Counterpunch, May 20, 2016
Liberal Democratic Hillary Clinton supporters get defensive when they hear that Mrs. Clinton is favored over Donald Trump by right-wing billionaires like Charles Koch and (with much more enthusiasm) by leading arch-imperial foreign policy Neoconservatives like Robert Kagan, Max Boot, and Eliot Cohen. But an honest look at Hillary’s record should make the support she is getting from such noxious, arch-authoritarian “elites” less than surprising.
My last essay reflected on Hillary’s deeply conservative, neoliberal, and pro-Big Business career in domestic U.S. politics and policy. This article turns to her foreign policy history, showing why it makes perfect sense that top imperial Neocons prefer Hillary over the at least outwardly “isolationist” and at anti-interventionist Trump.
The first entry on Hillary’s Neocon foreign policy résumé is Madeleine Albright. As First Lady, Hillary successfully lobbied her husband Bill to appoint Albright – a right-wing Russia-hating Czech emigre dedicated to the provocative, ever-eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – as Secretary of State (the nation’s top diplomat of all things) in 1997. Albright had already achieved notoriety as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in May of 1996 by telling CBS News reporter Leslie Stahl that the death of half a million Iraqi children due to U.S.-led “economic sanctions” was “a price worth paying” for the advance of U.S. goals in the Middle East. Ms. Albright’s “greatest diplomatic success was to obstruct diplomacy” (Diana Johnstone) – diplomacy that might have prevented the unnecessary and criminal U.S.-led NATO bombing of Serbia in the spring and summer of 1999. Even the legendarily blood-soaked U.S.-imperial strategist Henry Kissinger (a good friend and backer of Hillary) was taken aback by Albright’s determination to concoct an “excuse to start bombing.”
Another line on Hillary’s Neocon résumé is Serbia. She urged an initially reluctant Bill Clinton to launch what became a two-and-a-half month bombing campaign that killed many thousands of Serb civilians. In urging this carnage on the president, she used the false claim that lethal military force was required to stop Hitler-like “genocide” in Yugoslavia.
This would become a leading Hillary war theme: the disingenuous and cynical assertion that foreign governments had to be targeted and overthrown by the world’s only military superpower and its top European allies (claiming together to represent “the international community”) so as to protect innocents against modern-day Holocausts (like the one the Clinton administration unmentionably aided and abetted in Rwanda in 1994). It was a first and successful run for the thoroughly disingenuous Western principle of “R2P: Responsibility to Protect.”
The Clintons’ assault on Serbia helped create the corrupt and criminal state of Kosovo, where a massive U.S. military base stands guard over a nation that leads the world in the murderous harvesting of human organs.
A third entry is Hillary’s vote as a U.S. Senator in October of 2002 on behalf of a Congressional measure authorizing the Neocon-stocked George W. Bush administration to criminally and mass-murderously invade Iraq on criminally false pretexts. Mrs. Clinton did not admit that she’d “gotten it wrong” on Iraq until 2014 (in her tedious memoir Hard Choices). The Clintons, it should be remembered, were on board with Republican Necocons calling for Saddam Hussein’s removal from power by the late 1990s, prior to the 9/11 attacks that Hillary helped Bush criminally connect to Iraq.
A fourth line on Hillary’s Neocon résumé is Honduras. With her appointment as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State (of all things), Hilary’s first test on the foreign policy meaning of “change” came in late June of 2009. That’s when a right-wing business and military coup overthrew Honduras’s democratically elected and populist, Hugo Chavez-admiring President Manuel Zelaya. “It is easy,” the veteran left journalist and author Diana Johnstone notes, “to see what real change would have meant. The U.S. could have vigorously condemned the coup and demanded that the legitimate President be reinstated. Considering U.S. influence in Honduras, especially its powerful military bases there, U.S. ‘resolve’ would have given teeth to anti-coup protests…”
Instead, Secretary Clinton played along with the coup regime’s bogus claims that Zelaya had been trying to establish a dictatorship and that Hondurans had after the coup experienced “free and fair elections” that restored “democratic and constitutional government” in Honduras. The nation has been mired in corruption, poverty, misery, repression, and extreme inequality ever since.
A fifth line is the destruction of Libya in the spring of 2011. As with Serbia and Iraq, the United States targeted a self-designated “dictator” for regime change, spreading false flag propaganda about his supposed plans to “kill his own people” with air attacks and foreign mercenaries. The removal of Momar Gadaffi – “a hero to black Africa” (Johnstone) because of his efforts to create a progressive pan-African Union and his decent treatment of Black Libyans – through U.S.-led Western force turned Libya into a jihadist nightmare zone. It discredited “R2P” across most of the world (though not in the heavily indoctrinated U.S.).
Hillary stood in the vanguard of the Obama administration’s R2P Libya policy. The same is true for the disastrous U.S.-led destabilization of Syria, which fueled a civil war that has killed more than 350,000 people while helping create the barbaric Islamic State. Bleeding Syria (whose jihadists received weapons illegally transferred by the CIA through Libya with the criminal assistance of Secretary Clinton) is the sixth line on Hillary’s Neocon résumé.
