Within the American bubble, it is now common knowledge that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recommended that no charges “are appropriate” against presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton for her conduct of official business on her insecure, personal email service, and that her erstwhile rival for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders, has thrown in the towel and endorsed her candidacy. Neither of these events was particularly surprising. While the Obama Administration has waged a ruthless war against whistleblowers, well-connected insiders like David Petraeus have escaped with slaps on the wrist (if that) and been welcomed back into the comforts of elite existence. And Bernie Sanders made it clear way back in 2015 that he would support the eventual nominee of the party, provoking an accurate prediction from the left that he was just another sheepdog, herding real progressives toward the establishment’s choice. True to his word, Sanders has ignored Jill Stein’s invitation to replace her as the candidate of the Green Party, a vehicle with which millions of shocked “Sandernistas” might actually realize their hope of starting a movement to challenge the 1%. With polls showing dim prospects for the presumed Republican nominee, Donald Trump, the road to the White House appears to have finally cleared for Mrs. Clinton, allowing Barack Obama’s indispensable, exceptional country to honor his legacy by shattering its final glass ceiling in a glorious, corporate-sponsored victory for gender equality. The mainstream media will not waste too much space between precious adverts regretting that Jill Stein was not the woman to shatter that ceiling, since the owners of America decided long ago how this chapter would be written, and who would benefit from it. For Wall Street, Wal-Mart, Monsanto, Big Pharma, the prison- and military-industrial complexes, and any multinational corporation exploiting cheap resources everywhere and paying little tax anywhere, Hillary Clinton was always going to be a safe choice. But if we dare to venture outside the American bubble – into cognitive territory beyond the current control of our masters – we will see that, for ordinary people, Hillary Clinton is not safe at all.
Totally Worth It: The Blood of the Iraqis and the Libyans
Perhaps, after a few years in the White House and with a couple of interventions under her belt, Mrs. Clinton will come to have a new, eponymous doctrine, but at the moment the Hillary Doctrine refers to her assertions that women’s rights and violence against women are not just social issues or indicators of development, but national security issues. With that in mind, before we look at where our new Empress is going to lead us, perhaps we should take a quick look at where she has already gone.
During the second administration of Hillary’s husband, Madeleine Albright served the American empire as Secretary of State, beating Hillary through that particular ceiling. What kind of triumph was this, for women or anyone else? For the people of Iraq, suffocated by punitive sanctions after much of their country’s civilian infrastructure had been deliberately shattered by the United States in the Gulf War, the Clinton years brought suffering and death on a massive scale. Deprived of clean water, sanitation, and basic medications, at least 500,000 children died – even before George W. Bush destroyed what little was left of the country, adding hundreds of thousands more to the death toll. (For more detail on the human cost of this Clinton-era policy, see this documentary film by John Pilger.) Had such a loss of life occurred in the United States or one of its allies, it would have been commemorated for all time. Instead, it was treated like an act of pest control:
In 2012, President Barack Obama, evidently unperturbed by this historic achievement and quietly amassing a body count of his own, awarded Albright the Medal of Freedom, the American empire’s ultimate symbol of approval.
Bush père left Saddam Hussein in place at the end of the Gulf War. To many casual observers this seemed like a mistake, but it was not. America needs external threats in the same way that a heroine addict needs a fix. Its massive and hugely profitable military-industrial complex demands a raison d’être, and threats (real or imagined) offer fabulous opportunities to suppress dissent at home, monitor the citizenry, and keep the lower orders in line with manipulative appeals to patriotism. After 9/11 – the “new Pearl Harbor” openly desired by the neocon cabal, Project for a New American Century – Bush fils gladly accepted his father’s gift, launching a war that would pour untold fortunes into the pockets of “defense” contractors and (as Naomi Klein outlined so well in her book The Shock Doctrine) reconstruction contractors. For these interests, the death toll from the Iraq War (which many believe exceeded one million souls) was unquestionably “worth it.” And Hillary Clinton, then in the Senate and taking advice from Albright, lent her support to the operation, with a peculiar smile that provided a telling glimpse into her soul:
Mrs. Clinton defended her vote long after the Bush administration admitted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and had not “given aid and comfort” to Al Qaeda. She did not apologize for it until 2014, in her book Hard Choices, at a time when it was politically safe and expedient to do so, and in a manner that rang hollow. Naturally, no-one in Washington ever asks how one can truly apologize for a war crime, for the Iraq War is not recognized as such by the planet’s self-appointed masters. Well-conditioned by the corporate media, American voters do not seem to require Mrs. Clinton to back up her glib statement with a meaningful demonstration of sincerity – perhaps personally commiserating with the widows and orphans of the Iraq War, joining them to cry, to beg forgiveness, to look as if she had done something worse than miss a question on Jeopardy. Perhaps if she had enjoyed a weekly romp with an intern at Foggy Bottom then more would have been expected.
