FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hillary’s Cojones

by SHARON SMITH

In recent weeks, Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy appears increasingly centered on proving she has the cojones to ruthlessly pursue U.S. imperial interests the world over. With Barack Obama nipping at her polling numbers by invoking his opposition to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Clinton steadfastly refuses to pander to the antiwar movement by admitting she made a mistake in voting to authorize the war in 2002.

These days, Clinton misses no opportunity to demonstrate her own combative stance on foreign affairs, whatever the subject under discussion. After pledging to work toward energy independence at a March 18 mid-Manhattan fundraiser, Clinton told an audience laden with Wall St. financiers that each time she switches off a light bulb in her own home, she mutters, “‘Take that, Iran,’ and ‘Take that, Venezuela.’ We should not be sending our money to people who are not going to support our values.”

And Clinton has made clear she has no intention of ending the occupation of Iraq if elected president. In an interview published by the New York Times on March 15, she was explicit on this issue-sounding remarkably like, well, George Bush. A complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could turn it into “a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda,” she said, adding, “It is right in the heart of the oil region. It is directly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, to Israel’s interests.”

Clinton would downsize the U.S. troop presence, pulling them out of urban combat to minimize U.S. casualties while preserving enough troops “for our antiterrorism mission, for our northern support mission, for our ability to respond to the Iranians, and to continue to provide support, if called for, for the Iraqis.”

As the Times reported, “Mrs. Clinton said the scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stay off the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis from sectarian violence – even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.” Indeed, Clinton responded coldly to the prospect of such a mass sectarian bloodletting: “This is an Iraqi problem; we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves.”

Clinton’s candid Times interview seems to place her well to the right of other Congressional Democrats, currently absorbed in an apparently principled fight to pass antiwar legislation through the House and Senate. On March 13, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked, “The administration’s answer to continuing violence in Iraq is more troops and more treasure from the American people.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stated defiantly that Bush “must change course, and it’s time for the Senate to demand he do it.”

But behind the scenes, Democratic Party Congressional leaders were maneuvering frantically to avoid conflict with the Bush administration’s war aims. On March 13, Democrats announced plans to remove a requirement that Bush gain Congressional approval before taking military action against Iran in its military spending bill. Democrats, not Republicans, stymied the Iran proposal during a meeting held behind closed doors, objecting to possible opposition from Israel. As Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley explained, “It would take away perhaps the most important negotiating tool that the U.S. has when it comes to Iran.”

The spending bill to be debated in the House this week includes nearly $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan-more than Bush requested. Its antiwar provisions require most U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn by August 31, 2008. But the President “may waive” these requirements for reasons of “national security,” according to the now toothless legislation.

In concrete terms, three months after establishing a majority in Congress, the Democrats have little to show for themselves. The House managed to pass a single non-binding resolution against Bush’s troop surge on February 16, while the Senate failed even to accomplish that much. This is hardly what the antiwar majority has in mind.

Rhetoric aside, how much political distance separates Hillary Clinton from her more impassioned Congressional counterparts? Less than it might appear.

The notion of withdrawing most combat troops is less dramatic than it seems. Although the House resolution currently up for debate calls for removing most combat troops from Iraq by September 2008 (presidential waivers aside), it also acknowledges the need to maintain the presence of a “limited” number of U.S. soldiers for purposes including “targeted counterterrorism operations.” Obama has admitted that he, too, might decide to retain some U.S. troops in Iraq as president.

No major Democratic Party presidential candidate has so far called for a complete U.S. troop withdrawal, and with good reason: the party’s powerbrokers aim to salvage, not renounce, U.S. war aims in Iraq. As the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) notes on its website, “A rapid and complete withdrawal from Iraq isn’t really a Plan B: it’s a ‘Plan Zero’ for liquidating the whole Iraq engagement as hopeless.”

The Times noted that Clinton’s plan is not a new one-and has already been advocated by Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon’s comptroller under Rumsfeld, who estimated that roughly 75,000 “non-combat” troops would be required to fulfill this limited set of strategic U.S. aims in Iraq.

The Democrats, like the Republicans, are biding time in Iraq, in the hopes of consolidating a long-term U.S. military presence there-while leaving open the option of attacking Iran as a bargaining chip. Clinton stated recently, “No option can be taken off the table” against Iran’s alleged nuclear threat, while presidential rivals John Edwards and Obama echoed, “All options on the table.”

The aim of a continued military presence in Iraq is a given for both Democrats and Republicans. Rarely has the U.S. fought a major war without leaving permanent military bases behind.

No longer referred to as “permanent bases” in Iraq, the Pentagon has successively described U.S. military bases as “Enduring Bases” and then as “Contingency Operating Bases” since February 2005. The purpose remains the same. As a former Pentagon official told the New York Times, Clinton’s Iraq plan, by minimizing U.S. troop casualties, would make it politically possible to sustain a long-term military presence in the Middle East Region.

Only a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq can end the occupation–and prevent a region-wide Middle East war. Don’t count on the Democrats to make it happen, rhetoric aside.

SHARON SMITH is the author of Women and Socialism and Subterranean Fire: a History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States. She can be reached at: sharon@internationalsocialist.org

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail