A Hard Look at the War Criminals, Um, Hawks Who Say “Never Trump”

Yves here. This article by Rebecca Gordon does a fine job of calling out the recklessness and disregard for the law of a group of foreign policy “experts” who signed a letter calling Trump unfit for office. But it’s disconcerting to see Rebecca Gordon document how these individuals have engaged in the same sort of unacceptable behavior that they Trump would undertake, and then argue that Trump is obviously dangerous, and by implication, Clinton is not. Clinton is fully on board with the policies that these experts represent, so how exactly is she better? Gordon needs to make a case, not just assert superiority in the face of facts she presents that indicate otherwise. Gordon tries arguing for Manafort as proof that Trump is tainted. But Manafort was a recent hire and has just been dispatched, while long-term Clinton key player John Podesta’s firm .

By Rebecca Gordon, who teaches in the philosophy department at the University of San Francisco. She is the author of (Hot Books). Her previous books include Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States and Letters from Nicaragua. Originally published at

It’s not every day that Republicans publish an announcing that their presidential candidate is unfit for office. But lately this sort of thing has been more and more . The most recent example: we just from 50 representatives of the national security apparatus, men — and a few women — who served under Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. All of them are very worried about Donald Trump.

They think we should be alerted to the fact that the Republican standard-bearer “lacks the character, values, and experience to be president.”

That’s true of course, but it’s also pretty rich, coming from this bunch. The letter’s signers include, among others, the man who was Condoleezza Rice’s when she ran the National Security Council (John Bellinger III); one of George W. Bush’s who also ran the National Security Agency (Michael Hayden); a Bush administration to the United Nations and Iraq (John Negroponte); an of the neoconservative policy in the Middle East adopted by the Bush administration that led to the invasion of Iraq, who has since served as president of the World Bank (Robert Zoellick). In short, given the history of the “global war on terror,” this is your basic list of potential American war criminals.

Their letter continues, “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world.”

There’s a sentence that could use some unpacking.

What Is The “Free World”?

Let’s start with the last bit: “the leader of the free world.” That’s what journalists used to call the U.S. president, and occasionally the country as a whole, during the Cold War. Between the end of World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the “free world” included all the English-speaking countries outside Africa, along with western Europe, North America, some South American dictatorships, and nations like the Philippines that had a neocolonial relationship with the United States.

The U.S.S.R. led what, by this logic, was the un-free world, including the countries in eastern Europe, the “captive” Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the People’s Republic of China (for part of the period), North Korea, and of course Cuba. Americans who grew up in these years knew that the people living behind the “” were not free. We’d seen the bus ads and public service announcements on television requesting donations for , sometimes illustrated with of a pale adolescent man, his head crowned with chains.

I have absolutely no doubt that he and his eastern European countrymen were far from free. I do wonder, however, how free his counterparts in the American-backed Brazilian, Argentinian, Chilean, and Philippine dictatorships felt.

The two great adversaries, together with the countries in their spheres of influence, were often called the First and Second Worlds. Their rulers treated the rest of the planet — the Third World — as a chessboard across which they moved their proxy armies and onto which they sometimes targeted their missiles. Some countries in the Third World refused to be pawns in the superpower game, and created a , which sought to thread a way between the of the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Among its founders were some of the great Third World nationalists: Sukarno of Indonesia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, along with Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito.

Other countries weren’t so lucky. When the United States took over from France the (unsuccessful) project of defeating Vietnam’s anti-colonial struggle, people in the U.S. were assured that the war that followed with its massive bombing, napalming, and Agent-Oranging of a peasant society represented the advance of freedom against the forces of communist enslavement. Central America also served as a Cold War battlefield, with Washington fighting proxy wars during the 1980s in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, where poor campesinos had insisted on being treated as human beings and were often brutally murdered for their trouble. In addition, the U.S. funded, trained, and armed a military dictatorship in Honduras, where John Negroponte — one of the anti-Trump letter signers — was the U.S. ambassador from 1981 to 1985.

The Soviet Union is, of course, long gone, but the “free world,” it seems, remains, and so American officials still sometimes refer to us as its leader — an expression that only makes sense, of course, in the context of dual (and dueling) worlds. On a post-Soviet planet, however, it’s hard to know just what national or geographic configuration constitutes today’s “un-free world.” Is it (as Donald Trump might have it) everyone living under Arab or Muslim rule? Or could it be that amorphous phenomenon we call “terrorism” or “Islamic terrorism” that can sometimes reach into the “free world” and slaughter innocents as in , California, , Florida, or , France? Or could it be the old Soviet Union reincarnated in Vladimir Putin’s Russia or even a rising capitalist China still controlled by a Communist Party?

Faced with the loss of a primary antagonist and the confusion on our planet, George W. Bush was forced to downsize the perennial enemy of freedom from Reagan’s old “” (the Soviet Union) to three “rogue states,” Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, which in an address to Congress he so memorably labeled the “.” The first of these lies in near ruins; the second we’ve recently signed a nuclear treaty with; and the third seems incapable of even ing its own population. Fortunately for the free world, the Bush administration also had some second-string enemies to draw on. In 2002, John Bolton, then an undersecretary of state (and later ambassador to the U.N.), added another group “beyond the axis of evil” — Libya, Syria, and Cuba. Of the three, only Cuba is still a functioning nation.

And by the way, the 50 Republican national security stars who denounced Donald Trump in Cold War terms turn out to be in remarkably good company — that of Donald Trump himself (who recently gave a speech American Cold War practices as the basis for his future foreign policy).

“He Weakens U.S. Moral Authority…”

After its , its “,” and , among other developments of the age, it’s hard to imagine a much weaker “moral authority” than what’s presently left to the United States. First, we gave the world eight years of George W. Bush’s illegal invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as CIA torture sites, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and a program of quite illegal of terror suspects ( proved of anything).  Under President Obama, it seems we’ve traded enhanced interrogation techniques for an “enhanced” use of (again outside any “law” of war, other than the that the Justice Department has produced to justify such acts).

