Thursday, November 15, 2007

DRIVING MS HILLARY: Expanding the War on Terror

By Jack Random

The problem with Senator Hillary Clinton is not that she is a woman. I would love to support a woman for president – preferably a qualified black woman like Congresswoman Barbara Lee – but as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher instructs us, gender is not the decisive factor in selecting a national leader.

The problem with Senator Clinton is not that she is liberal. If Senator Clinton is liberal, then Rush Limbaugh is moderate. To the extent that Ms Clinton was an active participant in her husband’s administration, she was instrumental in evicting the left from mainstream politics. Like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did for the Labor Party in Britain, the Clintons redefined the Democratic Party by embracing corporate deregulation, cutting social services (welfare to workfare reform) and promoting international trade agreements that cut the heart out of organized labor.

The problem with Hillary Clinton is certainly not that she is willing to take a stand in opposition to the Neocon philosophy of aggressive and imperial warfare. She is not decidedly antiwar, anti-globalization, pro labor, pro environment or pro civil liberties.

The problem with Senator Clinton is that she is the penultimate triangulator. Triangulation is the art of taking a position on any given issue that is calculated to offend the least and appease the most potential voters.

When a politician vacillates on core issues, such as war, environmental policy, civil liberties or torture, it leaves the distinct impression that there are no core principles or moral values guiding the decision making process.

Like Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain, Hillary Clinton reflects the fundamental belief that if you can satisfy most of the people most of the time, you can figure out how to win an election. For lack of a better term, it is the politics of pandering. Applied to a modern age where communication technology disallows direct contradiction, the trick is to remain sufficiently vague and uncommitted so that seeming contradictions can be explained away.

It is interesting that Hillary Rodham was a young Republican before she became a Democrat. While the story of her conversion may be an interesting anecdote, one wonders if the underlying truth is one of opportunism. When did the political ambition of Hillary take root? Did she become a Democrat because she perceived a greater probability of advancement?

The media may have questions regarding the Senator’s White House archives and her position on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants but it is her positions on the war and the policies of war that continue to haunt everyone who has stood in opposition to war since before “Shock and Awe.”

Senator Clinton was for the war before she was against it. She wants us to believe that she never changed her mind, that she was always against the war, that she only wanted to support diplomacy, that she only wanted to support our troops, and the idea of “hedging her bet” never occurred to her but we have this clinging doubt.

We grow tired reminding the electorate that the Bush Doctrine of aggressive and “pre-emptive” war was already in place at the time of her vote to authorize military action. We grow tired reminding people that the UN inspectors were on the ground and their reports consistently ran contrary to the false accusations of the White House.

Every legislator who voted to authorize the use of force was voting to empower a militant commander with his finger on the trigger. All the excuses about false intelligence are shallow; the truth is clear: the nation was stricken with war fever and few of our leaders had the strength to oppose it.

Four and a half years later, the nation no longer has war fever yet Senator Clinton did it again. Her vote encouraging the White House to classify the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist organization” was made to order for the Bush warlords. The classification was unprecedented as Bush made it so without delay.

If Senator Clinton was dazed and confused about the meaning of this action, she might have listened to her colleague, Senator Jim Webb, as he forewarned it was all the authorization the president would need.

A dance with the devil or a deal at the crossroads, Hillary Clinton knew well the implications of her vote. She signed on the dotted line a comrade in the war on terror. When fate gave her a second chance, she signed again.

My objection to the “sense of the Senate” resolution goes well beyond the suspicion that the president will use it as authorization for war. It is factually incorrect and eminently misleading.

The allegations hold that the Revolutionary Guard is providing aid and assistance to Shiite Militias in Iraq, arms and supplies to the Taliban in Afghanistan, and material support to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

It may not be enshrined in international law but no nation should be empowered to accuse another of terrorist activities when it is engaged in similar activities on a grander scale.

It would be shocking indeed if Iran was not engaged in occupied Iraq and occupied Afghanistan. The inclusion of Iran in the “axis of evil” was a virtual declaration of war. As a designated enemy state, would we expect Iran to stand idly by while we occupied their neighbors?

The Shiite militias may be an enemy of the occupation but they are not the enemies of the Iraqi government or the people they are charged with protecting. Moreover, the Iranians were our strongest ally against both Al Qaeda and the Taliban before we declared them enemies.

Fundamentally, it is far more within Iran’s rights to oppose a foreign occupier in a neighboring nation than it is within our rights to invade and occupy a nation on the other side of the planet.

As for Hezbollah and Hamas, we have long anticipated that the war on terror would be used as a pretext for going after the enemies of Israel. When Hezbollah fought back the bombardment of southern Lebanon, even adversaries had to concede the necessity of maintaining a counterforce to Israeli aggression. As Hezbollah is to Lebanon, so Hamas is to Palestine.

The designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization is an unwarranted and dangerous expansion of the war on terror.

The international community, if it possessed the courage, could find far more convincing grounds to classify Blackwater USA, the special operations unit of the CIA and, indeed, the respective branches of the United States military terrorist organizations.

Before we take such actions we should be forewarned: American power is in decline. There may come a time when international institutions of justice are no longer intimidated by America’s might.

Should that time come, we could easily see the spectacle of our leaders on trial as terrorists and war criminals.

Senator Clinton would protest: We only wanted strong diplomacy.



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