Eight years after voting for the Iraq War, and now “serving” as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was one of the leading voices within the administration of the Nobel Peace Laureate calling for U.S. and NATO military intervention in Libya. While most domestic discussion of Libya has centered on the fate of four American “diplomats” killed at Benghazi, those who regard non-Americans as fully human are aware that the chaos that followed the West’s “humanitarian intervention” has claimed the lives of tens of thousands and produced yet another failed state. For Hillary Clinton, talking Obama into this project was a source of pride, displayed to all the world when she gloated about the gruesome sodomy and murder of Muammar Qaddafi:
Women in Libya struggling with constant harassment from militias might be forgiven for wondering what this Hillary Doctrine is really all about. If Mrs. Clinton wants to improve conditions for women, why did she push for the destruction of what had been a very stable, secular society – the richest in Africa, with the highest Human Development Index, longest life expectancy, much more democracy than most Americans ever knew, extensive social benefits, public works, and gender equality. And why did she provide so much support to Saudi Arabia – no friend of women’s liberation – by aggressively pushing arms sales, including a large delivery of fighter planes made by Boeing that have since been used by the Saudis to attack Yemen, where several thousand civilians have been killed by airstrikes?
Outside the American bubble, answers are not hard to find. Iraq and Libya were not destroyed to advance the well-being of women, to promote democracy, or to protect the world from deranged dictators. They were destroyed because they demonstrated a wholly unacceptable level of independence and sought to use the considerable wealth produced by their resources for the benefit of their own peoples, instead of opening themselves up for Western corporate exploitation. If there is one thing that America’s ruling elite absolutely cannot abide, it is the risk of a good example being set by another country (especially a small one) that does things differently. This is the real reason why, beyond all the pretexts and cover stories, Castro could not be tolerated in Cuba, Guzman could not be tolerated in Guatemala, Mossadegh could not be tolerated in Iran, Sukarno could not be tolerated in Indonesia, Allende could not be tolerated in Chile, and Chavez could not be tolerated in Venezuela. The United States, with varying degrees of success, worked to overthrow all of these governments – some of them democracies – because American-style capitalism must be seen as the one true way. Upon the demise of Soviet communism, Francis Fukuyama pronounced “the end of history,” but he was a tad premature (and misguided). There are still other countries that have the temerity to believe they can chart their own course in the world. They are next on America’s list, and Hillary Clinton stands ready to check them off.
Help Wanted: Sociopath, Experience Required
When Hillary Clinton denounces Donald Trump’s inexperience in foreign policy, she expects American voters to overlook the disasters she has underwritten and supported. But she also reminds the owners of America that only she understands the Great Game, and only she has Henry Kissinger on speed-dial. Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s many defects will prevent voters and owners alike from crediting him with words of wisdom that could very well come back to haunt us all.
In a discussion with Bill O’Reilly, Trump made a statement about Vladimir Putin that has been almost universally condemned as heretical:
I would be able to get along, in my opinion, with Putin. Now it’s possible not; I’m not saying 100%, but I think I would have a very good relationship with Putin. And I tell you what: it’s actually important for this country to do that. You can’t have everybody hating you. The whole world hates us. And one of the things that I heard for years and years: Never drive Russia and China together; and Obama has done that.
From the point of view of the neocons who currently dominate U.S. foreign policy (regardless of the party in power), this statement is shocking in at least three respects. First, it undermines all the work they (especially Hillary) have done demonizing Putin as (yet another) new Hitler. Second, it pours cold water over their desire to turn Russia into a compliant vassal (much like it was under Yeltsin – open for rape and pillage by western “investors”) and to decouple Russia from Europe. And third, it identifies the heart of the matter but proposes a non-violent solution. Trump is absolutely correct that Obama’s policies have driven Russia and China together, as we discussed in late 2014. Eurasian integration is proceeding rapidly, as documented by Pepe Escobar, and presents the exceptional empire with an existential threat; namely, the distinct possibility of no longer being Number One, with all that entails for the primacy of the dollar and the ability to pay for America’s unsustainable appetites. Trump essentially proposes to deal with that problem by doing business with Russia. The neocons propose to deal with it by attacking Russia every way they can, which could make Hillary Clinton’s Situation Room an excessively interesting place.
Indeed, it is patently obvious that Donald Trump does not understand the Great Game, as currently played. He has explicitly disavowed regime change, claims that he would not have sent troops into Iraq or Libya, and does not believe that the United States should be attempting to overthrow Syrian President Assad. He seems to realize that attacking Assad brings us into conflict with both Iran and Russia, and considers that unwise. He sees the rise of ISIS as a direct result of the chaos in Iraq and wishes to use military force against ISIS alone. Outside the American bubble, this all makes a great deal of sense. (See, for example, this piece by Patrick Cockburn in The Independent.) But to the neocons, once again, this runs directly counter to their plans for American hegemony. And Trump’s call for a serious war on ISIS risks destroying the very terrorists to which the United States and its allies in the region have given a considerable amount of aid and comfort. No-one has explained to Donald Trump that the CIA has used radical Islam for decades to destabilize the regimes it finds inconvenient. In that sense, it is technically accurate to state that Donald Trump does not know enough about American foreign policy. And the owners of America seem to have decided not to bother edifying him, because his disapproval ratings are actually guaranteeing the electoral success of their nasty little girl.
As President, Hillary Clinton is likely to pursue two courses of action that make war with Russia much more likely. Syria remains on the neocons’ list, and Hillary’s intentions for that country are closely aligned with those of Republican warmongers like John McCain. Her call for a no-fly zone is disturbingly reminiscent of previous American interventions and risks embroiling Russia’s extremely capable war planes. (An honest appraisal of Russia’s success in targeting ISIS assets is almost impossible to find in the western media, devoted as it is to the tendentious, context-free portrayal of Russian aggression in the Ukraine.) But the American empire is losing patience with Zbigniew Brzezinski’s strategy of undermining Russia by chipping away at its periphery. With Russia and China becoming a force to be reckoned with in every sense that matters, the empire has turned away (for now) from Iran (which had long been next on the list after Syria) to concentrate on Russia directly. And almost no-one who will cast a vote in November’s presidential election has a clue what is happening.
Russia: Where Aggressive Empires Go to Die
At NATO’s recent summit in Warsaw, the “allies” announced their intention to bolster their “forward presence” in the east. Claiming not to seek another Cold War, NATO will station another four multi-national battalions in the Baltic States and Poland. A Response Force of 40,000 troops will be at the ready, its actions coordinated by additional headquarters throughout the region. Claiming to seek “risk reductions” and “transparency,” Secretary General Stoltenberg rebutted an accusation from a Russian journalist that NATO’s encroachment on Russia’s borders was aggressive, citing Russia’s “illegal annexation” of the Crimea as justification for NATO’s “defensive” build-up of forces. All of this comes close on the heels of the United States’ activation of a missile “defense system” in Romania. The Aegis “shield” will be joined by a similar installation in Poland, and is presented to the world as a means of protecting Europe from nuclear missiles launched from the Middle East, chiefly Iran. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, defense contractors aim to “rebuild” America’s arsenal of nuclear weapons – without worrying how the country is going to pay for it – and Barack Obama has quietly signed off on the development of smaller, “smarter” tactical nuclear weapons like the B61 Model 12, the use of which is becoming less unthinkable day by day.
Once again, we must travel beyond the ever-expanding American bubble for a more objective perspective. Here is the Russian President, speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum:
Putin’s frustration is understandable. The extent of the brainwashing in the West is almost total. To take just one of countless examples, consider this extract from CNN’s coverage of the Aegis missile shield:
Obama had previously drawn criticism from politicians in the U.S. and Europe for canceling the Bush-era plan to station land-based interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic in 2009. Obama was further criticized for announcing the change on the day of the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland during World War II.
Conley [a think-tank director] said that announcement would “go down in the history of poorly timed announcements.”
What a perfect illustration of the historical ignorance and tribal bias of the American chattering classes! Putting aside the equation of the Soviet Union with Russia, do these people have any idea what WWII was about? Do they understand that the Soviet Union lost at least 27 million people fighting Nazi Germany? Do they realize that it was the titanic struggle on the Eastern Front that really defeated the Germans? Do they know that the German Blitzkrieg in Operation Barbarossa came within a short distance of Moscow, and that had Stalin not taken some territory in Poland to act as a buffer zone (agreed as part of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact), the Battle of Moscow could have been lost and Germany could actually have prevailed? Do they know that American corporations like Ford and General Motors built many of the tanks and trucks that Hitler used to invade the Soviet Union, and that Standard Oil (the forerunner to Exxon) supplied those vehicles with oil? Do they know that a subsidiary of IBM provided the data-processing services that made the Holocaust possible? Are they big enough to admit that the West “got it wrong” when it refused to send any heads of state to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VE day in Moscow? Can they see why Russia might be anxious about the expansion of NATO to its borders, having been promised by the Americans upon the fall of the Berlin Wall that no such thing would happen? 1
Of course not. 27 million dead Soviets mean no more to the American elite than two million dead Iraqis, or millions of dead in Indochina, Indonesia, or the Congo. All that matters is the maintenance of a system that concentrates fabulous wealth and power in the hands of a few. Hillary Clinton has already proven that she is hard enough to make the choices that will satisfy that system, and it is in this context that her Doctrine must be understood.
- That promise was broken by none other than Bill Clinton. ↩