Hillary's War and the Next 9/11
Hillary's War and the Next 9/11
"We want to continue to export democracy, but we want to deliver it in digestible steps"
- Hillary Clinton on the imperialist
"Both Clintons [Hillary and Bill] have made the case to potential fund raisers that the U.S. will probably suffer a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 after the next President is sworn in - and that Hillary is the only Democratic candidate capable of handling such a crisis because of her Senate Armed Services Committee tenure and her years in the White House" (Tumulty and Carney 2007, p. 43).
And look at the following formulation from writers Evan Thomas and Larry Kaplow at the end of a recent Newsweek story on the U.S . military's effort to find three missing soldiers in
"A prolonged, massive search for the missing Americans GIs in
HEGEMONY OVER SURVIVAL
Let's deal with the first comment first. Would anyone at TIME (in a follow-up piece perhaps) like to make a connection between the apparently likelihood (by Bill and Hillary's reckoning at least) of a 9/11-scale terror attack in late January or early 2009 (!) and the mass-murderous oil invasion of Iraq - an invasion that Senate Armed Services Committee member Hillary Clinton deeply enabled and justified? The
"Our" military offers hundreds of thousands of dollars for information about three
Is this all perhaps part of the answer to the great supposed mystery of "Why They Hate Us?" and to the related question of why we will probably soon (according to the Clintons) face another "terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11?"
As Noam Chomsky observed in July of 2005, when Hillary Clinton was eagerly embracing the occupation of
"For U.S.-U.K. planners, invading
"The willingness of top planners to risk increase of terrorism does not of course indicate that they welcome such outcomes. Rather, they are simply not a high priority in comparison with other objectives, such as controlling the world's major energy resources" (Chomsky 2007, p.135).
A HARD CHOICE
There is some relevant history to consider. Who can forget the famous nationally televised comment of the [corporate neo-] "liberal" Bill (and Hillary)
The Madame Secretary did not comment on whether the parents of the quietly mass-murdered children of
Clinton's deadly economic sanctions were part of a larger imperial U.S. Middle East policy that helped make the jetliner attacks of 9/11/2001 less than completely surprising to people who closely and honestly followed that policy and the Middle East (2).
"IF I'D ONLY 'KNOWN' THEN WHAT MOST OF THE WORLD KNEW THEN"
Eleven years after Albright emitted her noxious words, "our" foreign policy and media are helping give the Arab and Muslim worlds more reasons to hate us than ever before. Hillary Clinton clings to the revolting claim that he wouldn't have voted to authorize George W. Bush to invade
Never mind that the fact that Cheney et al. were lying about the "threat" posed to the
And never mind that the self-proclaimed foreign policy expert Hillary Clinton didn't even bother to read the complete classified version of the National Intelligence Estimate, "the most comprehensive judgment of the intelligence community about Iraq's [supposed] WMD, which was made available to all 100 senators." As Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. recently reported in the New York Times Sunday Magazine:
"The 90-page report was delivered to Congress on Oct.1, 2002, just 10 days before the Senate vote [the war authorization vote that gave Bush II the freedom to attack
"The question of whether
Hillary never read the full report (3).
