Over the past 15 years the US has been engaged in a series of wars, which has led many writers to refer to the ‘rise of militarism’ – the growth of an empire, built primarily by and for the projection of military power – and only secondarily to advance economic imperialism.
The rise of a military-based empire, however, does not preclude the emergence of competing, conflicting, and convergent power configurations within the imperial state. These factions of the Washington elite define the objectives and targets of imperialist warfare, often on their own terms.
Having stated the obvious general fact of the power of militarism within the imperialist state, it is necessary to recognize that the key policy-makers, who direct the wars and military policy, will vary according to the country targeted, type of warfare engaged in and their conception of the war. In other words, while US policy is imperialist and highly militaristic, the key policymakers, their approach and the outcomes of their policies will differ. There is no fixed strategy devised by a cohesive Washington policy elite guided by a unified strategic vision of the US Empire.
In order to understand the current, seemingly endless wars, we have to examine the shifting coalitions of elites, who make decisions in Washington but not always primarily for Washington. Some factions of the policy elite have clear conceptions of the American empire, but others improvise and rely on superior ‘political’ or ‘lobbying’ power to successfully push their agenda in the face of repeated failures and suffer no consequences or costs.
We will start by listing US imperialist wars during the last decade and a half. We will then identify the main policy-making faction which has been the driving force in each war. We will discuss their successes and failures as imperial policy makers and conclude with an evaluation of “the state of the empire” and its future.
Imperial Wars: From 2001-2015
The current war cycle started in late 2001 with the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. This was followed by the invasion and occupation of Iraq in March 2003, the US arms support for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the proxy invasion of Somalia in 2006/7; the massive re-escalation of war in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007-2009; the bombing, invasion ‘regime change’ in Libya in 2011; the ongoing proxy-mercenary war against Syria (since 2012), and the ongoing 2015 Saudi-US invasion and destruction of Yemen. In Europe, the US was behind the 2014 proxy putsch and violent ‘regime change’ in Ukraine which has led to an ongoing war against ethnic Russian speakers in south-east Ukraine, especially the populous industrial heartland of the Donbas region.
Over the past 15 years, there have been overt and covert military interventions, accompanied by an intense, provocative military build-up along Russia’s borders in the Baltic States, Eastern Europe (especially Poland), the Balkans (Bulgaria and Romania) and the mammoth US base in Kosovo; in Central Europe with nuclear missiles in Germany and, of course, the annexation of Ukraine and Georgia as US-NATO clients.
Parallel to the military provocations encircling Russia, Washington has launched a major military, political, economic and diplomatic offensive aimed at isolating China and affirming US supremacy in the Pacific.
In South America, US military intervention found expression via Washington-orchestrated business-military coup attempts in Venezuela in 2002 and Bolivia in 2008, and a successful ‘regime change’ in Honduras in 2009, overthrowing its elected president and installing a US puppet.
In summary, the US has been engaged in two, three or more wars since 2001, defining an almost exclusively militarist empire, run by an imperial state directed by civilian and military officials seeking unchallenged global dominance through violence.
Washington: Military Workshop of the World
War and violent regime change are the exclusive means through which the US now advances its foreign policy. However, the various Washington war-makers among the power elite do not form a unified bloc with common priorities. Washington provides the weapons, soldiers and financing for whichever power configuration or faction among the elite is in a position, by design or default, to seize the initiative and push their own war agenda.
The invasion of Afghanistan was significant in so far as it was seen by all sectors of the militarist elite, as the first in a series of wars. Afghanistan was to set the stage for the launching of higher priority wars elsewhere.
Afghanistan was followed by the infamous ‘Axis of Evil’ speech, dictated by Tel Aviv, penned by presidential speech-writer, David Frum and mouthed by the brainless President Bush, II. The ‘Global War on Terror’ was the thinly veiled slogan for serial wars around the world. Washington measured the loyalty of its vassals among the nations of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America by their support for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The Afghan invasion provided the template for future wars. It led to an unprecedented increase in the military budget and ushered in Caesar-like dictatorial presidential powers to order and execute wars, silencing domestic critics and sending scores of thousands of US and NATO troops to the Hindu Kush.
In itself, Afghanistan was never any threat and certainly no economic prize for plunder and profit. The Taliban had not attacked the US. Osama Bin Laden could have been turned over to a judicial tribunal – as the governing Taliban had insisted.
The US military (with its Coalition of the Willing or COW) successfully invaded and occupied Afghanistan and set up a vassal regime in Kabul. It built scores of military bases and attempted to form an obedient colonial army. In the meantime, the Washington militarist elite had moved on to bigger and, for the Israel-centric Zionist elite, higher priority wars, namely Iraq.
The decision to invade Afghanistan was not opposed by any of Washington’s militarist elite factions. They all shared the idea of using a successful military blitz or ‘cake-walk’ against the abysmally impoverished Afghanistan as a way to rabble rouse the American masses into accepting a long period of intense and costly global warfare throughout the world.
Washington’s militarist elites fabricated the link between the attacks on 9/11/2001 and Afghanistan’s governing Taliban and the presence of the Saudi warlord Osama Bin Laden. Despite the ‘fact’ that most of the ‘hijackers’ were from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and none were Afghans, invading and destroying Afghanistan was to be the initial test to gauge the highly manipulated and frightened American public’s willingness to shoulder the burden of a huge new cycle of imperial wars. This has been the only aspect of the invasion of Afghanistan that could be viewed as a policy success – it made the costs of endless wars ‘acceptable’ to a relentlessly propagandized public.
Flush with their military victories in the Hindu Kush, the Washington militarists turned to Iraq and fabricated a series of increasingly preposterous pretexts for war: Linking the 9/11 ‘jihadi’ hijackers with the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, whose intolerance for violent Islamists (especially the Saudi variety) was well documented, and concocting a whole fabric of lies about Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which provided the propaganda basis for invading an already disarmed, blockaded and starved Iraq in March 2003.
Leading the Washington militarists in designing the war to destroy Iraq were the Zionists, including Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and a few Israel-centric Gentile militarists, such as Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The Zionists had a powerful entourage in key positions in the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon.
There were ‘outsiders’ – non-Zionists and militarists within these institutions, especially the Pentagon, who voiced reservations – but they were brushed aside, not consulted and ‘encouraged’ to retire.
None of the ‘old hands’ in the State Department or Pentagon bought into the hysteria about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, but to voice reservations was to risk one’s career. The manufacture and dissemination of the pretext for invading Iraq was orchestrated by a small team of operatives linking Tel Aviv and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s Office of Special Plans, a tight group of Zionists and some Israelis headed by Abram Shulsky (Sept. 2002-June 2003).
The US war on Iraq was an important part of Israel’s agenda to ‘re-make the Middle East’ to establish its unchallenged regional hegemony and execute a ‘final solution’ for its own vexing ‘Arab (native Palestinian) problem’: It was made operational by the powerful Zionist faction within the Executive (White House), which had assumed almost dictatorial powers after the attack on 9/11/2001. Zionists planned the war, designed the ‘occupation policy’ and ‘succeeded wildly’ with the eventual dismemberment of a once modern secular nationalist Arab state.
In order to smash the Iraqi state – the US occupation policy was to eliminate (through mass firings, jailing and assassination) all high level, experienced Iraqi civil, military and scientific personnel – down to high school principals. They dismantled any vital infrastructure (which had not been already destroyed by the decades of US sanctions and bombing under President Clinton) and reduced an agriculturally advanced Iraq to a barren wasteland which would take centuries to recover and could never challenge Israel’s colonization of Palestine, let alone its military supremacy in the Middle East. Naturally, the large Palestinian Diaspora refugee population in Iraq was targeted for ‘special treatment’.
But Zionist policymakers had a much larger agenda than erasing Iraq as a viable country: They had a longer list of targets: Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Libya, whose destruction was to be carried out with US and NATO blood and treasure (and not a single Israeli soldier).
Despite the fact that Iraq did not even possess a functioning air force or navy in March 2003 and Afghanistan in late 2001 was rather primitive, the invasions of both countries turned out to be very costly to the US. The US completely failed to benefit from its ‘victory and occupation’, despite Paul Wolfowitz’ boasts that the pillage of Iraq’s oil fields would pay for the entire project in a ‘few months’. This was because the real Zionist plan was to destroy these nations – beyond any possibility for a quick or cheap imperialist economic gain. Scorching the earth and salting the fields is not a very profitable policy for empire builders.
Israel has been the biggest winner with no cost for the ‘Jewish State’. The American Zionist policy elite literally handed them the services of the largest and richest armed forces in history: the US. Israel-Firsters played a decisive role among Washington policy-makers and Tel Aviv celebrated in the streets! They came, they dominated policy and they accomplished their mission: Iraq (and millions of its people)was destroyed.
The US gained an unreliable, broken colony, with a devastated economy and systematically destroyed infrastructure and without the functioning civil service needed for a modern state. To pay for the mess, the American people faced a spiraling budget deficit, tens of thousands of American war casualties and massive cuts in their own social programs. Crowning the Washington war-makers’ victory was the disarticulation of American civil and constitutional rights and liberties and the construction of a enormous domestic police state.
After the Iraq disaster, the same influential Zionist faction in Washington lost no time in demanding a new war against Israel’s bigger enemy – namely Iran. In the ensuing years, they failed to push the US to attack Tehran but they succeeded in imposing crippling sanctions on Iran. The Zionist faction secured massive US military support for Israel’s abortive invasion of Lebanon and its devastating series of blitzkriegs against the impoverished and trapped people of Gaza.
The Zionist faction successfully shaped US military interventions to meet Israel’s regional ambitions against three Arab countries: Yemen, Syria, and Libya. The Zionists were not able to manipulate the US into attacking Iran because the traditional militarist faction in Washington balked: With instability in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US was not well positioned to face a major conflagration throughout the Middle East, South Asia and beyond – which a ground and air war with Iran would involve. However, the Zionist factions did secure brutal economic sanctions and the appointment of key Israel-Centric officials within the US Treasury. Secretary Stuart Levey, at the start of the Obama regime, and David Cohen afterwards, were positioned to enforce the sanctions.
Even before the ascendancy of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv’s military objectives after Iraq, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Yemen had to be spaced over time, because the non-Zionist factions among Washington’s elite had been unable to integrate occupied Afghanistan and Iraq into the empire.
Resistance, armed conflict and military advances in both Afghanistan and Iraq never ceased and are continuing into their 2nd decade. As soon as the US would withdraw from a region, declaring it ‘pacified’, the armed resistance would move back in and the local sepoys would defect to the rebels or take off for London or Washington with millions in pillaged loot.
‘Unfinished wars’, mounting casualties and spiraling costs, with no end in sight, undermined the agreement between the militarist and the Zionist factions in the Executive branch. However, the massively powerful Zionist presence in the US Congress provided a platform to bray for new and even bigger wars.
Israel’s vicious invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was defeated despite receiving massive US arms supplies, a US funded ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system and intelligence assistance. Tel Aviv could not defeat the highly disciplined and motivated Hezbollah fighters in South Lebanon despite resorting to carpet bombing of civilian neighborhoods with millions of banned cluster munitions and picking off ambulances and churches sheltering refugees. Israelis have been much more triumphal murdering lightly armed Palestinian resistance fighters and stone-throwing children.
Libya: A Multi-faction War for the Militarists (without Big Oil)
The war against Libya was a result of multiple factions among the Washington militarist elite, including the Zionists, coming together with French, English and German militarists to smash the most modern, secular, independent state in Africa under President Muammar Gaddafi.
The aerial campaign against the Gaddafi regime had virtually no organized support within Libya with which to reconstruct a viable neo-colonial state ripe for pillage. This was another ‘planned dismemberment’ of a complex, modern republic which had been independent of the US Empire.
The war succeeded wildly in shredding Libya’s economy, state, and society. It unleashed scores of armed terrorist groups, (who appropriated the modern weapons of Gaddafi’s army and police) and uprooted two million black contract workers and Libyan citizens of South Saharan origin forcing them to flee the rampaging racist militias to the refugee camps of Europe. Untold thousands died in rickety boats in the Mediterranean Sea.
The entire war was carried out to the publicly giddy delight of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her ‘humanitarian interventionist’ lieutenants (Susan Rice and Samantha Power), who were utterly ignorant as to who and what the Libyan “opposition” represented. Eventually, even Hillary’s own Ambassador to Libya would be slaughtered by … the same victorious US-backed ‘rebels’ (sic) in the newly liberated Bengazi!
The Zionist faction destroyed Gaddafi (whose capture, grotesque torture and murder was filmed and widely disseminated), eliminating another real adversary of Israel and supporter of Palestinian rights. The US militarist faction, which led the war, got nothing positive – not even a secure naval, air, or training base – only a dead Ambassador, millions of desperate refugees flooding Europe, and thousands of trained and armed jihadists for the next target: Syria.
For a while Libya became the main supply-line for Islamist mercenaries and arms to invade Syria and fight the secular nationalist government in Damascus.
Once again the least influential faction in Washington turned out to be the oil and gas industry, which lost lucrative contracts it had already signed with the Gaddafi regime. Thousands of highly trained foreign oil workers were withdrawn. After Iraq, it should have been obvious that these wars were not ‘for oil’!
Ukraine: Coups, Wars, and Russia’s ‘Underbelly’
With the US-orchestrated coup and intervention in Ukraine, the militarist factions once again seized the initiative, establishing a puppet regime in Kiev and targeting Russia’s strategic ‘soft underbelly’. The plan had been to take over Russia’s strategic military bases in Crimea and cut Russia from the vital military-industrial complexes in the Donbas region with its vast iron and coal reserves.
The mechanics of the power grab were relatively well planned, the political clients were put in power, but the US militarists had made no contingencies for propping up the Ukrainian economy, cut loose from its main trading partner and oil and gas supplier, Russia.
The coup led to a ‘proxy war’ in the ethnic-Russian majority regions in the south east (the Donbas) with four ‘unanticipated consequences’. 1) a country divided east and west along ethno-linguistic lines, (2) a bankrupt economy made even worse by the imposition of an IMF austerity program, (3) a corrupt crony capitalist elite, which was ‘pro-West by bank account’, (4) and, after two years, mass disaffection among voters toward the US puppet regime.
The militarists in Washington and Brussels succeeded in engineering the coup in Ukraine but lacked the domestic allies, plans and preparations to run the country and successfully annex it to the EU and NATO as a viable country.
Apparently the militarist factions in the State Department and Pentagon are much more proficient in stage managing coups and invasions than in establishing a stable regime as part of a New World Order. They succeed in the former and fail repeatedly in the latter.
The Pivot to Asia and the Pirouette to Syria
During most of the previous decade, traditional global strategists in Washington increasingly objected to the Zionist faction’s domination and direction of US war policies focused on the Middle East for the benefit of Israel, instead of meeting the growing challenge of the new world economic superpower in Asia, China.
US economic supremacy in Asia had been deeply eroded as China’s economy grew at double digits. Beijing was displacing the US as the major trade partner in the Latin American and African markets. Meanwhile, the top 500 US MNCs were heavily invested in China. Three years into President Obama’s first term the ‘China militarist faction’ announced a shift from the Middle East and the Israel-centric agenda to a ‘pivot to Asia’, the source of 40% of the world’s industrial output.
But it was not profits and markets that motivated Washington’s Asia faction among the militarist elites – it was military power. Even trade agreements, like the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), were viewed as tools to encircle and weaken China militarily and undermine its regional influence.
Led by the hysterical Pentagon boss Ashton Carter, Washington prepared a series of major military confrontations with Beijing off the coast of China.
The US signed expanded military base agreements with the Philippines, Japan, and Australia; it participated in military exercises with Vietnam, South Korea, and Malaysia; it dispatched battleships and aircraft carriers into Chinese territorial waters.
The US confrontational trade policy was formulated by the Zionist trio: Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, Trade Negotiator Michael Froman (who works for both the Asia militarist and Zionist factions), and Treasury Secretary Jake Lew. The result was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), involving 12 Pacific countries while deliberating excluding China. Washington’s Asian militarist faction planned to militarize the entire Pacific Basin, in order to dominate the maritime trade routes and, at a moment’s notice, choke off all of China’s overseas markets and suppliers – shades of the series of US provocations against Japan leading up to the US entering WW2.
