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Hillary Clinton’s War Policy

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As a result of Trump’s stumbles, Hillary Clinton seems to be on course to become next president of the United States and it is depressing to reflect on what some of her policies might be if she achieves that office. Unfortunately, the future looks bleak for peace and stability around the world.

She is one of the Washington-Brussels war-drum beaters who planned the 2011 aerial blitz on Libya to destroy the government of President Gaddafi, about whose murder she giggled that “We came; We saw; He died.” The US-NATO attacks on Libya caused massive suffering and destruction, opened the way for feuding bands of militants to fight each other for control of parts of the country, and created a haven for the lunatic extremists of Islamic State.

Immediately after Gaddafi was brutally slaughtered Clinton went to Libya and declared she was “proud to stand here on the soil of a free Tripoli and on behalf of the American people I congratulate Libya . . . this is Libya’s victory, the future belongs to you.”  Her sentiments were echoed by the US-NATO Secretary General of the time, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who expressed pride that the seven months of rocket, bomb and missile attacks on a defenceless country had been “one of the most successful [operations] in NATO’s history.”  Both of them were talking nonsense, but have never given the slightest indication that they regretted for a moment their energetic role in creating the Libyan catastrophe.

(Rasmussen was hired by Goldman Sachs when he left his NATO job in 2014, just after Hillary was hired by Goldman Sachs for $225,000 to give a speech to a Goldman Sachs meeting at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort in Arizona.  NATO’s Code of Conduct requires its former officials to refrain from using “non-public information obtained through our official position for private gain, either for ourselves or others.”  Hillary doesn’t have a Code of Conduct.)

It is apparent that Clinton will be uncompromising about continuing Obama’s policy of international confrontation from the Baltic to the South China Sea, and that she, too, firmly believes that “America remains the indispensable nation.”  It is open to doubt, however, that this self-imposed mantle of indispensability has done anything to further peace and stability around the globe.

The armed forces and intelligence agencies of the indispensable nation have carried out thousands of airstrikes all over the world over many years.  From Pakistan in the east to Libya on the Mediterranean, by way of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria there have been attacks by F-15 Strike Eagles, B-52 bombers, helicopter gunships, the A-10 Warthog, the even more terrifying Hercules AC-130 Spectre gunship (one of which destroyed that hospital in Afghanistan last year), Tomahawk cruise missiles, and drones firing Hellfires.  The amount of explosives delivered cannot be calculated, but as one indicator of quantities, in the two years of attacks on various groups in Syria and Iraq, “coalition” aircraft delivered about 50,000 bombs and missiles.  All of these blitzes were supported by Hillary Clinton.

On July 1 the White House released a statement about its worldwide drone war, and the Washington Post noted its admission that “the United States has inadvertently killed between 64 and 116 civilians in drone and other lethal air attacks against terrorism suspects in non-war zones,” and commented that “in releasing only aggregate figures that did not include when or where the strikes occurred, the administration shielded those claims from meaningful public scrutiny, even as it sought to bolster its own assertions about the accuracy and effectiveness of the operations.”

Even the Post could not praise the drone war, and recorded that “The New America Foundation and the Long War Journal, which have tracked drone strikes since the George W Bush administration, each put the number of civilians killed under the current administration at just over 200.”

President Obama rejoiced that his aerial onslaughts around the globe are increasing and in June declared that  “I’ve authorized a series of steps to ratchet up our fight against ISIL [Islamic State]: additional US personnel, including Special Forces, in Syria to assist local forces battling ISIL there; additional advisors to work more closely with Iraqi security forces, and additional assets, including attack helicopters; and additional support for local forces in northern Iraq.  Our aircraft continue to launch from the USS Harry Truman, now in the Mediterranean.  Our B-52 bombers are hitting ISIL with precision strikes.  Targets are being identified and hit even more quickly — so far, 13,000 airstrikes.  This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders.”  And that was before he attacked Libya, yet again.

President Obama fired on a few more cylinders when, as reported on August 4 by the US military journal Stars and Stripes, “American warplanes attacked Islamic State group fighters in northern Libya on Wednesday, marking a third consecutive day of US airstrikes in the war-torn nation.”  It can be expected that the attacks will continue for the last remaining months of Obama’s war-promoting presidency — and that his likely successor will pay as little regard as he has to international and domestic laws concerning such gung-ho forays.

Hillary Clinton has not criticised or questioned Obama’s years of aerial bombardment around the world and her foreign policy adviser, Jeremy Bash, told London’s Daily Telegraph that she will order a “full review” of US strategy on Syria as a “first key task” of her presidency, resetting the policy to emphasise the “murderous” nature of the Assad regime. He said that Mrs Clinton would work to get Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, “out of there.”

President Assad has been selected as another target for the Clinton policy of “We came; We saw; He died” and his country appears doomed to a rerun of the Libya fiasco.

If Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States, as seems only too likely,  there will be even greater emphasis on global airstrikes and confrontation in general.  Greater turmoil, chaos and catastrophe lie ahead.

A version of this piece appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on August 10, 2016.

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Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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