Friday, February 5, 2016

Clinton's "experience" in foreign affairs

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton does have foreign policy experience. The job of Secretary of State is specifically to be the President's number one representative abroad, operating through US Ambassadors as intermediaries. She held that position for four years.

Clinton with Negroponte

Her subalterns included Cheryl Mills, who's claim to fame is the "orchestration" of Haitian politics, after the Bush administration - with Clinton's support - overthrew the elected government there (again!) in 2004. Mills was Secretary Clinton's Chief of Staff. Her deputy was James Steinberg, who cut his teeth as an analyst with the CIA-beloved Rand Corporation and directed the neoliberal Brookings Institution think-tank. Jack Lew, her Deputy for Management and Resources, also an alum from Brookings, was also once a COO with Citigroup - a Wall Street uber-bank. Her Director of Policy Planning was Anne-Marie Slaughter, another right-of-center alum of Brookings and the New America Foundation, which includes among its directors the CEO of Google, and neo-con luminary Francis Fukuyama. Advising her was her longtime friend, the bloodthirsty former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Not to be outdone by George W. Bush in maintaining the US's neocolonial grip on Latin America, she hired John Negroponte - former Ambassador to Honduras during the bad old Reagan days of US-supported right-wing death squads - to oversee the US participation in the coup d'etat against the democratically elected government of Honduras in 2009; and she seldom missed an opportunity to slander Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez - also democratically elected with broad popular support.

She paved the way for increased US military involvement in African nations, but that is understandable as a marketing strategy for the the Clinton Foundation - which lobbies for war material behemoths Lockheed-Martin and Boeing (top foundation contributors: Gates, Walmart, and Coc-Cola). The Clinton Foundation also lobbies for Exxon-Mobil and Chevron. She strongly supported, against a great deal of counsel to the contrary, the ill-conceived destruction of the Libyan government - called "Operation Unified Protector" - which has left a militarized and stateless nightmare in its wake.

Prior to her tenure as Secretary of State, she supported Reagan's illegal war against Nicaragua, supported both US-directed coups against Haiti's elected government (1994 & 2004), supported the bombing of Yugoslavia, the deadly sanctions against Iraq, and the disastrous invasions and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. As Senator, she voted for every single escalation of war. She has defended "enhanced interrogation" (torture) by the CIA and the armed forces, "rendition" (kidnapping people and sending them to third parties to be tortured), and the Obama administrations campaign of aerial drone killings.

This is a very brief sketch, but the question is this: Is any kind of "experience" superior to little or none? Pinochet had plenty of experience as head of state (after a US-coup orchestrated by her close friend and also-ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger).

Clinton's appeal to her own "experience" in foreign policy is not - on examination of her demonstrated alliances and convictions - a plus in her column, unless you want to see her and her appointees imposing that same kind of "experience" on more people abroad.

Bill Clinton had no "foreign policy experience" when elected. Neither did John F. Kennedy, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter  or Ronald Reagan.

Nonetheless, there will be those of us, out of a desire to appear 'well-informed' and 'politically sophisticated,' who will fall for this okey-doke about who does or does not have 'foreign policy experience,' little realizing how obtuse this litmus test really is.

I'm not sure if being a Christian requires me to engage in political action, though I am quite sure it demands speaking truth to power. I am very sure that as a Christian - one who observed firsthand what many of these policies look like on the ground - that I cannot give my support to someone who has consistently supported the cruelest methods available to retain US power abroad, especially when there is not the least indication that she will refrain from them when she is Commander-in-Chief. To hell with this kind of "experience."

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