Russia and Ukraine
A seventh line is Russia. Mrs. Clinton has consistently sought to demonize and isolate Moscow, absurdly blaming the bloody Ukraine crisis on “Putin’s imperialism” and endlessly justifying Washington’s relentless provocation of Russia. Hillary’s close ally Victoria Nuland (a top member of Hillary’ State Department team) is Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and is married to the top imperial Neocon Robert Kagan.
Nuland played a central role in engineering a bloody right-wing coup that installed an anti-Russian and significantly fascist, neo-Nazi regime (in the name of “democracy”) in Kiev in early 2014. The coup reflected longstanding, Clinton-led U.S. efforts to absorb Russia’s immediate western neighbor into the NATO orbit. The leading Russian historian Stephen Cohen explained the development of the broader U.S. policy behind the Ukraine coup during a talk organized last year by the American Committee for East West Accord: “This [Ukraine] problem began in the 1990s, when the Clinton Administration adopted a winner-take-all policy toward post-Soviet Russia … Russia gives, we take. … This policy was adopted by the Clinton Administration but is pursued by every [major U.S.] political party [all two of them – P.S.], every President, every American Congress, since President Clinton, to President Obama. This meant that the United States was entitled to a sphere or zone of influence as large as it wished, right up to Russia’s borders, and Russia was entitled to no sphere of influence, at all, not even in Georgia… or in Ukraine (with which Russia had been intermarried for centuries).”
It’s not for nothing that the top right wing Ukrainian oligarchs like Victor Pinchuk have contributed many millions of dollars (more than any other nation or national elite) to the global Clinton Foundation – a so-called charity that advances the global neoliberal agenda (including the European integration of the resource-rich Ukraine) of the U.S. ruling class. Several “training” graduates of the Global Clinton Initiative (a wing of the Clinton Foundation) currently sit in the right-wing Ukrainian Parliament.
Hillary’s aggressive New Cold War-mongering contempt for Putin and Russia poses a significant threat of global nuclear war if and when she ascends to the White House.
An eighth line is Hillary’s chilling speech at the annual convention of the super-powerful Zionist lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last March. In her address, Mrs. Clinton condemned Palestinian terrorism without making any reference to the vicious and arch-criminal poverty, displacement, apartheid, mass murder, and repression that racist Israel imposes on its Palestinian subjects. She promised to invite Israel’s blood-drenched Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the White House (a swipe at Obama’s testy relationship with Netanyahu) and slanderously accused what she called “the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS” (the anti-apartheid/anti-racist boycott Israel movement) of “antisemitism.”
Such ugly embrace of Israel and dismissal of Palestinian concerns is a longstanding and key part of the Neocon playbook. It’s nothing new for Hillary, who published a position paper in 2007 arguing that Israel’s right to exist as a “Jewish state” with “an undivided Jerusalem as its capital…must never be questioned.”
Numerous liberals, progressives, and leftists are understandably perturbed by the violence, racism, white nationalism, nativism, and misogyny that exudes from the rhetoric and persona of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. But when it comes to the actual infliction of real violence primarily against non-white people (with all due respect for Serbian and Russian-speaking Ukrainians targeted by Hillary’s allies and agents) and including many women, Hillary has The (longstanding “private citizen”) Donald trumped, of course.
Another irony deserves mention: the streams of refugees and migrants that Trumps wants to build giant nationalist walls against are fed in no small part by the chaos Hillary has done so much to help the U.S. Empire generate in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
None of which is to deny that a climate change-denying, white nationalist and nativist Trump presidency would be certain to inflict significant murder and mayhem at home and abroad.
You get your once-every-four-years “input” next November with a choice between two of the most widely and justly loathed people in the nation and world, my fellow Americans. Ain’t U.S. “democracy” grand?
I’ll be sending a contribution to the Green Party’s Jill Stein and voting for a Marxist this year (or the other way around), and I live in a contested state. Is this going to help the “fascist” Trump? I very much doubt it. As the incisive anti-capitalist and feminist Barbara MacLean recently explained on CounterPunch:
“Another argument I get from people is that if I don’t vote for Hillary we’ll end up with Trump. I don’t believe that will happen. It’s not in the best interest of the capitalists to crown a candidate who says that he wants to bring the jobs home and that he will build a wall to keep out the Mexicans who he has labeled rapists and murderers. After all, who will work the miserable jobs nobody else wants to work, picking fruit, cleaning toilets, doing hard labor off the books? And how can capitalists keep their profits high if they don’t set up their business in countries where they can pay people slave wages? No – not to worry – the capitalists will not let that happen…Socialist feminists know that we do not live in a true democracy and feminism only has a chance during and after the overthrow of capitalism. It doesn’t matter what color or gender the capitalists are.”