I voted for William Clinton in 1992. I did not regard voting for the future president as a stupid act. I didn’t care about how many women Clinton used and abused. I wanted only to help get rid of the evil force then residing in the White House. It was a reactionary–not revolutionary–choice. I cast my vote for Clinton because his opponent was a monster. I wanted to defeat George Herbert Walker Bush. The attacks on Panama and Iraq during Bush’s administration (1989-1993) were acts of war. He authorized and directed criminal actions that killed thousands of innocent people. Bush is also responsible for starting a new era of aggressive wars perpetrated against sovereign nations by the United States of America.
The first President Bush, though, is now considered a moderate in the pantheon of American presidents who have invaded other countries without specific declarations of war.
After defeating Bush, President Clinton also evolved into a monster, flitting from unforgivable inaction during the Rwandan crisis in 1994 to the illegal bombing of Serbia in 1999. Clinton, unwilling to help stop genocide in Rwanda, did assist in breaking up the former Yugoslavia by aiding and abetting ethnic nationalists as they butchered their neighbors in an orgy of killing, from Sarajevo to Srbrenica, Knin to Kosovo. President Clinton’s exploits regarding Yugoslavia culminated in the illegal bombing of Serbia, and that crime alone has earned him a reputation equally as vile as that of George H. W. Bush. Yet, even though he beat down both Bush and Belgrade, Clinton is no match for the son of Bush.
George Walker Bush is an extremely vicious monster. He has surpassed the crimes of his father and his predecessor. And, of the six other men who held the office of president since the end of the so-called Good War, only Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon could be considered the equal of the current occupant of the White House. George Bush and his minions have–during a seven year reign of terror–defeated two veterans of the Vietnam War in disputed elections; bombed two nations mercilessly, without pity or declarations of war; stomped all over the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; permitted the imprisonment and torture of innocent people in Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan and other undisclosed locations around the world; and, if his boyhood escapades (torturing animals and college pledges) are a guide to what sort of man he is now, George W. Bush might even beat his dog.
American imperialism under Bush, Clinton and Bush was (and is) destructive, continuing a long tradition of force used against innocent people, foreign and domestic. A lethal combination of God, guns, guts and greed has, since the final days of colonialism, caused great suffering when American presidents engaged in criminal acts, especially if those actions were enforced by the lethal power of the military. Ethnic cleansing, slavery, genocide, and wars of conquest are the legacy. The three recent presidents were just following previous leaders as they marched down off the shining hill, and into the valleys of death.
The United States of America has created some nasty monsters.
As the nation endures another season of electoral politics, hunting for a leader who looks and acts presidential, the masks of civility sometimes slip, allowing ordinary people the opportunity to observe the true face of potential evil. In order to gain votes, all of the major presidential candidates remaining in the race have said they would entertain the idea of invading other nations. They believe it essential to bare fangs and claws when questioned about their ability to act presidential’.
Senator John McCain is the one candidate who has personal experience participating in criminal acts in a foreign war. As a trained killer, McCain flew dozens of missions into the territory of North Vietnam, dropping bombs on innocent civilians. When the defenders of that nation finally shot McCain down, he was captured, imprisoned, and suffered the consequences of enhanced interrogation techniques. In North Vietnam, during their war against the United States, McCain was considered a prisoner of war, not an enemy combatant. The brutal treatment he experienced in the hands of his captors taught McCain that torture is a war crime. Unless, of course, approved and directed by an American president. Senator McCain is a monster-in-training, and he will not be getting my vote.
Although there are some people who believe Hillary Clinton is already a monster, the Senator from New York occupies the same position as Senator McCain: a wannabe monster. Clinton touts her years of experience, beginning with her support of Nixon, then (flip-floppishly) McGovern, as milestones in her career. Her day job working as a corporate lawyer in Arkansas, and her nightly encounters with her husband, the then-governor of the “Natural State, are used to bolster her image. In 1992, Clinton followed her husband into the White House and, although she failed in the attempt to change the health care system, her eight years as First Lady did end on a positive note when the American public felt sympathy for her plight as the scorned woman during the impeachment trial of President William Clinton. The first woman to have a legitimate chance to become an American president is not yet barbaric. She should not yet be labeled a monster. Like Paula Hill, Monica Lewinsky, and many other women who had encounters with the forty-second President, Hillary Clinton was only, in the slang of an earlier time, a monster’s ball. If Senator Clinton is nominated by the Democrats, I will not be voting for her in November of 2008.
Senator Barack Obama, the current leader in the political campaign to be the candidate of the Democrats, was too young to have fought in Vietnam, and is now too old to join the military and fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. Obama has fought his battles in American streets, in corporate law offices, in smoke-filled rooms, and in the United States Senate. Instead of firing a gun, the Senator from Illinois has shot from the lip, giving awe-inspiring speeches to adoring crowds in his quest to become the first black president (or, perhaps, the second black president, in the minds of Clinton supporters) of the United States of America. Obama is a political rock star–more akin to Will Smith than Marilyn Manson–and, except for the people of Pakistan, doesn’t seem to pose a threat to the health and safety of innocents abroad. He is not a monster, nor will he get the chance to flex his muscles as well as his mouth, until he beats both Hillary Clinton in the primary election, and John McCain in the general election. If allowed the opportunity, I might vote for Barack Obama.
JAMES T. PHILLIPS reported from Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia (Kosovo), and Macedonia during an eleven year career as a freelance war correspondent (1991-2002). His final report, from Kosovo, was included in Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan & Yugoslavia, by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair; published by Verso, 2004. He can be contacted at email@example.com