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Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton’s Your Choice

Posted on Feb 1, 2016

By Marjorie Cohn

  Hillary Clinton greets workers at her campaign office Monday in Des Moines, Iowa. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

Hillary Clinton likes to extol her foreign policy credentials, particularly her experience as secretary of state. She attaches herself to Barack Obama’s coattails, pledging to continue his policies. But she is even more hawkish than the president.

Like Obama, Clinton touts American exceptionalism, the notion that the United States is better than any other country. In his State of the Union addresses, Obama has proclaimed America “exceptional” and said the U.S. must “lead the world.” Clinton wrote in her book “Hard Choices” that “America remains the ‘indispensable nation.’ ”

It is this view that animates U.S. invasions, interventions, bombings and occupations of other countries. Under the pretense of protecting our national interest, the United States maintains some 800 military bases in other countries, costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars annually. Often referred to as “enduring bases,” they enable us to mount attacks whenever and wherever our leaders see fit, whether with drones or manned aircraft.

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Obama, who continues to prosecute the war in Afghanistan 15 years after it began, is poised to send ground troops back to Iraq and begin bombing Libya. His aggressive pursuit of regime change in Syria was met with pushback by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to Seymour Hersh.

The president has bombed some seven countries with drones. But besides moving toward normalization of relations with Cuba, his signature foreign policy achievement is brokering the agreement to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Although Clinton supports the nuclear deal, she talks tough about Iran. In September 2015, she provocatively declared, “I don’t believe Iran is our partner in this agreement. Iran is the subject of the agreement,” and added, “I will confront them across the board.” She said, “I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Clinton promised to “totally obliterate” Iran if it attacked Israel. Clinton was, in effect, pledging to commit genocide against the Iranian people.

In an August 2014 Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton maintained, “There is no such thing as a right to enrich.” Apparently, she has not read the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which gives countries like Iran the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. Article IV of the treaty says, “Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.”

One country that does possess nuclear weapons is Israel—which refuses to ratify the NPT. Clinton has consistently and uncritically supported the policies of the Israeli government. In the Atlantic interview, she placed the blame for Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza squarely with the Palestinians.

From July 8 to Aug. 27, 2014, Israel killed over 2,100 Palestinians—including more than 400 children—80 percent of them civilians. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and seven Israeli civilians were killed.

When Goldberg asked Clinton whom she held responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian children, she demurred, saying, “[I]t’s impossible to know what happens in the fog of war.” She blamed only the Palestinians, saying, “There’s no doubt in my mind that Hamas initiated this conflict.” Claiming “Israel has a right to defend itself,” she said, “I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets.”

But Israel did not act in self-defense. In the first 10 days of June 2014, Israeli forces abducted 17 Palestinian teenage boys in the occupied West Bank. On June 12, three Israeli teenagers were abducted in the southern West Bank; Israel accused Hamas. After those three were found dead, a group of Israelis tortured and killed a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem. On July 7, Israel launched a large military operation in the Gaza Strip, dubbed Operation Protective Edge. The Israel Defense Forces devastated Gaza. For 51 days, Israel bombarded Gaza with more than 6,000 airstrikes.

The United Nations Human Rights Council subsequently convened an independent, international commission of inquiry, which concluded that Israel, and to a lesser extent Palestinian armed groups, had likely committed violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, some constituting war crimes. “The scale of the devastation was unprecedented” in Gaza, according to the commission.


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