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Clinton, Sanders and U.S. policy in the Middle East

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As U.S. liberals and some leftists are pulling up their sleeves in anticipation of a prolonged battle for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, the tussle becomes particularly ugly whenever the candidates’ foreign policy agendas are evoked.

Of the two main contenders, Hillary Clinton is the obvious target. She is an interventionist, uncompromisingly, and her term as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 is a testament to her role in sustaining the country’s foreign policy agenda under George W. Bush (as a senator, she had voted for the Iraq War in 2002) and advocating regime change in her own right. Her aggressive foreign policy hit rock bottom in her infamous statement upon learning of the news that Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, was captured and killed in a most savage way.

“We came; we saw; he died,” Clinton rejoiced during a TV interview, once the news of Gadhafi’s grisly murder was announced on Oct. 20, 2011. True to form, Clinton used intervention in the now broken-up and warring country for her own personal gains, as indicated in her email records that were later released. In one email, her personal adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, congratulated her on her effort that led to the “realizing” of “a historic moment,” — overthrowing Gadhafi — urging her to “make a public statement before the cameras (and to) establish yourself as in the historical record at this moment.” She agreed, but suggested that she needed to wait until “Gadhafi goes, which will make it more dramatic.”

Her rival for the Democratic Party nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and his supporters of course pounce on the opportunity to discredit Clinton, which is not entirely difficult. But many have argued that although Sanders is promoted as the more amiable and trustworthy compared with Clinton, his voting record is hardly encouraging.

“Sanders supported Bill Clinton’s war on Serbia, voted for the 2001 Authorization Unilateral Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which pretty much allowed Bush to wage war wherever he wanted (and) backed Obama’s Libyan debacle,” wrote Jeffery St. Clair. Aside from supporting the current U.S. position on Syria, Sanders has “voted twice in support of regime change in Iraq,” including in 1998.

“It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime,” the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 stated.

On Israel, Sander’s legacy is very similar to that of President Barack Obama’s. He seemed to be relatively balanced (as “balanced” as Americans officials can be) during his earlier days in various official capacities, a position that became more hawkish with time. It behooves those who argue that Sanders is the lesser of two evils to examine the legacy of Obama, whose sympathy with the Palestinians was underscored by his friendship with the late Palestinian professor Edward Said, and professor Rashid al-Khalidi. The trappings and balances of power, however, led Obama to repeatedly grovel before the Israeli lobby in Washington, and he has been a stalwart backer of Israel’s wars against Gaza. More Palestinians died at the hand of Israel during Obama’s terms than those killed during the administration of George W. Bush, who was an adamant supporter of Israel. Still, the current administration is negotiating an increase in U.S. funding for Israel to exceed, and by far, the current $3.7 billion a year.

As odd as this may sound, Clinton as first lady was also criticized for not being firm enough in her support for Israel, before shifting her position in supporting Israel, right or wrong, just before she eyed a senator position representing the state of New York.

Not that many are ignorant of Sanders’ less-than-perfect past records, but some are rushing to his side because they are compelled largely by fear that a Clinton White House would spell disaster for the future of the country, not just in the area of foreign policy, but domestic policies as well. It is this train of thought that has compelled leading leftist professor Noam Chomsky to display support for Sanders, and, if necessary, even Clinton in swing states to block Republican candidates from winning the presidency.

Chomsky, of course, has no illusions that Sanders’ self-proclaimed socialist title is even close to the truth. He is not a socialist, Chomsky said in a recent interview with Al-Jazeera, but a “decent, honest New Dealer.” Thanks to the massive repositioning of the American political system to the right, if one is a New Dealer, one is mistaken for a “raving leftist.”

To a degree, one can sympathize with Chomsky’s position considering the madness of the political rhetoric from the right, where Donald Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the country, and Ted Cruz is advocating “carpet bombing” Middle Eastern countries to fight terrorism. But, on the other hand, one is expected to question the long-term benefit of the lesser-of-two-evils approach to permanent, serious change in society. Chomsky has, in fact, made similar statements in previous presidential elections, yet America’s foreign and domestic policies seem to be in constant decline.

If seen within the larger historical context, U.S. foreign policy, at least since the end of World War II, has been that of “rolling back” and “containing” perceived enemies, “regime change” and outright military intervention. The tools used to achieve U.S. foreign policy interest have rarely changed as a result of the type of administration (the lesser of two evils, Democrat, or a raging Republican). Variances have been largely based on practical circumstances.

The rise of the Soviet Union as a global contender after World War II made it difficult for the U.S. to always resort to war as a first choice, fearing an open confrontation with the pro-Soviet bloc and possibly a nuclear war. It was Henry Kissinger who helped navigate America’s imperial interests at the time, resorting to mostly underhanded and, often, criminal tactics to achieve his goals.

But the demise of the USSR opened up the U.S. appetite for global hegemony like never before. An interventionist strategy became dominant throughout the 1990s to the present time. If Republican or Democratic administrations differ in any way, it is largely in rhetoric, not action. Whereas Republicans justified their interventions based on pre-emptive doctrines, Democrats referenced humanitarian interventionism. Both were equally deadly and, combined, destabilized the Middle East beyond repair.

The presidency of Obama is hardly a significant departure from the norm, although his doctrine — “leading from behind” and aerial bombardment as opposed to “boots on the ground” and so on — is mostly compelled by circumstances and not in the least a departure from the policies of his predecessors.

While U.S. administrations change their tactics, infuse their doctrines and adapt to various political conditions, wherever they intervene in the world, massive, complex disasters follow.

Clinton might have come, saw and Gadhafi was brutally murdered, but the country has also descended into a “state of nature” type of chaos, where extreme violence meted out by militant brutes and managed by Western-backed politicians has taken reign.

Similar fates have been suffered by Iraq, Yemen and Syria — one sanctioned, invaded and occupied, another serving as a war front for the U.S. war on al-Qaida, the third was groomed for intervention many years ago, in publicly available documents prepared by pro-Israel American neoconservative organizations.

Thus, it is essential that we understand such historical contexts before, once more, delving into impractical political feuds that, ultimately, validate the very U.S. political establishment which, whether led by Republicans or Democrats, have wrought unmitigated harm to the Middle East, instability and incalculable deaths.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years.

  • MacTire

    This article is beyond biased. But the Japan Times goes on printing this sort of ideological lunacy. Noam Chomsky is a notorious crackpot, who conned an entire generation of linguists with his snake-oil theories and then turned to ultra-leftist political “theory”…Though himself Jewish, he has championed anti-Semitism and is thus the darling of Israel’s murderous enemies. Those who picked out this article to republish should be ashamed of themselves!

    • Ron Maimon

      ‘Tis a pity you are too stupid to understand Chomsky’s sentence structure. Generative grammar is what you use to construct the “C” programming language, and every other programming language on Earth, and the recursive structure of modern written language is undisputable, except by the irremediably uneducable.

      Chomsky has not championed anti-Semitism, he just doesn’t like Israel’s colonial policies. The only person who should be ashamed of himself is staring you in the mirror.

      • MacTire

        Oh, ho, ho…You are barking up the wrong tree structure…I was trained in Chomsky’s linguistics, hold a Ph.D. in linguistics, and have spent more than forty years as a language scholar…It’s clear you have no idea what “generative grammar” means….Chomsky is not motivated primarily by Jewish self-loathing but rather by his crackpot leftist ideas, characterized by a gross moral double standard. “colonialist”? Anyone who says that should be very careful about using the adjective “stupid”!

      • Ron Maimon

        You are impossibly dense then, if you don’t recognize the recursive structure in natural language. I learned generative grammar as a small child, from specifications of computer languages. It’s dead easy to specify natural language grammars using it, for toy languages. For real languages, one needs an extension of BNF, which is something I made up as an adult— the commutative context free grammar (another person in Poland made it up at the same time for other reasons, and he called it “partially commutative context free grammar”, and didn’t apply it to natural language, just studied it theoretically).

        The point is that generative grammar is here to stay, if only for the structure description of artificial languages. But in the “partially commutative” form, it describes natural language to a tee. This is something you are too stupid to get, whatever education you have, or don’t have.

        Chomsky is dead on accurate on Israel. I am a Jew born in Israel, I have experience. There is no double standard, Israel has behaved badly since 1967, they weren’t atrocious before then, despite the horrible ethnic cleansing, since they were forced to balance the needs of millions of Jewish refugees with that of native people, but they weren’t great in 1948 either. But since 1980, when the Likud took over and decided to treat the occupied land as permanently occupied, they have been committing war crime after war crime, and since 1987, I believe it is impossible to serve in the Israeli military without selling your soul to the devil.

  • tomjlowe

    As an exercise, assume that the US government actually intended to bring about the ghastly consequences of its military interventions, and was frequently, but not always, successful. For example, the invasion of Iraq and the intervention in Libya shut down substantial oil production in those unlucky nations but supported a high world oil price, thus benefitting the major world oil companies, which exert political influence in the US through campaign contributions. The embargo on Iran kept oil off the world market until recently, providing similar benefits.

    Another insight into the purposes and intents of the power elite can be found in the writings of John Perkins, most notably his *Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,* which recounts his experiences as a consultant whose objective was to convince developing nations to borrow huge sums of money from international lenders like the World Bank to build infrastructure. The terms of the loans usually required that the borrower contract with American construction firms to build the infrastructure. The inevitable results were dams, power plants, and industrial works of little benefit to the people, but very profitable to the construction companies and local politicians, who reaped large benefits as subcontractors and suppliers. The loans were to be paid from the profits of the new infrastructure, but were almost always paid with increased taxes levied on the less-influential classes, the 99 percent.

    This wealth-extraction system has been going on for some time. Heads of nations that refuse the offered loans are usually ousted in a coup or outright assassination. If those methods of persuasion are unsuccessful, the military steps in and installs a more pliable dictatorship.

    Hillary Clinton was and is a loyal supporter of this system, even though she may not yet be aware of how pervasive it is. She’s not stupid, though. I suspect that she advocated for the Libyan intervention, not because she thought it to be a wise course of action, but because she was being pressured by somebody or something with political power and a stake in the fall of Gaddafi and the subsequent disintegration of the Libyan nation. She has demonstrated nothing in her words or actions that she would even try to make significant changes in the current distribution of power and wealth in the US.

    Bernie is unlikely to change the broad contours of this system, but he has at least acknowledged that things are out of kilter and proposed a number of improvements that are doable if the political will can be summoned. At worst, he might be able to stop, or at least slow, the Republican wrecking crews from creating even more misery among the 99 percent. He can educate the public as to the precariousness of our condition in almost every respect, but especially with respect to climate change. Most importantly, he can give to the nation a model of a presidency carrying out of its duties with integrity.

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    • Helen Hernandez

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    • Helen Hernandez

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    • Helen Hernandez

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    • Helen Hernandez

      ::f313Work At Home….Special Report….Earn 18k+ per monthfew days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here::f313➤➤➤➤➤ http://www.insiderexpress22.com.­nu .❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:::::::f313……

    • Helen Hernandez

      ::f313Work At Home….Special Report….Earn 18k+ per monthfew days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here::f313➤➤➤➤➤ http://www.insiderexpress22.com.­nu .❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:::::::f313……

    • Helen Hernandez

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    • Helen Hernandez

      ::f313Work At Home….Special Report….Earn 18k+ per monthfew days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here::f313➤➤➤➤➤ http://www.insiderexpress22.com.­nu .❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:::::::f313……

    • Helen Hernandez

      ::f313Work At Home….Special Report….Earn 18k+ per monthfew days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here::f313➤➤➤➤➤ http://www.insiderexpress22.com.­nu .❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:::::::f313……

    • Helen Hernandez

      ::f313Work At Home….Special Report….Earn 18k+ per monthfew days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here::f313➤➤➤➤➤ http://www.insiderexpress22.com.­nu .❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:::::::f313……

    • Helen Hernandez

      ::f313Work At Home….Special Report….Earn 18k+ per monthfew days ago new McLaren. F1 bought after earning 18,512$,,,this was my previous month’s paycheck ,and-a little over, 17k$ Last month ..3-5 h/r of work a days ..with extra open doors & weekly. paychecks.. it’s realy the easiest work I have ever Do.. I Joined This 7 months ago and now making over 87$, p/h.Learn. More right Here::f313➤➤➤➤➤ http://www.insiderexpress22.com.­nu .❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:❦2:::::::f313……