Diana Johnstone: “Clinton is truly dangerous”
- 06 Jun 2016
Just how far will Hillary Clinton go to reach the White House and can we expect her to finally win the presidency? We put the question to Diana Johnstone. In her recent book, Queen of Chaos, the misadventures of Hillary Clinton, she analyses the links between the unscrupulous candidate and the machine underlying the American empire. From the coup d’état in Honduras to the war in Libya, not to mention her exploitation of the feminist cause, Diana Johnstone reveals the hidden face of the Democratic Party candidate and warns us against the “smart power” dear to Clinton.
The race to the White House is neck and neck. Does Hillary Clinton have a chance of winning? How do you analyze her campaign up to now?
She began her campaign as the great favorite, but has been constantly sinking in the polls. With the whole Democratic Party machine in her service, a huge war chest, and the certainty of winning the first primaries in the Southern States, Hillary Clinton was off to such a strong start that it was virtually impossible for her unforeseen challenger Bernie Sanders to catch up. However, the little-known 74-year-old Senator, who describes as himself a “democratic socialist” in a country where socialism is widely considered to be the work of the devil, has aroused extraordinary enthusiasm, notably among young people. Whatever happens, Bernie’s surprising campaign succeeded in drawing attention to the quasi organic links between the Clintons and Wall Street. For the first time, the flattering mainstream narrative has found itself successfully countered by Internet, which is swarming with videos denouncing Hillary’s greed, her lies, her appetite for war.
Finally, Hillary Clinton is at risk of finding herself in deep trouble due to having illegally set up her own private email server while she was Secretary of State.
During the primaries, her popularity has decreased so radically that the Democratic Party must start to panic at choosing a candidate involved in so many scandals. The latest polls show that the unpopularity of Hillary Clinton is starting to exceed the unpopularity of Donald Trump. For many voters it will be hard to decide which is “the lesser evil”.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is said to have already cost 89.6 million dollars. Who are the influential people who support her? Can we guess from that which interests Clinton would defend as President?
The supporter who shows himself off the most is an Israeli-American, Haim Saban, who has boasted of donating “as much as is necessary” to ensure her election. In return, she promises to strengthen U.S. support to Israel in all areas, to fight against the BDS movement and to pursue a vigorous policy against Israel’s enemies in the Middle East, notably Assad and Iran. The considerable support to the Clintons from Saudi Arabia goes in the same direction. Besides that, the incredibly lavish speaking fees she has received from financial giants like Goldman Sachs leaves little doubt as to the orientation of her domestic policy.
As the first woman President of the United States, do you think Hillary Clinton would advance the feminist cause?
The only concrete evidence that she might be a “progressive” candidate is the simple fact of being a woman. The idea is that if she “smashes the glass ceiling” by becoming President, her example will help other ambitious women get ahead in their careers. But that will do nothing for the majority of women working for low wages.
Her feminist claims should be seen in the context of the neoliberalized left’s move to abandon working people, that is the majority, in favor of promoting the personal advancement of members of minority groups and women. This is the “identity politics” that lets the class struggle be forgotten by focusing on other divisions within society. In other words, identity politics means shifting the concept of equality from economics to subjectivity and psychological attitudes.
In your book on Hillary Clinton you return to the subject of the Kosovo War. Hillary Clinton was First Lady at the time. How did the episode of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia mark her career?
She and her aggressive friend Madeleine Albright, who was Secretary of State at the time, encouraged Bill Clinton to bomb Yugoslavia in 1999. That war waged to detach Kosovo from Serbia was the start of the so-called “humanitarian” wars aimed at countries the United States didn’t like. Since then Hillary has set herself up as champion of “regime change”, notably in Libya and Syria.
In my book, Queen of Chaos, I point to the perverse alliance between the military-industrial complex and certain ambitious women who want to show that they can do everything men can do, notably war. A mutual interest brought together neocons who want war and women who want to break glass ceilings. If neocons need women to make war look good, highly ambitious women need war to advance their careers. The most visibly aggressive figures in the Obama administration are women: Hillary, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Victoria Nuland… This is a signal to the world: don’t look for any tender-heartedness from our side!
Honduras can be added to her kill list. She had only recently been chosen Secretary of State in 2009 when the army overthrew President Manuel Zelaya. A foretaste of the Clinton method?
Her role in facilitating the military overthrow of a democratically elected president illustrates both her methods and her convictions. Her methods are sly and hypocritical; she pretended to disapprove of the procedure while finding ways to make it succeed, contrary to international public opinion. Her convictions clearly led her to support the most reactionary elements in a country that is the very prototype of a banana republic: it is the most dominated by U.S capital and by U.S. military presence in all of Latin America, the poorest after Haiti. Zelaya aspired to improve the fate of the poor and the indigenous people. He even dared propose converting a military base into a civil airport. And he was developing friendly relations with Venezuela and Cuba. Fired! Since then, opposition figures – for example the courageous indigenous movement leader Bertha Caceres – are regularly assassinated.
That method has a name, Smart Power. Can you explain what it is ?
In Washington jargon, there is a standing difference between “hard power” (military) and “soft power” (economic, political, ideological, etc.). Hillary Clinton, who is not shy about considering herself very clever, has adopted the slogan “smart power”. It simply means a combination of both – the use of all means possible to advance United States world hegemony.
If Smart Power means combining both the soft and the hard methods, the latter seems to be the one Clinton prefers after all!
Yes, as head of U.S. foreign policy, Hillary Clinton often demonstrated her preference for the use of force over diplomacy. The same tendencies can be observed with her colleagues Madeleine Albright, Susan Rice or Samantha Power. Especially in the case of Libya, Clinton sabotaged the mediation efforts by African leaders, by Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich and even by ranking U.S. military officers who had made contact with Gaddafi representatives seeking a peaceful compromise. She was also opposed to negotiations with Iran. And she is ready to risk war with Russia in order to get rid of Assad, which goes along with her hostility toward Putin.