The ‘Asia-militarist faction’ successfully demanded a bigger military budget to accommodate its vastly more aggressive posture toward China.
Predictably, China has insisted on defending its maritime routes and has increased its naval and air base building and sea and air patrols. Also, predictably, China has countered the US-dominated TPP by setting-up a one hundred billion dollar Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), while contributing to the multi-billion dollar BRICS Bank. Meanwhile, China even signed a separate $30 billion dollar trade agreement with Washington’s strategic ‘partner’, Britain. In fact, Britain followed the rest of the EU and joined the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank – despite objections from Washington’s “Asia faction”.
While the US depends heavily on its military pacts with South Korea and Japan, the latter nations have been meeting with China – their most significant trading partner – to work on expanding and deepening economic ties.
Up until 2014, the “business-with-China faction” of the Washington elite played a key role in the making of US-Asia policy. However, they have been eclipsed by the Asia militarist-faction, which is taking US policy in a totally different direction: Pushing China out as Asia’s economic superpower and escalating military confrontation with Beijing now heads Washington’s agenda.
Ashton Carter, the US Defense Secretary, has China, the second most important economy in the world in the Pentagon’s ‘cross-hairs’. When the TPP failed to curtail China’s expansion, the militarist faction shifted Washington toward a high risk military course, which could destabilize the region and risk a nuclear confrontation.
The Pirouette: China and Syria
Meanwhile in the Levant, Washington’s Zionist faction has been busy running a proxy war in Syria. The pivot to Asia has had to compete with the pirouette to Syria and Yemen.
The US joined Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf Emirates, and the EU in sponsoring a replay of the Libyan ‘regime change’ — sponsoring proxy terrorists from around the globe into invading and devastating Syria. Damascus has been attacked from all sides for the ‘crime’ of being secular and multi-ethnic; for being pro-Palestinian; for being allied with Iran and Lebanon; for having an independent foreign policy; and for maintaining a limited representative (but not necessarily democratic) government. For these crimes, the West, Israel and the Saudis would have Syria fractured into an ethnically cleansed ‘tribal state’ – something they had accomplished in Iraq and Libya.
The US militarist faction (personified by Secretary of Defense Carter and Senators McCain and Graham) have funded, trained and equipped the terrorists, whom they call ‘moderates’ and had clearly expected their progeny to follow Washington’s directions. The emergence of ISIS showed just how close these ‘moderates’ stuck to Washington’s script.
Initially, the traditional militarist wing of Washington’s elite resisted the Zionist faction’s demand for direct US military intervention (American ‘boots on the ground’). That is changing with recent (very convenient) events in Paris.
Warfare: From Piecemeal Interventions to Nuclear Confrontation
The Washington militarists have again committed more US soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan; American fighter planes and Special Forces are in Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, US naval armadas aggressively patrol the coasts of China and Iran. The militarist-Zionist ‘compromise’ over Syria was comprised of an initial contingent of 50 US Special Forces to join in ‘limited’ combat roles with (“loyal” sic) Islamist mercenaries – the so-called moderates. There are commitments for greater and heavier weaponry to come, including ground to air missiles capable of shooting down Russian and Syrian military jets.
Elite Factional Politics: An Overview
How does the record of these competing factions, formulating US imperial war policies in the Middle East over the past 15 years stack up? Clearly there has been no coherent imperial economic strategy.
The policy toward Afghanistan is remarkable for its failure to end the longest war in US history – over 14 years of occupation! The recent attempts by US-led client NATO forces to withdraw have been immediately followed by military advances by the nationalist-Islamist resistance militia – the Taliban, which controls much of the countryside. The possibility of a collapse of the current puppet in Kabul has forced the militarists in Washington to retain US bases – surrounded by completely hostile rural populations.
The Afghan war’s initial appearance of success triggered new wars – inter alia Iraq. But taking the long view, the Afghan war, has been a miserable failure in terms of the stated strategic goal of establishing a stable client government. The Afghan economy collapsed: opium production (which had been significantly suppressed by the Taliban’s poppy eradication campaign in 2000-2001) is the now predominant crop – with cheap heroin flooding Europe and beyond. Under the weight of massive and all pervasive corruption by ‘loyal’ client officials – the Afghan treasury is empty. The puppet rulers are totally disconnected from the most important regional, ethnic, religious and family clans and associations.
Washington could not ‘find’ any viable economic classes in Afghanistan with which to anchor a development strategy. They did not come to terms with the deep ethno-religious consciousness rooted in rural communities and fought the most popular political force among the majority Pashtu, the Taliban, which had no role in the attack on ‘9/11’.
They artificially slapped together a massive army of surly illiterates under Western imperial command and watched it fall apart at the seams, defect to the Taliban or turn their own guns on the foreign occupation troops. These “mistakes”, which accounted for the failure of the militarist faction in the Afghanistan war were due, in no small part, to the pressure and influence of the Zionist faction who wanted to quickly move on to their highest priority, a US war against Israel’s first priority enemy – Iraq – without consolidating the US control in Afghanistan. For the Zionists, Afghanistan (envisioned as a ‘cake-walk’ or quick victory) was just a tool to set the stage for a much larger sequence of US wars against Israel’s regional Arab and Persian adversaries.
Before the militarists could establish any viable order and an enduring governmental structure in Afghanistan, attention shifted to a Zionist-centered war against Iraq.
The build-up for the US war against Iraq has to be understood as a project wholly engineered by and for the state of Israel, mostly through its agents within the US government and Washington policy elite. The goal was to establish Israel as the unchallenged political-military power in the region using American troops and money and preparing the ground for Tel Aviv’s “final solution” for the Palestinian ‘problem’; total expulsion…
The US military and occupation campaign included the wholesale and systematic destruction of Iraq: Its law and order, culture, economy and society – so there would be no possibility of recovery. Such a vicious campaign did not resonate with any productive sector of the US economy (or for that matter with any Israeli economic interest).
Washington’s Zionist faction set about in a parody of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge to identify and destroy any competent, experienced Iraqi professional, civil servant, scientist, intellectual, or military official capable of re-organizing and re-building the county and war-battered society. They were assassinated, arrested, tortured, or driven into exile. The occupation deliberately encouraged religious parties and traditional tribes to engage in inter-communal massacres and ethnic cleansing. In other words, the Zionist faction did not pursue the traditionally understood policy of empire building which would incorporate the second tier functionaries of a conquered state to form a competent client regime and use Iraq’s great oil and gas wealth to build its economy. Instead they chose to impose a scorched earth policy; setting loose organized sectarian armies, imposing the rule of grotesquely corrupt ex-pats and placing the most venal, sectarian clients in positions of power. The effect has been to transform the most advanced, secular Arab country into an ‘Afghanistan’ and in less than 15 years destroying centuries of culture and community.
The goal of the ‘Zionist strategy’ was to destroy Iraq as Israel’s regional rival. The cost of over a million Iraqi dead and many millions of refugees did not prick any conscience in Washington or Tel Aviv.
After all, Washington’s traditional ‘militarist faction’ picked up the bill (costing hundreds of billions) which they passed on to the American taxpayers (well over one trillion dollars) and used the deaths and suffering of tens of thousands of American troops to provide a pretext for spreading more chaos. The result of their mayhem includes the specter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which they may consider to be a success – since hysteria over ISIS pushes the West ‘closer to Israel’.
The sheer scale of death and destruction inflicted on the Iraqi population by the Zionist faction led to thousands of highly competent Ba’athist officers, who had survived ‘Shock and Awe’ and the sectarian massacres, to join armed Islamist Sunnis and eventually form the ISIS. This group of experienced Iraqi military officers formed the strategic technical core of ISIS which launched a devastating offensive in Iraq in 2014 – taking major cities in the north and completely routing the US-trained puppet armies of the ‘government’ in Baghdad. From there they moved into Syria and beyond. It is fundamental to understanding the roots of ISIS: The Zionist faction among US militarist policymakers imposed a deliberate ‘scorched earth’ occupation policy, which united highly trained nationalist Ba’athist military officers with young Sunni fighters ,both locals and increasingly foreign jihadist mercenaries. These deracinated members of the traditional Iraqi nationalist military elite had lost their families to the sectarian massacres; they were persecuted, tortured, driven underground, and highly motivated. They literally had nothing left to lose!
