by Philip Roddis, August 3, 2016
I’ve seen numerous FB posts by liberal American friends saying it’s vital to back Hillary. It isn’t, and I’ve Facebooked several times to say so. Usually my comments are ignored but I keep at it because these are good people I’ve had a deep connection with, though our worldviews are now far apart, and because the question is vital. The other day I Facebooked a link to my previous post, and had this from someone I’m fond of.
I replied …
My dear friend
Here’s my detailed reply on the question of HRC as the ‘lesser evil’. You say I’m “taken in by negative press” on her. Er, no. That’s an assumption on your part, and an inaccurate one. You do not already know what informs my views on this, and it’s unfair of you to suppose otherwise.
I claim moral right to critique HRC as one affected by her policies. I also claim intellectual right. While no expert, I’ve read Hard Choices and, more to the point, studied her record. I dare say I’ve spent more time on this than most Americans; that’s how important it is. My concerns are her neoliberal proximity to big capital, like Exxon-Mobil, whose support is always conditional on payback, and her hawkish imperialism. The latter affects me more directly so in this reply to you I’ll focus on that. Note though that the case for saying both Clintons are venal is strong. Did you see the Clinton Cash film linked from that previous post? It can’t be dismissed as ‘negative press’ when it makes specific accusations which are either true or false. If false, why no libel suit? While there are few smoking guns here, circumstantial evidence of financial wrongdoing by and for the pair is damning. Circumstantial evidence is not inferior evidence: it just needs to be looked at with extra care. A good analogy is insider trading: here too there are seldom smoking guns but offenders are successfully prosecuted where contingent facts point beyond reasonable doubt to their guilt.
So too with the Clintons, who in truth cannot be separated on many things, such as their Nigeria dealings and links with Frank Giustra, not least the Kazakh uranium connection as reported in the New Yorker. These and other examples are far from exhaustive; just what prosecutors call specimen charges. I have no a priori desire to see HRC damned but came to my assessment on the back of hard evidence, not rumour or bad press. For instance I discount GOP and rightwing sources as untrustworthy on these matters, but do not dismiss the Panama Paper revelations or PunditFact as unreliable. (Though at least one pundit does find the latter unreliable due to pro Clinton bias!) We should also note that the revolving door, a growing threat to democracy, is especially significant with Bill and Hillary due to the intimate relationship between past and present senior politicians, and between both and seriously big money.
That said, should counter-evidence emerge on Clinton venality I’ll adjust my view. It wouldn’t be the first time. But American friends who promote HRC, some in adulation, others with sober ‘realism’, have yet to address my points as set out on FB, in this and in other posts. I sense projection here. That silence suggests it is well meaning defenders of Hillary, not I, who are locked into a stance informed by little more than impressionism and ‘gut feeling’. That’s quite understandable given the horrendous Donald but we need more than ‘gut feel’ and Trump aversion here.
Again though, the above is in passing. My focus is less on HRC as venal than as warmonger. I do see the two as inextricable, with that Nigeria trail – oil loot, Clinton Foundation, Boko Haram – a case in point, but to back this up I’d need a few thousand words on really existing capitalism in the globalised, post Soviet era. I’ll pass, and for now simply review the record on foreign policy. On this and much else Hillary and Bill can’t be separated. In battle with Obama then Sanders, Hillary bigged up her stint as First Lady to show her greater experience. That’s odd – the role is traditionally associated with Good Works on uncontroversial causes – but makes sense once we factor in the problems posed by other aspects of her CV. Her reign as senator, 2001-08, was unremarkable – can you cite a single memorable piece of legislation she saw through? – while that as Secretary of State earned her, this side of the Atlantic, the Queen of Chaos moniker.