When Barack Obama took office in January 2009 his first outlawed the CIA’s torture program and closed those black sites. It then looked as if the country’s moral fiber might be stiffening. But when it came to holding the torturers accountable, Obama that the country should “look forward as opposed to looking backwards” and the Justice Department any of them. It’s hard for a country to maintain its moral authority in the world when it refuses to exert that authority at home.

Two of the letter signers who are so concerned about Trump’s effect on U.S. moral authority themselves played special roles in “weakening” U.S. moral authority through their involvement with the CIA torture program: John Bellinger III and Michael Hayden.

June 26th is the U.N.’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. To mark that day in 2003, President Bush issued a statement declaring, “Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere. The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example.”

The Washington Post on the president’s speech also carried a quote from Deputy White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to the effect that all prisoners being held by the U.S. government were being treated “humanely.” John Rizzo, who was then the CIA’s deputy general counsel, called John Bellinger, Condoleezza Rice’s legal counsel at the National Security Council, to express his concern about what both the president and McClellan had said.

The problem was that — as Rizzo and his boss, CIA director George Tenet, well knew — many detainees then held by the CIA were not being treated humanely. They were being tortured or mistreated in various ways. The CIA wanted to be sure that they still had White House backing and approval for their “enhanced interrogation” program, because they didn’t want to be left holding the bag if the truth came out. They also wanted the White House to stop talking about the humane treatment of prisoners.

According to an internal CIA , George Tenet convened a July 29, 2003, meeting in Condoleezza Rice’s office to get the necessary reassurance that the CIA would be covered if the truth about torture came out. There, Bellinger reportedly apologized on behalf of the administration, explaining that the White House press secretary had “gone off script,” mistakenly reverting to “old talking points.” He also “undertook to [e]nsure that the White House press office ceases to make statements on the subject other than [to say] that the U.S. is complying with its obligations under U.S. law.”

At that same meeting, Tenet’s chief counsel, Scott Muller, passed out packets of printed PowerPoint slides detailing those enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, so that Bellinger and the others present, including Rice, would understand exactly what he was covering up.

So much for the “moral authority” of John Bellinger III.

As for Michael Hayden (who has held several offices in the national security apparatus), one of his signature acts as CIA Director was to approve in 2005 the destruction of videotapes of the agency’s waterboarding sessions. In a to CIA employees, he wrote that the tapes were destroyed “only after it was determined they were no longer of intelligence value and not relevant to any internal, legislative, or judicial inquiries.”

Of course destroying those tapes also meant that they’d never be available for any future legislative or judicial inquiry. The letter continued,

“Beyond their lack of intelligence value… the tapes posed a serious security risk. Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the program, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaeda and its sympathizers.”

One has to wonder whether Hayden was more concerned with his CIA colleagues’ “security” from al-Qaeda or from prosecution. In any case, he deprived the public — and any hypothetical future prosecutor — of crucial evidence of wrongdoing.

Hayden also perpetuated the that the Agency’s first waterboarding victim, Abu Zubaydah — waterboarded a staggering 83 times — was a crucial al-Qaeda operative and had provided a quarter of all the information that the CIA gathered from human subjects about al-Qaeda.  He was, in fact, never a member of al-Qaeda at all. In the 1980s, he ran a training camp in Afghanistan for the mujahedin, the force the U.S. supported against the Soviet occupation of that country; he was, that is, one of Ronald Reagan’s “.”

Bellinger later chimed in, keeping the Abu Zubaydah lie alive by arguing in 2007 on behalf of his boss Condoleezza Rice that Guantánamo should remain open. That prison, he said, “serves a very important purpose, to hold and detain individuals who are extremely dangerous [like] Abu Zubaydah, people who have been planners of 9/11.”

“He Appears to Lack Basic Knowledge About and Belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Laws, and U.S. Institutions…”

That’s the next line of the open letter, and it’s certainly a fair assessment of Donald Trump. But it’s more than a little ironic that it was signed by Michael Hayden who, in addition to supporting CIA’s torture project, the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 secret surveillance program. Under that , the government recorded the phone, text, and Internet communications of an unknown number of people inside and outside of the United States — all without warrants.

Perhaps Hayden believes in the Constitution, but at best it’s a selective belief. There’s that pesky 4th Amendment, for example, which guarantees that

“[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Nor does Hayden appear to believe in U.S. laws and institutions, at least when it comes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established the secret courts that are supposed to issue exactly the sort of warrant Hayden’s program never requested.

John Negroponte is another of the signers who has a history of skirting U.S. laws and the congress that passes them. While ambassador to Honduras, he helped develop a “contra” army, which the United States armed and trained to overthrow the government of neighboring Nicaragua. During those years, however, aid to the contras was actually illegal under U.S. law.  It was explicitly prohibited under the so-called to various appropriations bills, but no matter.  “National security” was at stake.

Speaking of the Constitution, it’s instructive to take a look at Article 6, which states in part that “all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land.” Such treaties include, for example, the 1928 Kellogg-Briand non-aggression pact (whose violation was the first charge brought against the Nazi officials tried at ) and Article 51 of the U.N. charter, which permits military action only “if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.”

In 1998, Robert Zoellick, another of those 50 Republicans openly denouncing Trump, signed a , which advocated abrogating those treaties. As an associate of the , he was among those who urged then-President Bill Clinton to direct “a full complement of diplomatic, political, and military efforts” to “remove Saddam Hussein from power.” This was to be just the first step in a larger campaign to create a Pax Americana in the Middle East. The letter specifically urged Clinton not to worry about getting a Security Council resolution, arguing that “American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.”

“He Is Unable or Unwilling to Separate Truth From Falsehood…” 

So says the letter, and that, too, offers a fair characterization of Trump, who has often that President Obama has never proved he was born in the U.S.A., and has more than once repeated the long-disproved legend that, during the 1899-1913 in the Philippines, General John J. Pershing used bullets dipped in pig’s blood to execute Muslim insurgents. (And that’s barely to scratch the surface of Donald Trump’s remarkable unwillingness to separate truth from falsehood.) What, then, about the truthfulness of the letter signers?

Clinton never bit on the PNAC proposal, but a few years later, George W. Bush did. And the officials of his administration began their of lies about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, , and “smoking guns” that to be “mushroom clouds” (assumedly over American cities), all of which would provide the pretext for that administration’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

The Bush administration didn’t limit itself to lying to the American people. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte was dispatched to the Security Council to lie, too. Security Council Resolution 1441 was the last of several requiring Iraq to comply with weapons inspections by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Some members of the Council, especially Russia and France, were hesitant to approve 1441, fearing that the U.S. might interpret it as a license to invade. So, in the discussions before the vote, Negroponte the Security Council that “this resolution contains no ‘hidden triggers’ and no ‘automaticity’ with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA or a Member State, the matter will return to the Council for discussions.” The British ambassador used almost identical words to reassure the Council that, before attacking Iraq, the United States and Britain would seek its blessing.

That, of course, is hardly what happened. On February 24, 2003, Washington and London did bring a resolution for war to the Security Council.  When it became apparent that two of its permanent members, France and Russia, would veto that resolution if it came to a vote, Bush (in consultation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair) decided to withdraw it. “We all agreed,” he wrote in his , that “the diplomatic track had reached its end.”

And so the U.S. was on its foreordained path to war and disaster in Iraq, the path that after much winding, much failure, and much destruction would lead to Donald Trump. 

So much for keeping promises and separating “truth from falsehood.”

The Enemies of My Enemy 

Keep in mind that this is just a taste of the CVs of this list of 50 Republican foreign policy and national security luminaries who took out after The Donald.

With any luck, between his indirect to assassinate his opponent and the latest about his campaign director Paul Manafort’s shady Ukraine connections, we have now reached With supporters bolting on all sides, it’s just possible that we won’t have Trump forever.

But we shouldn’t forget that the party that made Trump possible is also the home of the crooks, liars, and now eager to disown him. The enemies of our enemy are not our — or the world’s — friends.

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52 comments

  1. MaroonBulldog

    “Clinton is fully on board with the policies that these experts represent.”

    Of course she is; obviously she is. That is why the experts all signed their letter denouncing Trump: they support Clinton’s candidacy.

    The consideration that these experts support Clinton’s candidacy is, of course, no argument that you should support Trump’s. But it affords great argument that you should deny support to Clinton’s.

    You have other, better choices of whom you might support.

    1. Jagger

      The consideration that these experts support Clinton’s candidacy is, of course, no argument that you should support Trump’s. But it affords great argument that you should deny support to Clinton’s.

      You have other, better choices of whom you might support.

      Actually, it is an argument to vote Trump. The only person that has any possibility of beating Hillary is Trump. So if you vote for anybody but Trump, you are guaranteeing another 4 years of aggressive neocon foreign policy.

      If a person believes a change from neocon foreign policy is vitally important, then the only possible effective vote is for Trump. If he wins, the neocons have burnt their bridges with Trump. However if people can accept more neocon foreign policy, other votes, including Hillary, are logical.

      1. TG

        Agreed. Hillary Clinton is a monster. Trump is a wildcard – the press is creating such a snowstorm of directed venom and misrepresentation that it’s hard for any sane person to remain objective, but a lot of what he actually says makes perfect sense. What he will actually do if elected we don’t know of course because he has not track record in government. We do know that Hillary Clinton is a monster neck deep in the blood of innocents and joined at the hip to Wall Street. We do know that, in the real world, Trump has engaged in many successful partnerships and has not actually killed anyone. Yes the the world of real estate is full of salesmanship and hyperbole, but it is also capable of weeding out utter psychopaths who don’t mostly follow through on their promises. Unlike HRC, who never met a country she didn’t want to bomb back into the stone age (I hear that next we may invade the Sudan). So I am under no illusions about Trump being the savior, but if all he does is drive a stake through the heart of our current corrupt system it will have been worth it.

  2. relstprof

    At least give us some lesser evilism, Prof. Gordon. No?

    But really, Clinton’s endorsement of Kissinger and the lack of political and MSM response to that endorsement is perhaps the most shocking thing. My introduction to Kissinger’s crimes was via Hitchens, who then promptly backed the Bush regime’s interventionism. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore at establishment Three-Card Monte.

    Next homework assignment for Gordon: Hillary on Kissinger. What it means, why it matters.

    Better yet: we should get John Oliver on it.

      1. relstprof

        He’s getting better. On tonight’s program he pointed out that Trump, for all his racist nonsense, calls out the empty form of moneyed campaign politics that rules us. Oliver also slapped “private” charter schools funded by the public, and how the state-mandated watchers are often nonprofits dependent upon (same source funding) those “watched”.

        Oliver’s on a learning curve. He seems genuinely interested in arguing for governance that’s public and accountable. I find it refreshing. It’s not just the mock-everything cynicism.

        But I could be wrong.

        1. andyb

          Re Trump as a racist: I fail to see how reclaiming American sovereignty from the dual citizen neocon warmongers, and stopping the “allowed” immigrant invasion so that corporations can employ cheaper labor, is racist. Further, there is concrete evidence of 1000s of people from ISIS inhabited countries that have been smuggled in without even the most perfunctory vetting. Trumps message resonates with me and I am certainly not a racist.

  3. clarky90

    (1) The Republican Party is ALSO the Party of the Great Redeemer, Abraham Lincoln.

    (2) Word(s) are not Things, they are change, change, changing signifiers of nothing.