This core of ISIS leadership stands in stark contrast to the colonial, corrupt, and demoralized army slapped together by the US military with more cash than morale. ISIS quickly swept through half of Iraq and came within 40 miles of Baghdad.
The US militarist faction faced military defeat after eight years of war. They mobilized, financed, and armed their client Kurdish mercenaries in northern Iraq and recruited the Shia Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to appeal to the Shia militia.
ISIS exploited the Western-backed Islamist uprising in Syria and extended their sweep well across the border. Syria had accepted a million Iraqi refugees from the US invasion, including many of Iraq’s surviving experienced nationalist administrative elite. The US militarists are in a dilemma – another full-scale war would not be politically feasible, and its military outcome uncertain… Moreover the US was aligned with dubious allies – especially the Saudis – who had their own regional ambitions. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Kurds were each eager to expand their power territorially and politically.
In the midst of this, the traditional Washington militarists are left with no overall viable imperialist strategy. Instead they improvise with faux ‘rebels’, who claim to be moderates and democrats, while taking US guns and dollars and ultimately joining the most powerful Islamist groups – like ISIS.
Throwing a wrench into the machinery of Israeli-Saudi hegemonic ambitions, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have sided with the secular Syrian government. Russia finally moved to bomb ISIS strongholds – after identifying a significant ISIS contingent of militant Chechens whose ultimate aims are to bring war and terror back to Russia.
The US-EU war against Libya unleashed all the retrograde mercenary forces from three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe) and Washington finds itself with no means to control them. Washington could not even protect its own consulate in their ‘liberated’ regional capital of Benghazi – the US ambassador and two intelligence aides were killed by Washington’s own ‘rebels’. The competing and cooperating factions of the Washington militarist elite placed Libya on a steaming platter: Serving up invasion, regicide and hundreds of thousands of refugees, which they did not bother to even ‘season’ with any plan or strategy – just unadulterated scorched earth against another opponent of Zionism. And a potentially lucrative strategic neo-colony in North Africa has been lost with no accountability for the Washington architects of such barbarism.
Latin America: The Last Outpost of the Multi-Nationals
As we have seen, the major theaters of imperial policy (the Middle East and Asia) have been dominated by militarists, not professional diplomats-linked to the multi-national corporations. Latin America stands as something of an exception. In Latin America, US policymakers have been guided by big business interests. Their main focus has been on pushing the neo-liberal agenda. Eventually this has meant promoting the US-centered ‘free trade’ agreements, joint military exercises, shared military bases, and political backing for the US global military agenda.
The ‘militarist faction’ in Washington worked with the traditional business faction in support of the unsuccessful military coups in Venezuela (2002 and 2014), the attempted coup in Bolivia 2008, and a successful regime change in Honduras (2010).
To harass the independent Argentine government which was developing closer diplomatic and trade ties with Iran, a sector of the US Zionist financial elite (the ‘vulture fund’ magnate Paul Singer) joined forces with the Zionist militarist faction to raise hysterical accusations against President Cristina Kirchner over the ‘mysterious’ suicide of a Israel-linked Argentine prosecutor. The prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, had devoted his career to ‘cooking up a case’ against Iran with the aid of the Mossad and CIA for the unsolved, bombing the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994. Various investigations had exonerated Iran and the Nisman Affair was an intense effort to keep Argentina from trading with Iran.
The Washington business faction operated in a mildly hostile Latin America for most of the past decade. However, it was able to recover influence, via a series of bilateral free trade agreements and took advantage of the end of the commodity cycle. The latter weakened the center-left regimes and moved them closer to Washington.
The ‘excesses’ committed by the US backed military dictatorships during the nineteen sixties through eighties, and the crisis of the neo-liberal nineties, set the stage for the rise of a relatively moderate business-diplomatic faction to come to the fore in Washington. It is also the case that the various militarist and Zionist factions in Washington were focused elsewhere (Europe, Middle East and Asia). In any case the US political elite operates in Latin America mostly via political and business proxies, for the time being.
From our brief survey, it is clear that wars play a key role in US foreign policy in most regions of the world. However, war policies in different regions respond to different factions in the governing elite.
The traditional militarist faction predominates creating confrontations in Ukraine, Asia and along the Russian border. Within that framework the US Army, Air Force, and Special Forces play a leading, and fairly conventional, role. In the Far East, the Navy and Air Force predominate.
In the Middle East and South Asia, the military (Army and Air Force) factions share power with the Zionist faction. Fundamentally the Zionists dictate policy on Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine and the militarists follow.
Both factions overlapped in creating the debacle in Libya.
The factions form shifting coalitions, supporting wars of interest to their respective power centers. The militarists and Zionists worked together in launching the Afghan war; but once launched, the Zionists abandoned Kabul and concentrated on preparing for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was of far greater interest to Israel.
It should be noted that at no point did the oil and business elite play any significant role in war policy. The Zionist faction pushed hard to secure direct US ground intervention in Libya and Syria, but was not able to force the US to send large contingents of ground troops due to opposition from the Russians as well as a growing sector of the US electorate. Likewise, the Zionists played a leading role in successfully imposing sanctions against Iran and a major role in prosecuting banks around the world accused of violating the sanctions. However, they were not able to block the military faction from securing a diplomatic agreement with Iran over its uranium enrichment program – without going to war.
Clearly, the business faction plays a major role in promoting US trade agreements and tries to lift or avoid sanctions against important real and potential trade partners like China, Iran and Cuba.
The Zionist faction among Washington elite policymakers takes positions which consistently push for wars and aggressive policies against any regime targeted by Israel. The differences between the traditional militarist and Zionist factions are blurred by most writers who scrupulously avoid identifying Zionist decision-makers, but there is no question of who benefits and who loses.
The kind of war which the Zionists promote and implement – the utter destruction of enemy countries – undermines any plans by the traditional militarist faction and the military to consolidate power in an occupied country and incorporate it into a stable empire.
It is a serious error to lump these factions together: the business, Zionist, and various militarist factions of the Washington policy making elite are not one homogeneous group. They may overlap at times, but they also differ as to interests, liabilities, ideology, and loyalties. They also differ in their institutional allegiances.
The overarching militarist ideology which permeates US imperialist foreign policy obscures a deep and recurrent weakness – US policymakers master the mechanics of war but have no strategy for ruling after intervening. This has been glaringly evident in all recent wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, etc. Improvisation has repeatedly led to monumental failures: from financing phantom armies to bleeding billions to prop-up incompetent, kleptocratic puppet regimes. Despite the hundreds of billions of public money wasted in these serial disasters, no policymaker has been held to account.
Long wars and short memories are the norm for Washington’s militarist rulers who do not lose sleep over their blunders. The Zionists, for their part, do not even need a strategy for rule. They push the US into wars for Israel, and once having destroyed ‘the enemy country’ they leave a vacuum to be filled by chaos. The American public provides the gold and blood for these misadventures and reaps nothing but domestic deterioration and greater international strife.
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, vowed to strengthen ties with Israel if she is elected president.
In an op-ed published by the American-Jewish newspaper The Forward, Clinton wrote: “The alliance between our two nations transcends politics.”
The piece was published before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, where President Barack Obama will receive him.
This will be the first meeting between Obama and Netanyahu after the Iranian nuclear agreement was reached in July between Tehran and the P5+1, which Netanyahu described as a “historic mistake.”
Clinton also added: “I will do everything I can to enhance our strategic partnership and strengthen America’s security commitment to Israel, ensuring that it always has the qualitative military edge to defend itself.”
“I would also invite the Israeli prime minister to the White House in my first month in office,” she wrote.
The former US Secretary of State wrote that she believed Netanyahu’s visit to Washington “is an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds of friendship and unity between the people and governments of the United States and Israel.”
She stressed that she has always supported Israel and she mentioned that she had first visited Israel in 1981. She wrote: “As president I will never stop working to advance the goal of two states for two peoples living in peace, security and dignity.”
