral basis of imposing sanctions is sound and that the only real debate is on whether they will have the desired practical effect. In this context, some of the most obvious questions are missing from the discussion—in particular: a) what right does the U.S. have to enact coercive, unilateral economic measures against democratically-elected governments (measures that in this case, happen to be nearly universally opposed in the rest of the region and, as a study by pollster Luis Vicente Leon recently presented at the Washington Office on Latin America shows, are overwhelmingly opposed domestically in Venezuela)? And b) what integrity does the U.S. have when it comes to promoting human rights?
Last year, over a thousand unarmed protestors were killed by the U.S.-backed military government of Egypt after an illegal coup overthrew the country’s first democratically-elected president. Among those killed was a young journalist, Ahmed Assem el-Senousy, who had the misfortune to film his own murder at the hands of a government soldier who had spotted his camera. It was a grim echo of an event from another era—in June, 1973, Swedish journalist Leonardo Henrichsen similarly filmed his own death in Chile at the hands of a soldier in an unsuccessful military coup attempt that presaged Augusto Pinochet’s U.S. supported takeover three months later. The State Department claims that U.S. interests always align with democracy and human rights, but it is hard to miss the glaring gap between U.S. rhetoric on these issues and its actions.
While officials and Congress members throw unfounded accusations at the Venezuelan government and continue to discuss punitive measures, there are no comparable discussions about removing tax-payer funded military aid to U.S. allies with abysmal human rights records – let alone imposing sanctions — including states like Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and many others. The U.S. ended its partial freeze of military aid to Egypt this January and has quietly defended Israel during its latest assault on Gaza, even as Palestinian casualties rise at an alarming rate. In this hemisphere, in places like Honduras and Colombia, countries ruled by rightwing allies of the Obama administration, the laws that condition U.S. military and security aid on human rights standards are nearly systematically ignored, just as they are in the Middle East.
Over the past dozen years, the U.S. government has made no secret of its hostility toward the government of Venezuela – even supporting and getting involved in a 2002 military coup against Chávez – despite the fact that, over and over again, it has been elected democratically. In her recent book, “Hard Choices,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even refers to Chávez as a “self-aggrandizing dictator.” She is much more sympathetic toward Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, whom she doesn’t label a dictator, though she does qualify her praise of his commitment to Middle East peace by mentioning that he is an “autocrat at home.” Clinton is not shy in explaining how she urged President Obama not to call for Mubarak to step down during the height of the 2011 Egyptian protests, citing her concerns about U.S. interests, just as she is not shy about detailing how she intervened to ensure that democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya was not reinstalled after an illegal military coup in Honduras. Most importantly, while Mubarak was in office and while she was Secretary of State (i.e. when it mattered), Clinton, like virtually every other U.S. official, consistently defended the U.S. relationship with Egypt. Instead of referring to him as an autocrat while she headed the State Department, she famously referred to Hosni Mubarak and his wife as “friends of the family.”
Last November, the current Secretary of State, John Kerry, visited Latin America and announced the “end of the Monroe Doctrine,” stating that the U.S. would no longer work to undermine the sovereignty of its hemispheric neighbors in order to promote its own interests. The open secret is that U.S. officials still actively reserve the right to define human rights and democracy in ways that serve U.S. objectives. Over the decades and right up to the present, the U.S. has spent hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to arm some of the world’s least democratic actors, often with some of the worst human rights records, from Suharto to Sisi. Even if one disagrees that the U.S.’s historic disdain for left governments in Latin America is not a factor in the push for sanctions against Venezuela, considering the role that the U.S. continues to play in supporting human right abuses around the world, why accept the U.S. government’s own terms in the debate?