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April 12, 2015
Hillary-The-Hawk Flies Again
By Ralph Nader
“Hillary works for Goldman Sachs and likes war, otherwise I like Hillary,” a former Bill
Clinton aide told me sardonically. First, he was referring to her cushy relationships
with top Wall Street barons and her $200,000 speeches with the criminal enterprise
known as Goldman Sachs, which played a part in crashing the U.S. economy in 2008
and burdening taxpayers with costly bailouts. Second, he was calling attention to her
war hawkish foreign policy.
Last week, Hillary-The-Hawk emerged, once again, with comments to The Atlantic
attacking Obama for being weak and not having an organized foreign policy. She was
calling Obama weak despite his heavy hand in droning, bombing and intervening
during his Presidency. While Obama is often wrong, he is hardly a pacifist
commander. It’s a small wonder that since 2008, Hillary-The-Hawk has been generally
described as, in the words of the New York Times journalist Mark Landler, “more
hawkish than Mr. Obama.”
In The Atlantic interview, she chided Obama for not more deeply involving the U.S.
with the rebels in Syria, who themselves are riven into factions and deprived of strong
leaders and, with few exceptions, trained fighters. As Mrs. Clinton well knows, from her
time as Secretary of State, the White House was being cautious because of growing
Congressional opposition to intervention in Syria as Congress sought to determine
the best rebel groups to arm and how to prevent this weaponry from falling into the
hands of the enemy insurgents.
She grandly told her interviewer that “Great nations need organizing principles, and
‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Nonsense. Not plunging into
unconstitutional wars could have been a fine “organizing principle.” Instead, she voted
for the criminal invasion of Iraq, which boomeranged back into costly chaos and
tragedy for the Iraqi people and the American taxpayers.
Moreover, the former Secretary of State ended her undistinguished tenure in 2013
with an unremitting record of militarizing a Department that was originally chartered
over 200 years ago to be the expression of American diplomacy. As Secretary of
State, Hillary Clinton made far more bellicose statements than Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates did. Some career Foreign Service Officers found her aggressive
language unhelpful, if not downright hazardous to their diplomatic missions.
Such belligerency translated into her pushing both opposed Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates and reluctant President Obama to topple the Libyan dictator, Muammar
Gaddafi. The Libyan dictator had given up his dangerous weapons and was re-
establishing relations with Western countries and Western oil companies. Mrs. Clinton
had no “organizing principle” for the deadly aftermath with warring militias carving up
Libya and spilling over into Mali and the resultant, violent disruption in Central Africa.
The Libyan assault was Hillary Clinton’s undeclared war – a continuing disaster that
shows her touted foreign policy experience as just doing more “stupid stuff.” She
displays much ignorance about the quicksand perils for the United States of post-
dictatorial vacuums in tribal, sectarian societies.
After criticizing Obama, Mrs. Clinton then issued a statement saying she had called
the president to say that she did not intend to attack him and anticipated “hugging it
out” with him at a Martha’s Vineyard party. Embracing opportunistically after attacking
is less than admirable.
Considering Hillary Clinton’s origins as an anti-Vietnam War youth, how did she end
up such a war hawk? Perhaps it is a result of her overweening political ambition and
her determination to prevent accusations of being soft on militarism and its imperial
Empire because she is a woman.
After her celebrity election as New York’s Senator in 2000, she was given a requested
seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. There, unlike her war-like friend,
Republican Senator John McCain, she rarely challenged a boondoggle Pentagon
contract; never took on the defense industry’s waste, fraud and abuse; and never saw
a redundant or unneeded weapons system (often criticized by retired Generals and
Admirals) that she did not like.
The vaunted military-industrial complex, which President Eisenhower warned about,
got the message. Hillary Clinton was one of them.
Energetically waging peace was not on Secretary of State Clinton’s agenda. She
would rather talk about military might and deployment in one geographic area after
another. At the U.S. Naval Academy in 2012, Generalissma Clinton gave a speech
about pivoting to East Asia with “force posture” otherwise known as “force projection”
(one of her favorite phrases) of U.S. naval ships, planes and positioned troops in
countries neighboring China.
Of course, China’s response was to increase its military budget and project its own
military might. The world’s super-power should not be addicted to continuous
provocations that produce unintended consequences.
As she goes around the country, with an expanded publically-funded Secret Service
corps to promote the private sales of her book, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton needs to
ponder what, if anything, she as a Presidential candidate has to offer a war-weary,
corporate-dominated American people. As a former member of the board of directors
of Walmart, Hillary Clinton waited several years before coming out this April in support
for a restored minimum wage for thirty million American workers (a majority of whom
This delay is not surprising considering Hillary Clinton spends her time in the
splendors of the wealthy classes and the Wall Street crowd, when she isn’t pulling
down huge speech fees pandering to giant trade association conventions. This
creates distance between her and the hard-pressed experiences of the masses,
See Progressives Opposed to a Clinton Dynasty for more information.