    (3) The divide (spectrum) is NOT, left to right! The Neo-Bolsheviks (cons/libs) have used money and influence to appropriate (own) BOTH the “Left” and the “Right”. They own (as in bought and sold “own”) the discussion.

    (4) The true spectrum is up and down. The 99% vs the 1%.

    (5) 1%ers, aspiring 1%ers, the service staff of the 1% (managers etc) should definitely vote for Hillary Clinton. She is the candidate (voice for) The Unique.

    (6) Donald Trump is seeking to be a voice for the 99%. IMO, this make him The Progressive.(The Walt Whitman Progressive) People who see themselves as members of the Masses, The People, The Crowd, The Gaia, The 99%, EveryMan/EveryWoman/EveryGender

    (7) Trump does not look or sound the way most of us imagine, The Redeemer should look. (Obama was a perfectly looking redeemer, IMO, except, he was a false messiah). IMO, Trump is the Redeemer, the real McCoy.

    (8) “Inattentional blindness, also known as perceptual blindness, is a psychological lack of attention that is not associated with any vision defects or deficits. It may be further defined as the event in which an individual fails to recognize an unexpected stimulus that is in plain sight. When it simply becomes impossible for one to attend to all the stimuli in a given situation, a temporary blindness effect can take place as a result; that is, individuals fail to see objects or stimuli that are unexpected and quite often salient.”

    Trump is right in front of us. Stop listening to all the bullshit and open your eyes and ears to what is going on. (IMO, of course!)

  4. jgordon

    No matter how bad Trump is, Hillary is worse. Hell I wouldn’t be voting for Trump if Hillary weren’t in the race, that’s for damn sure.

    So just go ahead and keep doing more oppo research on Trump. Please–I beg you. Because no matter what you manage to pull out of your butt I’m just nodding my head and saying to myself, “yep. Probably true, but still far better than Hillary.”

  5. Madmamie

    But it’s disconcerting to see Rebecca Gordon document how these individuals have engaged in the same sort of unacceptable behavior that they Trump would undertake, and then argue that Trump is obviously dangerous, and by implication, Clinton is not. Clinton is fully on board with the policies that these experts represent, so how exactly is she better? Gordon needs to make a case, not just assert superiority.

    Isn’t this just another good example of why we shouldn’t be afraid of the truth and plain talk? When we finally start using words like “liar”, “cheater”, “thief” “murderer” “assassin” to describe those (politicians) guilty of such crimes, we might be able to get rid of them. PC is too often a trap for the one practicing it. It dims the bright lights we want to shine on the wrong-doer and robs us of our ability to debate . There’s a reason why plain-talking demagogues like Trump are so successful. Instead of wrapping ourselves even more tightly in the saran wrap of genteel good manners (sometimes just another way of showing superiority?) we should be honing our language skills and engaging with the enemy.

    1. Pavel

      Here’s to using the right words. “War” (or, nowadays, military intervention or (ha!) humanitarian intervention — what’s “humanitarian” about dropping bombs and destroying infrastructure and causing environmental devastation?) is murder.

      Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton — all mass murderers. The latter two who weep public tears every time there is a mass shooting in the US that kills a dozen or so victims. Hillary is all about “arms control” in the US and slammed Bernie because he was too “lenient” on guns, while she razed Libya and caused the spread of masses of weapons from Libya to Syria.

      There is mass murder going on in Yemen as I type, aided and abetted by the US military, using weapons sold by Obama and HRC to the Saudis.

      Trump is a bloviating idiot (at best) but a simple question: how many people has he actually killed compared to Bush, Obama, and the two Clintons? And never forget Albright’s “it was worth it” comment regarding 500,000 Iraqi children killed as a result of Bill Clinton’s sanctions.

      The hypocrisy of all this is stunning.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        +100
        Like South Africa after apartheid we sorely need a “Truth and Reconciliation” commission, if we don’t tell ourselves the truth then how will we even know who we are, what we are, and where we’re going? I get that perpetuating national myths is the lifeblood of every society, but what happens when it dawns on people that the entire fabric of their national myth is based on lies? At what point does the overwhelming cognitive dissonance just make people’s heads explode?
        I say let’s face it, America = War, the entire economy would grind to a halt if we decided we wanted peace, so let’s either call out the entire fabric of lies or else embrace it the way Sparta did. We can have corporations sponsor military campaigns: “Yemen Civilian Atrocities 2016, brought to you by Raytheon”, or “Syrian Child Murder-Fest, sponsored by Northrup Grumman”. We could let individual senators vie for their own pet campaigns like Roman senators did to help drum up corporate donors, “Ukraine Scorched Earth 2017 Fund Raiser by Lindsay Graham, just $25,000 puts your logo on a BGM-109D Tomahawk Land Attack Missile – Dispenser (TLAM-D) with Anti-Personnel Cluster Munitions”.
        Horrible jest I know but believe me the receiving end of APW (American Perpetual War) is wising up fast.

      2. jgordon

        You are so right. I’m shaking with rage thinking about how these gd self righteous hypocrites are so concerned about the safety of Americans that they want to confiscate our guns even as they’re dropping bombs in and sending guns to the Ukraine, the middle east, and probably every other oppressive dictatorship in the world. These people are VILE hypocrites, and yet these are the people we’re supposed to rely on to keep us safe? What are these people smoking?

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      If Hill actually shows up for the debates, this is one thing Donald can hammer her about without people screaming at him for being mean to the little lady—-which is what they will do if he rips into her on some of the other stuff he will rip into her on. HRC will hide behind her skirts, like the phony “feminist” she is.

      1. Pavel

        I just stumbled on a new post at CounterPunch regarding Hillary’s fake “feminism”, including the following ‘grafs:

        During her husband’s presidency, Hillary was a vocal advocate for the barbaric sanctions regime, as well as the No-Fly Zone and other belligerent actions taken by her husband against the Iraqi Government of Saddam Hussein. In fact, many experts have noted that the Clinton Iraq policy essentially laid the groundwork for George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. In particular, Hillary was a leading proponent of the sanctions which, according to the UN, killed roughly 500,000 children.

        And, of course, there’s Hillary’s infamous support for Bush’s Iraq War when she was a Senator from New York. Clinton explained to the Council on Foreign Relations in December 2003, “I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote….I stand by the vote.” Of course this was in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and subsequent capture of Saddam Hussein, a time when one could still justify support for a war that, just a few years later, proved to be politically unpalatable, to say nothing of it being an egregious war crime, as we all knew from the beginning.

        And Hillary was not perturbed in the slightest at the hundreds of thousands of women and children whose lives were irrevocably destroyed by the war and its aftermath, one which is still being reckoned with today.

        Hillary and Bill – the power couple tag team of Washington – also led the charge to bomb Serbia in 1999. During the 78 days of “Operation Allied Force” more than 2,000 civilians were killed, including 88 children. Naturally, this was of little consequence to the great feminist heroine Hillary who, according to biographer Gail Sheehy, proudly proclaimed “I urged [Bill Clinton] to bomb [Serbia].” The barbarism and sheer viciousness of someone who gleefully takes credit for the deaths of scores of children and countless thousands of women should give anyone who believes in the Hillary the feminist mythos serious pause.

        Who could forget Libya? In the war championed by Hillary Clinton, who is regarded by experts as being the loudest voice in favor of regime change against Gaddafi and the destruction of the country, tens of thousands of women were raped, lynched, and murdered by the glorious “rebels” (read terrorists) backed by Clinton and her imperial coterie. Perhaps the great feminist hero could speak to the children of Misrata, Sirte, and Bani Walid who have now grown up without their mothers and fathers, and explain to them just how “worth it” the war was. Maybe Clinton could look mothers in the eyes and tell them how the deaths of their children from war, disease, and terrorism is a small price to pay for the foreign policy objectives of Washington.

        [My emphasis]

        Amazing the amount of cognitive dissonance going on with the Clinton “liberal” supporters.

    2. Stormcrow

      The Iraq war was not a “mistake.” It was a crime. It is telling that this unthnkable thought remains forbidden in “mainstream” U.S. discourse.

  6. EndOfTheWorld

    She’s right that the term “leader of the free world” is an archaic, useless concept related to the long-ago cold war. Which countries are free at present? Russia is free enough to outlaw GMO’s. The president of the Philippines, “Duterte Harry”, is free enough to consider quitting the “son of a bitch” UN, and called the US ambassador an “annoying homosexual son of a bitch.” Obviously he doesn’t consider the US the leader of HIS world, despite the long-ago neocolonial relationship which Rebecca Gordon correctly points out.

  7. Ché Pasa

    The failure of so many partisans to recognize what is going on is startling. This is really one of the most remarkable political seasons in my memory, and I go back to Stevenson/Eisenhower days. (Criminy.)

    We’re watching what amounts to a reversal of political polarities, with the Democrats led by Hillary becoming sort of hopped-up post-modern high-end Republicans (what the Republicans would have become if they hadn’t gone insane with power during and following the Reagan regime) and the Republicans becoming the party of a hopped-up and angry rabble. Their spokesman is Trump, but he’s not their leader by any means. For the moment, there isn’t one, but if this reversal/realignment is sustained — and I think it will be — there will be a Leader of the Rabble. It’s too juicy an opportunity to resist.

    Hillary is signaling in every way possible that she will govern as a hot-dog Republican, fully on board with the War Party which has been the driving force of the Republican and a significant part of the Democratic establishment since Bush the Old. Hillary is become what Jeb! was supposed to be.

    The Establishment’s War Party is fully on board with Herself as well.

    This could turn ugly very quickly. They have been telling us very loudly that they want a confrontation with Russia and then with China to establish once and for all the dominance of the American Empire over the entire globe. They are prepared — and apparently eager — to crush any resistance with whatever force they choose, whenever they choose. Moscow and Beijing to be turned to seas of glowing glass if they do not yield sufficiently and in a timely fashion.

    That’s the threat this War Party under Mrs. Clinton holds out.

    That is the threat the Republicans and their Party would have held out if the War Party had continued to hold sway within it. Trump has short-circuited that by insisting that glassing the “terrorists” is the right course of action, leaving the Russians and Chinese pretty much alone. Except that’s not what the War Party wants. The “terrorists” in fact are their allies in the quest for ultimate power.

    Instead, the goal seems to be to dismember/destroy Russia and to contain and control China, exploiting both for whatever resources can be extracted, ultimately leaving both as empty husks.

    Trump says he has other goals, but they amount to a similar program with somewhat different victims.

    Partisans see one as ultimate Evil, the other as Less Evil and therefore Good.

    But it’s a goon show. The War Party is determined to have its way again. Clinton will follow their lead; Trump would try to lead it. Neither we nor they can escape it.

    When somebody comes up with a way to disable the War Party within the permanent government, I’ll listen. Until then, we are as they say, f**ked.

    1. Norb

      When open war finally erupts, we will all have to make a choice wether to participate or not. It is amazing in this day and age that the population can be driven to these stark choices.

      Are we f**ked by saying no to the madness? Marching in the streets is one way, but such a direct confrontation seems unlikely in America by the very fact that there is no opposition party or leadership. None that can be trusted with public action or unwilling to be bought off for the right price.

      A successful strategy to resist the War Party is not to show up in the first place. If the War hawks have their way, an effective movement for lasting change cannot help but be born in the prisons and detention camps that seem to be the future homes for dissenters.

      1. Ulysses

        “A successful strategy to resist the War Party is not to show up in the first place. If the War hawks have their way, an effective movement for lasting change cannot help but be born in the prisons and detention camps that seem to be the future homes for dissenters.”

        Yes.

        My personal model for how to resist with dignity is Marc Bloch, the distinguished French medievalist. He continued his open resistance to the Nazis, until the day they came for him in the midst of writing L’Étrange Défaite.

    2. Ishmael

      I would generally take offense with referring to Republicans as the War Party. Generally, 20th Century history has shown Democrats as the war party. Wilson lead the charge for WW 1. Roosevelt basicallly pushed the Japanese so hard he knew it would lead to a confrontation which he was hoping to get us into WW 2 (he just did not know they would be so successful at first). Truman got the US into Korea and Kennedy/Johnson got us into the US. Now granted Reagan did push armaments and a couple of minor conflicts, but let us look at Clinton. When the USSR fell apart here was the chance to dramatically reduce armament spending (besides the greatest diplomatic blunder in the history of the US — not fully reaching across to Russia and cementing a strong friendship) did he, nope! Of course George the Idiot with his weak ego was easily urged by the neo-cons (most ex-Democrats who had flocked to Reagan) and made to think he would be known as a great president due to war — I am a War President!. No I would say the history of the Democratic Party is a history of war with a few years here and there sprinkled by dumbass Republicans.

      1. 1 Kings

        Jumping right passed ol’ G Bush I eh? Panama, Gulf War 1, supporting Yeltsin over Gorbachev.

        Both parties have much, much blood on their hands, but you can generally say(until Obama) that the Dems are good for ‘declared wars’, the Repubs extremely fond of continuous secret, and/or covert wars(um, private killing if you will). See Eisenhower in the 1950’s, Nixon everywhere, Ford(under Kissinger) nearly all continents, Reagan(please..) Carter’s biggest crime was not handing the Shah back to his country for the justice he surely deserved.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Bellinger reportedly apologized on behalf of the [Bush] administration, explaining that the White House press secretary had “gone off script,” mistakenly reverting to “old talking points.”

      Now the entire constitution is a defunct set of “old talking points.” War was supposed to be declared by the peoples’ representatives in Congress. Not only have they delegated war to the president, but also 0bama is using a 15-year-old AUMF against opponents that didn’t even exist at the time.

      America’s permanent war mobilization after WW II ultimately required dismantling the Constitution. This task was completed with enactments such as the USA Patriot Act [martial law] in 2001 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 [domestic mass surveillance].

      These and other building blocks of the police state were passed with healthy bipartisan majorities. In our new scale of values, “bipartisan” ranks higher than “constitutional,” since the DemonRat and RepubliClown parties are the founts of all goodness and wisdom.

      Nevertheless, the “old talking points” of the constitution are still invoked like anachronistic football chants (“two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar”) to maintain constructive ambiguity. At first glance, our decadent empire still superficially resembles a constitutional democracy.

    4. TedWa

      Why should the war party listen when so many of our children are volunteering to fight? In the 60’s they had to institute the draft to get soldiers, now they’re lining up and volunteering en masse- wtf !!?? Don’t they have any moral sense of right and wrong or is it the way wages have stagnated for decades to make these kids have to join, and take their chances of not returning – taking on a crap shoot with their lives, if they want any kind of better life. Is it possible that trickle down economics has created a willing army with a malleable sense of right or wrong?

      1. shinola

        TedWa & Norb have touched on something that could that I’ve been thinking about –

        The U.S. does have an all volunteer military now; so one way to stop, or at least hinder, the war/chicken hawks would be to persuade young people to NOT VOLUNTEER. Starve the military of personnel. It would seem a good PR campaign would help.

        However:

        If one is 18 & does not have the aptitude and/or money for college, what are the job prospects available? In many cases, not much.
        This is where neolib. economics comes into play. It is much easier to lure a new HS grad. into the military if the alternates are crapified jobs & low pay.

        Debt slavery (college), cannon fodder a lifetime of repeating “You want fries with that?”…
        Neo-liberal Nirvana!

        1. aab

          According to The Economist a while ago, the US does not currently have enough able-bodied volunteers to staff its existing military commitments. They are either too unhealthy (poverty), too undereducated (neoliberal stripping of the public education system), etc.

          A bill to draft women has passed out of committee in the Senate. This could get interesting very quickly. If Hillary is installed and starts launching her various major wars, the exact people who would be expected to volunteer for them are the young people she smeared as “BernieBros.” My understanding is that the communities that generally provide our military personnel are on to what a scam our 21st century wars have been, and are extremely hostile to Clinton. So it seems logical that volunteering, already problematic, would go down if Clinton was the President ordering the wars. Then she’d move to a draft of those same young people who mistrust and despise her. I’m guessing some kind of coercion will be used, like if you have taken out federal loans for college, you’re required to serve. That would neatly exempt all the rich kids in her true base, while evading the more obvious class-based connection to the college exemption in the Vietnam era.

          So then what? The biggest generation, that organized to prevent her election, is unlikely to peacefully consent to being drafted by her and sent to Russia. Would Justin Trudeau stop them at the border? Would it really be that easy to demonize them all as hippies and have the militarized police — trained to view citizens as terrorists and animals, but usually by othering them by skin color and poverty — herd them up?

    5. MaroonBulldog

      “But it’s a goon show. The War Party is determined to have its way again. Clinton will follow their lead; Trump would try to lead it. Neither we nor they can escape it.”

      That’s the way I see it, too. A vote for Trump is a vote for a president who will soon be captured by the War Party, having no effective means to resist A vote for Clinton is a vote for a president who is already thoroughly captured.

      1. EndOfTheWorld

        When you say “no effective means to resist” your assessment of Donald Trump is not accurate. He is a fighter. His motive for running for president is different from the career politician. He wants to be a hero, IMHO. It’s true that I don’t know him personally, but that’s my assessment. He’s not out trying to get rich like HRC and Obummer. He’s already rich. If elected, he will not be pushed around by anybody. He never has let anybody push him around.

        It’s true that he might be assassinated.

        1. Ché Pasa

          One of the things that presidents-elect learn very quickly is that they most certainly are subject to the will of a range of interests within the permanent government against which they have neither protection nor recourse. Presidents do not operate independently.

          It doesn’t matter whether he wants to be a hero or not. He would as president act as he is required to or… he wouldn’t be president any more.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            There has never been a president remotely like Trump. He basically has no respect for the people in Wash DC, and he has nothing to lose, other than his life of course but I believe he’ll have private security and not trust the Secret Service.

    6. pretzelattack

      how do we know trump would try to lead it? the neocons are deserting him for clinton–why would they do that unless they thought she would be more likely to further their agenda. trump is the first republican i had heard criticise bush over invading iraq. that looks to me like a significant difference.

      1. Ché Pasa

        How is Trump going to eliminate the “terrorists” — and their families — without leading the War Party (which isn’t just the neo-cons, btw.)

        Is he going to gird his loins and go into battle with them by himself?

        1. backwardsevolution

          The terrorists would already have been eliminated if not for the U.S., Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia training, arming and funding ISIS.

          If funding was cut off, if the sale of the stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil was cut off from ISIS, they would fold their tent in about a week.

          Stop the money, stop the war. Simple.

          But the U.S. doesn’t want to do that, do they? They want Assad gone so they can put their oil and gas pipelines through Syria. Follow the money.

        2. pretzelattack

          trumps spouts a lot of bullshit. clinton starts wars. might trump be as bad as clinton? in isolation, yes, but emphasis on the “might”. we are so screwed, might as well try to look for the best shot we have. and trump will be neutralized by the republicans he supposedly “leads”. clinton’s wars and corruption will be aided and abetted by them.

    7. pissed younger baby boomer

      Did anyone pay attention to our country. when i go to Salem OR and also Portland OR .i see a lot of homeless people and the rest of the country. We ‘re beautiful woman but behind the curtain dying woman (USA).
      This country might go like Czarist Russia 1917. Any one can buy guns at the gun shows in all fifty States. Lets see armed forces 3 million personal go to combined 6 million personal ? The current population 310 million .
      how is the military going put down 50 million or 90 to 100 million people . Or the armed forces 100 % desertion rate ,yes Generals,Admirals ,to enlisted personal. I suggest watch on HBO ,Cinemax or DVD of the original Mad Max Circa early 1980’s .

  8. Carolinian

    And so the U.S. was on its foreordained path to war and disaster in Iraq, the path that after much winding, much failure, and much destruction would lead to Donald Trump.

    That’s an odd statement and suggests that the author, while producing a pretty good article, hasn’t been paying much attention to Trump other than a perfunctory reading of the newspapers. Most people would say Trump’s rise results from the domestic economic situation and has little if anything to do with events in the Middle East. She’s probably right that Trump is like most Americans and therefore mostly ignorant about what’s going on in the rest of the world but that’s not necessarily a bad thing insofar as it means he also lacks an agenda toward those countries–something which you can hardly say about Hillary and her rogue’s gallery. Most importantly while he has said he would bomb Isis and “terrorists” in Libya he has not retreated from his mild view of Russia and Putin and that’s likely to be the principal focus of a Hillary administration. Indeed some say everything that’s going on in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq is about Putin to the neocons. A hegemon brooks no rivals.

    1. Jagger

      Indeed some say everything that’s going on in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq is about Putin to the neocons.

      I wonder. I still think the Middle East, oil and Israel, is the driver for everything we are doing. IIRC, Russia and Putin didn’t become high profile targets until after Russia stood up for Syria. Shortly after militarily entering the Middle East contest, then the Ukraine blow up and demonization began.

      Plus, no one can possibly see Russia as any sort of real threat to US security or domination. None. It is a small second rate power. It lacks any ideological driver for expansion and has shown no tendencies for expansion since the collapse. Russia is only dangerous when we cross those red lines defining their security. And without nuclear weapons, they wouldn’t be dangerous at all.

      As to China, it could be a future threat. However we are so deeply interconnected economically that I don’t see how we could possibly go to war with China. What do we make anymore? I don’t know the exact percentage and variety of goods we receive from China but I suspect if China simply stopped shipping goods to us, we would be up the creek without the paddle.

      So I still think oil and Israel are the primary factors in our actions in the Middle East with Russia targeted as they interfere with our actions in the Middle East. Although it appears we are willing to go to great lengths to ensure Russia backs down.

      1. backwardsevolution

        “It [Russia] is a small second rate power.”

        With lots of resources. The neocons’ thinking is: why not take it now while it’s vulnerable.

          1. Jagger

            A small second rate power happens to be outdoing the US in the Middle East in terms of payoff v. resources committed.

            Agreed. Although I am not convinced the US is pushing for a clear victory at this time. I think both the US and Israel are perfectly happy to see the on-going chaos of a basic stalemate in Syria. Over time, no clear winners but ongoing fighting will very effectively and more completely destroy the state and society. I think both the US and Israel would like to see a very weak, preferably partitioned, Syria as completely destroyed as Iraq. Peace in a united Syria means the start of recovery and eventually, Syria would once again become a factor in the Middle East as an ally of Iran.

            So I think the US could intervene just as decisively as Russia but feels they have more to gain if Syria simply remains at war as long as possible. Very cynical view but I would not be surprised at all if this is exactly what is going on.

  9. ColdWarVet

    All of this reads as signaling from the MIC/PTB that Trump will simply not be tolerated. Should he manage to get elected, which looks increasingly unlikely by the day, he will be deeply compromised from day one. Failing that he will be neutralized by whatever means necessary; scandal, intimidation, or something worse. But I think this is mostly about intimidating Trump voters at this point. The election result itself is preordained. Yes, we should be very, very afraid of the monster that is Hillary Clinton. But even more than that, we should be very, very, very afraid of the dark forces that back her. Bernie and Trump have succeeded in drawing them partially out of the shadows, where they are now brazen enough that they no longer feel the need to hide. Feels like 1960 all over again!

  10. hemeantwell

    Third World refused to be pawns in the superpower game, and created a non-aligned movement, which sought to thread a way between the Scylla and Charybdis of the U.S. and the Soviet Union. My emphasis.

    Among its founders were some of the great Third World nationalists: Sukarno of Indonesia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, along with Yugoslavia’s President Josip Broz Tito.

    This, too, could use some unpacking. Especially in light of what we now have realized about neoliberal imperialism, in this prior era non-alignment was about being able to try to develop an economy in terms not dictated by global capitalism. The economic relationship between these countries and the Soviets varied, but I think it’s very fair to say that we’re talking aid, technology provision and terms of trade that favored the Soviet’s partner (not sure about that, but the price of sugar Cuba obtained from the Soviets comes to mind).

    The political-military relationship, not surprisingly, similarly prioritized the problem of staying out of the capitalist orbit. I think it’s true that these countries would need to resist Soviet pressure for various forms of support for Soviet policy, but I don’t believe this involved anything like the jeopardy the US posed. Consider Sukarno, deposed after the 1965 anti-Communist coup which killed hundreds of thousands. Tito, who broke with Stalin’s Soviet Union, was the only one faced a threat similar to what was characteristic in subordinate countries in the US zone and that, I think, ended with Stalin’s death and Khrushchev’s rise.

    In short, in calling the Soviet Union a Charybdis Gordon errs by extrapolating from the much higher degree of domination countries bordering the Soviet Union faced. It’s as though these distant non-aligned would have suffered the same fate when, from the military standpoint that drove the logic of Soviet control of adjacent countries, there was no point. It’s the economy, stupid, and the Soviet economy was not organized in a way that demanded control of countries for the purpose of economic exploitation. Even among critics of US policies the habits of Cold War ideology persist. As I keep saying, we need another round of revisionist history.

  11. EndOfTheWorld

    She correctly cites the Philippines as a neocolonial subject of the US. But that was a while ago. Now Duterte considers quitting the UN and lambastes the US ambassador to his country with insults. Not to mention challenging Trump to a fist fight. Obviously the US is not the leader of HIS world.

  12. Robert Dannin

    She’s missing the point entirely. The letter expresses the intentions of the Pentagon establishment not to permit any foreign policy deviations whatsoever. In a season of two extremely flawed presidential candidates, it is an extreme warning of an impending military coup if the process fails to yield the desired results. It is a reaffirmation of the power consolidated during the first Obama administration. Lest we forget, the singular condition of his inauguration was to retain Bush’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. Since when was a president-elect handcuffed to a cabinet holdover from the outgoing party?

    1. pretzelattack

      is this the pentagon establishment or the neocon establishment? iirc the generals didn’t want to invade iran after iraq. the military loves the money no doubt, but i don’t sense the same enthusiasm for fighting wars as i see in clinton. obama retained lots of bush neocons and neoliberals, because he is one. why assume he was handcuffed into retaining gates? i have no doubt the pentagon exercises vast influence in washington, but i doubt they are enthusiastic about fighting russia.

  13. DarkMatters

    I wish the press would report what Trump actually says instead of what others say he says. I’ve given up on reading reports about Trump and instead just listen to his speeches. I get a totally different impression.

  14. sgt_doom

    Great article, and there should be many, many more in the same vein at this site.

    Thank you.

  15. ewmayer

    o Rebecca Gordon … is the author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes — Can anyone who has read that book comment on whether said war crimes include Hillary’s in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Honduras and elsewhere, and whether the list of said officials includes Her Royal Highness?

  16. ewmayer

    I am currently re-reading 1984 for the first time since college, and Orwell’s prescient genius in capturing so much of the power dynamic embodied in NC’s motto continually shines through. For example, this NC guest-author piece contains within itself the crucial question, ‘why is there a single War Party in Washington DC, which controls both establishment parties, their corporate-MSM megaphones and the army of credentialed shills from the academic sphere which provides intellectual cover for the whole crooked edifice?’ Consider this excerpt from the aforementioned novel, in which Orwell has Winston finally getting hold of a banned copy of über-thought-criminal Emmanuel Goldstein’s anti-party Manifesto, in which the chapter devoted to the War Is Peace one of the Party’s triumvirate of oxymoronic dogmatic pillars contains the following passage:

    From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirst, illiteracy and disease could be eliminated within a few generations. And in fact, without being used for any such purpose, but by a sort of automatic process–by producing wealth which it was sometimes impossible not to distribute–the machine did raise the living standards of the average human being very greatly over a period of about fifty years at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries.

    But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction–indeed, in some ways was the destruction–of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motorcar or even an airplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance. To return to the agricultural past, as some thinkers about the beginning of the twentieth century dreamed of doing, was not a practical solution. It conflicted with the tendency toward mechanization which had become quasi-instinctive throughout almost the whole world, and moreover, any country which remained industrially backward was helpless in a military sense and bound to be dominated, directly or indirectly, by its more advanced rivals.

    Nor was it a satisfactory solution to keep the masses in poverty by restricting the output of goods. This happened to a great extent during the final phase of capitalism, roughly between 1920 and 1940. The economy of many countries was allowed to stagnate, land went out of cultivation, capital equipment was not added to, great blocks of the population were prevented from working and kept half alive by State charity. But this, too, entailed military weakness, and since the privations it inflicted were obviously unnecessary, it made opposition inevitable. The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they need not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

    Perhaps the only thing Orwell missed in writing the above was the crucial role of modern debt-slavery-based kleptocapitalism in supporting the rise and ongoing metastasis of the permawar surveillance state.

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