With regards to the Iranian issue, Clinton reaffirmed her commitment not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
If the U.S. is to ever change its foreign policy based on dominance and aggression to a foreign policy based on diplomacy and respect for international law, there needs to be a foundation of realistic assessments. Foreign policy decisions need to be based on reality not fantasy and propaganda.
Unfortunately, dysfunction, deception and propaganda extend across the spectrum from Congressional Republicans to Hillary Clinton to the White House to Bernie Sanders. The following are recent examples:
Benghazi Hearings in Congress ignore important issues to focus on superficial
Congress recently held hearings on what happened in Benghazi Libya leading up to the death of Ambassador Stevens. The hearings focussed on what former Secy of State Clinton knew, when she knew it and whether she should have ordered more security. Before that, millions were spent exploring the email home server issue.
Meanwhile the root cause of Stevens’ death and consequences of the US/NATO overthrow of the Gaddafi government have been ignored. The hearings were silent on the deaths of tens of thousands of Libyans, the eruption and expansion of terrorism within Libya and beyond and the massive numbers of refugees fleeing across the Meditarranean. Instead of evaluating the consequences of “regime change” in Libya, Congressional members focused on cheap political advantage. Mainstream media said nothing about the shallowness of the hearings; they were happy to report on political maneuvering and whether or not Clinton would lose her temper or be able to get “above the fray”.
Points which would have been informative to explore include:
- Were the claims of imminent ‘massacre’ in Benghazi exaggerated and largely false? These claims paved the way to the UN Security Council resolution and NATO imposed No Fly Zone. Was it a fake emergency?
- Who authorized the transition from “protecting civilians” to a campaign of attack and Libyan government overthrow? UN Security Council members China and Russia both say there were deceived and that the US and NATO violated the UN Security Council resolution.
Politicians and much of the media have portrayed Gaddafi as “crazy” for many years. For readers interested in a reality check, see the short video of Gaddafi’s speech to the Arab League in 2008 as he points out the contradictions of acknowledging Israel on the 1967 boundary, as he warns the Arab League leaders of plots and coups, and as he says “we might be next” (for assassination). For a concise contrast of Libya before and after the NATO backed invasion see this article aptly titled “From Africa’s wealthiest democracy under Gaddafi to Terrorist Haven after US Intervention”.
Clinton advocates No Fly Zone for Syria despite U.S. military opposition and Turkey turning against it.
U.S. military leadership has generally opposed the “no fly zone” idea. They have made clear that a “no fly zone” begins with military attacks on anti-aircraft positions and is an act of war. They have underscored that imposing such a zone in Syria would be vastly more difficult than in Libya where there were no sophisticated anti-aircraft installations. Even then it took seven months of intense bombing to overthrow the Tripoli government. The risks in Syria would be huge with a significant chance of international war. The idea is reckless and irresponsible for the following reasons:
- The areas are controlled by armed opposition groups, predominately Jabhat al Nusra (Al Qaeda). Very few civilians remain in the areas proposed for NFZ in Syria. Most have fled to areas under Syrian government control, especially around Latakia and Tartous. Other have gone to Turkey. The proposal is basically to make US and NATO the air force for Al Qaeda. Amazing.
- If it was imposed, the No Fly Zone would more likely become an “intense conflict zone” rather than a “safe zone” as promoted by interventionists. It would bring USA and NATO directly into the conflict which is what the proponents want.
- There already exists a “safe zone”. It’s called the Turkish border.
Of crucial importance, the second Turkish Parliamentary elections are this coming Sunday November 1. Polls indicate the ruling “Justice and Develpment Party” (AKP) will probably lose majority control of the parliament. It’s possible they will lose power altogether. Either way, this will put a stop to the schemes for an all powerful Turkish President (Erdogan) and continuation of the war on Syria. All three non-AKP parties in Turkey oppose the current policies supporting war and terrorism in Syria.
Clinton’s NFZ proposal is opportunistic and out of step with reality in Syria and Turkey.
White House continues anti-Assad lies as they are further exposed in Turkey
The White House must know very well that Assad government forces did NOT carry out a chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus in August 2013. They must be acutely aware of this because they could not get the U.S. Intelligence to agree with the statement that Assad was behind the atrocity back in Fall 2013. Instead of the usual “U.S. Intelligence assesses with high confidence …..” they had to substitute the “US Government assesses …..” Although rarely remarked or noted in mainstream media, this was a significant deviation.
Despite this, and the investigations of the most acclaimed US investigative journalists (Seymour Hersh, Robert Parry, Gareth Porter, Russel Baker) which all point to the Assad government NOT being responsible, just a couple weeks ago the White House spokesman asserted the Assad government “used chemical weapons against his own people”.
Meanwhile last week in Turkey two deputies of the social democratic party CHP held a press conference to expose the evidence of Turkish involvement in shipping sarin to Syria and the refusal of the Erdogan government to pursue the investigation or charge the culprits.
This evidence, including wire taps, supports the conclusions of Hersh and others, that the chemical weapons used in Damascus on August 21, 2013 were supplied by Turkey to armed “rebels”. This further exposes the fact free propaganda that “Assad used chemical weapons on his own people”. Politicians and mainstream media outlets such as PBS Frontline just keep repeating it.
Bernie Sanders joins the absurd propaganda campaign against Venezuela and former leader Hugo Chavez
As recently reported at Venezuelanalysis, Bernie Sanders referred to former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a “dead communist dictator”. It’s nonsense, just like the White House claim that Venezuela is a “threat to US national interests”. It’s sad that Sanders is following that path. Chavez was a socialist not communist; he was a member and leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Between 1998 and 2013 Chavez and the PUSV competed in elections seventeen times. They won every time except once. Elections in Venezuela are vastly more free and fair than elections in the US. They have high turnout, they have very active and hard campaigning, there is a paper trail to verify the accuracy of the electronic voting, over 50% of the electronic votes are matched to the paper votes to confirm the accuracy of the vote counting.
National Lawyers Guild and Task Force on the Americas (and others) have sent many delegations to Venezuela. They have observed conditions including the voting process. National Lawyers Guild’s statement on the 2013 election concluded the Venezuelan elections were “well organized, fair and transparent”. They added: “The U.S. would do well to incorporate some of the security checks and practices that are routine in Venezuela to improve both the level of participation and the credibility of our elections,” said NLG attorney Robin Alexander.
So why in the world is Bernie Sanders promoting false propaganda that Chavez was a “communist dictator”?
Task Force on the Americas, based in the SF Bay Area, has written a letter to the Sanders campaign asking him to review and correct his inaccurate statement.
There is profound need for dramatic changes in U.S. foreign policy. Given that over 55% of the discretionary budget of the U.S. goes to the military, it’s likely that positive changes in domestic policy will depend on changes in foreign policy. The starting point has to be realistic assessments of conditions in other countries, sincere examinations of the consequences of past actions and a genuine commitment to abiding by international law. As we can see from the above examples, there is a long way to go.
Rick Sterling is a retired engineer and co-founder of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be emailed at: email@example.com.
The system for classifying intelligence and other national security documents is broken in major respects. Increasingly, it is also manipulated to punish perceived critics or to protect agency reputations and high officials, both from adverse publicity and in the courts. Hillary Clinton’s use of a private rather than State Department email service illustrates many of these issues. Her experience stands in stark contrast to treatment of national security whistleblowers, as illustrated in particular by variance in National Security Agency (NSA) communications intelligence policies.
–Culpability. Former Secretary of State Clinton clearly and knowingly mishandled classified information. As a U.S. senator, security clearances were required for her membership on the Senate Armed Services Committee from 2003 to 2009. Therefore, she knew the rules for handling classified information before she decided, at the outset when she became Secretary of State in early 2009, to use personal rather than secure email.
Hillary and Bill Clinton had suffered many political and public relations crises. She had already run for the presidency and likely would do so again. Rules for handling classified information were ignored, the effect being to hide records that could be used against her in a second presidential run.
It simply could never be argued plausibly that for four years, a person in the highest U.S. foreign policy slot had no classified or sensitive information in any business emails that she wrote or received – over 30,000 of them. This defies the definition of the job.
The State Department is a primary user and a significant generator of classified information that bears on the great majority of issues coming before the Secretary. The State Department is also a profligate designator of “Sensitive But Unclassified” information.
