“Hillary works for Goldman Sachs and likes war, otherwise I like Hillary,” a former Bill Clinton aide told me sardonically. First, he was referring to her cushy relationships with top Wall Street barons and her $200,000 speeches with the criminal enterprise known as Goldman Sachs, which played a part in crashing the U.S. economy in 2008 and burdening taxpayers with costly bailouts. Second, he was calling attention to her war hawkish foreign policy.
Last week, Hillary-The-Hawk emerged, once again, with comments to The Atlanticattacking Obama for being weak and not having an organized foreign policy. She was calling Obama weak despite his heavy hand in droning, bombing and intervening during his Presidency. While Obama is often wrong, he is hardly a pacifist commander. It’s a small wonder that since 2008, Hillary-The-Hawk has been generally described as, in the words of the New York Times journalist Mark Landler, “more hawkish than Mr. Obama.”
In The Atlantic interview, she chided Obama for not more deeply involving the U.S. with the rebels in Syria, who themselves are riven into factions and deprived of strong leaders and, with few exceptions, trained fighters. As Mrs. Clinton well knows, from her time as Secretary of State, the White House was being cautious because of growing Congressional opposition to intervention in Syria as Congress sought to determine the best rebel groups to arm and how to prevent this weaponry from falling into the hands of the enemy insurgents.
She grandly told her interviewer that “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Nonsense. Not plunging into unconstitutional wars could have been a fine “organizing principle.” Instead, she voted for the criminal invasion of Iraq, which boomeranged back into costly chaos and tragedy for the Iraqi people and the American taxpayers.
Moreover, the former Secretary of State ended her undistinguished tenure in 2013 with an unremitting record of militarizing a Department that was originally chartered over 200 years ago to be the expression of American diplomacy. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton made far more bellicose statements than Secretary of Defense Robert Gates did. Some career Foreign Service Officers found her aggressive language unhelpful, if not downright hazardous to their diplomatic missions.
Such belligerency translated into her pushing both opposed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and reluctant President Obama to topple the Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan dictator had given up his dangerous weapons and was re-establishing relations with Western countries and Western oil companies. Mrs. Clinton had no “organizing principle” for the deadly aftermath with warring militias carving up Libya and spilling over into Mali and the resultant, violent disruption in Central Africa. The Libyan assault was Hillary Clinton’s undeclared war – a continuing disaster that shows her touted foreign policy experience as just doing more “stupid stuff.” She displays much ignorance about the quicksand perils for the United States of post-dictatorial vacuums in tribal, sectarian societies.
After criticizing Obama, Mrs. Clinton then issued a statement saying she had called the president to say that she did not intend to attack him and anticipated “hugging it out” with him at a Martha’s Vineyard party. Embracing opportunistically after attacking is less than admirable.
Considering Hillary Clinton’s origins as an anti-Vietnam War youth, how did she end up such a war hawk? Perhaps it is a result of her overweening political ambition and her determination to prevent accusations of being soft on militarism and its imperial Empire because she is a woman.
After her celebrity election as New York’s Senator in 2000, she was given a requested seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. There, unlike her war-like friend, Republican Senator John McCain, she rarely challenged a boondoggle Pentagon contract; never took on the defense industry’s waste, fraud and abuse; and never saw a redundant or unneeded weapons system (often criticized by retired Generals and Admirals) that she did not like.
The vaunted military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned about, got the message. Hillary Clinton was one of them.
Energetically waging peace was not on Secretary of State Clinton’s agenda. She would rather talk about military might and deployment in one geographic area after another. At the U.S. Naval Academy in 2012, Generalissma Clinton gave a speech about pivoting to East Asia with “force posture” otherwise known as “force projection” (one of her favorite phrases) of U.S. naval ships, planes and positioned troops in countries neighboring China.
Of course, China’s response was to increase its military budget and project its own military might. The world’s super-power should not be addicted to continuous provocations that produce unintended consequences.
As she goes around the country, with an expanded publically-funded Secret Service corps to promote the private sales of her book, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton needs to ponder what, if anything, she as a Presidential candidate has to offer a war-weary, corporate-dominated American people. As a former member of the board of directors of Walmart, Hillary Clinton waited several years before coming out this April in support for a restored minimum wage for thirty million American workers (a majority of whom are women).
This delay is not surprising considering Hillary Clinton spends her time in the splendors of the wealthy classes and the Wall Street crowd, when she isn’t pulling down huge speech fees pandering to giant trade association conventions. This creates distance between her and the hard-pressed experiences of the masses, doesn’t it?
See Progressives Opposed to a Clinton Dynasty for more information.
Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.