In Hard Choices she brags of urging Bill, March 1999, to bomb Belgrade. You and I may differ on what motivated Washington to destroy Yugoslavia. Many take at face value the “humanitarian intervention” talk. I do not but you might, so, unless you request it, I won’t go into the why, begging as it does a class and anti-imperialist perspective you may not share. I’ll focus instead on results. The Kosovo “rescued” by the first bombing of a European capital since WW2 is one of the most corrupt nations on earth; its main exports, chiefly to Western Europe, being sex slaves, criminal gangs and heroin from the opium output of another part Clintonian legacy; Afghanistan. In this, Kosovo anticipates other chaos inflicted directly on her watch. I mean Iraq’s devastation, for which she voted and enthused over to the delight of Gingrich and Kissinger. I mean Libya, for whose mayhem and birth of ISIL she bears prime responsibility. (And who could forget her grotesquely joyous pastiche, on Gadaffi’s sodomisation by knife blade, of Julius Caesar’s veni vidi vici – ‘we came, we saw, he died’?) And I mean Syria, where her hawkishness pushed her more cautious boss, Barack Obama, into the devastation of that country in the name, as ever, of democracy.
I’ll skip Honduras. I mean no disrespect to those so cruelly treated on her say so – in defiance of the UN General Assembly – but want to keep things short. (Do check out Honduras though. Try this Al-Jazeera piece, a reliable source when Gulf State interests aren’t involved; but really, you’re spoilt for choice on what happened to Zelaya.) I’ll even skip Palestine! My number one worry concerns Russia, where the frighteningly maverick and philistine Trump actually looks the saner of the two front runners. I’m no fan of Reagan but will give him this: he genuinely thought the cold war ended with the fall of the USSR. Some of his key advisors – Russia experts like Stephen Cohen, and US Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts – thought so too. Both were appalled by what they (naively in my view) saw as lost opportunities for rapprochement with Putin. These began when the Clintons – again, no separation for the reason already given – took advantage of both Russia’s post USSR weakness and Yeltsin’s buffoonery to push NATO eastwards – breaking its promises not to “advance an inch” – in ways the USA would not for a moment tolerate anywhere near its own doorstep. That push continued under Dubya with HRC’s vociferous approval. And of course it was HRC who fast-tracked Victoria “fuck the EU” Nuland, a key mover in the Maidan coup that ousted Yanukovych in the name of – what else? – democracy, a claim flatly contradicted by the fascist make up of Ukraine’s current regime.
NATO, which is Washington, is playing an insanely dangerous game on and close to the borders of a nuclear power. For all his bluster, Trump looks on this matter the more statesmanlike with his willingness to get real and talk to Putin. Compare that with an all too likely scenario wherein Clinton tries to push through her no fly zone in Syria – which would in effect restore the status quo to before Russia entered the fray: i.e. ISIS, Al Nusrah and the ‘moderate’ head-choppers in the ascendant; Assad on the ropes. Putin will say no because, having accepted mayhem in Iraq and Libya, Russia drew a line in the sand on Damascus. Since Russia is a nuclear power she cannot be bullied the way most countries are by the USA. So how many steps, do you think, before a HRC who loves to talk tough takes this to the unthinkable brink? Scary or what?
That, in brief and with important omissions which only strengthen my case, is why I say HRC may not even be the lesser evil. And if she is, it’s by so narrow a margin as to make it a non consideration in electoral choice. Please don’t assume I back Trump. He’s unleashed humanity’s basest instincts, as rightwing populists do. But what would I do if I were an American? I’d throw heart and soul into a real alternative to a phony democracy that threatens more of the same: warmongering and its legacy of chaos across the globe, the continuing export of American jobs to Asia, and the continual subordination of tackling climate change to the needs of profit. It’s to the undying shame of Bernie that, as many foresaw, he urged his supporters to come behind Hillary when he could have begun the building of a real alternative, outside and inside the established machinery. American democracy, even by Britain’s low standards, is broken and crying out for a real alternative. That Hillary as president won’t advance it one iota goes without saying. In the face of this appalling binary choice, American progressives should back Jill Stein and the building of strong grass roots movements for change.