Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hillary Clinton’s War Whoop

by MARC WEISBROT

In a visit to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Hillary Clinton recently  said that Iran “is moving toward a military dictatorship” and continued the Administration’s campaign for tougher sanctions against that country.
What could America’s top diplomat hope to accomplish with this kind of inflammatory rhetoric? It seems unlikely that the goal was to support human rights in Iran. Because of the United States’ history in Iran and in the region, it tends to give legitimacy to repression. The more that any opposition can be linked to the United States’ actions, words or support, the harder time they will have.

Second, it is tough for anyone – especially in the region – to believe that the United States is really concerned about human rights abuses. In addition to supporting Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinians in Gaza, Washington has been remarkably quiet as the most important opposition leaders in Egypt were arrested as part of the government’s preparations for October elections. Amnesty International stated that the arrestees were “prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their peaceful political activities.”

So what is the purpose of a speech like this? The most obvious conclusion is that it is to promote conflict and to convince Americans that Iran is an actual threat to their security. Americans generally have to be prepared and persuaded for years if they are to accept that they must go to war. The groundwork for the Iraq war was laid during the Clinton presidency. President Clinton imposed sanctions on the country that devastated the civilian population, carried out bombings and publicly declared that Washington’s intention was to overthrow the government. Although, as we now know, Iraq never posed any significant security threat to the United States, President Clinton spent years trying to convince Americans that it did.

President Bush picked up where President Clinton left off; and President Clinton publicly supported his campaign for the war. So did Hillary, and she defended her decision in 2008 even as it looked like it might cost her the presidency.

President Obama is unlikely to start a war with Iran – which would likely begin as an air war, not a ground war – not least because he already has two wars to deal with. But, as in the case of the Iraq war, his Secretary of State is preparing the ground for the next president that may have a stronger desire or better opportunity to do so. There is a strong faction of our foreign policy establishment that believes it has the right and obligation to bomb Iran in order to curtail its nuclear program, and they have a long-term strategy.

The public relations campaign is working. A new Gallup poll finds that 61 percent of Americans see Iran as “as a critical threat to U.S. vital interests,” with an additional 29 percent believing that it is “an important threat.” It is not clear why anyone would believe this; even if Iran did obtain a nuclear weapon, which is still a ways off, they would not have the capacity to deliver it as far as the United States. Nor is it likely that they would want to commit national suicide, any more than a number of other countries that currently have nuclear weapons.

The Obama team’s messaging is not nearly so successful with regard to the issues that the vast majority of the electorate will base their votes on in this year’s elections: the most recent ABC News/Washington Post Poll (Feb. 4-8) finds that 53 percent disapprove of his handling of the economy.

For the immediate future, foreign policy concerns will likely rank low, far behind the economy, for the electorate. But the Obama team’s foreign policy will hurt Democrats in the future. If I believed what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership are telling me, I would have to consider voting Republican. If it’s really true that all these people just want to kill us for no reason; that it has nothing to do with our foreign policy or wars; that we can effectively reduce terrorism by bombing and occupying Muslim countries; and that terrorism is the country’s most urgent security threat – then why not vote for the party that looks tougher? This will inevitably come back to haunt the Democratic Party, as it did in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

Meanwhile, U.S. military spending – by the Congressional Budget Office’s relatively narrow definition of the Department of Defense budget – reached 5.6 percent of GDP in 2009. Just before September 11, 2001, the Congressional Budget Office projected this spending for 2009 at 2.4 percent of GDP.

The difference, over 10 years, is more than four times the ten-year cost of proposed health care reform.

Mark Weisbrot is an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
This article originally appeared in the Guardian.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of  Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail