Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record ShowsTo many Americans, Clinton is best-known for her advocacy of a national health care system, her assertion that it takes a village to raise a child, and her championing of women’s empowerment. The rest of the world knows her better for her passion for bombing. 1 2 3 4 5
As mentioned above, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were added to NATO in 1999 as Clinton bombed Yugoslavia. During the next (George W. Bush) administration, NATO further expanded to include Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia, and even the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania bringing the alliance to the very Russian border. This expansion has produced very little comment in the U.S. corporate media over the years and certainly no serious debate.
Ukraine. During Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, NATO further expanded to include Albania and Croatia. But the real goal for her neocon/liberal imperialist coalition—or as National Endowment for Democracy chief Carl Gershman put it publicly in 2013, its “the biggest prize”—was the inclusion of Europe’s largest state: Ukraine.
It’s no accident that Clinton chose Victoria Nuland, a former top aide of Dick Cheney (himself possibly the most fully exposed and fully discredited, manifestly dishonest and hated neocon imaginable) to head the State Department’s European and Eurasia desk, a position she still holds. Nuland is the wife of Brookings Institution neocon commentator Robert Kagan, who was a foreign policy advisor to the Bush-Cheney administration, proponent of the Iraq invasion and advocate of regime-change now joining an array of Republican neocons endorsing Hillary over the Republican candidates.
Nuland has made it her life’s work to engineer regime change in Ukraine to draw it into NATO, pull it away from Russia, and pluck the Crimean Peninsula (home for over 230 years of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, hosting the only year-round warm water port of that vast country) for NATO use.
The Obama administration, steered in this regard by Clinton and Nuland, arranged for the “National Endowment of Democracy” and other so-called NGOs to pour $ 5 billion dollars into affecting regime change in Ukraine. This led to the coup against the elected government of February 22, 2014. (Nuland has boasted about this amount; it is no secret. Albright has crowed about it too. These women make no apologies about throwing money at friends—including in this case, a lot of neo-fascists—to transform the world as they see fit.)
The February putsch in Ukraine did not occur under Hillary’s watch, so I will not go into further detail about it. My point here is that Clinton chooses and works comfortably with people like Nuland (who in an intercepted phone call virtually dictated that the post-coup leader would be Arseniy Yatsenyev, as turned out to be—disastrously—true), and that she might very well choose such a figure as the next Secretary of State.
After Yatsenyev, a proponent of NATO membership, took power through the actions of violently anti-Russian forces in multi-ethnic Ukraine, the Russian population of east Ukraine (which has been there for many centuries preceding the Bolshevik establishment of the current boundaries) rose in revolt. The Russian population of Crimea rejected continued inclusion in the Ukrainian state under the circumstances, and Russia bloodlessly reasserted sovereignty to what everyone paying attention observes has been general approval.
(The fact is, the region had been transferred from the Russian Federated Soviet Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Socialist Republic in 1956 as an administrative measure when Ukrainian neo-fascism was not an issue. But now it was, after the February coup. And the voters in Crimea overwhelmingly supported reunification with Russia.)
Hillary’s response, as ex-secretary of state and presidential prospect? The least creative imaginable! Just as George H. W. Bush had called Saddam Hussein “a new Hitler,” and Bill Clinton had hurled the same tired charge against Milosevic, Hillary compared Vladimir Putin to Hitler and the Russian re-acquisition of Crimea to Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland.
“Claims by Putin,” proclaimed candidate Clinton, “that [Russia] had to go into Crimea, because they had to protect Russian minorities, is reminiscent of claims made back in the 1930s’s…, Germany, under the Nazis claimed that they had to protect German minorities in Czechoslovakia… and throughout Europe.”
This is sheer fear-mongering, and once again the pot calling the kettle black. Russia’s alleged aggressions involve Georgia and Ukraine, states neighboring Russia which Clinton has sought to incorporate into an anti-Russian military alliance; the U.S. aggressions supported by Hillary involve a host of nations from Libya to Afghanistan and incalculable death toll.