A FORGOTTEN VOTE AGAINST DIPLOMACY
It gets worse. A second and related justification Clinton gives for her fateful war authorization vote maintains that she wanted Bush II to possess the military option but trusted and expected him to utilize and exhaust diplomatic avenues before attacking. Bush betrayed this trust,
But on what grounds does she expect us to believe that she honestly expected the openly war-mongering and neoconservative- and Chickenhawk-laden Bush administration to stand down from their unmistakable lust to assault and occupy defenseless
And how are we supposed to explain the fact that she joined 74 other senators in voting against Senator Carl Levin's (D-MI) earlier (several hours before the war authorization vote) proposal of an amendment that would have required the White House to follow a diplomatic process (returning to the UN and perhaps again to Congress) before the legislative branch would fully authorize the use of force (Gerth and Van Nata Jr. 2007, p. 43)? In campaign speeches and meetings where she likes to accuse Bush of having given "short shrift to diplomacy," Clinton naturally never mentions "her own vote against Levin's 2002 amendment, the one that would have required the president to pursue a more diplomatic approach before any invasion of Iraq" (Gerth and Van Natta, pp.60, 66)
THE BIPARTISAN CONSENSUS: "TACTICAL, NOT PRINCIPLED DIFFERENCES"
It strains credulity for Hillary to say that she was fooled by Cheney-Bush's "bad" (actually cooked) Iraq WMD "intelligence" and then by the hope that Bush would follow through on a diplomatic process she actually voted against requiring. This explanation amounts to admitting that Hillary was one or some mixture of three things, none good, in the fall of 2002:
1. a geeked-up post-9/11 war hawk who (consistent with her especially strong support of
2. a political coward who concluded that Cheney-Bush's illegal war was an unstoppable fait accompli that she could oppose only at serious cost to her presidential-electoral viability.
3. unforgivably incompetent in her assessment of relevant information.
Hillary Clinton is not stupid or incompetent, though her failure to read the NIE does not speak well to her effectiveness as an imperial manager. My best guess is that her decision reflected a combination of (1) and (2), with (1) being the heavier part of the equation in the fall of 2002 (I would emphasize # 2 and an over-reliance on centrist political advice in explaining John Edwards' vote for the war authorization).
In explaining how and why a probably Democratic White House will (if the Clinton's are correct) be welcomed with "a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11" in early 2009, it is relevant to remember that Bush's reckless foreign policy is remarkably consistent with the imperial practices and doctrines of the neoliberal Clinton administration and with dominant trends in Democratic Party foreign policy thinking. As Tuft's University political scientist Tony Smith notes in a candid Washington Post commentary last March: "Although they now cast themselves as alternatives to President Bush, the fact is that prevailing Democratic doctrine is not that different from the Bush-Cheney doctrine. Many Democrats, including senators who voted to authorize the war in Iraq, embraced the idea of muscular foreign policy based on American global supremacy and the presumed right to intervene to promote democracy or to defend key U.S. interests long before 9/11, and they have not changed course since. Even those who have shifted against the war have avoided doctrinal questions."
Smith offers an interesting history of the convergence between Democratic neoliberal interventionism and Republican neoconservative interventionism - both falsely conflating the forceful assertion and expansion of U.S. power and global market forces with "democracy" - during and since the 1990s:
"Democratic adherents to what might be called the 'neoliberal' position are well organized and well positioned. Their credo was enunciated just nine years ago by Madeleine Albright, then President Bill Clinton's secretary of state: 'If we have to use force, it is because we are
"Since 1992, the ascendant Democratic faction in foreign policy debates has been the thinkers associated with the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and its think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). Since 2003, the PPI has issued repeated broadsides damning Bush's handling of the
"... These [Democratic] neoliberals are nearly indistinguishable from the better-known neoconservatives...Sources for many of the critical elements of the Bush doctrine can be found in the emergence of neoliberal thought during the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War. In think tanks, universities and government offices, left-leaning intellectuals, many close to the Democratic Party, formulated concepts to bring to fruition the age-old dream of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson 'to make the world safe for democracy.' These [Democratic] neolibs advocated the global expansion of 'market democracy.' They presented empirical, theoretical, even philosophical arguments to support the idea of the
"And so we may appreciate the Democrats' difficulty in their search for an exit strategy not only from
As Anthony Arnove noted in early 2006,"the Democrats, who not only voted for the war but have repeatedly voted to fund it, have tactical, not principled differences from the Republicans [over the Iraq occupation], believing that, in the words of the Washington Post, 'success in Iraq at this point is too important'" for the U.S. to withdraw. "In fact, rather than arguing for troops to come home," Arnove observed, "a number of leading Democrats, such as Senators Joseph Lieberman and Hillary Clinton are seeking to outflank Bush from the right by calling for more troops in Iraq" (Arnove 2006, p. 99).
