To all the women who would like to see a female president and therefore support Hillary Clinton, I hope you don’t have sons or husbands in the military. Just as we had no idea that George W. Bush would launch us into an immoral and needless war in Iraq-which Hillary voted for as a senator–it’s hard to fathom what a hawk like Hillary would do if elected. Bush gave us long tours of duty which created a whole new generation of vets with PTSD–if they even lived. Hillary is more of a hawk than some of the most aggressive GOP candidates like Lindsay Graham. It used to be that the GOP represented war and the Democrats represented less war and more diplomacy. Not Hillary. She’s given some scary, tell-tale signs of how she represents a tough US foreign policy which has failed us. (Bernie is less of a hawk, but no peacenik himself.)
Here’ some analysis from the independent Democractnow.org, which doesn’t run corporate ads which taint their coverage:
Phyllis Bennis: “The two leading candidates—Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton—both were saying yes to war against ISIS, using conventional military force—bombing, drone strikes and air—ground troops that are not American—and they are both saying go after ISIS, differing on the timing of that.
The one significant difference was on the question of a no-fly zone. And here, Secretary Clinton really played out her well-known hawkishness, where she said we absolutely must have a no-fly zone, and as she put it, both for humanitarian purposes and to challenge Russia, because, of course, ISIS has no planes, al-Qaeda has no planes, so a no-fly zone is going to be targeting planes of either Russia or Iran or Syria, which means the U.S. going to war directly against the Syrian regime and potentially against Russia. So that kind of war talk from Secretary Clinton, when it was her own colleague in the Cabinet, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who said, in the context of the Libya mobilization, which Secretary Clinton was leading—she was really the cheerleader on Libya. And it was at that time that the secretary of defense said, “Let’s be clear: A no-fly zone starts with going to war”—in that case, against Libya. What we know is that the anti-aircraft system of Libya hardly existed. And yet, he said, we would have to start with war. In Syria, the anti-aircraft system is a very developed system, which would take an enormous campaign, air campaign—and potentially more—to take out, as they call it, the anti-aircraft system in Libya, that would lead to the ability to impose a no-fly zone against Russian planes. It’s a very, very dangerous position that Secretary Clinton was talking about.”
Bill Curry: Well, first of all, I agree with everything that was just said. I’d also point out, though, that Secretary Clinton, for instance, in a speech to the Foreign Affairs Council a few weeks ago, said—I’m closely paraphrasing—”I agree with President Obama that it isn’t time to send 100,000 troops into the Mideast.” And in point of fact, President Obama’s position is that it’s not time to send any troops in, even though there are some ground troops now, that he chooses to call special operatives. But his point is zero ground troops. The 100,000 figure, these kinds of things are never plucked out of the air. In the debate on Saturday night, Secretary Clinton said, “It’s not time to send tens of thousands.” Well, the most belligerent candidate in the race is Lindsey Graham, and he’s only for sending in 15,000. And so, you wish that the mainstream press did a little better job of parsing all this syntax, but I think that the only fair inference here is that Secretary Clinton is more than ready to take the position that Lindsey Graham is taking, holding down the right of the Republican debate. Her readiness—her apparent readiness to send in some ground troops, under whatever nomenclature, I think she’s made pretty clear.
The question of the no-fly zone, again, you have two countries here—Syria and Iraq—who have invited the Soviets into their airspace. We are not invited by either country to do that. It’s a violation of international law to establish this. And like the Republicans, the secretary doesn’t say, “Well, what do you do if the Russians fly anyway?” And, you know, as always, in all of these issues, what is the next—what happens then, when you’ve actually taken the first step toward war? And so, I really agree with what Phyllis said about what’s not being said here.
And let me just wind up with a couple of points. You’ve had the United Nations in Paris playing really an historic role on climate change just in these last few weeks. You see it taking the first steps on at least outlining a process toward a resolution of the civil war in Syria—not much in that case, but there’s something there. And the fact of the matter is that our safety lies not in the force of arms, but in the rule of law. And that it’s—if we’ve learned anything in the last 15 years, it is that the introduction of ground—of large standing armies and ground troops into these desert wars accomplishes nothing. We’ve seen the limitations of our military, not the reasons to keep growing it. We’ve seen what it can’t do in this fight. And above all, we have seen that our first commitment ought to be to the multilateral resolution of conflict in this world, that this is the end, really, of the age of unilateral military interventionism. And I know that for progressives, in particular, that you can be afraid that the moment you get up and say that, some right-wing yahoo is going to call you a sissy or a subversive, but it’s the truth, and it’s logic, and the facts all support it. And at some point, I think we have to take a greater—we have to have greater faith in the ability of the American people to hear it. This is the hard time. These are things we should have been saying for years. And it’s a hard time, I know, to raise these points, when people are at their most fearful, as they are, understandably, right now. But all the things being said in this debate fall far short of making this country safer or of solving the underlying problems.
And so, I was most struck also by what wasn’t in that debate. We need to talk about how you really resolve these kinds of conflicts and—if I could actually just throw in one last point—about their real roots. Bernie Sanders was right to talk about global warming. That’s not a security threat 50 years from now; it’s having an impact right this second across the world, and it is the greatest threat. And in terms of the roots of these problems, we don’t tell the American people our own history. We don’t tell them the history of interventionism, which has caused so much blowback throughout the world among developing countries. And we don’t tell them what’s happening right now. There’s this trope floating in the air that, you know, Sunnis and Shias have been fighting since the year 750. Not true. Sometimes they’ve fought, and sometimes they haven’t. In the last 40 years, the fighting has really picked up. Why is that? I would argue that part of this is the wages of global corporate capitalism today, that it does lift some people out of absolute poverty, no question, but it suppresses others. It throws people out of the middle class across the world, and it creates a permanent underclass—right now, in particular, of angry, aimless, hopeless young men. And whether it’s Dylann Roof in Charleston or the Tsarnaev brothers, what we’re seeing right now is a creation of this, what a British economist has called the precariat. And it really, really does threaten us. That notion that O’Malley touched on, that there are economic answers, that there is a question here that precedes all the stuff we’re talking about—in the words of an old adage, “If you want peace, work for justice”—that that has to be put on the table. We need to do that now.
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