Christohper Hitchens, Hillary Clinton and donations to the Clinton foundation
By Chris Green at Jan 20, 2009
I read that Senator John Cornyn has vetoed a Senate proposal to hold a voice vote on approving the nomination of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Coryn's veto will force the Senate to hold debate on Clinton's nomination and force senators to record their vote on the nomination. Cornyn wants to have more time for the senate to discuss the donations made by foreign interests, including the governments of Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei and Saudi Arabia, to ex President Clinton's foundation. The ex-leftist journalist Christopher Hitchens informs us that the foundation's donors include a Nigerian businessman with close ties to the corrupt and violently repressive dictatorship that formerly ruled Nigeria, that of general Sani Abacha. Right wing talk radio and other intelligent, rational venues of opinion have been pressing this issue of the donations to Clinton's foundation by foreign interests.The question that these brave folks ask is: Will Clinton look after the interests of the United States or will she look after the interests of the non-American entities who have donated to her husband's foundation?
Christopher Hitchens has inserted himself into this great moral and ethical case by agreeing with the concerns of his right wing friends (http://www.slate.com/id/2208425/?GT1=38001) Hitchens tells us that "It appears from the donor list of the Clinton Foundation that there is barely an oligarch, royal family, or special-interest group anywhere in the world that does not know how to get the former president's attention." Hitchens always is ready to join an establishment approved moral crusade in the third world, whether it be Bosnia or the War on Terror's alleged goal of bringing democracy to the Middle East. Since he published "No One Left to Lie To" in the late 1990's he also has demonstrated a tendency to pander to right wing prejudices. Again with the case of the Clinton Foundation, he appears to be suggesting that association with unsavory non-American persons or groups is something fairly unique to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
If the Clintons have questionable ties to unsavory elements overseas(and I'm not denying that they do), then what do we make of the Bush family's close relationship with the royal family and other elites in Saudi Arabia? In particular, George H.W. Bush has established close ties to the Saudi royal family, particularly through his job as advisor to the Carlyle group. Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the former long time Saudi ambassador in Washington, is a close friend of the Bushs' and was a frequent guest at the White House early in Bush Jr.'s presidency. Prince Bandar is a gentleman who recently escaped, with the assistance of Gordon Brown's government, from charges of receiving kickbacks from a British arms company. King Abdullah has a warm relationship with George W. Bush, who continued to send massive military aid to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime was declared in 2002 by the right wing "human rights" group Freedom House to have a human rights record as bad as Saddam Hussein's (http://www.freedomhouse.org/uploads/Chart44File118.pdf).
Yet these and many other connections between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family do not cause Christopher Hitchens to produce moral sermons about the Bush administration's ability to deal with Saudi Arabia in a just fashion. But why shouldn't Hitchens produce such sermons? After all, the Bush family clearly had financial links to Saudi Arabia to the extent that reasonable people might question whether George W. Bush had a conflict of interest when he dealt with the Saudis. I suspect that the reasons Hitchens did not produce any such sermons are similar to why other right wing pundits and politicians did not address Bush-Saudi ties. The Bush-Saudi issue was brought up by Michael Moore in "Farenheit 911" but in such an incoherent and idiotic way that right wingers could avoid discussing the issue.
Another officially sanctioned moral cause that gained prominence for a period of time last year was the human rights abuses of the regime in Burma. Hitchens, as one would expect, threw himself into this cause along with liberal celebrities, college students and other good hearted folks. . The Bush administration blustered with moral indignation against Burma but did not actually take any substantive action against the regime. Specifically they did not call for Chevron to withdrawal its substantial investments in Burma. Chevron is a former employer of Condoleeza Rice. Chevron even named an oil tanker after the former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. Yet there was no outcry about possible conflicts of interests, even when in late July 2008, the US House quietly dropped a provision in a bill of sanctions against Burma that penalized Chevron. Chevron helps operate the Yadana pipeline that delivers natural gas from Burma to Thailand. The Thai government is a major purchaser of this natural gas. Yet Hitchens had nothing to say about a potential conflict of interest involving Condoleeza Rice's relationship with Chevron. Instead he attacked the Chinese government, which of course has indeed contributed to the horrors in Burma but it is a politically safe one nonetheless. China is a rival of the United States, not the close ally that Thailand is and so one cannot harm one's position within the American elite by blaming it for problems.