–Overclassification. It is widely admitted that the intelligence classification system suffers from systemic over-classification. President Barack Obama has acknowledged the problem, and one review group even stated that almost every item now labeled Confidential should be Unclassified. There is no penalty for playing it safe – or playing it political – by classifying at too high a level, but there are potentially severe repercussions for an individual who mistakenly classifies at too low a level, or who is known to mishandle or publicly reveal classified information.
It is most unlikely, however, that Hillary Clinton will fall victim to accusations that rely on improper overclassification. The State Department and White House, including President Obama himself, sought to protect her and to minimize the effects of her behavior.
The case is extremely high-profile, Democrats in Congress would attack any borderline classification, and a host of wellpaid lawyers would rise to her defense. Improperly classified items or those deemed Sensitive but Unclassified may be redacted from publicly released documents, but it is hard to imagine that Mrs. Clinton would be falsely accused of felonies.
Whistleblowers suffer a quite different fate. Intelligence agencies easily and repeatedly retaliate for the airing of their dirty laundry by accusing the whistleblower of improperly handling or revealing allegedly classified information. The Obama administration then prosecutes them under the Espionage Act, under which altruistic motivation is irrelevant and may not even be raised in court.
Former CIA official John Kiriakou revealed on television that post 9/11 torture was official U.S. policy, not just attributable to a few rogue agents. The CIA seethed, but the Justice Department would not prosecute. Unfortunately, Kiriakou erred in giving a reporter the business card of a man he thought had retired from CIA but was still an agent under cover. The agent’s name was not published, but CIA got its revenge when Kiriakou was indicted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1981. Left penniless with over $700,000 in legal bills even before trial, Kiriakou finally accepted a felony plea bargain and went to jail.
Thomas Drake and this author went through proper official channels in 20012002 to protest NSA’s surveillance of U.S. citizens. Along with colleagues Kirk Wiebe, William Binney and Edward Loomis, they also reported to the Defense Department Inspector General the waste of money on NSA modernization.
After domestic surveillance leaked to the New York Times four years later, the five became primary suspects, partly because the IG improperly offered their names to the FBI. All were raided, but no evidence was found because, as the reporter later stated publicly, he had not then met or communicated with any of the five.
Nonetheless, Drake was prosecuted under the Espionage Act for possessing five Unclassified NSA papers that NSA retroactively classified. He was threatened with 35 years in prison unless he pled guilty, but heroically resisted. Pretrial hearings proved all the information in the documents had been declassified by NSA. After a yearsold interview record was orally falsified, this author was asked to plead guilty to felony perjury, but also refused.
Section 1.7 of Executive Order 13526 governing classification stipulates that no information may be classified to conceal violations of law, inefficiency or administrative error; to prevent embarrassment; to restrain competition; or to prevent or delay release of information not requiring protection. This section is observed in the breach, as political considerations dictate.
For all the above proscribed reasons, unclassified parts of the NSA IG audit we requested are still withheld by NSA ten years after the audit was first published. Former NSA contractors Edward Snowden and John Kiriakou showed that illegal and unconstitutional activities were hidden from American citizens and others behind the veil of classification. For revealing material that never should have been classified in the first place, they are paying a very high price.
In Snowden’s case, many revelations about domestic surveillance still are treated as classified to keep them from U.S. voters, although every terrorist and every intelligence agency in the world has access to the documents and almost no ordinary person in any country of interest to the U.S. can function efficiently whilst avoiding NSA surveillance.
–Sensitive but Unclassified Material. Individual agencies claim an unsupervised right to withhold admittedly Unclassified information according to any criteria they see fit and for as long as they choose. In the Clinton email case, it is quite striking that not a word has been breathed about such Unclassified but Sensitive material. Her free pass in this respect is the envy of whistleblowers.
In our case, NSA initially refused to return any materials seized in the raids. When sued, NSA claimed that if a computer contained even one admittedly Unclassified document with material that had not been officially released by NSA, the Agency could retain and destroy the entire computer content. Courts eventually allowed NSA to keep such individual documents in their entirety and at their sole discretion, but required that others be copied and returned.
–With ordinary citizens or lower-level whistleblowers, Sensitive but Unclassified material is wielded as yet another weapon in the Executive’s arsenal of punishments. Even highlevel intelligence officials have had difficulty publishing their memoirs, partly because prepublication review agreements routinely allow an agency to withhold unclassified information.
Since the 1950s, most judges refuse to review allegedly classified or sensitive material even to determine that it does not fall under the commonsense prohibitions of Section 1.7 of the Executive Order on classification. The Executive Branch has also been famously successful in promulgating a “state secrets” doctrine to avoid or indefinitely delay court scrutiny of important civil liberties issues such as domestic surveillance. It is now known, however, that the original state secrets precedent wrongly invoked intelligence sources and methods to cover up Air Force culpability for a plane crash.
In the author’s case, even NSA’s grossly inconsistent classifications got a free pass. A document that was released to Kirk Wiebe as Unclassified was branded Top Secret Compartmented when found on the author’s computer. Confronted with this vast discrepancy, NSA alleged that it could neither confirm nor deny that the document had previously been released. It keeps no records of prior declassifications. Even in a related court case. Nor is it interested in an available system to compile and compare such records. But the judge let the classification stand.
Diane Roark retired in 2002 after 17 years on the professional staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and prior service on the National Security Council Staff, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and in the Intelligence section of the International division of the Department of Energy.
Who thought this up – Giving a private corporation (CNN) control of a presidential debate? In the most recent Democratic presidential debate, CNN controlled which candidates were invited, who asked what questions, and the location, Las Vegas – the glittering, gambling center of America. This is a mirror image of the control Fox News exercised during their Republican candidates’ circus. Corporatism aside, the debate with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee was not a debate. With few exceptions – most notably Hillary Clinton going after Bernie Sanders on gun control, about which she is reborn – the stage was the setting for a series of interview questions to each candidate by Anderson Cooper and his colleagues.
Granted, the quality of the questions was higher than has been the case with other debate spectacles in recent years. Yet CNN’s self-censorship – in part reflected in the content of the questions and the favored positioning given to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – was not obscured.
For example, our country has been plagued by a corporate crime wave from Wall Street to Houston. These crimes are regular occurrences, often with recidivist corporations such as giant oil, drug, auto, banking, munitions producers, and mining companies corrupting our politics. Such chronic violations are reported more often than they are properly prosecuted.
Corporate crimes affect American as workers, consumers, taxpayers, and community residents. Unfortunately, corporate criminal law is woefully weak, prosecutions are minor, and enforcement budgets are scandalously tiny. Moreover, corporate lobbyists ensure that corporate privileges and immunity are preserved and expanded in corporate-occupied Washington, D.C.
Somehow, in presidential debate after presidential debate “corporate crime and punishment” or “law and order for corporations” almost never get mentioned either by questioner or candidate. Bernie Sanders – break this taboo in the next five scheduled Democratic debates.
Another perennial omission is the question of how the candidates plan to give more power to the people, since all of them are saying that Washington isn’t working. I have always thought that this is the crucial question voters should ask every candidate for public office. Imagine asking a candidate: “How are you specifically going to make ‘we the people’ a political reality, and how are you going to give more voice and power to people like me over elected representatives like you?” Watch politicians squirm over this basic inquiry.
The most remarkable part of the Democrats’ “debate” was how Hillary Clinton got away with her assertions and then got rewarded – though not in the subsequent polls, but by the pundits and malleable critics like the Washington Post’s usually cynical Dana Milbank who fell very hard for the Clintonian blarney.
Well-prepared and battle-tested in many political debates, Hillary knows how to impress conventional political reporters, while limiting their follow-up questions. She started with her latest political transformation early on. “I don’t take a backseat to anyone when it comes to progressive commitment…. I’m a progressive.”
And the moon is made of blue cheese. Hillary Clinton, a progressive? She is the arch Wall Street corporatist, who hobnobs with criminal firms like Goldman Sachs for $250,000 a speech, and goes around the country telling closed-door business conventions what they want to hear for $5,000 a minute!
As a senator, she did not challenge the large banks and insurance companies whose avarice, willful deceptions, and thefts set the stage for the economy’s collapse in 2008-2009. In fact she supported Bill Clinton’s deregulation of Wall Street with its resulting painful consequences for single mothers and children who suffered the most from the deep recession.