The Bush years and the brutality of the neoconservatives made a strong impression but Clinton’s Smart Power seems just as dangerous, doesn’t it?
No doubt, that woman is very dangerous. At a time when the United States is preparing to renew its nuclear arsenal, is pursuing an anti-Russian hate campaign that is even worse than the Cold War, is obliging its European allies to purchase a huge number of warplanes made in USA while concentrating NATO military forces all along Russian borders, the Presidency of Hillary Clinton would represent an unprecedented peril for the entire world.
In your book you point to the weight of the military-industrial complex in U.S. foreign policy. In the last analysis, does the person occupying the Oval office enjoy much decisional leeway?
The material base of the warlike policy of the United States is the military industrial complex (MIC), born at the start of the Cold War. In 1961, President Eisenhower himself warned the public against its power. The MIC has ended up dominating the nation’s economic and political life. From their comfortable positions in think tanks and mainstream editorial rooms, its organic intellectuals never cease coming up with “threats” and “humanitarian missions” to justify the existence of this monster which consumes the national wealth and threatens the entire world. Presidents come and go, the MIC remains. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the “War Party” considers itself all-powerful. Hillary Clinton has done all she can to become its candidate.
How can one build an alternative to the War Party?
That is the vital question which I am unable to answer. Anyway, there is never a simple formula for such political upheavals, which depend on a diversity of factors and events, often unforeseeable. The scandalous candidacy of Trump might actually be one, since old-fashioned isolationism is surely one of the elements that could contribute to diverting Washington from its path to disaster. Like it or not, one must recognize that “the left” is too deeply implicated in the macabre farce of “humanitarian wars” to produce the needed reversal. There needs to be an awakening that disregards partisan divisions. The situation is grave, and everyone is concerned.
Trump asks why the United States should police the whole world, calls for more constructive relations with Russia and questions the usefulness of NATO. He is even against the TTIP! But couldn’t his protectionism lead to other major wars? Isn’t there another hope? What can be done to advance the awakening you mention?
It is difficult to place any sort of “hope” in a character like Trump, but he must be seen in the America political context. In Europe, people persist in seeing the spectacle of U.S. presidential elections as evidence of the America’s dynamic democracy. But all these electoral shows, with their rivalries and dramatic moments, tend to distract from the main point: the two-party dictatorship. Both parties are dominated by the military industrial complex and its world hegemony ideology, and are protected from third party competition by the differing rules of 50 states and several territories. Trump’s feat has been to succeed in invading and capturing one of the two parties: the Republican Party, which was in an advanced state of intellectual, political and moral degradation. He accomplished this by a very American type of demagogy, which he perfected as star of a reality television show. It is a demagogy that is drawn from show business rather than from fascism. The idea is to delight the audience by being outrageous.
The invasion of the electoral game by this crowd pleaser is a symptom of the country’s deep depoliticization – just as the success of Bernie Sanders demonstrates the desire of an enlightened progressive minority to inject politics back into the show.
The Democratic Party, despite its corruption, still seems to be vigorous enough to shut out the intruder. The Democratic Party leadership has a clear political line, represented by Hillary Clinton: neoliberalism and world hegemony under the cover of human rights. It is doing all it can to block Sanders. But one can always hope that the movement inspired by his candidacy may contribute to a durable revival of the left.
In the short run, we seem to be left with Trump, more or less a former Democrat, dishonest as anyone who makes billions in the construction industry is bound to be, egotistical, clownish, a loose cannon. But he can hardly be worse than Hillary, if only because he shakes up the system that is currently leading us to a direct confrontation with Russia. As President, Hillary would be at home in Washington surrounded by neocons and liberal interventionists all gung ho to set out together on the endless warpath. Trump on the contrary would find himself in a hostile and dismayed capital. It might be an original version of the “creative chaos” dear to the interventionists.
The notion that “protectionism leads to war” is part of the liberal economic doctrine. The truth is that we are already at war, and a bit of withdrawal on the part of the United States could only calm things down. With either Trump or Sanders, a certain measure of “protectionism” concerning imports from China would be necessary to revive domestic industry and create real jobs. In any case, it is impossible today to practice 1930s style protectionism. Fear of protectionism favors the current European Union neoliberal policies that destroy all the social protections of working people.
Instead of being scared of Trump, Europeans would do better to see him as a revelation. Faced with that America, Europeans should try to recover their old habit of looking after their own business instead of blindly following a profoundly hypocritical, warlike and confused leadership. The good protectionism would be for Europeans to learn to protect themselves from their big transatlantic brother.
(Translated from the original French by Diana Johnstone)
Diana Johnstone, Queen of Chaos. The misadventures of Hillary Clinton, Counterpunch, 2015
United State wars are getting repetitive. Always the same old scenario. The mainstream media alert public opinion to the latest “villain” supposedly threatening to slaughter “his own people”. The U.S. does the job instead with its drones and missiles. The new “villain” is soon forgotten, but his country is left in a shambles, with competing fanatics vying to dominate the chaos. Something new is needed. How about a Woman War President? Hillary Rodham Clinton has painstakingly groomed herself for the role. Her record as Secretary of State shows that she is fully qualified to be the first woman to be known as the “mother of all drones” or even to launch World War III.
“Veteran journalist Diana Johnstone captures the imperial worldview of Hillary Clinton in memorable detail. Hillary the Hawk, as U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, never saw a weapons system she did not support, nor a U.S. war practice she did not endorse.” – Ralph Nader
Published by CounterPunch 2015. Paperback 193 pages.