Expect a President Hillary Clinton to advocate further expansion of NATO. The governments of Finland and Sweden are considering NATO’s overtures, and public opinion has shifted in favor of membership. Georgia and Ukraine are formally waiting for inclusion. By pushing for expansion Hillary will provoke Russia while not necessarily retaining current allies’ firm support. (U.S. pressure on Europe to maintain sanctions against Russia is hardly welcome among the merchants, farmers and wageworkers most badly affected in Germany, France, Poland and elsewhere.)
China and Japan. Turning to the former secretary’s record of experience in Asian affairs, one can begin with her alliance with Japanese warmongers versus rising China. The most outstanding issue between the PRC and Tokyo is the Senkaku (Daioyu) islands dispute. Departing from the State Department’s traditional stance that “we take no position” on the Sino-Japanese dispute about sovereignty over these islands in the East China Sea, seized by Japan in 1895, Clinton as secretary of state emphasized that the islands fall within the defense perimeters of the U.S.-Japanese alliance. (That is to say, should the PRC attempt to establish control over the rocks and their resource-rich waters, the U.S. would fight with Japan to take them back.) The warmongering neocon National Review in a piece entitled “In Praise of Hillary Clinton” praised her for “driving the Chinese slightly up a wall.”
Clinton helped bring down a Japanese prime minister who, in response to public opinion, opposed U.S. plans for military base construction on the island. In 2009 the new prime minister Yukio Hatoyama, whose Democratic Party of Japan had defeated the slavishly pro-U.S. Liberal Democratic Party in the general election, promised to move the U.S. base in the heart of Ginowan city universally opposed for the noise, air pollution and public safety hazards it causes. Obama met with Hatoyama, listened sympathetically, and just said “no,” showing him who was boss.
Hatoyama was obliged to apologize to the people of Okinawa, essentially conceding that Japan remains an occupied nation that doesn’t enjoy sovereignty. Nationwide his public support ratings plummeted immediately from 70 to 17% and he was obliged to resign in shame after eight months in office, paving the way for the pro-U.S. militarist regime of the current (very frightening) prime minister Abe Shinzo.
India. Hillary as secretary of state made countless trips to India, signing bilateral economic and nuclear cooperation agreements with a country her husband had placed under sanctions for its nuclear tests in 1998. (Sanctions against both India and Pakistan were lifted, swiftly and without controversy or explanation, by George W. Bush in late Sept. 2001.)
While castigating North Korea for its nuclear weapons program (and Iran for its imagined one), Clinton signaled that India’s nukes were no longer an issue for the U.S. India was, after all, a counterweight to China. A CIA analyst called her position a “more hard line, more conditional, more neoconservative [approach] than Bush during the last four years of his term.” Some praise!
Israel/Palestine. On the question of Israel, Hillary has been a career-long total, unprincipled opportunist. In 1999 (as First Lady), Hillary Clinton hugged and kissed Yassir Arafat’s wife Suha during a trip to the West Bank. She advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state. She changed her tune when she ran for the New York Senate seat and has since been an unremitting supporter of Israeli aggression, whenever it occurs. She postured as an opponent of Israel’s unrelenting, illegal settlements of Palestinian territory in 2009, but backed down when Netanyahu simply refused to heed U.S. calls for a freeze. In her memoir she notes “our early, hard line on settlements didn’t work”—as though she’s apologizing for the official stance of the U.S. and virtually all the world’s countries that the occupation of the West Bank is illegal and wrong. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has described her as “Israel’s new lawyer” given her sympathetic view of Binyamin Netanyahu’s 2014 brutal bombardment of Gaza.
Honduras. In Latin America, suffice it to mention Clinton’s role in the aftermath of the military coup in Honduras in June 2009. President Manuel Zelaya, a millionaire logger but ally of the left-wing Bolivarian Alliance, had planned to conduct a referendum preparing the way for constitutional reforms. In an action Barack Obama correctly recognized as a “coup,” he was removed from office and dumped in Costa Rica. Hillary studiously avoided calling out reality for what it was, and resisted international calls for his reinstatement.