Hillary Clinton is an especially strong example of the sort of interventionist Democrat Smith discusses - a so-called "progressive imperialist" who "embraces the idea of a muscular foreign policy based on American global supremacy and the presumed right to intervene to promote democracy or defend key U.S. interests." Described by the New York Times in 2005 as "a strong proponent of a forceful American military presence abroad" (Arnove 2006, p. 99), she sounded more hawkish than de facto neoconservative Lieberman on the supposed democratic ambitions and successful record of the Iraq invasion until it finally (some time in 2006) sunk in with her that the criminal occupation was not working and was therefore a terrible "mistake" (Gerth and Van Natta Jr. 2007).
Like the other top-tier Democratic candidates,
Which brings us back to the second mainstream media passage quoted at the beginning of this essay (see the fourth paragraph on the first page of this article). If NEWSWEEK writers Thomas and Kaplow are correct, the nation's mostly working-class occupation troops are downplaying
Democracy, it might be worth noting, is in disturbingly short supply and no small peril in the United States (Alperovitz 2005, pp.1-4 , 42-54; Chomsky 2006, pp. 205-251). The
In the meantime, here's something for the onetime Iraqi "economic sanctions" enthusiast and ardent 2003-2006 Iraq invasion supporter Hillary Clinton and her supporters to reflect upon: maybe we should try to avert future "terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11" (or larger) by finding a non-imperialist way to think about and relate to the people and nations of the Middle East and the world.
Veteran radical historian, journalist, and activist
1. Truth be told, that media has spent more energy mourning the death of a fallen
2. Sometimes the U.S killed Iraqis more directly during the years when Bill and Hillary occupied the White House. In 1998, the
3. According to Gerth and Van Natta Jr, "Senators were able to access the [full] N.I.E. at two secure locations in the Capitol complex. Nonetheless, only six senators personally read the report...Earlier this year, on the presidential campaign trail in New Hampshire, Clinton was confronted by a woman who had traveled from New York to ask her if she had read the intelligence report. According to Eloise Harper of ABC News,
4. Barack Obama's position is just as mendacious. He describes the invasion of
Gar Alperovitz 2005.
Anthony Arnove 2006.
Noam Chomsky 2006. Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (
Noam Chomsky 2007. Interventions (
Tom Engelhardt 2007. "What Price Slaughter?" Tom Dispatch, reproduced on ZNet (May 14, 2007) and available on at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle. cfm?ItemID=12829.
Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. 2007. Hillary's War," New York Times Sunday Magazine (June 3 2007), p. 41.
Jeffrey Goldberg 2007. "The Starting Gate: Foreign Policy Divides the Democrats," The New Yorker, January 15, 2007.
Patrick Healy 2007. "In
Christopher Hitchens 2000. No One Left to Lie to: the Values of the Worst Family (
Greg Mitchell 2007. "Sorry We Shot Your Kid, But Here's $500," Editor and Publisher, April 14, 2007, available online at http://www.editorandpublisher. com/eandp/columns/pressingissues_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003571125).
Barack Obama 2006. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (
Tony Smith 2007. "It's Uphill for the Democrats: They Need a Global Strategy, Not Just Tactics for
Leslie Stahl 1996. "Punishing Saddam," produced by Catherine Olian, CBS 60 Minutes, May 12, 1996.
Paul Street 2007c. "Imperial Temptations: John Edwards, Barack Obama and the Myth of Post-WWII U.S. Benevolence," Empire and Inequality Report No. 19 (May 28 2007), available online at http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=12928.
Paul Street 2007 d. "Loss, Class, Empire and the Vicious Cognitive Consequences of Forced Compliance," Empire and Inequality Report No. 22 (forthcoming).
Evan Thomas and Larry Kaplow 2007. "Manhunt in
Karen Tumulty and James Carney 2007. "Hillary Pushes Back." TIME (May 7 2007): 42-43.