A progressive would not have waited year after year, while receiving the entreaties of women’s and children’s assistance groups to endorse a modest minimum wage to $10.10 per hour over three years by her own Democratic Party in Congress. She finally took the plunge and endorsed it in April 2014, during a speech to the United Methodist Women in Boston. If the Democratic lovefest were a real debate, Bernie Sanders, who voiced domestic progressive positions all evening long, would have intervened and sent her packing. What everlasting hubris do the Clintons exude! (See Peter Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped make Bill and Hillary Rich. Harper Collins, 2015)
As an embedded militarist, during her tenure as Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton never saw a boondoggle, obsolete weapons system, or boomeranging war she didn’t like. She delivered belligerent speeches against China, and scared Secretary of Defense Robert Gates by overruling his opposition through her White House contracts to overthrow the Libyan dictator. This illegal war opened up the savage chaos, bloodshed, and havoc in Libya that continued to spread into huge areas of central Africa.
Hillary’s war didn’t seem to interest anyone on stage except former Senator and Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) – an anti-war stalwart – who was promptly marginalized despite making much sense in his brief declarations.
Senator Bernie Sanders missed opportunities to highlight Hillary Clinton’s true corporatist and militarist identity. Most unfortunately, she placed him on the defensive with the socialist/capitalist questioning. Next time, Bernie Sanders should tell the millions of voters watching the “debates” that local socialism is as American as apple pie, going back to the 18th Century, by mentioning post offices, public highways, public drinking water systems, public libraries, public schools, public universities, and public electric companies as examples.
He then could add that global corporations are destroying competitive capitalism with their corporate state or crony capitalism, despised by both conservatives and progressives.
There was one question – “which enemy are you most proud of?” – that Hillary Clinton did not anticipate and had about a minute to ponder. Her answer: “Well in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians.” Iranians? An entire people, her enemy? Is this what her self-touted, foreign affairs experience has taught her?
For more information on what debates could be, visit www.opendebates.org.
US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has expressed support for President Barack Obama’s decision to keep thousands of American troops in Afghanistan.
On Thursday, Obama announced plans to keep 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan through 2016 and 5,500 in 2017, reneging on his promise to end the war there and bring home most American forces from the Asian country before he leaves office.
Clinton on Friday called Obama’s move an example of “a leader who has strong convictions about what he would like to see happen but also pays attention to what’s going on in the real world.”
Obama had originally planned to withdraw almost all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. He just wanted to keep a small, embassy-based military presence in Kabul.
But the Pentagon has been arguing for months that Kabul needed additional US military presence in order to defeat a resurgent Taliban movement.
Clinton, who served as Obama’s secretary of state during his first term, said Washington wants to bring American troops home and “we certainly don’t want them engaged in on-the-ground combat.”
“We want them to help support and train the Afghan army,” she added.
“So I can’t predict where things will be in January of 2017. But I support the president’s decision,” Clinton stated.
According to US officials, Washington would also maintain a large counterterrorism capability of terror drones and Special Operations forces to fight militants in Afghanistan.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 14 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country.
“We have invested a lot of blood and a lot of treasure in trying to help that country and we can’t afford for it to become an outpost of the Taliban and ISIS [Daesh/ISIL] one more time, threatening us, threatening the larger world,” Clinton declared.
Hillary Clinton in Her Own Words
Key leaders from around the world are present at the United Nations this week to discuss critical issues; one of the most pressing is Syria. How did we get to this point with half the Syrian population (almost 12 million) displaced and under-populated but huge areas of Syria now controlled by ISIS, Al Qaeda (Nusra) and other fanatical fundamentalist groups?
Hillary Clinton’s 2014 book Hard Choices reveals important information about the first years of the Syrian conflict and how we got where we are today. Clinton’s account conveys the perception, priorities and bias at the top level of the Obama Administration. It describes policy differences within the administration and the common assumptions and goals which have led to the current disastrous situation.
Clinton’s chapter on Syria is titled “Syria: A Wicked Problem”. It documents how the US and regional allies tried to overthrow the Damascus government. The “wicked problem” is that there was no easy way. Attack directly? Train proxy army? Supply the armed opposition with weapons secretly or publicly? Apply “No Fly Zone”? Bomb Damascus? These are the questions considered. The dominance of neoconservative mentality in Washington and western media is demonstrated by the fact that foreign demands that “Assad must go” are rarely questioned despite the fact it’s in clear violation of international law and the UN Charter.
Clinton’s unwillingness to let go of the “regime change” requirement regarding a sovereign state, coupled with a moralistic but biased outrage, suggests someone who does not respect international law and could be dangerous as President: hypocritical, prejudiced and self-righteous.
Following are specific points of interest from “Syria: A Wicked Problem”.
Clinton echoes the western narrative about the Syrian conflict
The crisis began in early 2011, when Syrian citizens, inspired in part by the successful peaceful protests in Tunisia and Egypt, took to the streets to demonstrate against the authoritarian regime of Bashar al Assad. As in Libya, security forces responded with excessive force and mass detentions which in turn led some Syrians to take up arms to defend themselves and, eventually, to try to topple Assad.” (p 447)
This description is widespread but misleading. In his 2007 article Seymour Hersh exposed the U.S. promotion of Sunni fundamentalists to undermine Syria and Iran. In 2010 Secretary of State Clinton pressed Syrian President Bashar al Assad to comply with Israeli and US calls to stop supporting the Lebanese resistance and break relations with Iran. Was Clinton especially hostile to the Syrian President because he did not comply with her requests/demands and soon after forged an agreement with Iran? She makes no mention of this in her book but it is obviously relevant to the issue of Syria-USA relations.
Regarding the so-called peaceful protesters, in fact, there was a violent element from the start. In Deraa in March 2011 several police were killed. In the original “capital of the revolution”, Homs, a very credible eye-witness reported armed demonstrators initiating the violence.
Clinton confirms the anti-Assad obsession of the Gulf monarchies
Sunni countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states, backed the rebels and wanted Assad gone. (p 450)
This presents a baffling inconsistency: If the Syrian uprising was about “freedom and democracy” why was it being heavily promoted by repressive monarchies Saudi Arabia and Qatar?
Clinton was focused on building the anti-Assad forces instead of working toward diplomatic resolution
As the crisis unfolded, one of the biggest challenges we faced was helping the opposition unite across the country’s many religious, geographic and ideological lines. (p 449)
In early 2012 she coordinated the cynically named “Friends of Syria” coalition. This was the group of countries hostile to Syria and collectively agreeing how they would support a political front, support an armed insurrection and promote the “activists” fighting for freedom and democracy while on the payroll. At the first meeting in Tunisia in February 2012, as chaos was spreading in neighboring Libya, the “Friends of Syria” discussed the implementation of economic and other sanctions against Syria, training of “Syrian civil opposition leaders”. Clinton records “behind the scenes there was a lot of talk in Tunis about funneling weapons to the rebels”. (p 452).
Clinton distorts the history in several areas
For example, regarding the findings of the Arab League mission which toured Syria in December-January of 2011/2 she says:
Arab monitors went to Syria’s battle-scarred cities … once again it became clear that Assad had no intention of keeping his word. In late January 2012, the Arab League pulled the observers out in frustration and asked the UN Security Council to back its call for a political transition. (p 450)
In contrast with Clinton’s description, the mission report speaks about the Syrian government’s cooperation. The mission wanted to continue but was stopped by the Arab League itself, presumably because the findings were contradicting the policy of the dominant powers in the Arab League.
Among other things, the Arab League mission report documented:
(a) violence by rebels against government and civilians including the bombing of a civilian bus;
(b) false and exaggerated reports in the international media;
(c) pro and anti government demonstrations which were NOT disrupted;
(d) overall Syrian government cooperation and compliance with requests.
Clinton casually dismisses the consequences of the “No Fly Zone” in Libya
The campaign in Libya began with an innocent sounding UN Security Council Resolution calling for the protection of civilians. Both China and Russia abstained rather than voting to veto the resolution. Then they realized they had been tricked. In her book, Clinton describes how Russia “chafed as the NATO-led mission to protect civilians accelerated the fall of Qaddafi”. In reality the NATO led mission “to protect civilians” resulted in vastly more civilian deaths than had occurred before it began.