According to her own account, she worked with the new Honduran authorities to make sure that Zelaya would not return to office. “In the subsequent days [after the coup],” she records in Hard Choices, “I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico. We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot.”
In other words: let’s just accept the coup, change the subject, and proclaim the legitimacy of a more compliant government that can be packaged as the product of “free and fair elections.”
As Matthew Rothschild noted in The Progressive at the time (March, 2010), “Hillary Clinton continues with her hawkish ways, making Obama’s foreign policy less distinguishable from Bush’s every day.” When Latin American governments questioned the legitimacy of the next “elected” government, Hillary complained, “Other countries of the region say that they want to wait a while. I don’t know what they’re waiting for.”
That’s just it. She doesn’t know what democracy, or “free and fair elections” are all about. But, receiving hundreds of thousands from Wall Street for short secret talks she refuses to make public, she well knows the logic of the almighty U.S. dollar. (By the way, $ 350 million have flowed in to Honduras from the U.S. government since the coup.)
Hillary as Candidate, 2016
Karl Marx famously noted that the capitalist “is only capital personified. His [let us add, or her] soul is the soul of capital.” The record outlined above is that of a mercenary for the One Percent, what Bernie calls the “billionaire class” and in particular its military-industrial complex in league with the neocon disinformation apparatus. As Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs has said of Clinton, “Her so-called foreign policy ‘experience’ has been to support every war demanded by the US deep security state run by the military and the CIA.”
Bernie Sanders has all along labeled Clinton a Wall Street candidate, and this is surely true. His own fatal mistake has been to merely make that allegation, encountering the Clinton campaign’s reaction (Where’s your proof?) but neglecting to hit her where’s she’s most vulnerable: her experience as Secretary of State. Instead of exposing that record as “the most experienced candidate” as one of (at best) reckless misjudgment with horrific impacts on many people, he’s treated her with kid gloves.
(I read now that Sanders foreign policy advisor Joseph Cirincione has told an interviewer that “Sanders should have talked more, and earlier, about his national security vision.” I imagine that in “vision” would include a critique of Hillary’s record on Libya.)
Let us say that in the coming weeks somebody somewhere for some amount of money sells a tape of a Clinton talk to Goldman Sachs and it’s suddenly all over YouTube, and highly embarrassing. Or the Department of Justice will announce Hillary’s indictment. Bernie could, while sticking it out and hoping for that miracle, start hammering her campaign with the details listed above, especially as they pertain to her record and experience on Libya.
Seriously. He could sway voters and delegates by (for example) repeating again and again that Hillary “in the words of her former State Department employee Marie-Anne Slaughter ‘worked hard to turn the president’s mind around’ to agree to the 2011 attack on Libya that was misrepresented to the UN as a humanitarian mission but was in fact a mission for regime change that destroyed the prosperous modern state of Libya, produced new al-Qaeda and ISIL bases, and resulted in its leader’s brutal execution-by-sodomy to which Hillary responded with obscene glee as anyone can see on YouTube.”
Just popularizing that “We came, we saw, he died” clip could highlight the difference between the pensive Bernie and Hillary the warmonger. Grandma’s giddy cackle lingers so unpleasantly in the ears.
Sanders could contrast Hillary’s obsequious promise before AIPAC to meet with Netanyahu in the White House “during my first month in the White House” to bring the relationship to some undefined “next level” with his own suggestion that there should be “balance” in the White House approach to the Israeli/Palestinian issue. (The fact that a candidate had mentioned Palestinians by name has itself been found newsworthy by the corporate press.)
He could cite her statement in the course of the debates that Libya’s Gadaffi was “threatening to massacre large numbers of Libyan people” and therefore bowed to European and Arab pressure to “use smart power”. He could point out how the U.S. intelligence community itself questioned and has even since exposed as dubious Clinton’s dire predictions of “genocide;” these and the stupid charge that Libyan troops were getting issued Viagra to facilitate gang-rape were cynically manufactured and designed to “turn POTUS around” and agitate and confuse the public on the Libya attack issue.Wait, before you go…
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