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
And Bernie could ask thought-provoking questions. Like: Clinton says she wants to take the U.S.-Israel relationship “to the next level.” Does she think the present level—the highest amount of foreign aid to a nation the U.S. provides annually, despite Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land that the U.S. and the rest of the world officially oppose—inadequate?
Or: In 2011 Hillary Clinton wanted the U.S. military to arm opponents of the Syrian government. But then as now almost all the effective military forces in the Syrian opposition are aligned with al-Qaeda or ISIL, and U.S. efforts to create a military force for regime change in Syria have resulted in nothing but embarrassment. Now Clinton says she “feels strongly” that we should impose a “no-fly zone” in Syria—just like she proposed in Libya—which means using the U.S. Air Force to unilaterally carve out this zone and engage militarily with Syrian or other including Russian forces to bring down the Assad regime whose forces are seriously fighting al-Qaeda. Does that show good judgment, or is that inviting World War Three?
I could make further suggestions but I have a feeling the Sanders campaign isn’t interested. Its staffers are strategizing about how best to observe Bernie’s pledge to support the Democratic nominee with the fact that in doing so he’ll need to say that being a Wall Street stooge isn’t as bad as being Donald Trump—and in doing so disappoint and disillusion followers who see no major difference between these two, other that one’s a carefully rehearsed former First Lady and the other a spontaneous buffoonish billionaire man.
Can You Vote For a Known Warmonger?
In recent days Bernie while reiterating his commitment to the Democratic ticket boasts that he’s been drawing “millions of new voters into the political system”—as though that were a good in itself. Hillary’s people will be courting these folks big-time. But surely many will stay home, making their own statement.
This would be a statement that they’re unwilling—or their dignity does not allow them–to pretend that some vote for a “lesser evil” or impossible third party has real meaning other than to state that they wish to proactively register their acceptance of what is in fact a rigged political system. Anyone voting between two nauseating candidates is really just voting for the process itself. Maybe when the dutiful voter reads through the post-election figures and notices he/she was among the 55% of eligible voters who participated he/she will feel proud (of having made their “voice heard”), if not morally superior to those neglecting to use their precious hard-won “right to vote.”
But I think there are at least as many who see a choice between Hillary and Trump as anything but a clear choice of Good versus Evil, or even lesser and greater evils summoning them to the ballot box to help Hillary. What we have is a well-known evil with a long record versus a less-known evil who exudes racism and Islamophobia, caters to the anti-immigrant right, and panders to the Zionist lobby while stating he wants peace with Russia and China, can make deals with Putin, wants NATO to pay for more of its expenses (which could actually lead to countries balking and opting out of that unnecessary anti-Russian military alliance), wants to stay out of Syria, thinks Iraq and Libya were disasters, etc.
If one is concerned about world peace (more than, say, electing a woman of some sort as president as an imagined good-in-itself), and you’re wondering how it’s possible that the hawkish Hillary with her known history—as someone who’s never learned the lessons of the Afghan, Iraqi, Libyan conflicts but wants a broader war in Syria—the choice is in fact not that clear. Not at all.
In such circumstances, it’s hard to feign enthusiasm, or posture as someone proud to be an American, because at least you know you have the right to vote.
Because in fact the campaign showed you how little that right to vote means. It showed you how the apportionment of delegates was skewed from the start by the Democratic Party’s rules to favor the establishment candidate, and in this case to allow the Democratic Party establishment to exult in Hillary’s strong showing among African-Americans in the south over Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
It showed how the institution of super-delegates further shapes the race; how caucus and primary rules depending on the state severely limit participation; how “participation” means requiring you to follow rules about of party primary registration well in advance; how money corrupts the entire ritual etc.
The 18-year-old voting for this first time in November can’t remember the vote in November 2000, when he or she was just two, and George W. Bush triumphed over Al Gore in an unfair, undemocratic presidential election. But a lot of the young people who’ve flocked to Bernie are somewhat aware of this history and have been cynical all along about what Marxists call “bourgeois democracy.”
Bernie’s tragedy was to attract those who didn’t believe in the “political process” (or yet have enough exposure to adequately disillusion them) into that process only to find it hopelessly unfair. And worse, he’ll have to tell them at the end of the day to believe in a warmonger.
When that happens they will, many of them will perhaps suddenly feel a very different sort of burn.
I sense the disillusionment already settling in. And just conceivably, youth’s lack of enthusiasm for Hillary plus Trump’s likely hammering her on the details of her “foreign policy experience” might even throw the race to the billionaire.
That, as Bernie-backer Susan Sarandon hinted in a “controversial” interview, might even be the preferable outcome—if only it prompts a revolution. And I don’t mean one led by him.
Trump in a rare speech before a teleprompter announced the other day that “war and aggression will not be my first instinct” and pledged to deploy boots on the ground only as a last resort. As the two-person race gets underway, he will hone in on Clinton’s “foreign policy experience” (maybe citing the Jeff Sachs quote about her supporting every war proposed by the military or CIA). He will pose himself as the brilliant peacemaker, able to make deals with Putin and the Chinese.
Trump could win. However frightening that might be, would a Clinton victory be less frightening?
The warmongers planning the next several wars are huddling, confident that their Shield Maiden has the women’s and the African-American votes (inherited from Obama who turned out to be so amenable to the military-industrial complex) in hand, but wondering how to channel all this hopefully malleable new youthful socialist-friendly energy to help sweep Hillary to power.
But they might discover that the quixotic Sanders campaign has produced new networks of new friends talking about income inequality, student debt relief, universal health care, criminal justice system reform, Wall Street regulation, the disastrous results of regime change, revolution, socialism, Marx, Lenin, etc. But chatting amongst themselves, they might, it seems to me, get more and more radicalized, more alienated from the broken system, more inclined to boycott the rigged process and move beyond Bernie in building towards that “political revolution” the nice old guy put on the table for general discussion. Before he gave up.
And so, unless Hillary gets run over by a bus, it will be either her or Trump—two of the most unpopular political figures in the country, oddly enough, whose negative poll ratings both hover around 60%—in the White House nine months from now.
Either will provoke—you would hope—immediate mass opposition. The total bankruptcy of the system is being exposed, to all with eyes to see. So let’s see things as they really are and (with Sarandon) think optimistically.
Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: [email protected].Wait, before you go…
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