Horace Campbell and Maximilian Forte have written two solid accounts describing the reality versus myths of regime change in Libya. Clinton’s characterization of “accelerating” the fall of Qaddafi is a cynical understatement, like her self congratulatory comment that “we came, we saw, he died” after rebels killed Qaddafi on the street. Many of the refugees drowning in the Mediterannean Sea or reaching the shores of Italy today are a direct consequence of that operation. Yet who has been held to account?
Clinton chastises Russian and Chinese diplomats for not supporting UN Security Council resolutions
These resolutions placed all the blame for the Syrian conflict on the Damascus government while making no demands of foreign states pumping weapons and jihadis into the country. Clinton describes the Russian and Chinese actions as “despicable”:
Are we for peace and security and democratic future, or are we going to be complicit in the continuing violence and bloodshed? I know where the United States stands … Russia and China used their veto power to prevent the world from condemning the violence. To block this resolution was to bear responsibility for the horrors on the ground. It was, as I said later, despicable. (p 452)
Clinton maintains the public facade that the Obama Administration did not supply weapons in the early years of the conflict
On page 460 she claims: “We provided the rebels with ‘nonlethal’ aid, including communications gear and rations, starting in March 2012, but we held the line against contributing arms and training.” This was the public stance but in reality the CIA was heavily involved in transferring weapons to the Syrian armed opposition beginning late 2011. Just as Ronald Reagan and Oliver North used subterfuge to supply weapons to the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s, so the CIA and Obama Administration found the perfect way to get weapons to the Syrian opposition without having it recorded or accounted for: they stole weapons from the Libyan military arsenal and shipped them to the Syrian armed opposition as confirmed in this declassified DIA report.
Clinton documents bad faith involved in early negotiation efforts
The role of Kofi Annan and diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis are discussed. While Annan was trying to get an agreement in the first Geneva conference, Qatar and Turkey were pushing for more military aid to the rebels “whatever the outcome in Geneva”. (p 457) While superficially agreeing to drop the demand for ‘regime change’, Clinton indicates that they were still committed to Assad not being part of a post-conflict Syrian coalition government, a major precondition that precludes compromise.
Clinton exalts her effort to ally with General David Petraeus to promote a US supplied and trained proxy army in Syria
Given Petraeus lack of success training Iraqi and Afghan soldiers, he is a curious choice. Clinton describes the White House meetings where she and Petraeus, with the backing of Secretary of Defense Panetta, campaigned for a more direct and aggressive US role:
Petraeus presented the plan to the President. He listened carefully and had a lot of questions …. The president asked for examples of instances when the United States had backed an insurgency that could be considered a success….Petraeus and I argued there was a big difference between Qatar and Saudi Arabia dumping weapons into the country and the United States responsibly training and equipping a non-extremist rebel force. (p 463)
Clinton describes her disappointment when the proposal was not accepted. Obama deferred the decision at that time. As we now know, a similar plan for the US to “vet” and train “moderate rebels” at a starting cost of $500 million was later approved and initiated. The first batch of rebels was quickly routed and captured. In the past couple weeks a second batch of “moderate rebels” defected to Nusra/Al Qaeda as soon as they crossed the border.
As for the argument that things have deteriorated because the US did not get more involved earlier, the August 2012 DIA report is clear: “Internally events are taking a clear sectarian direction. The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.”
Clinton ignores contradictory evidence around the chemical weapons incident of August 2013
Although she resigned as Secretary of State after the first Obama term office, she was still consulted. Without citing any evidence, she assumes the Assad government was responsible for the CW attack. On the contrary, many of the best American investigative journalists (Seymour Hersh, Robert Parry), retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern and a dedicated website reached the opposite conclusion. But Clinton sees no problem in a quick determination of guilt. Instead she expresses alarm at the prospect that Congress could vote against authorizing use of force. She describes the planned attack on Syria as a “limited strike to uphold a crucial global norm” and expresses fear that Congress might object “which would deal a serious blow to U.S. prestige and credibility.” (p 466) The thought of Clinton in the White House making life and death decisions, using this kind of value system, is troubling. What kind of credibility and prestige is deserved by a country which attacks another country, killing many, on the basis of questionable or false accusations?
Clinton is blind to the solution
In closing her book, Clinton says:
It is impossible to watch the suffering in Syria, including as a private citizen, and not ask what more could have been done…. Wicked problems can’t paralyze us. We need to urgently seek solutions, however hard they are to find. (p 470)
The solution is not impossible. What is wicked is the devastation of Syria by some of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world. What is wicked is the justification of this on a “humanitarian” pretense. The solution simply requires countries such as the USA and allies to stop their illegal and destructive efforts to overthrow any government they don’t like. It’s up to the people of Syria to determine their government. It’s time for the United Nations and genuine humanitarian organizations to demand the end of this war so that Syrians can start reconciliation and rebuilding.
Rick Sterling is a retired engineer and co-founder of Syria Solidarity Movement. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caracas – Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders lashed out at the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez this week in response to a Clinton super PAC email linking him the late socialist leader.
“Yesterday, one of Hillary Clinton’s most prominent Super PACs attacked our campaign pretty viciously,” the independent Vermont senator told his supporters in a campaign fundraising email.
“They suggested I’d be friendly with Middle East terrorist organizations, and even tried to link me to a dead communist dictator,” the email continued, referring to Venezuela’s three time democratically-elected former president Hugo Chávez.
The statement came in response to a email circulated on Monday by the pro-Hillary Clinton super Political Action Committee (PAC) Correct the Record, comparing Sanders to the newly elected head of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.
Following Sanders’ praise for the left-leaning Labour MP upon his victory this past Saturday, the Clinton campaign took aim at the self-proclaimed democratic socialist politician, seeking to link him with Corbyn’s “most extreme comments”.
Corbyn has been branded a “national security threat” by UK Prime Minister David Cameron for his foreign policy postures, which include opposition to NATO and support for the “electoral democratic credentials” of Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution.
Breaking with its hitherto standing policy of refraining from criticizing Sanders, the Clinton campaign sought to draw links between the two anti-party establishment progressives, pointing to the Vermont independent’s role in negotiating a 2005 deal with the Bolivarian government to bring free and discounted home heating oil to the poor in northeastern US cities.
However, Sanders’ distancing from Chávez, labeling him a “dead communist dictator” has caused disenchantment in some circles, who reject what they view as an offensive characterization of the immensely popular, democratically-elected late president, whose socialist government has won eighteen internationally recognized elections since 1998.
“Venezuela has become . . . the bad guy. We’re the villain,” Venezuela’s chargé d’affaires in Washington, Maximilien Sanchez Arvelaiz, told reporters.
In March, President Obama issued an executive order branding Venezuela a “national security threat” and imposing sanctions over unproven allegations of “human rights violations”.
Sanders, who has surpassed Hillary Clinton in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls, has up until recently avoided issuing statements on US foreign policy, preferring to focus on confronting economic inequality.
“For the left, Hugo Chavez is/was a reference,” Sanchez asserted, noting that Jeremy Corbyn recently won a landslide victory notwithstanding his public endorsement of the revolutionary Venezuelan leader and his democratic socialist project.
Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign has made fresh statements in response to the Clinton attacks, further disavowing any links with Chávez.
“To equate bringing home heating oil to low-income Vermonters with support for the Chavez government is dishonest,” Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs told the Huffington Post.
The newly-released batch of Hillary Clinton emails provides further proof that Freedom of Information (FOI) law has been blatantly violated. The documents include material directly responsive to a FOI request I made back in 2012 after the Benghazi terrorist attacks on the U.S. compounds. However, the material was not produced at the time, as required by law. Once again, there appears to be nobody who holds government officials and agencies accountable for their routine violation of this law. So the infractions occur frequently and with impunity. If nobody polices our government officials and agencies–if they are above the law–then how does a lawful society function?
Click here to view the WSJ database of emails. One of the many emails that should have been provided under FOI in 2012, but was not, is to Clinton from Huma Abedin on Sept. 14, 2012. Others include Clinton communications on Benghazi with her chief aide Cheryl Mills.
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.